To celebrate the release of Holy Shit, I got on the phone with Living With Lions' guitarist/lyricist Chase Brenneman to talk about the new record. Thanks to the users who submitted some of the questions:
You guys have gone under some changes since Make Your Mark. How would you describe the transition of having Stu on vocals instead of Matt?
It was actually pretty easy. I mean, obviously itís pretty difficult to lose a singer, especially since itís such an important part of a band. Once we parted ways with Matt, we didnít really know what we would end up doing. So we just called Stu up one day because we knew he sang in a band and he was a really good friend of ours. He decided that he wanted to come out and give it a shot. I think within a month of calling him he was in Vancouver jamming. Pretty much right away everybody realized that was probably going to be the solution so it ended up being pretty painless for everybody. Weíve been on tour a couple of times with him already and it seems like people already like it. They like the way he sounds on the record, which is awesome for us because heís a very good friend of ours. Heís super fun to have on tour and he likes playing in this band so it was probably as painless as you can possibly get as far as changing singers go.
So Iím assuming he didnít have that much to do with writing the new record?
No. The record had pretty much already been written by the time Stu was here. He did write some vocals for a few of the songs, bits of some of the songs and stuff like that. But the music had already been recorded and written.
When I learned Stu was in the band, it was through some people I knew who saw you guys with Comeback Kid last fall. It took awhile before I saw an official statement. Was there any reason why you guys chose to do it that way?
I think itís mostly because we were really lazy. I donít know, at the time, I think I already said this in the last question, but losing a singer sucks. Itís really stressful and we were more focused working on the record and working with Stu and getting everybody comfortable with the new situation. Without letting anybody else know what was going on, you know? We ended up posting something eventually, but it was so buried under other crap that I donít think anybody really noticed. And then by the time we got to being like ĎOh man, we should actually post something about ití lots of people had already known. So we were just like whatever. I guess itís kind of weird the way we did it, but we were too busy doing our thing we didnít really care too much.
Moving onto the actual record, which song is your favourite and why?
Thatís a hard question. Itís weird because the recordís so old to us now. Weíve been working on it so long, especially with all these mishaps that have gone on. I love the record and Iím proud of it. But at the same time Iím almost sick of the songs at this point. But if I had to pick, I would say ďRegret Song.Ē I just really like the way that one turned out. That song was actually my least favourite song when we were working on it, I think we wrote it three years ago probably so itís really old to me. But once we started putting it together and it started to take shape, I really liked how it turned out. Iím happy with the lyrics, that was my really honest song that allowed me to get a bunch of shit off my chest. Once you write a song that scratches that itch, it feels good and thatís definitely that song.
Would you say the record follows a theme lyrically?
Yeah. Matt, our old vocalist, wrote a handful of songs. I think he ended up writing three songs and once he left I ended up writing the rest and Stu had a little bit to do with some of the stuff as well. I remember someone asking me about that right after we had finished and I was thinking about how every song ended up being about someone. Either a type of person or a specific person that I know or Matt knows. So it was definitely like a subconscious thing. We didnít end up trying to write about anything in particular, but it ended up being about people in general. And like the way they affected us and our relationships with certain people and how certain people can suck. Itís nothing groundbreaking or crazy, but that was most of our inspiration. Whether they were bad people or good people. Friends or people we donít really know that well.
Would you say uncertainty for the future, for lack of a better term, shines through in some songs?
Yeah, absolutely. Itís strange, it seems like thatís the way a lot of other people feel. I blame the Internet, social networking in particular. People seem to have such short attention spans nowadays, especially with things theyíre really interested in. It feels like everybodyís jumping around. Youíre growing up and trying to find out what you want to do and what youíre interested in. And that changes on a day-to-day basis too. Itís a pretty hectic world. I think these days the five of us try to live a more simplified lifestyle, just take it easy and do things one day at a time. It seems like itís so easy to get stressed out and overloaded these days. And I know the last song on the record, ďWhen We Were Young,Ē that was one of the songs that Matt wrote, but it has a lot to do about being a kid. And just how different it is, you know? You donít really realize it until you have a chance to sit down and think about how different things were when you were young, beyond technology and stuff like that. Itís strange to think that you could sit around in a yard and play with sticks for hours. That was entertainment. These days I sit on my computer for a few hours and all this other crap thatís so unimaginative and uncreative and just blah.
And I wanted to ask about ďMatthewís Anthem.Ē How did that song come about? Is the title in reference to your old singer?
It isnít. That song is just more or less like a drinking song. Our friend has a club back in Vancouver where all of us hang out at so I just wrote the song about that place. And the reason why itís called ďMatthewís AnthemĒ is because of our friend who was in an accident. There was a fundraiser one night for him at that club and we said we were doing a raffle. We said weíd name a song on our new record after whoever bid the most money and our friend Matt bid the most so that was the reason behind that.
And the title. From previous interviews it seems you guys just thought it was funny.
Yeah, we just wanted to call it Holy Shit, we thought it was a good name I guess. The whole Bible thing kind of came after, we thought it was kind of funny. We weren't trying to make any statements or anything, no underlying anti-religion stuff. We just thought it was funny and put it out there for that.
How did you come up with the concept for the ďHonesty, HonestlyĒ music video?
We were obsessed with this little video montage our friend showed us on YouTube. It just so happened that was around the time we had to do a music video and we had a limited amount of time to work with the director and shoot it. We were watching this 80ís dating video montage on YouTube and if you search for it, youíll actually find it. And itís hilarious. Itís real, actual dudes from the 80ís. We just thought it was super funny so we decided to do a dating video. We based the characters we were off of the dudes in the montage and just tried to be as pathetic as we possibly could.
Whoís your favourite character?
I like Landonís character Kenny. I really like his dating video and I donít even think he based that off of anyone in the original montage. Thatís just how a lot of dudes are from Canada. Itís a pretty accurate portrayal of our metal head dudes.
Did anything overly memorable happen while shooting?
The whole thing was pretty memorable, but there were some funny moments. We were getting in a bunch of trouble from our neighbours because part of the video was shot at our house. I think they were kind of scared of us because there was all this lighting gear and crew and cameras all over our place. And we have this really quiet East Indian couple that live on the very bottom floor of our house. I donít think they had any idea what was going on and they were really, really scared to talk to us. So we just watched them trapped in their house and in the doorway. I think someone ended up talking to them though. There wasnít anything too wild happening. It was mostly long days and long nights. When it gets to the end youíre just happy itís over with.
Moving on, you guys have been on the road quite a bit recently. Are there any old songs you wonít play now that Stuís in the band? Or is everything fair game?
Everything is fair game. There were a bunch of songs before that he just never really cared to learn at first. But Stuís the go getter kind of dude that really wants to do everything that he can. Which is awesome because we want to be able to whip out whatever anybody wants to hear. We could definitely play anything weíve written at this point.
You just completed a Canadian tour with The Flatliners and a US tour with The Wonder Years. How would you compare your fan base in the States and Canada at this point?
Itís been weird between the two places. Canadaís been great to us for a really long time now. During the first few years of the band we ended up spending a lot of time down in the States so the States was great and Canada wasnít so great, but then it flip-flopped. We still have a great time in the States and there are certain places weíve had great shows. But Canada has been super, super supportive of us in the last few years. The shows have been really, really fun. The only thing that bothers me about up here in Canada is the shortage of good, all-ages venues. Which kind of sucks because it makes it hard for cities to build a good scene or whatever. Whereas in America it seems like every city has a decent all-ages venue for bands to play. Canada is getting better though and hopefully it keeps on going that way.
Well, we are going to finish this tour. Basically all we have left is Canadian stuff, we have Pouzza Fest and stuff like that. Then in July weíre going to do some shows on the west coast with Heartsounds. Then weíll do some stuff in Canada with Heartsounds as well. And in August weíre going to Europe with Comeback Kid and thatís all we know for sure right now.
Anything else to add?
Yeah. I guess Iíll mention our friends in Fireworks have a new record coming out next week. Thereís a bunch of cool records coming out this year. The Swellers, Polar Bear Club, The Wonder Years. Lots of good stuff for people to check out.