Lion Machine 23 – a Roaring Debut and a Chat With the Frontman
“Hi I’m Daland, I was born in Argentina but London is my hometown…”
With a pocketful of ideas and ambition, Daland of Lion Machine 23 came to the UK from Argentina at 17. Influenced by the likes of David Bowie and The Sex Pistols, his debut album Get Smash or Die Trying is characterised by repeated riffs, catchy choruses and an often anthemic feel. The standard contingent of drums, guitar and bass is spiced up with electronic effects and headed up by a voice with a broad style and undeniable range.
The album is unavoidably catchy at times, with eminently singable choruses and memorable, head nodding riffs. Daland is unapologetically hedonistic at times, with tracks like Fucking Under the Water repeating the sentiment in what appears to be Dalands modus operandi: a continual sung statement underpinned by a wall of ‘melodic distortion’, as he describes it.
Daland is a fan of, ahem, “recycling” riffs. Listening closely you might recognise a few. To tell the truth it didn’t really detract from the music for me. The whole album feels like tracks I’ve heard before on the radio or from my dad but with an updated sound, and recognising the odd riff only adds to this feeling.
Some of the lyrics get stuck in my head, but others just bounce off or seem meaningless. This isn’t really a drawback – I don’t really care about hearing the words here, just listening to them – as the music would probably sound good in a crowd. For what this album is, that’s pretty much all I ask.
The album’s a good first effort. There’s an apparent energy to Daland, as well as a vocal range, that makes it a promising debut, although there seems to be something about the album – a slightly squashed production maybe – that takes a lot out of the power of the music, but it makes me want to hear it live. At the end of the day, there were times when I stuck it on and felt pretty damn good. I’m not sure why I’m asking for more.
We got a quick interview with Daland over Email
Did growing up in Argentina affect your sound or music taste?
My dad always had The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Bowie, Iggy, The Sex Pistols and Lou Reed playing. That was my childhood, listening to a ticket to ride. I also spent a lot of time at my grandparents house and we would listen to Frank Sinatra and all that jazz.
So by the sound of it, no – Ed.
What was it like moving to the UK?
Who plays in your band and how did you all meet?
The musicians change. I write all the music and I choose to work with certain musicians who I feel work best with the material.
Have you found any differences between working with musicians in Argentina and in London?
I feel it doesn’t matter where you are from. If you know how to express yourself and you enjoy making music. I don’t think it matters where the person is from.
What’s the origin of the name “Lion Machine 23”?
Lion Machine 23 is a comic book I wrote. About a bodhisattva in a parallel universe defeating a evil British Empire and stealing the Lion Machine 23. To start a journey of transformation.
How much of what you’ve done, from moving out at 15 to forming a band, was planned out? Did you have a clear vision of where you were going?
Nothing was planned out but I always knew what I wanted. That was to have fun and play music.
What makes a good gig for you?
A cold bottle of Heineken.
What music do you often listen to that might surprise people?
Bjork I think she’s the most amazing singer on the planet.
What’s the line for you when it comes to lifting musical ideas from other artists? Is there a way someone could copy your music that’d piss you off?
If it sounds better than what I did then I would be ok with it.
What’s the meaning behind your album title? I read it as “get smashed or die trying” the first time round, which made sense to me.
It’s pretty much a literal thing. Be happy or die trying. Also a tribute to 50Cent.
Do you feel like the pandemic/lockdowns/etc have ‘slowed you down’ as an artist?
Yes and no. I would love to play a live gig but I also think this is a good opportunity for us humans to think about what we did. It’s just sad that some people are suffering because of it.
Can we expect anything drastically different in your next release?
I wouldn’t know that until I get to a studio.
Illustration by Sanni Pyhänniska. Research by Jake Williams