I recently had the chance to put some questions to Tyson Yerex, keyboard and guitar player, as well as manager for the budding band Acres Of Lions, whose catchy-as-hell single Reaction, off the band’s second LP, has been getting a lot of well-deserved airtime. The band is on tour with JobFest, travelling through places near and far, though mostly far, within the province of British Columbia, Canada.
JobFest, rocking the slogan “Rock Your Future,” is a government initiative that aims to expose young people to potential career paths. “The initiative is a travelling tour that spans six months, and reaches some of the most rural communities across the province to promote some new career building computer applications that the provincial government has developed,” says Yerex.
So far JobFest has seen the band through the communities of Kitwanga, Terrace, Kitimat, Skidegate, and on the road ahead lie Dease Lake and Iskut, Fort Nelson and Fort St. John, among others. “It’s been an amazing experience so far,” says Yerex, “and we hope that this initiative will have a positive impact on youth around B.C.”
It’s not the first time that the band has involved themselves with a social cause. Acres Of Lions have been supporters of the MusiCounts organization now for several years. MusiCounts is an organization whose mission is to ensure that children in Canada, regardless of socio-economical circumstance and cultural background, have access to a music program through their school.
“Their charity is close to our hearts,” says Yerex, “because it’s about helping to give kids in schools with under-funded music programs an opportunity to learn music.”
I asked him why it was important for kids to have access to musical education. “To me, learning music, like playing sports, is something that shapes young people into well-rounded adults and, whether or not they end up becoming professional musicians or athletes, it definitely has a positive impact on their lives.”
[pullquote][I]t comes down to building a good story beforehand and then simply conveying that story properly to the interviewer[/pullquote]
It’s an exciting time for Acres Of Lions. The success of Reaction has landed the band into a number of summer festivals, including Toronto’s Edgefest, Keloha in Kelowna, B.C., and the Kluth Music Festival on Vancouver Island. This is also the second year in a row that they’ve been chosen for the Peak Performance Project put on by 100.5 the Peak, in Vancouver. The Project is a professional development program for emerging artists in the music industry.
“That program has some amazing mentors, like Shaun Verrault from Wide Mouth Mason, who have had a huge impact on how we interact with the media,” Yerex explains. “Essentially, through a variety of ‘rock camp’ style courses, we’ve learned how to work better with people from the media to get our story across.”
“[I]t comes down to building a good story beforehand and then simply conveying that story properly to the interviewer.”
“At this point in time I’d say that the Acres Of Lions story is definitely about this JobFest project we’re involved in, but on a deeper level it’s really about the fact that 2012 marks for the first time in the band’s history a point where all the members have quit their day jobs and are playing music full time… The challenge now is to find a way to continue doing the band full time for the duration of 2012 and into 2013.”
The band, originally from Victoria, B.C., is made of Yerex on keyboard and guitar, Jeff Kalesnikoff on vocals and guitar, Dan Ball on bass, and Lewis Carter playing drums. Their second LP, Collections, was released in September 2011, and their first single from the album, Reaction, has been the object of plenty of positive attention.
Acres Of Lions have recently signed deals with Fierce Panda in the U.K. and Bullion Records in Japan. So while hoping to build on their successes in Canada, the band will also be focusing their energies overseas.
Alex Ladlaw is a young husband, father, labourer, writer and musician who lives on the Sunshine Coast.