The Montreal-bred band offers-up advice on how to gain success as a musician
Inspired by their collective experiences of perseverance through life’s most inexplicable detours, five close friends came together and made the most of their journey; a journey that to them, has Made Them Lions.
The road began once lead vocalist Michael Valetta and guitarists Matthew Gillis and Jeffrey Cohen, three childhood neighbours, met bassist Jono Thorpe and drummer Stuart Asprey.
“Mike, Jeff and I all grew up on the same street. We went to school together and we were friends for a long time. We started a band in high school and we’ve been playing music ever since,” said Gillis.
It didn’t take long for the members of Made Them Lions—MTL for short—to show their true colours. The five friendly and humorous musicians share a refreshing rapport that is reinforced by energetic, supportive and grounded individual personalities.
This Montreal-born band credit their modern-pop rock and reggae sound to their personal musical upbringing.
“We listen to a lot of different music. There’s a lot of overlap, but we all personally have our own little favourite bands. I’m a huge fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers; Flea is a huge inspiration for me. I also love The Police; I think The Police have a big influence on our reggae sound,” said Thorpe.
“I grew up on The Police and Bob Marley, but also on the Foo Fighters. I think we’ve just taken a bunch of sounds and mixed them together,” said Gillis.
MTL spent over a year developing their latest self-titled album. The hard-nosed effort features producing work from musicians John Nathaniel and former lead vocalist and guitarist of the pop punk band Treble Charger, Greg Nori.
Together Made Them Lions, Nathaniel, and Nori, who has worked with well-known Canadian bands such as Sum 41 and Hedley, have completed an album which they feel embodies the journey of different emotions and memories of the band’s past.
“There isn’t one way that a song is born. Sometimes one of the band members will have an idea that they’ve been working on, they’ll bring it in and we’ll all contribute to it. Sometimes we’re just jamming and ideas come out and we build on it and go from there,” said Gillis on the conception of a song.
MTL have had two of their 2014 releases place above 15 on the Palmares Top 100 chart.
“It’s amazing, I think, for all of us, it’s a dream come true. We all want to play music; we want to see some success and we want to be able to support ourselves and keep playing music all the time,” said Thorpe, remarking on the experience of putting together an album and seeing their art grow in popularity.
Thorpe continued to express the band’s devotion and dedication towards their end goal of making their music heard by the entire world’s population.
MTL has played in front of crowds as little as four people and as large as 60,000. They’ve shared the stage with and learned valuable lessons from popular artists like Sean Paul, Our Lady Peace, Hedley, B.o.B. and more.
“Sixty thousand people, crowds like that, it’s so surreal that you don’t really have time to process what’s going on. It’s almost like it happens in a dream-like state and afterwards you look back on it in disbelief and say I can’t believe that just happened,” said Valetta.
“When there’s four people in front of you and all you want to do is go home and you’re in Vancouver, that’s when you really get a taste of who you are. It’s a pleasure,” he added.
The band unanimously agreed that no matter how big or small the crowd, they pour their hearts into every performance. For them, every opportunity is a gratifying experience, and every experience gained is just another reason for the band to keep doing what they love to do.
When asked if the band had any words of wisdom to impart on future artists trying to find their sound and style, the captivating, high-tempo, sweat-dripping, stage diving, smiling members of MTL had an interesting response.
“When you’re practicing and working at your sound, just keep practicing, work hard and perfect what you’re doing. Make sure that everything is great and then when you get up on stage just have fun,” said Gillis.
“Just have fun, be yourself and go for it, you’ll end up making people have fun,” said Cohen.