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Lionize Blaze a Rock and Reggae Trail

Eclectic heavy rockers perform Friday at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park

Lionize Blaze a Rock and Reggae Trail


Eclectic heavy rockers Lionize mix elements of Seventies groove-laden rock and reggae throughout their latest album, “Superczar and the Vulture,” at times in one song.

“We all share some similar influences, from rock and reggae to funk, blues and jazz,” said drummer Mel Randolph. “Over the years we’ve combined all of them and gotten a lot more diverse. ”

Lionize, which formed in 2004, has evolved over the course of five albums from its start as a reggae band to a group that incorporates a mixture of styles. The Washington D.C. quartet performs on Friday at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, Oct. 19 at the Atlantic City House of Blues and on Nov. 23 at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville.

There are many advantages to Lionize’s unique style, one of which is the band’s ability to land tours with a wide array of bands, allowing the group to showcase its music to different audiences and age groups. On Friday, Lionize opens for Echo Movement, an alternative reggae band. The group performs with New Brunswick ska-punk-jazz masters Streetlight Manifesto in Atlantic City and Sayreville.

In 2011, Lionize become the first band to play the multi-day Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and the Vans Warped Tour in the same year. At Tennessee's Bonnarro, one of the country's most popular festivals, Lionize performed on the same day as Eminem and the Black Keys. On the Warped Tour, they shared the stage with reggae-ska band The Aggrolites and country punks Lucero.

“It was a culture shock between the two of them,” Randolph said. “The good thing is that we met a lot of cool people and became friends with a lot of bands we didn’t know about.”

On “Superczar and the Vulture,” Lionize set out to recreate their dynamic stage show in the studio and spotlight the evolution of their sound. The band recorded each of the disc’s 12 songs in one take. They used analog 2-inch tape as opposed to digital equipment to give the album a more organic feel.

“We really tried to focus on our live sound,” Randolph said. “We tour so much and rehearse constantly so we felt very comfortable with a live approach in the studio."

The disc also features several “song suites,” in which two songs blend into one another seamlessly to create a longer piece. Randolph said this was another way to bring the Lionize concert experience to a studio album.

“That’s what we do live, we’ll have a drum solo and then go into the next song, or play two songs without stopping and they feel like one song,” he said. “So for the album we sequenced certain songs that kind of go together.”  

When not on the road, Lionize rehearses five days a week, revisiting older material and jamming on new ideas. “It’s rewarding in its own right,” Randolph said. “It keeps everything fresh.”

Lionize was formed in 2004 by singer-guitarist Nate Bergman, keyboardist Chris Brooks and bassist Henry Upton. Randolph was tapped for an audition to replace the band’s previous drummer three years later after posting a drummer seeks gig ad on Craigslist. He had seen Lionize in concert prior to trying out and was excited at the prospect of playing with them. 

“They were not like your average reggae band,” Randolph said. “Hands down I thought they were great. I knew it was going to be a blast being in this band.”


IF YOU GO: Lionize, opening for Echo Movement. Also performing: From the Ground and South Banks. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12. The Stone Pony, 913 Ocean Ave., Asbury Park. Tickets are $16. Call 732-502-0600 or visit www.stoneponyonline.com.  



Opening for Streetlight Manifesto, 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19. Atlantic City House of Blues, 801 Boardwalk. Tickets are $17.50, $22.50, $24.50 and available at www.ticketmaster.com or the House of Blues box office. Call 609-343-4000 or visit www.houseofblues.com/venues/clubvenues/atlanticcity.

Also performing with Streetlight Manifesto, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23. Starland Ballroom, 570 Jernee Mill Road, Sayreville. Tickets are $17.50 advance, $20 day of show and available at www.ticketmaster.com or the box office. Call (732) 238-5500 or visit www.starlandballroom.com.

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