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The first signing to Clutch owned record label Weathermaker, somehow we just knew Lionize were going to rock hard. Based in Maryland, US, this power trio have much in common, sonically, with the band who signed them.
Bassist Henry Upton is an intricate part of Lionize's sound, with a technique that perfectly encapsulates all the hard rock and funk greats that came before him. That's right, we said funk. Because if there's one thing Upton does with ease in Lionize, it's to bring the funk.
Congratulations on signing with Weathermaker. Why do you think Lionize were such a perfect match for the Clutch owned label?
“We're very stoked to join Weathermaker. We've known and admired the Clutch guys for years and have done more than a dozen tours together. I think we share a love of playing and a really strong work ethic. We are both committed to playing live as much as possible. Beyond that, we have affection for a lot of the same records and musicians. Clutch has definitely led by example as we have tried to grow the band. This is a really exciting next step.”
How would you describe your playing style and sound in Lionize?
“To generalize, I'm coming from a funk perspective. I'm most interested in a nice deep pocket. As a listener, I want to hear a groove which informs much of how I play. I love rock music and we've definitely grown more in that direction. I'll try to incorporate some jazz ideas, attempt to get 'outside'. I want to be some mutation of Geezer Butler and Verdine White [Earth, Wind and Fire].”
We're looking forward to seeing you in the UK this Spring. What can we expect from seeing Lionize live?
“It will be loud, we will improvise, and we will be playing most if not all of the new record, Jetpack Soundtrack. We think the new tunes are the best we've done so far. It's our first time playing overseas, which is a thrill as well. It's a good feeling to expand the map and play for new crowds.”
When did you first get into playing bass guitar?
“I got my first bass when I was 13. I'd been playing saxophone for a few years and started listening to Parliament, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and lots of other funk music which really inspired me to switch instruments. I had taken sax lessons for a few years and applied some of that knowledge to the bass but didn't keep up the lessons. I taught myself out of a few instructional books, playing along to records, and jamming with friends. High school jazz band also helped a lot.”
Is feel more important than theory, or is it important to have a balance of both?
“It's definitely a combination of both. I try to expand my knowledge of theory however I can, though I wouldn't say I regularly study it. Our organ/keyboardist Chris Brooks has a great mind for theory and is a big help. Nothing sounds good without the right feel and groove, and theory allows you to take that groove more places - to say more things and ultimately play what you hear in your head. That's the real goal.”
How do you get your sound? What gear do you use?
“Right now I'm playing a Gibson EB-0 through a Sunn 300T. I've been using a Morley Dual Bass Wah which gets a nice distorted sound on the funk setting. I also have a Lakland Jazz Bass which sounds great. With our new stuff, I've been gravitating towards the Gibson. It has a thicker, warmer tone, although it's a bit trickier to play.”
Which Lionize bass line are you most proud of?
“I'm more used to self deprecating assessments of my bass parts but, right now, I'd say the verse part in Amazing Science Facts on our upcoming record. It's particularly simple and feels great to play.”
Lionize will play a bunch of live dates in the UK this year, starting April 22 in Newcastle. Their new album, Jetpack Soundtrack, will be released on April 14.