Sydney’s fuzz kings Born Lion have been serving up piping-hot riff rock ever since 2013, boasting two feature length albums, a self-titled EP, and a couple of ear-catching new singles Sunshine and Bigger than Jesus. Duly nominated for an ARIA award in 2015 (Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album), Born Lion have also captured widespread attention playing alongside big names such as the Hives, Shihad and Royal Blood.
Luckily for fans the band are currently on tour again supporting Ezekiel Ox, providing Aussies with a dose of their head banging hits. Next stop is Newcastle on June 7th at the Stag & Hunter, so if you’re a local be sure to check in for a good time.
This week at MIIO we’re also feeling lucky, being able to have a chat with frontman John Bowker about his own Savyy Seven tips for emerging musicians. Covering technology tips for saving cash, a helpful industry podcast and the likelihood of wanting to spend time with your bandmates ever again after tour, read below for his helpful insights.
1. What inspired you to pursue music as a career?
My Dad is a lead guitarist and was very active in bands when I was growing up. I’d love to watch him play and was fascinated by it. I was given a really nice Ibanez electric when I was really little but it pretty much just sat behind the lounge for years. I think I had an idea that I shouldn’t just do exactly what my Dad had done. It was eventually my Mum that forced me to have some lessons with a friend of my Dad’s. He was also a school teacher and had a fairly strict approach. I remember being intimidated to the point where I felt I had to at least practice a bit in order to avoid a lecture on lesson day. At some point though it turned from something I was making myself do, to something I couldn’t stop doing. I discovered Nirvana and learnt their entire catalogue. I would play non- stop to the point where my Mum was then having to ask me to stop. Not much has changed since then really.
2. Besides making music, what have you done to get to where you are?
Being committed I guess. I’m extremely passionate about my music and wanting people to hear it. I love
creating something with my friends and then seeing it go through its processes. I think without that passion
there is no real point.
On a more practical level I have spent a long time trying to refine by sound and in turn the gear I use. I have
some nice guitars and amps that help me put forward the type of sound I hear in my head. I’m also fairly
proactive in terms of trying to remain engaged with people out there that enjoy what we do. It can be really
hard to continually create ‘content’ ect but we try our best!
Just getting started? Check out our course for Emerging Artists here.
3. How do you approach developing timelines for your career?
Sometimes it’s very haphazard.. Everyone in the band has a bunch of other life stuff going on so we plan as
best we can. Generally we have a fairly loose plan in mind. I think the thing that we are mindful of mostly is to maintain some level of consistency and output in what we do. The benchmarks are forever changing and evolving based on how we are all travelling at the time.
4. What is the most significant challenge you have conquered in your career?
There’s been a few! Being in a band can be really challenging. Sometimes you feel like you are putting a lot of yourself on the line. Particularly for me being the main songwriter.. I can get really attached to a song to the point where it can be pretty heart breaking if it doesn’t turn out the way you’d hoped. There can be a lot of disappointment that is not always balanced out by the successes.
Being a lead singer can come with its own set of challenges. It’s an unpredictable instrument and I’ve struggled over the years to get it exactly where I want it. It generally means I don’t get to party with the band after the show and long stretches of no talking etc.
5. What will musicians discover from touring and how should they prepare for it?
On the whole touring is really enjoyable. It’s just hangin’ out with your mates and crackin’ jokes with some playing of music in between. On the flip side though it can be totally exhausting. Long stretches of driving and flying on not much sleep. You get to spend A LOT of time with your band mates. If there is some strains in the friendship then this can be revealed through spending so much intense time with each other. At the end of a tour we often make the joke ‘So I’ll come round and we’ll hang out tomorrow?’.
You also need to deal with expectations. Touring can be a real mixed bag In terms of how well each show is going to go. Each night you’re competing with a bunch of other shows happening in the town and sometimes attendance can be a real luck of the draw. This can result in disappointment after you’ve put so much work into promotion etc etc. Generally though we try to have a ball regardless of the turnout.. we just do our thing and have fun doing it.
Ready to get touring yourself? Save the headache for the rider and check out our course ‘Touring Nationally and Internationally’ to get started.
6. How should people educate themselves on current industry issues?
I think the main thing is just getting out there and making it happen. You’ll pick up loads of stuff along the way. I did stumble upon a music industry podcast the other day though. It’s called ‘Music Business Facts’ and it’s presented by Rodney Holder. He used to play drums for metal band ’Alchemist’. He interviews a range of people such as band managers, labels, tour promoters etc. It’s pretty informative and entertaining. Facebook is also a general source of everything that’s going on.. if it’s significant you’ll hear about it there.
If you’re looking for more helpful industry resources such as books, podcasts and other media, check out our resources page here.
7. How have you integrated modern technology into your content process?
I’m fairly savvy when it comes to programs such as Photoshop and Premiere pro. I make all the bands posters and have made several film clips for the band also. This has come in handy when it comes to making a quick tour promo vid or alike. It saves us a crap ton of cash and also has a bit of a unique vibe about it.
Ready to rock? Check out Born Lion‘s newest clip below.