The March 11 concert date at The Royal isn’t just another show for Victoria-based band Acres of Lions. In a sense it’s a homecoming.
Dan Ball — the band’s bass player — grew up in Nelson — and Geoff Kalesnikoff — one of the guitarists and vocalists — grew up near Castlegar.
Before Ball and Kalesnikoff created Acres of Lions, they were in a local band called Accident Scene.
“They were in Nelson for a couple years doing that,” said guitarist, vocalist and pianist Tyson Yerex. “The band broke up and they decided to move to Victoria. I had known their previous band when I was in my old band so we just connected and started playing shows. We picked up our drummer Lewis Carter, who grew up in Victoria and that became the band.”
While the band was forming its sound and creating demo tracks, they were also coming up with their name.
Yerex isn’t entirely sure where it came from but one discussion he remembers having was focused on Ball’s beard.
“Our dream when we were joking about the band before it even started was wouldn’t it be amazing if we created a Grateful Dead kind of following where everyone, even the women, had giant fake beards and would come to our shows and we’d be playing at the Gorge and we’d see acres of lions. That’s when we’d know we’d finally made it,” said Yerex. “That’s the dream off in the horizon that we’re sort of working towards.”
Since releasing their second album Collections, Acres of Lions has been busy creating a collection of their own.
Accolades from across the country have been pouring in calling them “the West Coast’s answer to Sloan,” one of the bands to watch, and 100.5 FM The Peak in Vancouver has named them one of the 20 best bands in BC for the past two years.
“We just landed the big Edge Fest concert in Toronto this summer, which is going to be a huge concert. Billy Talent is headlining it, along with the Young and the Giants, The Sheepdogs, Said the Whale. Unlike some festivals like the Warped Tour where there are many stages and some little ones hidden in the back, Edge Fest only has two stages,” said Yerex. “We’re basically going to be playing for the majority of the people that show up to that. That will be the first test of Acres of Lions.”
Collections has a decidedly different sound than their first album.
“We just tried to make it a little bit more accessible so everyone can enjoy it, other than our friends that are covered in tattoos,” said Yerex.
The sound of the band is inspired by ‘90s emo rock bands like Jimmy Eat World but still draws on their punk past.
“Our live shows are just a lot of fun. We try to incorporate the crowd,” said Yerex. “We don’t just play the songs exactly how they are on the record. We like to extend parts especially when we get the audience involved in clapping, snapping their fingers or whistling. We definitely encourage people to sing, scream, clap and have a good time.”