An Interview with Lars Chriss of Lion's Share
With the recent release of "Dark Hours" in late March, Swedish melodic metalers Lion's Share recently set out on their headlined Swedish tour. Guitarist Lars Chriss spoke with Metal Underground about the new album and the tour.
edhuntermaiden: How excited are you about "Dark Hours?"
Lars: Oh, very much. It's our sixth album and with a new lineup, we released our last album "Coma," almost two years ago, which was like a comeback. We had the band going, our debut came out in '95, we released four albums and did a lot of touring with Saxon, U.D.O., Dio, Motorhead, Iced Earth, Nevermore, up until 2001 when I put the band on a break because I felt a little burned out — everything from the writing to the producing and doing all the interviews and the business side. Unfortunately, in the mid-90s, people told us we shouldn't care about the U.S. because it was all grunge and hip hop, and that they didn't care about the kind of music we were playing. It wasn't until the comeback album, "Coma," that we released an album in the States. So we're very excited about the reactions of these two albums, and our kind of music is coming back in the States.
edhuntermaiden: What's different about this album from your previous album?
Lars: People seem to be more excited about the new album, but to us, they're like sister albums. Three of the songs, almost four, were written around the same time as the last album, so the one thing we really discussed was to include a couple more up tempo songs and try to be a bit more direct with the vocal melodies so people would like the album at first listen, and don’t have to listen a couple of times. It's really hard for us to say that there's a big change because it's the same lineup and the sound is more or less the same. We used triggered drums for the first time on this album, so the drums are a bit more intense and in your face, but it's, to us, not a huge difference. We always try to get better and all that. For some reason, the reaction is far greater than all the other albums.
edhuntermaiden: Can you tell me about the lyrical content of the songs, or what the average song on the album is dealing with?
Lars: Our singer, Patrik Johansson, wrote the lyrics, he was inspired when he read the book about the life of Charles Manson, actually. He started writing a couple of lyrics about him, and then he moved on to covering more of the late 60s, to cover more historical events that happened in the 1960s, and I think he also covered other years, but all lyrics are about historical events that happened in the late 60s. So we have a couple of songs about the Vietnam War, and one about Martin Luther King, and the riot in San Francisco, I think there are three songs about Charles Manson, the moon landing, so that's the lyrical content. The music is pretty dark, and we obviously wanted to sing about darker things too, and not flower power or whatever. (laughs)
edhuntermaiden: I saw from your Website that you started your tour in Sweden. Have you added more dates to that recently? Are you touring other countries or planning on touring other countries?
Lars: We had a great offer a couple of months ago to open up for Saxon and Iced Earth all over Europe, but the offer came so late, so close to the first show so we rehearsed the shows we did last year, and we didn't have the merchandise, the shirts, and it was still two months up to the release, so unfortunately we had to pass. That was a real pity because we've toured with them and we know them, and musically it would have been a perfect match for us. So we're doing the Swedish headline tour into the spring, and we'll see if we play in some festivals, and we'll see if we can find another tour for the fall, if it makes sense both on a musical and economical level. Obviously, if the album takes off in the U.S., then we would love to come over and play. I've heard that it's doing great on the American metal radio shows, it's been top 30, so who knows? We've also put out a video for "Judas Must Die," and that's being promoted in the U.S. right now, so if we get so many plays on Headbanger's Ball or whatever, then who knows? As long as it makes sense to bring us over, we'd love to tour the U.S.
edhuntermaiden: Do you guys have a favorite song that you play live?
Lars: All songs are favorite songs, but with the new lineup, we tend to cover more songs from the last two albums. I think we're only doing two songs from the first four, and that I guess about four each from the two latest albums. But you know, that's where I am right now, and also it's more fun for the new guys of course to play the songs that they recorded on the albums.
edhuntermaiden: What's it like on tour with you guys? Do you have any crazy stories?
Lars: (Laughs) There's always crazy stuff going on tour, but hopefully, the older you get, the crazy stuff is gone on. But over the years, there's been some crazy stuff and very cool stuff, but I remember the first tour we did with one of my favorite bands I grew up with, we teamed up with Saxon, and that was amazing of course. And then, a couple years later we opened up for Dio, Manowar, and Motorhead in big arenas for a month there, and that was really a dream, because Ronnie James Dio is my all-time favorite singer and I love all the stuff from Black Sabbath and Rainbow, so being able to hang out with him and become friends, that was amazing. The highlight of my career, really, a dream come true. I mean, all those bands that you grow up with, you have all their albums in your teenage room, and you could never dream of sharing the stage with them. These bands are real nice, of course.
edhuntermaiden: Is there anybody that you haven't played with that you'd love to?
Lars: My favorite band that I started listening to when I was younger was KISS, and I don't think it's probably a good match music-wise, but they're still my favorite band, they have been a part of all my life. And I've always been a big fan of Judas Priest and Heaven and Hell, which used to be called Black Sabbath, but yeah, any of those bands would be fantastic of course.
edhuntermaiden: Did those bands inspire you to get into music?
Lars: KISS definitely. I always liked music, you know, but there are other things, I started playing guitar, and I started with KISS and posters all over my room, and all their albums. I was a big collector for some time, all the vinyls, singles. Not so much the merchandise and the dolls later, but the music. So KISS meant a lot to me.
edhuntermaiden: Do you have a favorite album by another band?
Lars: My favorite album of all time is Black Sabbath "Mob Rules." I think that's everything and something; it's magical to me. But Black Sabbath and KISS are probably my two favorite bands, with Judas Priest in third place.
edhuntermaiden: How would you describe your sound to someone who had never heard your band before?
Lars: We're a riff-based band, all our songs are built from riffs, so if you mix the riffs from Black Sabbath, mixed with Judas Priest and Megadeth, and then on top of that you have a pretty catchy vocal melody. It's well-written, well-produced, pretty good production, bad attitude. If you like all that stuff, then you'll probably like Lion's Share.
edhuntermaiden: Do you know what's in store for the future of the band?
Lars: We're doing promotion, the tour continues this weekend, that's as far as I can think of right now. We hope the album does well in all parts of the world. Hard times out there with the illegal downloading out there and all that stuff, but the more albums we can sell the more opportunities we will get to come play live. We depend on the support of the fans, I guess.
edhuntermaiden: Do you have anything else you'd like to add about the album and the tour?
Lars: It's always nice to be supported, people can request the video, because I know it's been serviced all over the U.S. and in Europe on the TV stations or Headbanger's Ball or whatever. Our Lion's Share Army of supporters need to help us out, because the competition is great, so you need to stand out somehow, and you can only do that with the support of your fans, because that has a bigger impact than whatever it is, or promotion. Stop by our Website, which is LionsShare.org, or our Myspace which is myspace.com/lionsshare. We like to hear from people, so keep in touch.
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