Friends Who Play Together, Stay Together
The Lyons Band is an all-female, local supergroup out of Asbury Park. They started the band in 2015 and have yet to get tired of playing together, and writing their own music. We got a chance to talk to these lovely ladies about what it means to start a band and write music with your friends. Is it just like the movies show you? Find out what they had to say below!
How did the band come together? How did you all meet?
We were all friends mostly! Asbury is such a small town and so musical, it wasn’t hard to pull it altogether. Jenny (drummer) and Sharon (lead guitar) had played in bands together previously, and Jenny had been talking about starting up a band again but just had to find the right people. Lisa (bass player) had been a drummer and bass player in bands before, and, although Charleen (keyboard) hadn’t played in a band, she started playing keys and was a natural. Then they asked Abby to sing (our first singer). Amy (singer) joined after Abby moved to California. Amy has also played for years, both solo and in bands, so it was a perfect fit when we found her.
What inspired you to make music together?
Originally, it was to just have fun and play music. Since we had all played for years and had taken a little break, we missed it. We were going to start with playing Metric cover songs, but then something magical happened at the Hot Dog house (our first rehearsal space). It was the dead of winter and we would get together, drink some wines, and end up writing all original songs. And, that’s how it’s been ever since. Each person in this band is so talented and brings something different to the song writing process - I think that’s what makes the songs so unique. I think we are inspired by one another and how magical writing music together can be.
How’d you come up with the name?
The name was something we didn’t land on for a while. We had some other names we were getting a kick out of like Jean Shorts and Grandpa Fantasy. One day, Lyons came to our guitar player Sharon and we all loved it immediately.
What is the most challenging thing about being in a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
One of the biggest challenges of being in a band, with five, very busy women, is finding the time to practice, play shows, and promote the way we wish we could. It is a lot of schedules to coordinate and it is something we overcome consistently. I don’t think it will ever be a non-issue, but as long as we keep trying, we’ll keep making music.
How did each of you learn to play your instrument? Can you play any other instrument in the band?
Sharon - In 8th grade, my three friends decided we were going to start a band. We each picked an instrument and I picked guitar. Now, I’m the only one out of the three that stuck with it. I took lessons in high school, but didn’t join an actual band until I was 19, because I was too afraid to play in front of others.
Amy - When I was in 7th grade, I actually took up bass and did a few years of lessons with that. At around 14 years old, I taught myself guitar using whatever knowledge I already had from playing bass. I naturally started songwriting while I was figuring the guitar out. The rest is history!
Jenny - I learned in college. My boyfriend at the time was in a band and they practiced at his house. The nights would always end in everyone just playing music together jumping from one instrument to another. One night, I jumped on the drums (having never played before) and started playing. Everyone asked if I was a drummer because I was actually able to play...and I said no! It just came naturally to me. So, after that, I started an all female band and have been playing ever since! I’m not a technical drummer, I am self taught. I love just trying to sort of figure it out along the way.
Lisa - I learned bass when my husband and I wanted to play in a band together. We were both drummers, so I figured I should try and learn a new instrument. I decided to pick the bass up and our friend Jed helped me learn the basics.
Charleen - I learned to play keyboard for Lyons. When the band started, it was really just for fun, an excuse to get together, write music, and drink wine. Jenny, Lisa, and Sharon invited me to practice one night and helped me with some ideas on the keyboard for the first few songs. After I got comfortable writing, I just kept learning how to play for each song we worked on. Even now, I’m continuing to learn!
What are your favorite occasions/spots to perform?
Since we started playing, we mostly perform in and around Asbury Park. Some of our favorite local places are Yacht Club, The Saint, and Wonder Bar. We also played really fun shows at Asbury Lanes, House of Independents, and Indian Summer music fest.
Do you have any upcoming shows?
We don’t currently have any shows booked. We’re coming off of a long maternity break that started with Jenny having her daughter in September, Lisa having her daughter in December, and Charleen expecting her son this March. The band plans to start playing out again this summer.
Do you ever play any covers or do you write all of your own music? If you do write your songs, is it a collective effort or does one person write them?
We do write all of our own music and it is an amazing collective effort. The only covers we’ve worked on were Christmas tunes for Deck the Halls.
Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
Most of the time, one person comes to practice with an idea and then we all build from it. I think it’s one of the reasons we’ve been together for as long as we have been, because it’s a team effort, not just the brainchild of one member.
What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Do you think these topics will change over time?
This isn’t something I’ve thought about really. I’d say most of our songs have a dreamy feeling to them. But we don’t tend to stick to one theme when we write.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?
When we were practicing, we tried to keep it to a set time each week, knowing that we needed to be flexible if people’s schedules changed. We are in the process now of trying to find another set time to practice so we can start writing music again and get some shows on the calendar. Rehearsals are usually around 2 hours and usually involve snacks and wine.
How has your music or performance evolved since you first began working together?
Like the saying goes, practice makes perfect. We found that the more we played and performed the better we got. Everything has gotten more cohesive. And recording in a studio a few times just makes everything move to a new level because you have the time to really sit and listen to the music, play and hear it over and over again, and then take the time to both appreciate it and learn from it. It’s such an amazing process and never stops evolving.
What's your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking state, national, or worldwide fame?
We started playing just to hang out and have fun. We ended up wanting to share the music we were creating locally and never really planned on taking it outside of Asbury Park. The more we played and the more we felt people’s general interest in our music, the more we started to branch out to surrounding states. We aren't seeking anything in particular. We just want to keep writing and recording and seeing where it takes us.
What advice do you have for groups of friends who want to form their own bands?
It is important to realize that it is like being in a serious relationship with multiple people and you need to nurture it in the same way you would a significant other. If you aren’t willing to listen to other people's opinions, care for each other, be understanding, and have really difficult conversations sometimes, then it might not be the best idea. But, if you are willing to do those things, it can be one of the best experiences of your life.
Which do you prefer? Hot dog or sausage? Any die hard hamburger people?
We have two vegetarians in the group. But, for those who are not, I would guess sausage. We have a German and two Italian ladies in this group.
In your opinion, what are the best topping(s) to put on a hot dog?
If you were only able to use one condiment for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Hot Sauce -- gotta keep things spicy.
The Lyons have just released their latest single, "Islands". Check out this single and their other music here.