Interview with Rob Watson of Lionheart

Hey Rob, what’s new?

We’re just practicing right now.

You’re practicing songs off your new record?

Yeah. We’ve got a tour real soon, so we’re trying to put everything together.

When did your tour with Madball end?

That was in December. The tour ended December 19.

Cool. How was it?

It was awesome. We played with Madball and a band from Texas called Bitter End.

Sweet. And now you’ll be off to Europe soon for another trek. Europe always seems to have a great hardcore and metal scene.

Absolutely. This will be our fifth time in Europe. The scene’s great. In the States, a lot more poppier stuff is trendy, but over in Europe, hardcore and shit like that is still huge. You get everything at the shows. There’s people that move just like they do in the States and then there are people that have their own thing going on. There’s a variety of how people dance over there. It’s cool.

Definitely. So, who will be on the new tour?

This tour will be with Terror, First Blood and Backtrack.

Are you friends with any of the guys from the other bands?

Well, First Blood and us are from the same general area. I’ve known Carl [Schwartz] (vocals) for a few years now. We’ve never toured with Terror before or Backtrack. It’s going to be new, but we’re excited about it. We’re big fans of Terror.

Will you be playing a lot of songs off Lionheart’s new album, ‘Built On Struggle’?

It’s going to be a pretty even selection of old songs and new songs. Pretty much everything anyone wants to hear is going to be played.

That’s good! You never want to overload the fans with too much new material.

[laughs] Yeah.

I just heard Lionheart’s new single, “Brothers Keeper,” the other day and I noticed you have quite a few cool guest spots on it.

Yeah, the song features guest vocals from ex-100 Demons vocalist Bruce LePage, as well as a guitar solo from Dave Nassie of Suicidal Tendencies/Bleeding Through.

Nice. Did both guys come down to the studio to track their parts?

Dave came down to the studio when we were recording and laid down a couple solos. We decided on one of them and it turned out awesome. Bruce did his part from Massachusetts. We met Bruce a few years ago when we were on tour in Massachusetts and have kept in contact with him. I sent him the track, he recorded his part and then sent it back. And we just shot a video for “Brothers Keeper” in Massachusetts on the Madball tour and Bruce is in it.

Nice. When will the video be out?

It should be out right in time for the album release on January 18.

Perfect. Is “Brothers Keeper” about your brother and his drug addiction?

Yeah, it’s an important song to me. Bruce was able to relate to some of it too. He appreciated the song as well and that’s why I decided to put him on it. I can’t thank him enough for doing it — he really made the song.

The new record definitely seems to shine light on more hardships you guys have faced in your lives.

Yeah, absolutely. That’s why I got into hardcore because I was dealing with stuff when I was younger. The feeling that I got when I first heard bands like Blood For Blood was like, “Holy shit.” I suddenly felt like I wasn’t the only one who had these issues. This music gave me an outlet for everything and a sense of community. I feel like in a lot of the music today, people stop singing about stuff like that. It seems like it’s all about girls or partying. There’s kids out there who are going through shit and dealing with stuff. And there’s not a lot of music to relate to anymore. So, that’s why I still sing about struggles. At 24 years old, I’m still going through shit. I just try to be as honest as I can in my lyrics so that the people out there who are looking for something to relate to can. It’s what being a Lionheart is about.

I assume that it was an emotionally draining experience when writing the lyrics.

It’s interesting, I’ll go through periods of time when I have a lot to write about and others where I don’t. That’s pretty much what happened with this CD. I wrote a lot of stuff in pockets of time. We tour ten months out of the year, so a lot of it ends up being written while I’m gone. We wrote about half of the songs, not just the lyrics, on the road. On our last European tour in April, we did a lot of writing. A lot of the venues have apartments in the venues. So, we’d stay overnight, leave our stuff on stage and practice and write shit before we went to sleep.

Do you guys just jam on songs when trying to work them out or is it a mixture of a few things?

Yeah, it really is a mixture of everything. Sometimes we’ll write stuff at practice as a group and other times it’ll just be me and another guy and we’ll try to formulate a song. I write my lyrics ahead of time. When I’m writing them, I usually have a feel for the way the song is going. I’ll try to convey that to someone else in the band and then we’ll put it together. Then, we’ll get to a certain point where we get ideas from everybody. It’s different every time.

Cool. Were all the songs written before the guest spots were included?

Yeah, I went ahead and wrote all the songs first. Then, I separated them lyrically and feel-wise. Especially for a hardcore band, it seems like there are a lot of rules you have to go by to be a hardcore band. With the guest vocals, I wanted to bring a bunch of different stuff in. We got everyone from Brandan Schieppati from metalcore band Bleeding Through to Karl Buechner of the straight edge legends Earth Crisis to Lord Ezec from Skarhead and Icepick. We wanted diversity and it turned out great.

Thanks for taking the time to talk, Rob. Good luck on tour.

Yea, I really appreciate it man. Thanks.

Pick up Lionheart’s new album, Built On Struggle.

For the band’s upcoming tour dates, check out