INTERVIEW WITH TAYLOR SHEASGREEN AND KORTNI NICOLS OF LIONSAULT
Date: January 12, 2016
FOR THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW, CANADA IS A VERY BIG COUNTRY LAND WISE BUT THERE ARE MANY AREAS WHERE THE POPULATION NUMBERS ARE RATHER SCARCE. NEVERTHELESS, EVEN THE SMALLEST OF CITIES CAN STILL PRODUCE SOME AMAZING MUSICIANS. HAILING FROM THE TINY “CITY” OF MIRAMICHI WITH A POPULATION OF LESS THAN 20,000 (ACCORDING TO A 2011 CENSUS) COMES THE GROUP LIONSAULT, WHICH CONSISTS OF GUITARIST TAYLOR SHEASGREEN ALONG WITH SIBLINGS KORTNI NICOLS (VOCALS, BASS) AND CHASE NICOLS (DRUMS). LIONSAULT HAVE RECENTLY RELEASED THEIR KILLER DEBUT ALBUM ‘ARE YOU FEELING LUCKY?’ WHICH LANDED THE #8 SLOT ON SLEAZE ROXX’S TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2015. SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH SHEASGREEN AND THE GROUP’S FRONTWOMAN KORTNI NICOLS TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT LIONSAULT.
Sleaze Roxx: First of all, congratulations on a very good debut album! You seem to have bridged the old school rock with modern sound very well. Was this a conscious decision when writing the songs?
Taylor Sheasgreen: Thank you very much! We’re so glad you liked the album. Yes, we think having a sound somewhere between old school and modern was a conscious decision. There was a point where we just realized that it was the sound we wanted. We didn’t need to consciously force it out though — as soon as we started writing, the sound seemed to come out that way naturally.
Sleaze Roxx: When I listen to ‘are you feeling lucky?’, it reminds me of Halestorm before the band went a little over the top in modernizing their sound with their new album. Do you agree and why?
Taylor Sheasgreen: Yes, we can definitely see why you’d compare us to an earlier Halestorm. How can you not? A hard rock band with female-fronted vocals. Definitely a compliment though, as we are big fans of theirs. We’re both very intense, high-energy bands with a female lead vocalist and a heavy rock sound. Not to mention the fact that both Lionsault and Halestorm share the fact that the singer and drummer are siblings!
Sleaze Roxx: Are you surprised with what seems to be the positive reaction to your ‘are you feeling lucky?’ album?
Taylor Sheasgreen: Not to be super conceited or full of ourselves, but not really, no. It’s like anything in life — if you really put your heart and soul into it, then it shows and people see that. That is exactly what we did in the making of this album — we poured our heart and souls into it. I think each of us left of a piece of ourselves in ‘are you feeling lucky?’ and we think you can feel that when you listen to it.
Sleaze Roxx: What is the music scene like in your tiny “city” of Miramichi and particularly the province of New Brunswick which is pretty big area wise but with a rather small population?
Taylor Sheasgreen: As far as Miramichi goes, there is really not much unless you’re looking for cover bands. There just isn’t many venues in Miramichi that want to do weekday shows with several bands playing original music. They want cover bands on Saturday nights, and we’ve done that, and that’s fine, but that’s not what we’re about. Some places have been good about it though — Dooly’s, for example, is always up for it.
As far as New Brunswick goes, the music scene is actually really great right now for the most part. There are a lot of great venues in Moncton that are always booming with bands. Plan B or the Tide And Boar to name just a couple. Fredericton is good too, and Saint John as well. The scene seemed to be quiet for a few years but the past couple years in New Brunswick has been very good to bands and fans alike.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you think that the three of you need to move to a bigger city population wise for the band to break out to that next level and if so, where are you thinking?
Taylor Sheasgreen: Right now we don’t have any plans to relocate, but who knows. That being said though, playing in bigger cities across Canada is definitely important to us and is at the top of our hitlist. Just because we’re in tiny little Miramichi doesn’t mean we’re not ready to pack up and hit the road and show the big cities who Lionsault is.
Sleaze Roxx: Kortni — Everyone can guess how you and Chase know each other with your last name but how did all three of you hook up together?
Kortni Nicols: Chase and I have been playing together for almost 10 years now, I really wanted to start a band but I couldn’t find a drummer, so I convinced Chase to get a drum set for Christmas. We started a band together playing Green Day and Paramore covers. Meanwhile, Taylor was playing in various metal bands, and since we live in a small town with very little opportunities to play, we were always playing at the same places. In 2009, all three of us were recruited to play ’80s covers for our high school drama production and we decided to continue to jam outside of school, and started to write our own material and things really progressed from there.
Sleaze Roxx: How did you come up and who came up with the name Lionsault?
Taylor Sheasgreen: We’re wrestling fans. It’s a pro wrestling move! We just thought it was a cool name and something about it just matched the sound and style we were making. Also, it is a pretty damn cool wrestling move. Shout out to Y2J [Chris Jericho].
Sleaze Roxx: What got each of you started in music?
Taylor Sheasgreen: I always liked rock music — I got a hold of my uncle’s copy of ‘Clumsy’ by Our Lady Peace and I always used to listen to that as a kid, but I really got into music when I was around 13 years old or so and somehow got a hold of a CD of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ album, which of course got me hooked on Nirvana. I started fiddling around with my mom’s acoustic guitar from there. Then I moved onto an unhealthy obsession with Metallica, and it just grew from there.
Kortni Nicols: I’ve always been into music and I’ve always loved singing, but I didn’t start learning how to play guitar until I was 13. My step-dad had an old acoustic that I loved to play around with. My mom put me in guitar lessons, and I eventually convinced her to buy me an electric guitar, which really fueled my fire to want to start a band. Then, I got Chase on board with it too and got him into drums.
Sleaze Roxx: What are Lionsault’s plans for 2016?
Taylor Sheasgreen: Well, following up on an earlier question, we want to hit up the big cities. Our main goal of 2016 is to tour all of Eastern Canada as much as we possibly can. Besides that, we’ll be continuing to play all around the Maritimes [in Eastern Canada], and we also have plans to release more music videos in early 2016, and more Lionsault media to keep our fans interested. We will also begin our next album at the tail end of 2016.
Sleaze Roxx: Last question for each of you — what are your three favorite all-time albums and why?
Taylor Sheasgreen: The first would be ‘Master Of Puppets’ by Metallica. This is just a classic album that I discovered in high school and it has stuck with me ever since. Every track on this album is thrash metal gold. I’ve been listening to this album so long that it is almost hard to put into words what I think of it. I love just about everything about this album — the riffs, the vocals, the bass, the solos. It is hard to pick between this iconic album and Metallica’s follow-up album ‘…And Justice for All’ but ‘Puppets’ has the edge by just a bit.
My second pick would be ‘Furiosity’ by Monster Truck. I have a feeling all three of us would have this one. Here’s an album that you should check out if you haven’t already. It was Monster Truck’s debut album released in 2013 and man, is it badass. This is a band I discovered by accident when I went to see Billy Talent and Sum 41 in Ottawa, but Sum 41 backed out and was replaced by Monster Truck, and I’m glad they were. I’ve been listening to ‘Furiosity’ every day since. It is a really good blend of blues and rock. Every single song is wicked and I think it was integral to the sound we’ve achieved with Lionsault.
My last pick would be ‘Burn The Serum by Kyng. This is another album that any fan of rock or metal should check out. This album is a really cool blend of heavy metal with really old school taste as well as with some very progressive and different ideas. This is my go-to album at the gym. It kicks you right in the chest and really makes your blood flow. Personally, “Electric Halo” was definitely my song of the year for 2014. I picked these three albums because they have had a lasting impression on me more so than others. Honorable mentions go to ‘Road To Bloodshed’ by Sanctity, ‘Something Supernatural’ by Crobot, and ‘Shogun’ by Trivium.
Kortni Nicols: My first pick would be Monster Truck’s ‘Furiosity.’ What really drew me in with Monster Truck was when I saw them live. They put on an amazing show and the fact that Jon Harvey plays bass and sings, which isn’t a common thing to see. I immediately went home and started listening to their stuff and instantly fell in love. For me, ‘Furiosity’ was one of those albums that you fall in love with every song right away. There’s a good blend of blues and rock, and you can definitely hear the classic rock influences as well. My second pick would be Alexisonfire’s ‘Crisis.’ I go through my fair share of musical phases but this album has always seemed to stick with me. The songs on this album transition so well, and it has a perfect blend of upbeat and darker themes. Finally, my last pick would be Motley Crue’s ‘Dr. Feelgood.’ Motley Crue is one of my favourite bands, and “Kickstart My Heart” is my favourite song of all time, so of course this has to be in my top three albums!