The fact that Cincinnati, despite its size, feels like a place where everybody knows your name is a really charming quality (until you run into like three guys at IGA when you’re in sweatpants buying tampons and Pepto). It also makes it difficult to interview people.
I recently sat down with Stuart MacKenzie from The Lions Rampant in a semi-professional setting (The Comet) to discuss the band’s new album, It’s Fun to Do Bad Things. But instead of focusing on leather pants, his Sammy Hagaresque blond ambition and Rock & Roll, the convo veered off the record into his love life and other things he doesn’t want his mom to read about.
We did, however, talk a little bit about the band and the upcoming music video premiere for its single, “Lights On!” which was directed/ produced/filmed by the recently relocated Ragged Productions, with art direction by Scott Beseler (www.taketheday.com) and Marisa Calihan (the Survivor girl) and styling by Calihan and Shannon Yoho. Eventually I ended up on the phone with MacKenzie’s mom, who is very proud of her son.
CityBeat: Tell me about your new album, It’s Fun to Do Bad Things.
Stuart MacKenzie: It’s completely finished. It’s a full length and it has a lot of diversity in it. Jared McKinney, who played organ for the Greenhornes, plays organ on it.
Zach Gabbard from Buffalo Killers sings on it. Rueben Glaser (Pearlene/Viva La Foxx) plays guitar. Ross Dolan (White Girls) plays guitar. Amy Jo from Viva La Foxx sings on it. There’s theremin on it. Lots of guitar. It has slower songs. Some love songs. ... Most Lions Rampant songs so far, like from the EP (Half Woman, Half Alcohol), have been dancey and fun. But “Lights On!” is more heartfelt. It’s an unfinished business song about breaking up and then having sex one more time.
CB: When does the new album come out?
SM: I don’t know. We’re still flirting with record companies.
CB: So it’s not coming out until someone picks it up?
SM: Not necessarily. We’d put it out ourselves but we’re just waiting to see what happens... You have to be hardworking, talented and lucky, and if you aren’t all three then it goes away. I know we’re hardworking and after all this time I think we’re talented and now we just need to get lucky.
CB: OK. So why are you putting the “Lights On!” video out before your album?
SM: The video for “Lights On!” is a teaser. It’s smart and well done. I think it makes us seem pretty legit. We’ve already been playing songs from the new album on tour so it’s not a secret or anything.
CB: What’s the video like?
SM: The video is a snapshot of our wild and woolley real life. Early morning boozesoaked singalongs with beautiful models, late-night live performances, pillow fights and bubble baths. ... It was made completely in Cincinnati by Cincinnatians and it looks amazing. It proves you don’t need to go to L.A. or New York to get a video this good. The models are beautiful. The location is beautiful. The lighting is amazing. So is the editing (by Nate Clark at Lightborne). And it was shot in a local entrepreneur’s (Chad Reynolds) house in Newport, an old church he turned into a gothic mansion.
CB: For people who don’t know what The Lions Rampant (sound like), how would your mom describe your sound?
SM: (Dials mom) She says, “It’s got a lot of Blues but it also sounds Rock & Roll and you can’t understand what he’s saying most of the time.”
The debut screening of “Lights On!” will be Saturday at an undisclosed, invite-only party that includes a live performance from The Lions Rampant and music from DJ Iceburg. In order to find out the secret location in Newport, MacKenzie says, “Message us on MySpace or ask someone ‘cool.’
There’s also a Facebook invite floating around.