Published Jun 22, 2008"When we left, there were holes in the ceiling, broken dishes everywhere, and at our last party, people ran through the walls. Chase Brenneman is on the phone from Vancouver, taking a break from his job, which, appropriately, is at a restoration company. The wall-crashing mayhem he is describing was the final blow-out for Dude Manor, the band house inhabited by Living with Lions (and a rotating cast of other East Van punks) and immortalised by their debut EP, Dude Manor, and the final track on Make Your Mark, the bands brand new full-length.
"Three of the guys in the band had moved to Vancouver from Medicine Hat, explains Brenneman of how the Manor came to be. "Matt [Postal, vocals] ended up moving in with them, and I was going there every night to hang out. Then I moved in. At first, it was just all of us living together, throwing parties. The band just worked out. We had a jam space in the basement, and it was just like, I guess we should start a band, then.
Living with Lions started a creative outlet for five guys (six, if you count their merch guy, who also lived in the house) raised on bands like Hot Water Music and Lifetime. "In the beginning, we were just trying to jam and write fun songs that basically sounded like Saves the Day. And then it took off from there. While the legend of Dude Manor was being spun in their songs, the band were quickly gaining notoriety within the Vancouver punk scene. Fast, aggressive, and unbelievably catchy, the songs that would comprise their debut EP represent the honest first steps of a bunch of dudes just trying (successfully) to emulate their influences. Constant touring found the band catching the ear of Black Box Recordings, and hitting the road again to complete their full-length follow-up.
"Recording in Vancouver is a distraction, says Brenneman. "We did our EP here, and we were all working at the time, and you dont want to take time off of work because thats money you could be using for tour. When we were given the option of coming out to Ontario to record for a month, it seemed like the best idea. We didnt have any distractions, like friends being around or work we could be doing. It was just the record. Plus, the band were able to live together, something they hadnt been able to do since effectively destroying their communal living space. "It definitely rekindled the Dude Manor spirit, which we really wanted to bring to this recording. I mean, there were six of us the band and our merch guy living in a house together for a month. Thats where we came from.
The result of a month of punk rock immersion is the more focused Make Your Mark, an unassailable collection of melodic hardcore that sounds like a band forming their own identity while still nodding toward their obvious influences. And it might seem cliche, but the sense of camaraderie that Living With Lions personify feels like its front and centre. "It seems like a lot of bands were friends with go out on tour and don't see each other for three months, Brenneman says. "Its hard for me to understand. If youre going to spend all that time in a van, you need to really know the people youre with. I think were pretty lucky to have that.