Happy Mondays Interview Series: Lyons

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Lyons is (Band Members & Instruments They Play):  Sharon McDonaugh (Lead Guitar/ Backup Vocals)
; Amy Malkoff (Rhythm Guitar/ Lead Vocals)
; Lisa English (Bass/ Backup Vocals)
; Charleen Artese (Keyboard); and 
Jenny Vickers (Drums).

We Formed In: November 2014

We’re Based Out Of: Asbury Park

You’ve Seen Us Before in Other Bands Like: Boy/Girl, Goodnightmorning, Blackbirds, The Harletts, Let it Burn, Moonshines, Easy Tiger, Amy Malkoff & The Moonshines, Plus Plus Minus.

Our Sound Has Been Likened to:

Lisa English: A lot of times we will hear a mix of Joy Division or The Cure, but more contemporary with a little bit of surf vibe in there.

Jenny Vickers: It’s also been likened to Daenerys Stormborm Khaleesi, mother of dragons and sea breaker of chains.

Any New Music Coming Out: After our show at the Saint on August 7th we are going to start recording and try to get our first EP out by the end of the fall. We have been writing some new songs with Amy and are really excited at how they are turning out.

Famous/Cool Bands We’ve Performed With: Past bands we have been in have played with The Rapture, The Presets, Neon Trees, The Offspring, The Pretty Reckless, The Bouncing Souls.
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You guys had your first show in September 2015 — can you talk about how the band got together?

Jenny Vickers: Sharon and I have been playing together since we met at Asbury Lanes in 2003 and formed The Harletts and Blackbirds. We took a little hiatus, but after a few years, I missed playing music so much that I reached back out to her and my friend Lisa, who is an awesome drummer and bass player, to start a band up. Charleen is a such good friend of ours…and we basically were like, Charleen you’re in our band, please play keyboards for us! She never played before, but is musically talented, so of course she kicked ass right away so we all just started jamming at Hot Dog House in the dead of winter with red wines and ghosts and some awesome songs came out of that. I’ve known Abby for awhile and always heard she had an incredible voice, so we reached out and asked her to sing with us. And wha-la, that’s how the original line-up was formed. After she moved to LA, we were sad but so happy for her, and definitely wanted to keep the momentum going so we asked around town about female singers. Sharon and I would be at a bar and be like that girl looks cool let’s ask her if she sings. And then I think
we felt sort of stalker-ish (haha) but finally at the AP Yacht Club one night, a friend recommended Amy and the very next day our friend Nick (Cucci) from Gay Guy / Straight Guy was like YES! so we reached out to her. She is so talented, sweet, and super fun to be in a band with…so we really lucked out.

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Also, how has the band evolved, from a sonic standpoint, and a performance standpoint since that first show?

Sharon: We didn’t really have adirection when we started, we were just all friends wanted to have fun and make music. We are more cohesive now having played together for a little bit. I think we all agree we want to make music people can have fun and dance to.

Recently, Lyons added Amy Malkoff to the band. What inspired you to pick her to be the new singer of the band? What does she bring to the band? Has she changed anything about the band?

Lisa: Wow…ok, so we were heartbroken to lose our original singer Abigail Hayden to the hills of LA…so when we finally opened up to having singers come in, Amy came highly recommended by Nick (of Gay guy/Straight Guy). Amy came in and blew us away immediately. She is a force…she has that perfect blend of power and pitch and sweet but strong. She came in prepared, knew the songs largely and is such a strong musician that she was able to write guitar parts very quickly. She’s also added her own edits to the songs which make them her own and is a strong writer as well- she’s come in with guitar licks and vocals and quick to jump in on the writing/arranging process. In terms of overall sound —  I think Amy has changed the way we attack the songs…with her guitar also adding to the sound it just brings everything up a notch.

There are a lot of women performing in bands in the Asbury Park scene. However, there’s not a lot of all-female bands out there. Do you believe this makes you guys stand out, or is a non-factor since the band is comprised of talented musicians who’ve been playing the scene for years?

Charleen: We would love to say it’s a non-factor because it’s true that most of us have been playing in bands for up to 20 years but it does play a part in why people want to come and see us at first. Anything that is not the norm makes you stand out.

What’s been one of the most memorable moments the band has had so far? One of the wildest?

Amy Malkoff: A memorable/wild moment was initially trying out for the band. At first, I had never met any of the girls in the band, but they had reached out to me to sing for their band. Their original singer had moved to California, so they were in need of a new singer! I had never done an audition in general for a band, let alone with people I didn’t know! I was immediately intrigued by these girls, and thought how amazing it would be to be a part of a band where it’s all girls who kick total ass!! I’m so stoked to be a part of this band, it is completely different than anything I have been a part of. I have always been playing music with just guys, so it’s awesome to play music with all girls!! Excited to see what the future has in store for us.

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I know you guys don’t have an extensive catalog just yet — but if you had to pick one song that you think really defines the sound of Lyons, what would it be, and why?

Jenny: I think “Sick Math,” it’s our most upbeat, fast, and fun song to play. We always close our set out with it and receive a good response after it. We write a good mix of slow and fast songs, and this one just has a good energy and vibe and sounds like the direction we’ll be heading in when we write new songs.

There’s a ton of bands performing in the Asbury scene right now, what sets you a part from everyone else?

Sharon: I think we all come from different scenes. So we are open to all different types of sounds and ideas. I think that comes through in our music.

What do you love about being in Lyons?

Lisa: What’s not to love. We get to hang out with the best ladies doing what we all love- drinking wine…just kidding…music. There is a unique bond that you form with people that you create with and for me it is an amazing gift for the 5 of us to be in a basement creating music essentially out of nowhere- that’s what bands do. We have fun. We drink wine. We talk our day out. We play with our pets. We throw surprise parties. We write full moon intentions. And we create some music that we can all stand behind. It’s such a special bond to have with such special people. I think we all inspire each other in who we are outside the band too and what we bring as people to each other- it is a rare gift and we don’t take it lightly.

What do you have planned for the rest of 2016?

Charleen: We will certainly release our first EP and we’re excited to play at Indian Summer on the beach September 24th. Other than that well just be drinking wine, hanging out and writing as much as we can.

Lyons performs with Wyland, and Goodbye Tiger at Happy Mondays at The Wonder Bar tonight.

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