Concerning Lions

3 Nov

“Listening to music and writing songs are two sides of the same activity, like inhaling and exhaling”

From what I’ve heard, being apart of a band is hard work. Some say it’s like being in a marriage. Being apart of a band with members living a few hours away from eachother, now that’s even more challenging. Brian Beise, Jonathan Durham, Chase Gamble, Daniel Hallum, and Nathan Miller are the members that make up this awe-inspring band. I just recently stumbled across this quintet and have been amazed with their work. Their lyrics have a way of making the hairs on the back of your neck rise with excitement. Singer, Brian Beise was kind enough to answer a few of my questions, giving me a bit more insight on this fantastic band.

Q. How did the five of you meet to form Concerning Lions and did you all have the same starting goal? (ie, to become famous, to just have fun, etc.)

A. Jonathan and I have always been friends, because our parents are friends. Once we got to college and had enough time in the same city we really got started on playing music for people other than our moms. Chase, Daniel and Nathan came along towards the end of our college years, and that’s when we buckled down and went into the studio. As we kept playing and writing we developed goals of studio records and bigger shows, but when it comes down to it, if we don’t make music we get sad. Sharing music with others has always made me very happy. Our highest goal, of course, is to make the best music we can, and share those songs with as many people as possible, allowing us to travel more and play more shows, even getting a chance to play music seven days a week for a while.

Q. Who does most of the songwriting and what inspires you to write your music?

A. I write a few songs alone, but Jonathan and I write most of them together. He’s a composer at heart, a true instrumentalist and arranger, and I write the lyrics, often with themes and ideas we come up with together. For me, listening to music and writing songs are two sides of the same activity, like inhaling and exhaling; I can’t do one for very long before I really must do the other. Jonathan feels the same way, and when we are together, we split our time almost equally between listening and composing. It’s really the finest pastime. Lyrically, we’re storytellers first. We make up our own, and explore stories from the Bible, Greek mythology, comic books and Dickens novels. Rather than going after an emotion or broad experience, I love the details and actions that make a story seem true. We try to accurately describe the universal by depicting the specific. Some of the greatest writing occurs in songs, when one or two lines suddenly creates a scene and a character and a feeling, and you’re already helpless. For example, Sufjan Stevens’ John Wayne Gacy Jr., which starts with “His father was a drinker, and his mother cried in bed,” or Nat King Cole’s Too Young: “They tried to tell us we’re too young.”

Q. A few of you live in Nashville, TN. In your opinion, do you think it’s easier to expose the city to your music because there is lots of open ears or is it harder because the city is so over-saturated with it?

A. The lines are certainly longer there. No one really knows what the music business is anymore. The music scene in Nashville is as varied as the people in the city itself. There are places where cynicism dominates and the goal is to get ten bands to bring in fifteen fans so the house can turn a profit, but Nashville is still the center of music in America, and if you play shows and attend shows to enjoy music together, it’s a great place. It’s true, it’s often easier to get a room excited in other towns, but in Nashville, they listen very closely to songs, and, on a good night, I love that. In the end, careers in music seem to be made or broken online, and in that sense, saturation is an issue all over. It’s a wild west time for musicians.

Q. If you could pick one thing to happen to your band, what would it be and why?

A. Some of my bandmates might kill me for this, but I’d love to get one of our songs stuck into some really big scene in Grey’s Anatomy or Community or House. It may be a cheap and tacky way to discover new music, but that’s how I found both Brandi Carlile and Greg Laswell, so what can you say? I also love TV and it would be a blast to see someone emotionally interpret one of our songs in that medium.

Q. If you were stranded on an island for the rest of your life, and could only bring one of YOUR songs to listen to, which would it be and why?

A. What a great question, this lets me gush about a song of ours while making it seem like I have to! I’d take “Much of a Tree,” without a doubt. Strangely enough, we’ve never put that song on a record (though it’s on youtube: Four of us sing together here, and I can’t always tell you exactly what each line means but to us they’re true enough to hear and say again and again. It’s also a song that every band member helped compose and complete, once Jonathan and I had the basics of it finished. It could only have been written with all of us together, and singing it with those three while Daniel picks his banjo is as good as it gets for me, when it comes to the exhaling part of music.

Here is Brian and Jonathan performing a brand new song, “A Ghost, A Ghost.”

If you were ever curious about what a beautiful song may sound like, here is a really great example. One of my favorites, The End of Aaron Sussex.


One Response to “Concerning Lions”

  1. Keith Baldridge November 3, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    More people REALLY need to hear these guys!

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