After coming out of a lengthy hiatus from his prior band Balsam Grove, Larry Lee Hansen aka Larry The Lion is finally ready to embark on his own solo musical journey, debuting his new massive and dynamic solo project and single, "LION MODE."
For many artists, the pandemic was a test of the limits of how far they would go to pursue their dreams as musicians. For some, it was a test of courage, weathering out a storm that seemed neverending at first to fend off. Artists like Larry Lee Hansen, who has been practicing music for several years, were tested with the same journey when faced with continuing as a solo project when plans with a band did not turn out as one would have hoped. With so many different genres, cliques, and types of thinking toward music in the scene, it's hard to know where one stands in the grand scheme of things and how to move forward. The choice to perform music alone was always available for Larry, but establishing a name under which to pursue the endeavor was the sole creative stumbling block.
I live a very frugal sort of lifestyle just to ensure I will always be doing this until my heart stops. That is too much for a lot of folks and that is totally fair. That said, when the band lost its course during the pandemic, it was a major blow for me. I felt reclusive, tired, and honestly like a failure and it really ate me up for a while there. All of that hunger for success and to do what I enjoy again all came to a head with this song. It is an anthem of not giving up, putting your everything into what you love, and rising above the hard times. For me, that is "LION MODE."- Larry Hansen
Astrology can bring a sense of order and long-lasting meaning to one's life. During this tenebrous time filled with uncertainty, Larry found inspiration within it. Larry The Lion was born as a result, owing much to his Leo astrological sign. After much struggle and strife, Larry The Lion has debuted his new single, "Lion Mode." An aggressive multilayered experience filled with fast punk-inspired drums, down-tuned heavy metal riffs, and classic nu-metal soundscapes that blend modern and classic into one listening experience, Larry Hansen proves that it's never too late to show another side of yourself musically if you are brave enough to stand alone.
What are your musical influences? How did those play into your new single, “LionMode?” I know this project ties into metal and hardcore, but listening to the track, I hear some other genres within the inner framework that make this stand out.
Larry Hansen: Oh yeah, my influences are definitely across the board despite being a metal guy, haha. I think "LION MODE" is a weird crossover of all of my favorite genres... Angry, hard-hitting, raw. I was pissed and I just needed to get it all out. I love a lot of modern metal bands, but I think my general tastes go back to 2000s hardcore/metal bands like Norma Jean, Glassjaw, and Underoath... My hometown heroes back in Alaska (where I was born) are 36 Crazyfists, who have definitely made their mark on my own songwriting in some way. I'm down with the nu-metal revival! Deftones, Linkin Park, Soulfly, and all that stuff have a home in my heart as well. Various punk and emo bands, some CKY, and even old-school thrash all kind of meld together in this song. Heavy!
How did this long time away play a crucial role in the creative process? How was this different than being in Balsam Grove instrumentally?
Larry Hansen: A lot went down over the last few years of my life that led to this. Circumstances resulted in me moving from Texas, where I had lived for five-plus years, to Washington State. Almost immediately, I met my amazing wife, and the universe threw me a whirlwind of lows and highs, including the loss of my father, and getting married. All of that along with being absent from music just gave me this built-up anxious excitement to continue creating. I was frustrated and a little depressed that B.G. was making some cool moves, then we abruptly kinda hit a roadblock. That frustration and that hunger were the fuel to create again.
I would say that the creative process here is a lot different from Balsam Grove because as a solo project, this is a way for me to make any kind of music I am feeling at any given time. No restrictions, it feels more like a production project from the jump, and I write and perform every part of the song as one guy. Both approaches are excellent. Sometimes I feel limited by my own mind as well. Having a band with other extremely creative and gifted musicians is a way to shake things up and make music you could never make as one person. I am happy now to have a little bit of both in my world, and it is interesting to see how those two approaches can make a huge difference in the sound of the music itself. I still consider B.G. my main project at the end of the day.
Collaboratively, the digital artwork has been done by your wife, Jessica Munro-Hansen. It’s gorgeous.
Larry Hansen: It turned out awesome, right?! I would say this was definitely a good husband and wife collab. Keeping things as unbiased as possible, I think she is a remarkable artist. It inspires me that while I work on recording new music, I can take a break to find my wife in her own art studio space, painting or working on digital art. I come from a graphic design background, so I gave her some guidance and a vision to go for and she did everything I wanted and then some! Couldn't be happier with the end result. She has plans to debut her art brand sometime in the near future as well. Pretty cool!
Lyrically what is "LION MODE," leaning into? I this was a very dark period and time for you.
Larry Hansen: Going back to what we touched on earlier, the song "LION MODE and its message are about seething frustration that comes from when you reach for the stars and then you kind of lose your balance. I know a lot of people out there can relate to this, but music has always been an essential part of my life and identity. I am a bit more devoted to my music than the hobbyist, in the sense that I have completely ruled out commitments like having children.
I live a very frugal sort of lifestyle just to ensure I will always be doing this until my heart stops. That is too much for a lot of folks and that is totally fair. That said, when the band lost its course during the pandemic, it was a major blow for me. I felt reclusive, tired, and honestly like a failure and it really ate me up for a while there. All of that hunger for success and to do what I enjoy again all came to a head with this song. It is an anthem of not giving up, putting your everything into what you love, and rising above the hard times. For me, that is "LION MODE."
How has working on this solo project made you grow personally and as a musician?
Larry Hansen: This solo project gave me the identity I have always searched for in every project I was in prior and was really a challenge to myself to rise above and not retire from my life's greatest passion. This solo project reflects all of the growth from this transformative period of my life, and I want to make music that is bold, fearless, honest, and unrelenting. I think I have achieved that standard with this new song, but plan to delve into that in my future songs that will be coming out in the near future as well.
I think that the nature of my solo project also allowed me to free myself from thinking things like "does this sound like a live band? Is this technique acceptable? Should I even think about using this weird instrument in my metal song? Is experimenting with this genre okay?" those kinds of expectations all go out the window and I just go with what my ears are saying sounds good. I think that kind of relaxed songwriting approach will grow on the listeners as well. Anything goes!
What do you want listeners to take from this experience?
Larry Hansen: I want this song to convey a few things: Be bold in life. Take risks. Believe in yourself even if you are the only one who does. Never give up on what you love, and those dreams are worth chasing even with inflation in 2023, haha. If I can pursue my passion, literally anybody can do the same. "LION MODE" is all about that energy. No more self-doubt!
What is next for you?
Larry Hansen: Well, I have some more Larry The Lion songs coming out in the next couple of months. Going to have some gradual releases this year, and a BIG one next year. I don't want to spoil too much yet, but I promise I won't leave you in suspense for too long!