Interview: Bury Me a Lion

bill bodkin interviews the nyc indie band as they get ready for the catalpa fest this weekend…

In our short run working with major music festivals we’ve had the opportunity to speak with a number of bands who’ve appeared as opening/early afternoon performers. Yes, we’ve tried to speak with the headliners, but it’s always been no dice for us. And to some this might be seen as a sub-par consolation prize. Sure you get into the festival, but to only interview the lesser knowns — where’s the fun in that? (It’s actually a lot of fun.)

Well for us, these “lesser knowns” have gone onto bigger and much better things in their careers after we’ve spoken with them. For example, back in June 2011 Outasight was just an up-and-coming artist on Warner Bros. Records, today his song “Tonight is The Night” has become a major pop sensation; being used for X-Factor and The Oscars as well as massive radio airplay. When we spoke with Walk the Moon, in advance of this year’s Governor’s Ball, they were still an unknown, now they’re receiving major league press and airtime on alternative radio across the country.

With this weekend’s debuting Catalpa NYC Music Festival we had the chance to speak with the local New York band, Bury Me a Lion who’ll be kicking things off this Sunday, July 29 at 1pm on Catalpa’s Main Stage. And after listening to their self-titled record, one could easily surmise that this band could be experiencing the same fate as Outasight and Walk the Moon. They have a ready made for radio sound that has a certain immediacy and danceability to it — imagine if The Strokes got together with Franz Ferdinand. This is a band whose days as the opener for a festival are numbered — these guys have a special quality to them that could really take them places.

Pop-Break: When I first heard your band’s name and even saw your logo I thought you guys would be a reggae band. Obviously not the case, since I’ve read the name was influenced by a Pogues tune. Can you talk about the impetus of the band’s name?


Jarett: Finding a band name to represent you properly is difficult. Can’t imagine what it’s like naming a dog…or a baby. Bury Me A Lion was actually our third attempt at a name. The first one was just a placeholder, and the second name was too close to some emo band’s. The waiting and thinking probably helped us out – Bury Me A Lion has meaning behind it which resounds with us.

Sam: Bury Me A Lion has always meant that we want to be remembered for our music, and not fade away in the depths of the “Pop Blogosphere.” So many bands today have flickers of greatness, but the challenge for us all is sustaining it. We’re trying to build something to last for decades to come.

PB: I’ve read you guys all have widely diverse musical influences ranging from 50s pops to 80s metal to Greek rebetiko — how did you decide upon the sound you guys have now and in your own words, describe your sound.

Jarett: You know, I think for any band, coming up with a cohesive sound is an ongoing process or negotiation. We’ve said before that our sound is organic – which is true – but the music really shows its cards in the details. I can’t tell you how many times Luca or Sam or I have hashed and rehashed the details – each with a different goal. But it works.


PB: Can you pick one song of your new record that you think would be the perfect introduction of the band to a new listener?



Jarett: That’s a hard one. I would say that our music has a little something for everyone. I would confidently put any of our songs before a new listener. Live, I would say people need to hear “Satellite”. On record, “One Arm For Another.”

Sam: I agree with Jarett – “One Arm For Another.” It is one of the best representations of the band at this moment, and it just so happens to be the first song we wrote together. It’s a straightforward rocker, but contains real, quality elements of blues that help contribute to our signature Bury Me A Lion sound, which is a little harder to peg.

Luca: You know, “Dinosaur” probably is another song people should hear. A little different from “One Arm.”

PB: You guys are going to be performing at the brand new Catalpa Music Festival in New York City this weekend. Can you talk about how you guys were approached to be on the bill?

Sam: We were selected from an application pool of thousands of bands looking to be on Catalpa. In a way, it’s like winning the rock ‘n ‘roll lottery. Someone physically listened to our music and deemed us worthy to play the festival, which is a huge honor and huge accomplishment for us as a band.

PB: Keeping up with Catalpa, talk about the emotions running through heads and hearts as the days keep getting closer and closer to performing at a festival which is being held in your backyard of New York City?

Jarett: When we first started playing shows, I think innocence tends to override fear up until you get on stage. Definitely not healthy! But the more we perform, the more we practice, the less nervous we all get before we perform. Catalpa NYC is a huge opportunity for us to share our music with new listeners and our fans. Right now, we’re relaxed. You put in all that work so you don’t have to worry about the nervousness and pressure – you’re prepared. We are really excited to be out there this weekend with such great acts, and to be part of that hype.

Sam: I saw Rage AgainstThe Machine on Randall’s Island about six years ago, and it still really hasn’t hit me that I’ll be playing in the same spot. I had no idea we’d be able to accomplish this, and we feel very lucky to have an opportunity that thousands, millions of other bands would kill for.



Luca: Well, hopefully not kill…

PB: Thousands of bands out there, tons of them playing in your stomping grounds of New York City everyday — why should people be listening to Bury Me a Lion, why should they be checking you out when you hit the stage at Catalpa?



Sam: Bury Me A Lion combines so many different elements that can appeal to many different people’s tastes. If someone likes Rock, Pop, Blues, Indie or Polka (kidding!) then they’ll definitely have something to attach for in our music. People love discovering new music, and we’re pretty much as new and fresh as it gets. Can’t wait to show everyone why we deserve the slot.



Jarett: Because Sam is going to wear white pants, which you have to see to believe!

PB: And my final Catalpa question — who are you looking forward to seeing perform the most?



Jarett: Other than our set and the headliners (Black Keys, Snoop), I’m excited to have a huge dance party to Girl Talk and to check out the buzz behind A$AP Rocky.



Luca: Everyone has their own style – I want to see what everyone brings to the table. And I want to go in the Heineken Dome.

Sam: I’ve also always wanted to see Girl Talk live, so I’m super excited for that one. I’m also excited to have a sham marriage with Jarett and eat some strange food at one of the tents…



PB: What are your plans for the rest of 2012?

Sam: Me and Jarett are starring in the next Madea movie, but after that we’ll be either recording or on the road again. Hopefully the festival will lead to many diverse different opportunities. It will be a real indicator of where we’ll be in the next few months, so ask us again after the show and we’ll give you a straight answer!

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites