INTERVIEW WITH THE LAZYS LEAD VOCALIST LEON HARRISON AND LEAD GUITARIST MATTY MORRIS
Date: May 24, 2018
FOLLOWING YOUR DREAM TAKES A LOT OF SACRIFICES AND USUALLY A LOT OF HEARTACHES ALONG THE WAY. MANY BANDS GIVE UP WHEN THINGS DON’T HAPPEN FAST ENOUGH FOR THEIR LIKING. THE LAZYS ARE THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULE HAVING RELEASED FOUR EPS AND ONE FULL-LENGTH ALBUM IN AUSTRALIA BETWEEN 2007 TO 2011 WITH LIMITED SUCCESS BEFORE DECIDING TO RELOCATE TO THE OTHER END OF THE WORLD — CANADA IN THIS INSTANCE — TO MAKE THEIR DREAM HAPPEN. ONE LISTEN TO THE LAZYS’ NEW ALBUM ‘TROPICAL HAZARDS‘ WILL CONFIRM THAT THE GROUP MADE THE RIGHT DECISION AS THE RECORD IS EASILY ONE OF THE BEST OF THE YEAR SO FAR. SLEAZE ROXX HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET WITH TWO OF THE LAZYS’ FOUNDERS — LEAD VOCALIST LEON HARRISON AND LEAD GUITARIST MATTY MORRIS — TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING HARD ROCK BANDS OUT THERE. THE INTERVIEW TOOK PLACE IN A TORONTO PUB AND THE “AUSSIE GUYS” AS DUBBED BY THE BAR STAFF WERE LAID BACK AND FUN TO CHAT WITH.
Sleaze Roxx: Why don’t we get started with your new album. I was actually blown away by how good it is.
Leon Harrison: Ha!
Sleaze Roxx: But one thing I noticed from listening to your prior albums is that it feels like you took the best part of ‘The Lazys’ — the self-titled one — and you took those songs and put them all on ‘Tropical Hazards.’ You left behind the more bluesy jam type songs of the past. What do you think about that?
Matty Morris: We worked really hard on the songwriting this time around and I guess that we tried to really step it up.
Leon Harrison: We pushed ourselves.
Matty Morris: We pushed ourselves. Yeah. For me, I really tried to step away a little more from the classic rock type stuff and get a new kind of sound on it / taste on it.
Leon Harrison: A more modern approach. Yeah, I agree with what he said [laughs].
Matty Morris: [Laughs]
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Leon Harrison: We were pushed beyond comprehension for this record for a reason because today’s market is so competitive and rock seems to be a difficult genre to prove yourself in. Anybody can push a fucking keyboard and all of a sudden gain all this, you know,…
Sleaze Roxx: Sounds?
Leon Harrison: Status. Respect. Oh my God, did you see? They sold out The Phoenix [Concert Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada]. They fucking picked up a keyboard when they were like 26 [laughs].
Matty Morris: [Laughs]
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Leon Harrison: Whereas rock is all about respect and it’s all about a culture that almost demands the best. And that’s why AC/DC are the best. Not just because they are AC/DC but they pushed themselves their whole career. So that answers that for sure. We have to write a record that wasn’t going to be swept under the rug as just another mediocre rock record. You got to play with the big boys [laughs].
Matty Morris: We had to step it up.
Sleaze Roxx: But when I listen to the [new] album, I find that you sort of took the singles off ‘The Lazys’ and came up with the same kind of stuff on ‘Tropical Hazards.’
Leon Harrison: Yeah for sure. I think there’s definitely the same kind of vibe there. The two singles that you mention — like “Black Rebel,” “Shake It Like You Mean It” and let’s throw “Howling Woman” in there — but especially “Black Rebel” and “Shake It Like You Mean It” were both written with [Billy Talent guitarist] Ian [D’sa] so they had his sounding also his tactical approach to it and not settling for second best. Whereas the other songs on that record are a bunch of songs that we have been playing since we were 19. They were reworked, and then reworked again. A number of them are on our older EPs that have different structures and all that kind of stuff so I guess you can — like you said — you can see the progression to working with the elite on writing songs.
The Lazys‘ “Black Rebel” (from The Lazys released in 2014) video:
Black Rebel (Ian D’Sa, Leon Harrison, Mathew Morris) Produced by Ian D’Sa (Billy Talent) Engineered & Mixed by Eric Ratz Engineering & Digital editing by Kenny Luong Recorded at Revolution & Dudebox Studio Mixed at Vespa Studios Mastered by Harry Hess at HBomb Mastering Film Clip by Mathew Morris www.facebook.com/thelazysofficial www.youtube.com/thelazysaustralia www.twitter.com/thelazysband www.instagram.com/thelazys www.thelazysmusic.com
The Lazys‘ “Shake It Like You Mean It” (from The Lazys released in 2014) video:
THE LAZYS – Shake It Like You Mean It Recorded in Vancouver w/ GGGarth Richardson Co Written w/ Ian D’Sa (Billy Talent) From the self titled album ‘THE LAZYS’ www.facebook.com/thelazysofficial www.instagram.com/thelazys www.twitter.com/thelazysband www.thelazysmusic.com iTunes link to THE LAZYS – https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-lazys/id928610198
Sleaze Roxx: So how did you hook up with Ian in the first place?
Matty Morris: That’s a story that’s been told many times [laughs]. We first came to Canadian Music Week in 2014 and he was at a show.
Leon Harrison: Yeah! We did three shows in 24 hours. The first one sort of gained attention from people and Ralph James, our agent, happened to come and see us the following day. But because he got so many text messages, it was already in our favour that we got his attention. You know what I mean? So he came and saw us. That show actually was the Germans that we are working with currently. That was four/five years ago. Four/five years ago, these Germans saw us and it’s only now that we’re starting to work with them. But they were staying with Ian just like they did this year for CMW [Canadian Music Week] and they said they had to fly back to Germany and they said, ‘Ian, you got to see this band tonight at the Bovine [Sex Club in Toronto, Ontario, Canada].’ And that was our last show in the 24 hours. I think that we played at 1:00 am. And Ian was there and the rest is literally history [laughs].
Matty Morris: [Laughs]
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] What made you decide to leave the sunny beaches of Australia for the very cold climate of Canada? Probably more opportunities, right?
Matty Morris: Yeah, for sure. We would probably still be on the beach there [laughs] if it wasn’t for the success here. But we got a big opportunity here and we needed to chase that. Plus, here it’s closer to the States. It’s closer to Europe. It’s really going to be the foundation for our careers here.
Leon Harrison: Yeah. I think it already is. And leaving Australia, you know, it’s a game of pop culture. The rock n’ roll scene — despite having such incredible rock bands come out of Australia — it’s just full of keyboard synth an also this surfy stonewash scene that I am not a massive fan of because they put cones better than they play their instruments [laughs]. You know? So it was a bit of a dead end there for us actually. We just kept playing, playing, playing and playing but that led to this opportunity. And all that playing, playing, playing and playing actually — we didn’t even know — but we were setting ourselves up to be signed in one of the best places in the current music world. Canada. Toronto. We live here now. It’s like Matt said, it’s so close to America, which we plan on going to eventually and also Europe — it’s eight hours away [by flight]. You could walk that.
Matty Morris: [Laughs]
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Matty Morris: We’ve driven a lot further.
Sleaze Roxx: So it’s funny that you say that Toronto has just a great scene because when I speak to the Toronto bands, they tell me it’s terrible! A lot of them tell me it’s terrible so its amazing to me that you guys have moved from Australia to come to Toronto when so many people tell me, ‘Oh, I don’t like the scene here.’
Leon Harrison: It’s probably the exact same case you know? If they went to Sydney [Australia], they’d probably get picked up over there [laughs].
Matty Morris: [Laughs]
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Leon Harrison: I mean like Sydney fucking rules. I don’t know man. I always say this — with every band has its own journey and it’s own story. Ours was coming to Canada. A lot of Australian bands have had to leave the Pacific to get any recognition. We’re not the first. INXS did it AC/DC did it and then eventually, they go home and throw the big sellout and throw a few shows in there as well. But there is no career in Australia man. There are five cities. There’s not much rural activity anymore due to the pokies [slot machines]. There’s no demand for it. It’s too far away from the rest of the world. In actual fact, I think that we’re in a way better position because I think that there are bands in Australia saying, ‘Fuck! We need to get out of here!’ But they can’t. But for some strange reason, we were able to get out of Australia and for that, I am really grateful. Yeah, big time.
Sleaze Roxx: Geographically, it makes a lot of sense [laughs]. I’ve been to Australia. It’s a very big place and it’s hard to get around. Did your whole band come to Canada? It looks like you had a switch with your drummer [Jay Braslin to Andy Nielsen].
Matty Morris: Has the whole band come here [to Canada]?
Sleaze Roxx: Yeah.
Leon Harrison: No. We’ve had Andy [Nielsen] in the band for three years. He lives here now. But yeah, our old drummer, he left about three years ago. He’s doing his own thing back in Australia now. But no, the line-up since pretty well the last three years of work in Canada and Europe, it’s been the same.
Matty Morris: For sure man. Three of us are basically here now.
Leon Harrison: Technically four.
Matty Morris: Technically four [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: You guys have been around for quite a while because I think that your first EP dates back to 2007. So it feels to me that you are more one of those classic bands that have taken a little bit of time to get to their sound but now you’ve found it. Is that how you feel?
Matty Morris: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. For sure. I mean, we’ve probably [laughs] would have liked it to happen a lot sooner. We played in pubs for years. We still are and in doing so, we found our sound. We developed our sound. We developed our skills — our skill levels [laughs]. It’s a full resume.
Leon Harrison: Everything. Like I said, subconsciously or whatever… Is that the right term? Yeah. Subconsciously for seven years when we were playing to the sound guy in Australia — apart from maybe Sydney when we had a rent a crap…
Matty Morris: [Laughs]
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Leon Harrison: We were actually, we were actually preparing for the main event, which was over here, ’cause really rock n’ roll matters in North America and Europe. To the rest of the world, it’s the top 40 shit. Especially in Europe as well, there’s a huge rock scene. So yeah, l we have found our sound. It took us a long time because going back to what I said before, it’s not easy to be a great rock band because the culture of it, it’s meant to be hard. Only the best break through in rock. They really do.
Matty Morris: But it’s a good thing.
Leon Harrison: The only band that I can feel of since for a long time internationally is that young band Greta Van Fleet, which [laughs] doesn’t make sense to me because they sound exactly like Led Zeppelin but you know, you’re always seeing these hip hop artists and these pop artists and all this sort of shit that gets turned around and around like a steam wheel on a boat [laughs]. You know what I mean? But like rock n’ roll, it’s very hard to see a break through rock band actually fucking hit its heights.
Sleaze Roxx: It looks like you released five albums in Australia. Am I right?
Matty Morris: I’ve lost count.
Sleaze Roxx: You’ve lost count? I brought the CD [‘The Younger Years [2007-2011]‘ which lists all five albums] just in case [laughs]. I got five.
Matty Morris: Yeah, that’s about right.
The Lazys‘ “Union Of The Underdogs” (from Nicotine Soul EP released in 2007) video:
Uploaded by The Lazys Official on 2011-11-23.
Sleaze Roxx: So obviously, you were persistent even when things weren’t working in your favour. What made you continue when things maybe weren’t going the way you wanted to go?
Leon Harrison: Jesus.
Matty Morris: One the love of music and two, I can’t do anything else.
Leon Harrison: [Laughs] That summed [it] up pretty well. Yeah. I’d have to say — the dream man of walking out to those big crowds because now we’re starting to see a few of those big crowds. It’s a great feeling. It’s exactly what you hope for. There’s nothing like it. And also, what kept us going man, we’re just brothers with a dream and a passion.
Matty Morris: When he’s been down, I pick him up. When I’m down, he picks me up.
Leon Harrison: Yeah. And also I think when you look at the legacy again of rock n’ roll, the song was written by Bon Scott — “It’s Long Way To The Top If You Want To Rock N’ Roll.” And so many fucking bands just want it too easy these days and they do. You know what the funny thing is? A lot of them who want it too easily forget that it goes too easily as well. But there’s still these people out there that want it and want it too quickly.
Matty Morris: Nothing good comes easily.
Leon Harrison: Nothing does man. Like maybe look at a band like AC/DC. Fucking Bon Scott dies. Imagine how in the dumps they would have been back in 1980. They would have wanted to like jump off a cliff, quit and throw their music instruments into the ocean. Like that would just ripped them apart but they just stood together and just went, “Nah. We’re going to continue this.” So I mean, if you can take something from your influences, they went through a death and still made it to the best band in the world. We can go through playing to a few sound guys [laughs]. You know what I mean?
Sleaze Roxx: One thing that I noticed is that your live shows are really energetic. Do you feel that it’s the years of toiling in the Australian pubs that have made it so good?
Matty Morris: I think we’re both crazy too [laughs]. We’ve got a lot of shit to release onstage [laughs]. We’ve got a lot of energy. That and the fact that I really like to see the smiles on people’s faces. I love the crowd to be having fun. I want them to come for the entertainment, for the music and for a good night.
Leon Harrison: Yeah. I can’t say much more than that because he’s the real show pony.
Matty Morris: [Laughs]
Leon Harrison: He’s like that fucking pony they lead through the parade [laughs] and I’m like the closed door at the back [laughs]. Just pulling the beer wagon but Matt’s a great entertainer. I agree. If people come and pay their fucking lousy $10 at the moment…
Leon Harrison: …to see us, then we do want them to get their $10 worth.
Matty Morris: It’s the whole point of the live show for me. It’s like a circus you know? Fucking show up, pay your money and you want a good night. You want that to distract you from your life for an hour and a half.
Leon Harrison: I think we do that.
Sleaze Roxx: I think that you do that too. You do that well. So what are the plans? The new album just came out so what are your plans for the rest of the year?
Leon Harrison: Well, we have to do nine shows in eight days coming up. Actually, it’s more like… What did I say? Nine shows in eight days? Something like that. Something crazy. We do that.
[Interviewer’s note: The Lazys are currently in the midst of their nine shows in 12 days journey.]
Leon Harrison: We go to the UK for the first time, in London. Amsterdam as well. No doubt that there’s going to be a lot of Europe action in the fall. We do some Canadian summer festivals and then there will also be some action in the fall in Canada. I’d like to see us do at least, you know, 50 more shows this year. I don’t know if we’ll hit that but we’ll definitely 20 out in Canada in the fall and hopefully 20 out in Europe in the fall.
Sleaze Roxx: What about your next single? When would that be coming out?
Matty Morris: We can’t say.
Sleaze Roxx: Yes! You can say.
Matty Morris: [Laughs] We can’t.
Leon Harrison: No comment.
Leon Harrison: No. It will be coming out soon. I think “Nothing But Trouble” still has some legs. It’s still getting rotation on radio. It’s still in the top 10, top five actually and I’d say summertime, we’ll be looking to release a new video and a new single. And I can’t tell you what that is [laughs] but I’ll betcha you can probably pick.
The Lazys‘ “Nothing But Trouble” (from Tropical Hazards released in 2018) video:
The Lazys – Nothing But Trouble. From the upcoming album “Tropical Hazards” out February 16th, 2018. Pre-order/Pre-save now! https://TheLazys.lnk.to/TROPICALHAZARDSID Leon Harrison – Lead Vocals Matty Morris – Lead Guitar & Vocals Liam Shearer – Rhythm Guitar & Vocals Glenn Williams – Bass & Vocals Andy Nielsen – Drums Produced by HRD Music Inc.
Sleaze Roxx: If I was to pick one, I would say [‘Tropical Hazards’ album closer] “Take Back This Town.” It’s very different.
Leon Harrison: No. I can confirm that.
Sleaze Roxx: You know what? It’s different. It’s little bit different from the other stuff. OK. So why wouldn’t it be the single?
Leon Harrison: Why wouldn’t it be? ‘Cause we have so many other better ones [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: You don’t like that one.
Leon Harrison: No. I love that song. That’s a good song but yeah, it’s probably not the next pick for radio.
Sleaze Roxx: How do you choose which song you think will make it to radio?
Leon Harrison: We pick one out of a hat.
Matty Morris: Nah, it’s us, our team, the label.
Leon Harrison: Our radio team are generally pretty good at predicting… They’ve got the experience at radio. The song we have in mind — it’s pretty catchy. Like if you heard it on the radio, you’d be like, ‘Aaargh. That’s a radio song.’
Sleaze Roxx: Have you guys ever thought of releasing a live album?
Leon Harrison: Ooooh!
Matty Morris: Yeah but I’d think they’d be way too many mistakes on it [laughs].
Leon Harrison: [Laughs]
Matty Morris: We’d release a live album and then probably pull it back off the shelves [laughs].
Leon Harrison: It’s not a bad idea. We’ll think about that.
Matty Morris: I’d love to but we’d gonna have to be a good band [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: You can be like Halestrom. They released a live album pretty fast [into their discography career]. Anyways, when I saw you play live, I was thinking that you guys are pretty innovative for your merch table because you even have hockey pucks. How did you come up with that because you probably didn’t think about it when you were in Australia?
Leon Harrison: Actually, just went to the Hockey Hall of Fame [located in Toronto]. Saw that there were hockey pucks. Every bloody team! If anything, there was a ‘Hi Mom” hockey puck. There was heaps of shit so i just went The Lazys should get hockey pucks. For Canada. We won’t be taking them to Germany or anything like that. But yeah, they sell pretty good.
Sleaze Roxx: So are you guys already writing the next album?
Matty Morris: Oooh. I am probably going to say no. Leon, have you been writing [laughs]? We kind of exhausted that train for a little while man. It’s nice to get a little bit of a breather and focus on playing live.
Leon Harrison: Matt works super hard. I am glad that we are not writing at the moment. I mean Matt did all the demoing and stuff initially. We were working on that album since early 2016.
Matty Morris: It kind of fried us [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Fair enough. So take me back to the beginning. How did you guys get started in the first place?
Matty Morris: He’s got the star story. The trampoline… [laughs].
Leon Harrison: Yeah. The trampoline guy… I got wind of Mr. Matty Morris here was looking for a singer because he was trying his God damn best but [laughs]…
Matty Morris: I wasn’t a singer.
Leon Harrison: He wasn’t a singer. He’s a lead guitarist. So I got wind of this. He actually had a little bit of a publishing deal. All that sort of stuff so I was like [in a funny voice], ‘Oh my God. This guy’s like got the industry chasing him.’
Leon Harrison: Which back in those days was like a deer in headlights. So I went to audition for him. I met him. He was on the trampoline bouncing with his little cousin.
Leon Harrison: Like he was 15. So he was like a child [laughs]. Yeah, serious. And then we jammed and jammed and jammed. And then twelve years later, here we are. Yes, it’s just been a really gradual progression.
Sleaze Roxx: And what about the other guys? How did they get into the band?
Matty Morris: Well, actually, Leon went to school with [rhythm guitarist] Liam [Shearer].
Leon Harrison: Yeah, and our bass player [Glenn] “Willy” [Williams] was in it from the start.
Matty Morris: Yeah, he’s an original.
Leon Harrison: Liam came in about seven years ago.
Matty Morris: And then [drummer] Andy [Nielsen] came in about three and a half years ago.
Leon Harrison: Again, it’s a beast of a game so not everybody is cut out for it. You know, we’ve had a few members — we’ve love to say that we are all original members twelve years but at the end of the day, a few members have come and gone because of personal, other interests and things like that. When the wheels start moving in that bus [laughs], sometimes people want to jump the fuck out of it.
Sleaze Roxx: So do you miss Australia?
Matty Morris: I don’t miss Australia. You miss family and friends and things like that but that’s about it man.
Leon Harrison: Yeah, I don’t miss it. I miss my family but got family here now. Got friends and family and all that sort of stuff. That’s just the way life has progressed. There’s heaps of shit that I could say about Australia’s fucking music industry too but I might restrain myself. The pokies [slot machines] are a huge issue there. They fucked it. They’re in every pub so no one relies on fucking anything but the gambler to survive anymore. You know what I mean? So it’s this big vicious circle and the first thing to go is live music. There’s heaps of shit things about them — the arts there.
The Lazys‘ “Howling Woman” (from The Lazys released in 2014) video:
Howling Woman (Leon Harrison, Mathew Morris) Produced & Mixed by Gus Van Go & Werner F Recorded & Mixed @ The Boiler Room Studios, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY, USA Mastered by João Carvalho @ João Carvalho Mastering, Toronto, ON, Canada Film Clip by Bill Blair, Proairvision Thanks to Kira Nelson, Bill Blair and the crew at Proairvision, Joe Ingegneri at Jus’boats and the team over at Luna Park-Sydney for helping make it happen.