Make you want to holler
Lion Vibes packs an energetic show with a message
June 6, 2008
Michael Hartman is a little jumpy.
In part, the frontman for the Denver reggae nine-piece Lion Vibes is so energized because he’s always that way – and because he just drank some coffee.
But he’s also excited because he just heard “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” by Marvin Gaye on the radio, and he’s relatively certain that has never happened before.
“If you like Marvin Gaye in the least, you have to check it out. And you have to get the full version off of ‘What’s Going On.’ It’s probably my favorite bass line of all time : it’s smooth : (the song) seriously brings tears to my eyes,” said Hartman, who goes by Professor Lynx on stage.
Hartman’s joy over this development hints at Lion Vibes’ sound, which draws on hip-hop (especially the kind informed by Gaye’s music), rock, dancehall and ska to create a show that packs all the energy Hartman packs into his everyday life. Lion Vibes plays Saturday at Mahogany Ridge.
Hartman talked to 4 Points about band chemistry, forming a fan base and criticizing his own music.
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4 Points: What is the band working on right now?
Professor Lynx: It’s just exposure, exposure, exposure. So it’s been kind of hectic : just trying to get a system down and punch it out every week, where you practice the same days. We’re just now getting into a stride and saying, “This is what we do and we’re all comfortable with each other.”
4 Points: What goes into establishing that chemistry?
PL: Skill is a standard requirement to play in any band that has aspirations, but we’re a little different. We don’t have a rock-star mentality, so we’re all about chemistry, and we kind of look at it as a family.
We’re all about trying to communicate and respect one another, and we hope it translates to our shows. We trust each other a lot, and I can easily say I would lay down my life for anyone in the band right now, and it’s because they earned it.
4 Points: How does that work, with a nine-piece band?
PL: Since there’s nine of us, you’ve got to have some people who are willing to take direction, you have to have some people who are just players.
When it comes down to a decision, you have this idea and the other person has this idea, and instead of debating it we just sit down and play both : and you move on, you can never judge someone on their ideas that fail, you have to judge them on their ability to play and their next good idea. It’s all about throwing stuff up against the wall and seeing what will stick.
4 Points: And not everything is going to stick.
PL: Everybody has different stuff that they throw at a song, and to us that’s part of the beauty of it. And since every person is unique, since there’s nine of us, as long as it’s disciplined and practiced and expected – you can’t pull out your brand new solo that you didn’t tell anybody about in the middle of a song – but if you bring it to practice, it can work.
It’s like being a painter with paints that will talk back to you. It’s like being a painter with interactive paints.
4 Points: Can you explain that last part some more?
PL: Traditionally a painter will have paint, and you throw it on there and the artwork will be finished. But if the paints talk back, it’ll be like, “Hey, you might not have known this, but if me and green get together it’ll be this new thing.”
We all listen to different music, so it’s like, “Hey, there’s this one dude that you’ve never heard of, but the idea that you’ve been working on, he already put that across perfectly.”
4 Points: What’s coming up for Lion Vibes?
PL: We feel like we’re just starting to make headway with a new audience base, which is awesome, because as much as you like playing for your fans, it’s really exciting to play for someone who hasn’t heard you and is interested.
If you see joy in someone’s face, I love that, it’s just my favorite feeling in the world. I really hope that translates to the stage. :
Our live shows are really what kind of catapult us into being a band of note – the fact that our live shows are really passionate and energetic and that we don’t take shows off.
We don’t take shows for granted, and we kind of expect the same of our audiences. So bring your dancing shoes.
4 Points: What can people expect from the show?
PL: We’ve had little kids come dance to our music, and older people, too, that are traditionally into rock. I like that, because it means you’re making real music, instead of something that’s popular right now. :
I don’t really listen to our music that much, because I’m too critical of it. My voice is all right, but I just pride myself in what I say and how I say it, and not in my singing prowess. I leave that up to our backup singers.
But what we do, it’s tangible.
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