INTERVIEW WITH LIONSAULT BAND MEMBERS, KORTNI NICOLS, CHASE NICOLS AND CODY RAMSDALE
Date: November 3, 2018
AS MY FRIEND RICH DILLON AND I MADE OUR WAY TO CHECK OUT LIONSAULT PLAYING THE RHYTHM & BREWS BREWING COMPANY IN CAMBRIDGE, ONTARIO, CANADA, I INTENDED ON BRINGING MY HAND HELD RECORDER TO PERHAPS CONDUCT AN IMPROMPTU INTERVIEW WITH THE BAND MEMBERS — SINGER / BASSIST KORTNI NICOLS, DRUMMER CHASE NICOLS AND NEW GUITARIST CODY RAMSDALE — IF THE OPPORTUNITY PRESENTED ITSELF. ONCE WE ARRIVED AT THE VENUE, I REALIZED THAT I HAD LEFT MY RECORDER AT HOME SO NOT ONLY WAS IT AN IMPROMPTU INTERVIEW, IT WAS ALSO MY FIRST TIME RECORDING AN INTERVIEW WITH MY CELL PHONE.
FOR THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW LIONSAULT, THEY RELEASED AN AMAZING DEBUT ALBUM TITLED ‘ARE YOU FEELING LUCKY?’ IN 2015 THAT FINISHED AT #8 ON THE SLEAZE ROXX’S TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2015. SINCE THEN, THE GROUP HAS HAD SOME LINE-UP CHANGES WITH CHASE NICOLS BRIEFLY OUT OF THE BAND AND GUITARIST TAYLOR SHEASGREEN RECENTLY GETTING REPLACED BY CODY RAMSDALE.
Sleaze Roxx: So you’re in the middle of your tour. How is that going so far?
Kortni Nicols: It’s going really well. Our friends from Halifax [Nova Scotia, Canada] actually moved to Barrie [Ontario, Canada] about a year ago and they set up a show for us and it was a really good turnout. And then we played in Brantford last night. Again, a really really good turnaround and met some really [laughs] crazy fans last night. There were some pretty drunk people there but they really enjoyed our music so it was really fun. This [gig at Rhythm & Brews Brewing Company in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada] is a last minute thing. We’re not sure who officially [laughs] set it up yet but I’m sure we’ll find out. This a really cool place. We have Toronto [Ontario, Canada] tomorrow and Montreal [Quebec, Canada] on Sunday and then we’re going to Newfoundland [Canada].
Sleaze Roxx: Since the last time that I spoke to you, there’s been a bit of a line-up change. Actually, quite a few [laughs] for a three person band. So let’s start off with the drummer change. Of course, the funny thing is that Chase is now back in the band. Chase went on hiatus for a little while. What happened there?
Kortni Nicols: Errr. Well, I mean, I don’t want to get too much into personal details but…
Chase Nicols: What really happened I guess is that I got pretty busy with work and my work was mainly seasonal in the summer and we wanted to continue playing shows. And I guess I was kind of a baby about having a fill-in drummer and things got really heated. That’s basically it [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Kortni Nicols: Yes. That’s how it happened. And with Taylor, he got busy with Motorleageue and stuff, and I wanted to keep playing and shows were kind of getting interlapped so I made the executive decision. You know, I wanted Chase back on drums really bad and Taylor just couldn’t really do the guitar anymore so I got Cody.
Sleaze Roxx: How did Cody get into the band?
Kortni Nicols: I am good friends with the bassist from Blackmore. It’s a cool band from Halifax and I just put feelers out there because he knows everybody in the Halifax [Nova Scotia, Canada] scene and even in Moncton [New Brunswick, Canada] scene. I told him, ‘Hey. I think that I need to change the line-up in Lionsault. I’m putting out feelers before I make any sudden movements.’ And he was like, ‘Yeah. My roommate Cody. He saw you guys play last year and he’s wanted to be in your band ever since [laughs].’ Yeah, so I was like, ‘Done. Done. Set something up for me.’ He learned the songs by ear and the first time we jammed, he knew them all like perfectly just by listening to the album.
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! So was there any audition Cody or were you just in already?
Cody Ramsdale: I just literally… I bought the album off Bandcamp and walked around Halifax listening to it like 400 times to familiarize myself with it. I learned a song a day and by the time that they came to jam, I just walked in and nailed it.
Kortni Nicols: He really really did. Like there’s a part in “Counting Down” ’cause he’s got a volume control pedal — so the slow part in “Counting Down” — he controlled it really really nicely and literally, Chase and I had chills. We were like, ‘This is it. This is the guy.’
Lionsault‘s “Counting Down” video (with singer/bassist Kortni Nicols, drummer Chase Nicols and guitarist Taylor Sheasgreen):
Music video by Lionsault performing ‘Counting Down’ from the album ‘Are You Feeling Lucky?’. Lionsault’s debut album “Are You Feeling Lucky?” is available on iTunes and Bandcamp now! http://www.itunes.com/lionsault http://www.lionsault.bandcamp.com http://www.lionsault.com http://www.facebook.com/LionsaultBand Follow us on Instagram and Twitter: @LionsaultBand Filmed by: Chase Nicols Additional footage by: Rich Dillon, Olivier Sleazeroxx, and Adam Binns.
Cody Ramsdale: With a three piece band, you have to be dynamic and that’s one thing that I noticed from the start. You have to make people engaged and just those subtle volume changes is something that you have to bring to the table.
Sleaze Roxx: In terms of the songwriting, now that Taylor is out of the band, how has that impacted the band?
Kortni Nicols: I mean, it hasn’t really. Taylor and I were always the key songwriters before. Like before Taylor was gone, I kind of took a more active role in the writing for the new album musically. Usually, I was the melody writer for the songs but I was now contributing riffs and I was like contributing music for the first time. Now, I’m doing it for this album. I’ll bring the riffs to the table and then Cody will help me put them into a song.
Sleaze Roxx: Now, I’ve just heard most of the new songs for the first time but they sound a little heavier than the first batch of songs. What do you have to say about that?
Kortni Nicols: Definitely heavier. I find vocally, I’m doing a lot more screaming and stuff like that but I find that our choruses in three or four of the new songs are poppy. The verses are the things that are heavy. But yeah, I could see why you would think that [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: Alright. So when can we expect a new album from Lionsault?
Kortni Nicols: Well, we need to have one out before the ECMAs [East Coast Music Awards] so it will be before the ECMAs [laughs]. Before May of 2019.
Cody Ramsdale: First quarter of 2019.
Kortni Nicols: First quarter of 2019 is when it will be out. We’re just getting the tour out of the way. We are playing some new songs. Kind of getting them road tight and really feeling like where we want to make changes. Like there was one song that we’ve only played twice. This is our third time playing it live. So we’re just trying to feel them out sort of thing and once we are back from Newfoundland, we’re just going to hop into the studio and start laying down some tracks. Hibernate in the winter…
Cody Ramsdale: [Laughs]
Kortni Nicols: Sit in my Mom’s cottage and just start recording.
Sleaze Roxx: How do you think that the new album will differ from the old one?
Cody Ramsdale: Well, the dynamic with writing. Since the line-up change and how I write riffs and how Kortni has kind of taken control ofver the melodies. Just the way that us three interact as a unit is really going to be the main change in our sound but it’s still 100% Lionsault through and through. There’s just some slight influence changes that might make an appearance.
Kortni Nicols: There’s also some — what’s the word that I am looking for — growth as songwriters. Maturity for sure. We’re learning. For the first album, one review said that we had a formula that we stick to and for this album, we’re trying to break out of that more and do different musical things, bla, bla, bla, bla.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Alright. Cody — what’s your background prior to coming to Lionsault?
Cody Ramsdale: I was in a band called Vicious and I left after we recorded our first and only album at this point. Just shit hit the fan. I wasn’t really into it anymore and I just left the music scene for four years. I don’t know what happened. I didn’t want to play live for x number of years. I just stayed in my room and learned blues, and tried to cut my teeth on some Stevie Ray Vaughn and rock riffs [laughs]. And literally for four years, that’s what I was doing and then I saw Lionsault at the Maritime Metal Fest. Five I think.
Kortni Nicols: Yes.
Cody Ramsdale: And they were playing just before Blackmore. I had no idea what to expect. I saw them. I was watching them with my Dad I think. I looked at him after these guys were finished and said, ‘Holy shit! These guys are awesome! I want to get back into music and this is the band that I want to play with.’ And I literally sat home and stewed for weeks about messaging them and being like, ‘Hey? Do you need another guitarist?’
Everyone (except Cody Ramsdale): [Laughs]
Cody Ramsdale: I literally had the message typed out and saved in a draft for weeks but I was too chicken to send it. I moved to Halifax and Bryson walked in with his head down looking this phone. He said, ‘Wanna be in Lionsault?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah. Yeah. I do.’ He’s like, ‘OK.’ Five minutes later, he walks in and says, ‘Start learning the tunes dude.’
Kortni Nicols: [Laughs]
Cody Ramsdale: I’m like, ‘Wow! OK.’ And here we are here in Cambridge, Ontario on tour.
Kortini Nicols: This is actually Cody’s first tour as Vicious never really toured outside their city. Vicious has never toured outside the Maritimes, with Cody in the band anyways. This is his first time playing so frequently.
Sleaze Roxx: So distance wise, if Cody is in Halifax [Nova Scotia, Canada] and you two are based in Miramichi [New Brunswick, Canada], how does that work?
Cody Ramsdale: It’s a five hour drive to band practice. Once or twice a month. When you have a bladder like I do, it’s a five hour drive to Miramichi.
Kortni Nicols: It’s very much possible that Chase and I will be relocating. More news on that when there is more plans in stone on that I guess.
Sleaze Roxx: In terms of relocating, have you thought of maybe going outside of Halifax? To [the province of] Ontario or something like that or is that a possibility?
Kortni Nicols: I mean, I don’t like to make plans with what we’re doing. Roughly, we’d like to make it to the Halifax area.
Cody Ramsdale: You kind of want to be the bigger fish in the smaller pond before you move to a bigger pond. You kind of have to grow and mature yourself to a point where it’s like, ‘There’s nothing else to prove in this scene.’ And then you move out and it’s like, ‘Oh my God! What have we done?’
Kortni Nicols: Yeah. so definitely Halifax to build our Maritime name more. You know, run the second album and then we want to move closer to central Canada. Maybe Montreal. Maybe somewhere outside of Toronto. We’re not really sure yet as we are not trying to stick to any concrete plan. That’s kind of like our collective plan.
Lionsault‘s “Light It Up” video (with singer/bassist Kortni Nicols, drummer Chase Nicols and guitarist Taylor Sheasgreen):
Lionsault’s debut album “Are You Feeling Lucky?” is available on iTunes and Bandcamp now. http://www.itunes.com/lionsault http://www.lionsault.bandcamp.com/ Check out more http://www.lionsault.com http://www.facebook.com/lionsaultband Follow us on Instagram and Twitter: @LionsaultBand Filmed by Adam Binns Directed by Lionsault Music written, recorded, produced and performed by Lionsault Mixed and mastered by Adam Dincorn at Undertone.
Sleaze Roxx: In terms of the new album, since you’ve indicated that it’s going to come out before May ….
Kortni Nicols: Yup! Before May, it’s happening [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: How many songs can we expect and how will the songs be different from the first?
Kortni Nicols: Nine songs. It was going to be ten but nine I decided.
Cody Ramsdale: We’ll probably record more just to have.
Kortni Nicols: Yeah.
Cody Ramsdale: There’s probably going to be nine or ten tracks.
Kortni Nicols: Yeah. Around nine. One song that I wrote, it’s actually piano based. It’s something that we’ve never done before. But I don’t know. I don’t think that it’s going to be that different. It’s still going to be ’80s inspired but I’ve been listening to some indie bands that my boyfriend recently turned me on to that affects my personal songwriting. That’s where the poppiness comes through and stuff.
Sleaze Roxx: I got one more question for you. Cody — you’re in a band with two siblings. How do you find the dynamics? You’re the outsider and obviously, they’ve [Kortni and Chase Nicols] have been together all their lives. How does it work?
Chase Nicols: Dude, I’m curious.
Cody Ramsdale: Oh, they’re fucking assholes man!
Cody Ramsdale: Nah, it’s really good. The dynamic between the two? When things get heated, it actually doesn’t get that heated between the two. Like, we all kind of jive like family. It’s weird. Being an outsider? I don’t really feel like an outsider. It’s weird.
Kortni Nicols: Honestly, I sometimes feel like the outsider because you two are like the brothers and I’m the sister that you are picking on. That’s how it feels!
Cody Ramsdale: [Laughs]
Kortni Nicols: I’m the little sister, and Cody and Chase are picking on me all tour. That’s how it feels. Every God damn time [laughs]. The girl is the outsider and the guys are pranking all day long.
Chase Nicols: It kind of goes back and forth, like in a three way. I think that we always feel that one of us is left out in some aspect.
Kortni Nicols: I don’t know how you feel [directed to Chase] about Cody and I?
Chase Nicols: Sometimes I do.
Lionsault‘s “Witch Hunt” video (with singer/bassist Kortni Nicols, guitarist Taylor Sheasgreen and drummer J-D Thibodeau):
Music video for Lionsault’s single, “Witch Hunt” starring Karlie Nicols and comedian “Big Love” Joe Butler. Available to download or stream at lionsault.bandcamp.com. Recorded by Kortni Nicols, Taylor Sheasgreen, and Andrew Phillips. Directed and edited by Kortni Nicols and Taylor Sheasgreen. Mixed and mastered by Adam Dincorn at Undertone in Saint John, New Brunswick.
Lionsault performing “Living With The Devil” (with singer/bassist Kortni Nicols, drummer Chase Nicols and guitarist Cody Ramsdale) at the Maritime Metal and Hard Rock Festival 666 in Windsor, Nova Scotia, Canada in July 2018:
LionSault performing Living With The Devil at the Maritime Metal And Hard Rock Festival 666 in Windsor, NS