It's a well-known fact that most band names are essentially gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off we're trying hard to find meaning in the oddest monikers.
It's a pretty common complaint of mine that rock is dead, killed in a mighty suck avalanche at the turn of the century that so decimated the genre it's unlikely a viable breeding population still exists. Still, there are a few bands around Houston that can still legitimately call themselves rock without bearing the shame their more mainstream brethren bear.
Take Life as Lions, for example. They've got all the earmarks of a great rock band. They rock a look that says they could get a bank loan but also know a good drug dealer. Their music is both brash and emotional, with a nice combination of mindless banging and poetic wail.
You could see a really good hero movie trailer being set to something like "Different Worlds." Someone get Marvel on the phone and tell them we've got a track for Guardians of the Galaxy all ready for them.
But that name...
Life as Lions? What in the name of MGM's logo does that mean? Is this like that stupid South Park episode where Token went to live with the lions and all they did was make fart jokes the whole time? 'Cause that episode sucked hosewater, although it did explain a lot of Will Smith's acting career.
Or maybe it's like Aslan and the whole band is trying to slip religion to us like a pervy uncle. Yeah, I bet that's it. I bet it's religion and inappropriate touching. Not on my watch. I may not be the name hero this city deserves, but I'm the name hero it needs. I shot the band a profanity-laced email to demand an explanation and received this lengthy response:
Our band name came to life by accident, really," they answered en masse... it's always a little creepy when they do that. "On a whim, our guitarist Bryan Shelton changed his Twitter handle to @LifeasBryan.
When our bass player, Mike Filewicz first noticed, it spurred him to start brainstorming band names that started with Life as.' One of his first ideas was Life as Lions, which the band didn't take too kindly to, as so many other bands use "lions" in their name.
After some deliberation, the band figured that it was a name that could stand on its own and that spoke to the kind of presence we wanted to have in our music scene.
Life as Lions didn't have a special meaning at first. It just sounded like a cool enough band name to stick. Then, after spending countless hours (and countless dollars) in the studio, grinding away at writing, rehearsing, and building a sound for ourselves, it evolved into something bigger.
Not only has it become a strong brotherhood between four guys from very diverse backgrounds, but it's brought us closer to so many other musicians in the Houston music scene that we love and respect. As musicians, we all pour everything we have in to living our lives as lions.
In case you're italics-blind and somehow missed the opening disclaimer, yeah, band names generally start like this. A bunch of empty sounds in search of a meaning that they never find. That's why I'm here, to look harder into the world that they didn't even know they built.
For instance, lions are one of the most popular beasts in heraldry. Typically they symbolize bravery, valor, strength, and, most of all, royalty. It's part of that whole King of Beasts things that the lion Illuminati marketing department dreamed up so that we wouldn't know they were a bunch of greedy capitalist pigs stealing meat from the mouths of the noble, hard-working hyena.
Or how about this? If you can name any English king from history I bet you can name Richard the Lionheart. He's the good guy in the Robin Hood stories, for Tuck's sake, and everything we've ever seen about him just screams chivalry, honor, and divine right of rule.
Well, Dick was aptly named. When some Jews came to presnt him gifts at his coronation he had them stripped and whipped. This got misinterpreted as, "The King says it's Jew Stomping Day!" and a full out riot ran through the streets of London leaving many of the Chosen People dead, beaten, robbed, and homeless.
That's not even counting the 3,000 Muslim hostages he had massacred or just the general shitty state he left the kingdom in since he spent all his time crusading. This sort of made me uneasy about Life as Lions. What kind of kings would they make?
"As kings of the concrete jungle that we call Houston, our first order of business would be to repeal our new noise ordinance," they said... good first act.
"Once we had that out of the way, we would organize local bills at our favorite venues in town, and make attendance mandatory. Houston has such a robust music scene, and attendance to shows is squandered by reunion tours and tribute bands.
"This is certainly one of the most difficult cities to launch a successful music career from, and anything we could do to make progress here would instantly become law."
Mandatory attendance... persecution of select groups deemed harmful to the community... blindly stated goal unworried by consequence... yep, sounds like historical feudal Europe to me.
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Life as Lions (n): 1. Thorny paws and fart jokes. 2. To rock, and to rock well. 3. You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.
Life as Lions plays Friday, July 20 at Warehouse Live with Suns Collide, the Soapbox Revolution, and Featherface.