Last Wild Lion // Feature Friday
Written by: Kayla Lee
Last Wild Lion are coming to you all the way from Edinburgh, Scotland. The band released their debut album at the end of last month and are preparing to play their very first show on November 24th. Their album, They’re Not Secrets Anymore, is a bold offering that builds a sturdy bridge between late 80’s synth pop and modern alt rock.
The band consists of vocalist / violinist / keyboardist Sarah Monteath, guitarist / vocalist Jamie Monteath, guitarist Neil Fergusson, bassist / vocalist Lewis Rumney, and drummer Andrew Scott.
Sarah Monteath provides delicate, crystal clear vocals that rise to angelic highs and fall to emotional lows, with “This Is Everything” being a prime example of her range. “Sky Lantern” is a fanciful experience while “Before I Knew You” throws it back to “Pressure”-era Paramore. A few tracks mix it up with the addition of duel vocals courtesy of Jamie Monteath on tracks like “Worse at Night” and “Seasons.” While there’s diversity between tracks, there’s a strong sense of cohesion across the album.
An enjoyable aspect of the album is the fact that the lyrics are, for the most part, timeless. There’s an overarching sense of relatability across all songs that will likely stand true in years to come. As a new band, this is important as it proves that Last Wild Lion are here to stay and are capable of creating music that can reach a wide audience as their career progresses.
Continue reading below for an interview with Jamie Monteath where we talk about the band’s upcoming show, Edinburgh’s music scene, and more!
Q: Your very first show is coming up on November 24th at Henry's Cellar Bar. What factors went into deciding to hold off performing live shows until after the album was released, and what are your expectations for the show?
A: This was a conscious decision very early on. In the band I played in before, I noticed a difference in the enjoyment from the crowd when we gigged around Edinburgh/Glasgow after our debut record had been released. This gave the audience something to digest in their own time. They can live with the songs then experience the live show with a stronger connection and familiarity with the music.
With a record out, there’s less risk for the casual gig-goer taking a chance on a band if someone asks them to come to a gig as they can check out the songs beforehand. So the reason we held off is so people can become familiar with the songs to hopefully enhance their enjoyment of our live show that we’ve been working on. It is all about the live experience but we understand that most people won’t want to take a gamble on something they don’t know. This record is the gateway to that experience.
Our expectations are pretty high. We really like the venue and the other bands playing are excellent. It’s going to have a fair bit of variety throughout the evening, which we love! It’s hopefully going a hell of a Saturday night!
Q: What's the local music scene like in your city?
A: Edinburghs local music scene is going through a transition phase. It’s at war with a council that is hell bent on shutting down every music venue going to make way for student accommodation whilst simultaneously trying to build a stronger, more diverse music scene. Events like ‘Nothing Ever Happens Here’ at Summerhall provide a great platform for touring bands and local bands to perform to decent crowd sizes in the capital. With music venues disappearing rapidly, we need these events more than ever.
We listen to a lot of different types of music and thankfully, Edinburgh is able provide some astonishingly good music from Americana to gritty punk rock and metal. It’s often in the shadow of Glasgow but there is a wide array of talent in Edinburgh that is begging to be discovered.
Q: Throughout the writing and recording process, which track(s) saw the most transformation from start to finish, and how did those changes come about?
A: “Worse at Night” had the biggest transformation throughout the writing process. The song began as an acoustic track that was very strummy and to be honest, sub-par singer/song writer stuff that wasn’t very exciting. We thought we had something with the chorus melody and the lyrics but the arrangement and vibe of the track wasn’t there. There was an alt-rock version that saw big, open guitars dominate the majority of the track and one point, a guitar solo that was very out of place.
The version you hear now was the result of me sitting in my spare room quite late at night with my laptop in front of me. The album as a whole was missing something with more of a chilled vibe but still maintaining energy. At around 1 AM, I’d laid down the chord progression and vocal melodies focusing on making it sound as ambient as possible. On the last chorus, I brought a programmed beat in but kept it minimal and deep in tone.
I’d been listening to a lot of music at that point that had a repetitive, hypnotising beat and the tune kinda danced around this foundation. This was something I’d never explored before or even attempted to write, as it didn't come naturally to me at all. I listened to the whole song back a few times and figured something was still not quite right. I programmed the beat at the beginning of the song with a fade in for the first 4 bars and it clicked. I sent the demo to the guys and we worked on it from there.
I think there is an acoustic version of the original out there somewhere. It’s terrible. Don’t listen to it. Listen to the album version instead.
Q: What's your favorite lyric from They're Not Secrets Anymore and why?
A: Until I saw this question, I had never even given this a thought. I don’t think I have a favourite lyric. They all mean something significant and hopefully people will connect with them on some level.
To answer the question though, a lyric that I connect with is from one of our debut singles ‘Seasons’. It’s the opening lyric: “Along the coast are silhouettes of ghosts; people I used to know.” Without giving too much away, it’s about the all the people in your childhood and adolescent years that shape who you become. Both alive and that have passed on. The ‘coast’ is a particular reference to the West Sands in St. Andrew, Fife on the east coast of Scotland close to where we grew up.
Q: As a child and teenager, what musicians helped shape your musical style and taste to what it is today?
A: As a child, my musical heroes were Dr. Hook and Roxette. They are fantastic and I won’t hear a bad word said against them! Roxettes choruses are such a joy!
I was fortunate that I had an older brother who would let me regularly steal his records to listen to in my bedroom. Around the age of 11, I discovered The Offspring, Blink 182, NOFX, Lagwagon and those so-cal punk bands. This was the opening to my love of rock music and I dived right in.
I was 13 when I began to develop my own musical identity. I discovered the record label Deep Elm Records and from there, I was hooked. I fell in love with Cross My Heart, Brandtson, Appleseed Cast and Benton Falls. Cross My Heart in particular were my favourite band for the duration of my teens. Ryan Shelkett was a massive inspiration to me because of his lyrics and how raw everything in the production felt.
Other musicians that shaped me growing up was the combo of Claudio Sanchez and Josh Eppard from Coheed and Cambria, Jim Adkins and Zach Lind from Jimmy Eat World and Adam Duritz from Counting Crows. As I got older, I grew more interested in The Cure, Tom Petty and most recently, Phoebe Bridgers. I also can’t deny that I adore a good 80’s power ballad.
I’m really drawn to something that feels emotionally authentic to me. It has to feel real from the person that’s performing it. I don’t mind if it leans on the cheesy side as long as it’s sincere.
Q: What is your collective vision for Last Wild Lion as They're Not Secrets Anymore continues to take off?
A: Our vision for Last Wild Lion is to play as many shows as we can to as big an audience as we can. We were friends before we started this band so if we can have fun as friends playing music and have others enjoy it too then that’s success to us. There is no greater feeling in the world when the music clicks and you’re playing music with people you respect and love.