By Jasen T. Davis
Nate Bergman is the guitarist and vocalist for Lionize, a band that plays music that’s hard to define but easy to enjoy. The group’s songs feature elements of stoner rock and hard metal, guided by a reggae/funk spirit that leads the listener into groovy realms previous groups have never tried to go to, challenging the listener’s preconceived notions.
This original sound is possible because of the band’s independence from the mainstream, which has served it well throughout its career. Left to its own compass, the band has journeyed far, touring the world with similarly exotic groups like Ozomatli and CKY, and playing and recording in Kingston, Jamaica, a locus of reggae culture. Lionize will be making a stop at the Fox Theater in Pomona this week supporting Streetlight Manifesto and Reel Big Fish.
Guitarist-vocalist Nate Bergman is having a good time on the tour. “It’s been great. We just got finished playing a show in New Orleans last night. That place is one of our favorite cities.” After the performance, the group enjoyed the town’s legendary night life.
“It was great to go out and enjoy the scene. It seems like the place has really started to come back from the hurricane.”
Not afraid of the eclectic, the band’s latest album is called Superczar and the Vulture. Bergman explains the title. “The name really stems from some lyrics in the record which deal with kind of a larger-than-life group of characters. It’s a fantasy, like pulp fiction.”
“At the time Henry [Upton], our bass player, wrote a lot of the lyrics and he was really into politicians like Vladimir Putin, and how wild foreign politics can be with these larger-than-life heads of states.”
While the title, Superczar and the Vulture, is wacky, Bergman assures me it’s only a title. “It’s just a fantasy piece, there’s no message behind it.”
Lionize recorded its latest album in a different manner than usual. First, the band composed the songs and spent months rehearsing before going into the studio to record the album. The polishing and perfecting paid off . . . the final creation has an organic energy technology can’t replace.
“It took about 10 days to record,” Bergman says. “We just got a bunch of takes of us playing. It’s very organic. It’s a great representation of our live show. If you see us play live and listen to our record, it’s the same. There’s no Auto-Tuning or digital enhancement.”
Lionize did a lot of homework to make sure the album is all-natural, something Bergman believes every musician should aspire to.
“I think artists really need to get away from everything being processed and compressed. You see a band play live and they don’t live up to their recording.”
Playing and recording in Jamaica will always be a very high point for Lionize.
“It was overwhelming in a positive way,” Bergman says. “Everything down there revolves around music and family. Everything we take advantage of up here, down there it’s all they have. It was such a positive experience.”
With so many angles to the band’s music, it doesn’t always fit in, but for Lionize being that original is the perfect fit. Bergman is certainly enjoying it all.
“I think we are always the odd band out. People will pick up on how we’re doing reggae and funk, but then we go on a ska tour and we seem very metal and rock. Wherever we go, we’re a sore thumb.”
Lionize with Streetlight Manifesto, Reel Big Fish and Rodeo Ruby Love at the Fox Theater, 301 S. Garey Ave., Pomona, (909) 784-3671; www.foxpomona.com; www.lionizemusic.com. Thurs, Dec. 22. 7PM. $22.75-$25.