Lions After Dark: For indie rockers, a whirlwind year of sonic growth
(Welcome to tbt*’s 2015 Ultimate Local Music Guide! All week we’re spotlighting 10 of our favorite local artists of the past year. Up next: Indie rockers Lions After Dark.)
Most would label Lions After Dark an indie rock trio, but they’re much more than what that blanket term connotates.
As their sound has grown and matured over the past three years, it has become less “indie” and more original, unique and all their own. They’ve been leaning towards arrangements more technical in nature, yet still anthemic, rowdy, rambunctious and danceable.
Drummer Curt Pfeiffer lays down a heavy, solid foundation decorated by guitarist Andrew Roden’s blues-fueled, Hendrix-esque riffs and licks. Singer Maddie Pfeiffer, Curt’s sister, is the icing on the musical cake. Her vocal gymnastics are equally alluring, daunting, beautiful and frightening. For their live shows, she recently ditched her floor tom, and opted for an analog Moog synthesizer, which adds a new angle to their aural palette.
The band as we know them, in their current and longest-lasting incarnation, started three years ago, but their origins trace back even further, to an Oregon boarding school the three attended in their formative years. The Pfeiffer family moved to Florida, and at Curt’s behest, Roden soon followed. In their initial incarnation, the band had a different guitarist that exited after the first six months. They really didn’t hit their stride until the inception of Roden, who has been with them, since March 2012.
For the band, it’s been a whirlwind of a year. They still haven’t replaced a bass player they lost more than a year ago; instead, they’ve relied on a steady rotation of substitutes. Still, the band has been steadily building an audience, and has performed at events like WhigFest, the 97X BBQ, Don’t Stop St. Pete and Tropical Heatwave (where they’ll perform again this year).
With or without a bassist, the band is on a roll. They spent the majority of the end of 2014 holed up writing material that will become their next album, which they are recording with Brian Rogers at The Attic, a studio, venue and bar in St. Pete.
“Lately, Lions After Dark has been pretty darn busy writing,” Maddie said. “We lost our stable bassist last year, but we’ve gotten the opportunity to play with a lot of different really talented bassists, so it’s kind of helped to open a lot of ideas. In the writing process it’s just been the three of us. Which has been really cool, ’cause all three of us have really taken a good chunk of the writing to ourselves, as opposed to one person doing it. The new music that’s coming out is much heavier hitting; it’s really kinda in-your-face.”
“It’s a lot more interesting, arrangement-wise, and more harmonically strange,” Roden said. “There’s one tune we have where there’s something like 17 consecutive diminished chords in it.”
Once the album is wrapped up, they’ll take it on the road this summer with local group Wilder Sons, and will be performing in Georgia, South Carolina and, of course, Florida.
“I think our live show is something that people are definitely drawn to,” Maddie said. “I think that the songs that we write, while they’re still unique and out there, they still catch. They still have that little catchiness to them that people can latch on to and really dig and feel good and fun about.”
Added Roden: “We aim to exhilarate.”
Members: Maddie Pfeiffer (vocals/keys), Andrew Roden (guitar), Curt Pfeiffer (drums)
Recommended if you like: Imagine Dragons, Sleeper Agent, Manchester Orchestra
See them: Saturday at Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St. in Ybor City; April 19 at the Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg; May 2 at the Ritz Ybor as part of Tropical Heatwave.
-- Aaron Lepley, tbt*