Acres Of Lions – Emerging Artist Spotlight

Acres Of Lions

March 5 2013 – Very few things are as exciting as finding something new you love. Much like archaeologists that dig to find hidden treasures, we here at T-Mak World really enjoy trying to find new bands that we love. Once we find such bands, we approach our favourites to request interviews for our Emerging Artist Spotlight series. Today we set our focus on a band from Victoria, British Columbia named ACRES OF LIONS. All bands we talked to are asked similar questions to each other so we can get to know them better. The description on ACRES OF LIONS website reads: 

Victoria, BC natives, Acres of Lions are sitting at the top of a very exciting year. Two years after the release of their much acclaimed sophomore album, Collections, the band is now putting the finishing touches on their third full-length record, Home(s), set to release on April 2, 2013 on Cordova Bay Records. 

“Bright Lights”, the first single off of the new record will drop February 12th. The debut track is an anthem-esque rock ballad that can’t help but get stuck in your head. The band’s aggressive pop rock tendencies are still intact, while the new single features a more mature and fresh songwriting outlook. Fans can stream the new single today here

The single release will be followed by cross-Canada tour dates from March until May, alongside The Town Heroes, Kingsfoil (Frankie Muniz’s band), and Thunderhawks. The band is a must see live act.

Selected as one of the ‘Top 20 Bands in BC’ for two years in a row by The Peak Performance Project, Acres of Lions have garnered much attention over the last year, touring across Canada with JUNO-nominated Ten Second Epic, throughout the UK, and festival appearances at Rifflandia Festival, Halifax Pop Explosion, Edgefest, JUNOFest, BreakOut West, and Canadian Music Week. 

Here is what they had to say to us: 

1. Hey ACRES OF LIONS, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us. Let’s start off with the obligatory introductions. Who’s in the band and what instrument does everyone rock? 

ACRES OF LIONS: First things first TMAK, thank YOU so very much for taking the time to interview us! 

My name is Jeff Kalesnikoff and I am the lead vocalist and one of the guitarists for ACRES OF LIONS. Some would argue that I am “the quiet one” in the band, but I assure you the rumours are in fact not true. Next, we have my long-time companion and friend Dan Ball on the bass guitar and a beard with a mind and will of its own. Tyson Yerex, also on the guitar, but with perks such as being our keyboardist, back-up vocalist AND band manager. He certainly does double-duty on most things, but it is all delicately balanced by the wisdom only a grandfather could wield. Finally, our newest addition (as of August 2012), and one solid dude, Shane Deyotte, on the drums. We are a happy family unit. 


2. Wow, you truly are a gentleman, I have never been thanked for conducting an interview so for that you are very welcome. How about the history of the band, when did you get started and how did it happen? 

ACRES OF LIONS: The band began way back in 2006, a blissful time when CD players were still used in abundance and iPods were still marveled over. Dan and I had just moved to Vancouver Island from the quaint and quiet town of Nelson BC to start a new project. Both of us being 20 at the time, had just called it quits with our previous band, a much heavier and faster and “punk-ier” version of ourselves, and were looking to begin something new in a bigger city, but not so big that would couldn’t establish ourselves or potentially get lost in a sea of new bands. It was either that or back to school, but we wanted to take the risk, so we went ahead and convinced ourselves that we could become scholars any time we wanted…. 

From previous visits and tours to Victoria, and from being old friends with his brother, we had met our good friend and long-time drummer, Lewis Carter, who at the time, had been taking drum lessons for nearly 10 years and had never been in a band. So, needless to say, we snatched him up, began writing songs and prepared him for a lifetime of touring. At the time, Dan was still playing guitar and we had asked a friend of ours (Aden Collinge of Immaculate Machine) to fill in on the bass so we could start playing gigs immediately, bringing us to how we named the band. 

It is a firm belief of mine to never start playing gigs until you are absolutely ready to, or you know, have a band name that you plan to stick with for years on end. We had booked our first gig in Victoria with no name so we had to decide on one quickly. We juggled SO MANY ideas around, but it wasn’t until we had attended a massive and albeit, classic, house party and word got around that we were trying to name our new band, that a name was finally discovered, being shouted over the party by one of our best friends to this day, Jory McKay. And I quote, “You should name your band ACRES OF LIONS, before I use it for my metal band.” We LOVED it, and so we played our first gig under it to about 700 people in Victoria. If we had wanted to change it, it would have been a difficult and confusing process, and so we stuck with it and have loved it more and more ever since. 

Shortly after that, Aden left the band to pursue his own musical endeavors and Dan took up playing bass guitar. He’s a very talented person and got good at it right away. Now, we had known of Tyson Yerex for some time now, as the bass player for the legendary punk rock band “Moneyshot,” and it wasn’t until we started running into him around Victoria and him explaining that he was at the end of the era for his band, not to mention him buying us endless shots at gigs we all attended together, that we decided it was time to bring in someone new, ambitious and guitar-savvy into the band. It also wasn’t a terrible thing that the dude could play the piano and introduce a whole new level to our songwriting. 

In 2007 the band was fully formed and we cut our first ep which allowed us to become the “Zone Band Of The Month” in Victoria on our local radio station, The Zone 91.3. From there we gathered some attention that lead us to record our debut full-length album “Working” in 2009 at Infiti Studios in Victoria with local producer, Adam Sutherland and legendary producer Warne Livesey (Midnight Oil, Mathew Good). Extensive touring of Canada began shortly after that and… well… we never really stopped. 

I could go on for hours, but not too long after we cut our sophomore album “Collections” in 2011, Lewis Carter left the band to pursue his own career as a carpenter in Victoria. There were no hard feelings and we still remain the best of friends. Like I said, Shane Deyotte joined us in August of 2012 and the journey continues…. 

3. Who are some of your musical influences? 

ACRES OF LIONS: Our musical influences are obviously vast. We like to think that each one of us in the band brings a different “flavor” to our songwriting, but collectively, I would say that some of our biggest musical influences would have to be classics like Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Billy Bragg, The Beatles, The Who, AC/DC… to more modern bands and artists like Jimmy Eat World, The Get Up Kids, The Dangerous Summer, Pedro The Lion, Brand New, Hot Water Music, Wilco, Ryan Adams, Shad… those are some big ones for us. 

Although, if anyone was to ever throw Taylor Swift, Katy Perry or Drake in to the stereo, no one would complain… 

4. So based on the above how would you describe your music to someone that has never heard it? 

ACRES OF LIONS: I would usually describe our music as an energetic and well thought out, emotional pop rock experience with juuuust the right amount of “anthemic cheer” to keep you singing along with us… we stand behind the saying from one of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus…” haha, but we also like to be very dynamic and promise to entertain you in any way, shape or form we can. 

5. Why should a music fan come and see your show instead of all the other choices available to them on any given night? 

ACRES OF LIONS: I think if a music fan was to choose to come to one of our gigs over all other choices that night, we would hope that they would be reminded of their youth and the musical nostalgia that comes with growing up with those certain songs that make you move, make you feel something, the songs you hum when you’re feeling sad or angry or lonely, that make you sing along like no one’s watching you… that is truly what we aim to inspire in our existing fans, and especially in new fans discovering something for the first time. We are firm believers that a big part of a great live performance, and likely the most important aspect a band should have these days, is the natural energy, or the natural “vibe” they give off. We try to create a lot of musical “moments” at our gigs that people can remember and hopefully will keep them coming back to hang out with us… a little something more to remember than just the music. 

We like to think that we still run our shows like those intimate, old school, basement shows that you used to go to when you were a kid. None of us in ACRES OF LIONS are classically trained ears or session musicians. We’ve always been 4 silly boys who like to create music we love and music that can grow, and that’s what we hope people walk away with. 

Acres of Lions 

6. What is your favorite single line of lyrics the band has written and why? 

ACRES OF LIONS: Funny you should ask! This is actually something that has been discussed recently between us and close friends of ours! We would all agree that our favorite line from a song that we’ve written is “Work hard. Make your body sting. Make something out of nothing,” from the title track of our debut 2009 album, Working. 

Not only does it go a long way to say what we’ve always believed in and strived for in our own musical career, but also goes to say how difficult it is to be creative without continuous effort and love. It’s a line we like, and what’s more is that there are 2 people in this world that have these exact words from the song TATTOOED on their bodies! It is a huge compliment that still leaves us in awe every day. 

7. Very cool. What does 2013 hold for you? 

ACRES OF LIONS: We are hoping 2013 will be a very special year for us! So many dreams, so many plans, so much money we don’t have! Haha, but honestly, 2013 potentially holds a noticeable rise in the quality of our presentation. There will be lots of touring to come this year in Canada, starting off in March at Canadian Music Week (the Audioblood Media showcase at the Dakota Tavern on March 21st) and with hopes of returning to the UK later on in the year. 

We have also just released our brand new single “Bright Lights” digitally on itunes, a single that can also be streamed online (you can listen to it here) the first track from our brand new full-length album entitled “Home(s)” which will be released April 2nd, our 3rd release on Victoria’s Cordova Bay Records. In addition to that, the album will also be released in Japan on April 10th through Bullion Records and we’re hoping our friends at Fierce Panda Records and Alcopop Records in the UK will shortly follow with a release there! 

We begin what looks to be a very heavy rehearsal schedule starting march 1st and will be hitting the road following CMW with a tour out to the east coast of Canada with 2 American bands, “Thunderhawk” and a band called “Kingsfoil” which features former Malcolm In The Middle Star Frankie Muniz. It should be an interesting tour, and it will be nice to finally return to Halifax! It’s a beautiful city, and we’ve missed it ever since we performed at the Halifax Pop Explosion Festival in 2011. 

We’re really trying to do all the right things this year, especially with our live performance. We want to step it up a notch and we are so very excited to be working with our friends at Audioblood Media in Toronto! It should be an incredible year, and I am so looking forward to finally having vinyl copies of our albums… no promises yet, but they are definitely in the works! 

8. Imagine that you were asked to be the opener for any band’s world tour (both current and historical). Which band and tour would be your dream opening gig. 

ACRES OF LIONS: I think I speak for the entire band when I say that our dream opening gig and tour would be with AC/DC during the “Back In Black.” era… it makes sense. We’re loud, we’re very guitar heavy these days, we expel all of our pent up energy during every gig, it would be a good fit I tell you! 

But in all seriousness, in the current state of things, there’s a band from Hammersmith in London England called “Tellison” that we would absolutely love to do a UK and maybe even an entire European tour with. We played with them in Bristol the last time we were in the UK for the “Fear Of Fiction Festival” and they were just dynamite. They headlined the festival and we were all just floored by how intense and amazing they were. Really solid and intelligent stuff. I suppose we just have to pester them enough to have us back! 

9. What is the future of the music industry? With the concept of the album and physical CD’s facing extinction, how will we be consuming music in 10 years? Are the economics feasible for emerging artists? 

ACRES OF LIONS: It’s hard to say what the future of the music industry holds, but my best estimated guess would be have to be more or less the same as its current condition, with one exception that CD and music stores and retail distributors will be completely absent aside from privately owned record stores that will still carry them along with their vinyl selections, like they do now. I believe vinyl and certain collector’s items will still be very popular among people. I certainly think that is one sentiment of actually owning and touching the physical creation of art and music that will live a long and healthy life. If anything, it will be way more sought after than digital downloads, which will still be as abundantly available as they are now, if not more and given away at literally the drop of a hat. The act of downloading music is still a guilty pleasure of mine, in the sense that it is easy and free. I rarely do it, but in the event that I do it makes me feel so so so dirty inside. I’m still an avid physical copy collector and proud of it. But I do honestly think that in 10 years, there will still be a rather large percentage of the musician population who will still make full-length physical albums rather than only digital singles whether they sell or not. It’s an art that seems to be dying but not necessarily facing extinction. 

I do still think the economics are feasible for emerging artists these days, if you’re smart and very careful about how you go about emerging. On the other hand, being a musician who has been active over a decade and was able to watch the industry change while being in it, I personally found that it takes way more effort, careful planning, hard work and losing your mind over simple ideas than it used to. It’s definitely not enough to just be talented and playing gigs and cranking out songs whenever and wherever you please. Marketing has become an absolute, and almost out of control to the point where it seems some artists solely exist on that level, which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. It’s what they planned and executed, and they probably make more money at it than pounding the pavement endlessly. Although, I strongly believe that the live performance is where you will most likely make your money these days and probably for a long time to come, so it probably be wise to keep up those chops. 

As far as current funding goes, it is still readily available if you do your research, but is becoming less and less abundant every year. This isn’t news, but a constant concern. It’s a tough competition out there. Organizations like FACTOR or Music BC or the CCA do all they can to help artists, they really do care, but I think 10 years from now budget cuts will up so high some of these may not exist. It’s worrisome, but like I said, it’s hard to say.  

10. Where can people get your music/CD, is it being sold anywhere? 

ACRES OF LIONS: Absolutely! You can get all of our music or CD’s (and hopefully vinyl soon…) worldwide through online retailers like iTunes or Amazon, or through our online store on our website, which also includes any merchandise we have in stock. You may also still be able to find our albums in any HMVs that still exist in Canada or the UK. Zulu Records in Vancouver carries them as well as one of our favorites in Victoria on the corner of Fort and Blanshard, DITCH Records. Same goes for our new album “Home(s)” which, again, will be out April 2nd! 

11. At the end of 2012 we published our picks for top 10 albums of 2012. Lists like those are always a reflection of personal tastes so if you were making the list what are some albums you would you have had on it? 

ACRES OF LIONS: Okay, here goes, and I kept it Canadian, mostly because 2012 we toured almost the entire year and these were the most played of the Canadian content in the van, and a few of them are friends!: 

1. Small Reveal by AIDAN KNIGHT 

2. Little Mountain by SAID THE WHALE 

3. Provincial by JOHN K. SAMSON 

4. Barchords by BAHAMAS 

5. Celebration Rock by JAPANDROIDS 

6. The End Of That by PLANTS AND ANIMALS 

7. Scrappy Happiness by JOEL PLASKETT 

8. Tiger Talk by YUKON BLONDE 

9. The Sticks by MOTHER MOTHER 

10. Clockwork Angels by RUSH 

12. Wow dude, you are the first guy to ever write up a full Top 10 List and a Canadian one at that to boot. This list might deserve its own guest article! Any closing remarks for our readers? 

ACRES OF LIONS: Everything we do, as musicians and all that word encompasses, is a diligent process. Please make it count and never take what you are given for granted, and most of all, enjoy it. We are very excited to see you at our gigs this year! 

Thanks so much to ACRES OF LIONS. We hope that you can see them live. Here’s a link to their tour dates: 

The band’s website is HERE and as you would expect they are on Twitter and Facebook. In the meantime check out their video below from YouTube. 




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