Check out the song: “Stay Away”

Lindz Riot, lead vocalist of the Canadian rock band Mary And The Black Lamb, gave me some time to pick her brain about her band and their two releases As The City Sleeps and Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing. She also told me about some future plans for the remainder of 2010. To date the band has shared the stage with Alannah Myles, Bury The Bully, Odium, Johnny Hollow, Frankie Whyte, The Dead Idols and other notable acts within Ontario.

Tell me the history of the band and how it took form.
Lindz: Me and Nix founded the band back in 2007. What happened was we knew each other from other local bands and we had grown out of our old bands and wanted to try new styles of music. We kept in touch and I ended my band. When Nix’s band ended we figured that we both liked the same music so why not start a band together. We may have stolen members from the previous bands, like Jordan was a bassest in Nix’s old band. We found Matt Kelly, and now we have our new drummer Scott. We wanted to do a straight up rock band that was dark and gonna be who we are. That’s how it pretty much started with me and Nix and it was like “let’s get down all our ideas”. I did have old songs I brought over to Mary And The Black Lamb from a previous band but even though they were written for old bands, they didn’t fit those bands. We just played them for some new songs. The first half of the album was old songs and the other half of the album was the new songs. It really worked and we found the right people at that time. It was the best chemistry you could ever describe. We are now a big family, Nix has always been like my big brother.

It’s always good to hear when a band is like that.
Lindz: Yeah. Even the name itself, people are like, “that’s really weird”, and when they see us on stage they are saying, “Oh Nix is the black lamb” it’s like, yeah cause we felt the black sheep is what we were in our old band, at school and as artists. When we found each other it was like putting two black sheep together and creating from that.

So the name Mary And The Black Lamb was derived from that aspect of being different?
Lindz: Yeah, and its funny because the first song you ever learn on the piano is “Mary Had A Little Lamb”. It is only three notes and very simple. People can relate to it and so we originally decided to call ourselves Mary Had A Little Black Lamb but that’s a mouth full. We liked the idea because we didn’t have disturbing childhoods, but we didn’t have happy bright amazing fun and sunshine childhoods either. We were the black sheep, we were picked on, we were ridiculed for who we were. When we made the band name, this was the dark side of our childhood and our current identity.

So being the only female in the band, how does that feel?
Lindz: [laughs] Like a little sister because everybody in the band is like a big brother to me. But then again I don’t view it like that cause I’m such a dude myself. We are all on the same level, like yeah I will have my girl moments. It’s proper to wear a dress and such but I never saw it as, “Oh I’m the chick in the band and the guys let me go off to do my hair”, which they let me do, but I think like a guy in terms of how I feel about women, as emotional and attached but we all have our feminine moments. I have been around guys, like I use to be a tomboy so it’s just like being one of the guys.

So your album As The City Sleeps has been out for some time now. Are you satisfied with the outcome?
Lindz: It’s been a year and a bit since the release and I am impressed. I did not expect to do as good as well did. We printed 1000 copies and we have sold roughly a little over half of them. We are also on iTunes and those sales have done decent to. We have had some good friends of ours put us up on JamLegend.com, and that opened up a huge market for us. We are now getting recognized for what we have been doing. The response has been bigger than expected because seeing past projects that didn’t go so well when we kept hoping and waiting then years have passed and we are wondering what we are doing with our life. [laughs] I haven’t done any questioning with this project which is good. But me and the guys are happy with how things have been.

What’s your favourite song on this album?
Lindz: Oh jeez I am torn between two.

Ok, what are your two favourite songs?
Lindz: I really like “Emily” and I also like “Stranger”. The reason I like “Emily” is because it was about a friend of mine who passed away about three years ago. She had a problem with depression and that’s what the story was about. I am probably the most connected to it because she told me this story and the minute we got off the phone I wrote this song and I never let it go even though I was in my old band. I knew I just had to make this song happen but I knew deep down it wasn’t the right time. I felt like an idiot cause when she passed away, I never got to play the song for her. It was just a ton of melodies and lyrics I threw away in the note book, so when it happened it was a huge inspiration to finish the song. That is why I am so attached to it. But I like “Stranger” because I wrote that one with Matt Kelly and he pretty much did everything, I just had to write the lyrics and we worked on the melody together. It’s a really dark and moody song that we love playing live. I can get into the character even though I don’t know who the character is, I just fake it.

What is the writing process for this release?
Lindz: The best way to describe it is… I started writing a book and I needed the last few chapters but I was drained near the end of it so the guys came along and finished it. That’s the best way to describe this album. I’ve been writing since I was 15 and had a lot of material ready when Mary And The Black Lamb started. It had either pieces missing or songs missing and then the guys came and we all wrote as a unit. It’s nice to be able to write by yourself but when you have a different head in the game, you get two different perspectives and it comes out better. You hear new ideas from it. The writing process is: I start something and then one of the guys will help finish it.

So it’s a united project in the end. Rad! Can you give me an insight into the name As The City Sleeps?
Lindz: We all have slight insomnia where we get creative and stay up till 4am writing, painting, creating or whatever we do. When we were trying to think of a name for the album a long time ago, while talking to the guys I thought up As The City Sleeps. Nix automatically just loved it because as he said, “As the city sleeps is when we kinda create”. So that’s how we felt, and it also tied in with the black sheep concept because we felt like we were detached from everything while everyone was sleeping.

So not long ago your Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing EP was released, how did this come about?
Lindz: We won some recording time with Chalet Studios through a promoter in Toronto and it was weird because we had our recording date on the month of our 1st year anniversary as a band. We come from the 90s influence and a lot of other bands made their album and then an unplugged version. I think Korn did the last one and it was interesting. Nobody does unplugged anymore which is sad and shows the electronic movement, how it saturated everything. But we did it cause all our favourite 90s bands did it. Turned out great and we did a different version of “Stranger”. It’s stripped down and were proud of it.

So now I’m gonna get away from the albums. Any certain bands you feel are big influences to you as a musician?
Lindz: Wow, that’s a really good question. As cliché as it sounds I’m heavily influenced by Evanescence. But what I have discovered recently is when I say Evanescence, people automatically think Amy Lee. I love her voice but I’m actually influenced by Ben Moody. He is an amazing songwriter, composer and writes great string parts. How I discovered this was once he left Evanescence he wrote for Avril Lavigne and Kelly Clarkson. Everything he wrote for them I was a fan of. He put out a solo acoustic masterpiece in my opinion. I also really like his new band. He also wrote music for Hana Pestle and I loved it. But yes Evanescence is a big influence on me because of Ben Moody. Another influence would be The Birthday Massacre, Depeche Mode and The Cure. But recently the biggest influence I have to say is Vast. I could really go on though cause I love classical and trip hop. But that few are the biggest influences on me so far.

So for a fun question. If you got to headline a show and any two bands would open, who would it be?
Lindz: Definitely Nightwish. But we’d rather open for them cause they’re epic and you can’t exactly go after Nightwish and try to top that.

But which singer of Nightwish?
Lindz: Oh good question. I like them both, I don’t know. I do like Anette a lot and think the reason a lot of fans are like, “oh she’s so bad live” i.e. because people don’t think of the fact she went from performing musicals to performing for crowds of thousands. The anxiety of that, I know what it’s like to be nervous to sing. But I don’t know… both.

Okay, so we will have an old Nightwish and new Nightwish performing.
Lindz: [laughs].

What is next for Mary And The Black Lamb?
Lindz: We are currently writing our new EP which will be self produced and we have some great people backing us. We are finding our sound and are comfortable in our own skin/mindset. Like I said before, I have started some things and need the guys to help finish. But this time it’s all of us getting together to create. It is sounding great – what we have so far. Also, we plan to tour up to Quebec at the end of the summer. We have some friends who will take care of us and they are going to come out here as well, for the first half of the tour. So yeah, we are going to do what we can even though we are broke musicians. We are normal people who work normal jobs and so we don’t have as much time to promote this band.  [ END ]