Hearts Like Lions is an alternative three-piece from Long Beach, California consisting of Stephen Ramos (guitar, vocals), Luke Schoepf (bass), and Nick Sturz (drums) that recently released their EP These Hands. With the band’s interesting blend of punk, hardcore, and technical, the single “These Hands” is a quality song worth checking out. Nick Sturz gave us some insight of the journey towards the creation of “These Hands” and discusses how the difference between their debut album and the new EP is “day and night.”
Where are you guys right now?
Sturz: As of now, we are in our hometown of Long Beach, CA working our day jobs.
When did Hearts Like Lions form and how did it occur?
Sturz: We formed in 2011, as a couple kids who wanted to start a band. Our lineup and sound changes were frequent and now, here we are!
Your name is great! How did you come up with it?
Sturz: Fun fact: Stephen’s girlfriend Ariel used to be in the band, and she was the one who came up with the name.
Who are your influences?
Sturz: It’s all over the place! Stephen leans more towards As Cities Burn/Taking Back Sunday, while Luke listens to a lot of Mutemath and other more technical bands. Nick is originally a hardcore/punk drummer, so it’s an interesting blend.
Check out the song “These Hands”
What’s your writing process like?
Sturz: Stephen usually has the first ideas of the songs. When the full band practices, we can feed off each other’s energy when jamming them out. A lot of feeling out the songs comes first, then structure.
Who writes the lyrics in the band, and what sort of themes tend to pop up while writing lyrics?
Sturz: Stephen writes most of the lyrical content, although within the past year we were going through a lot of the same stuff. The songs are about those experiences. We hope that people can relate to the them and find positivity despite their struggles.
What’s the story behind your single?
Sturz: The song “These Hands” is an example of the aforementioned struggles. It was about a time when Stephen felt that he was in a wrong place in life, making hurtful decisions and causing destruction (hence the chorus) to those he cared for. However, we want people to know they’re loved despite their wrongdoings.
Would you say the EP is an exploration towards optimism? I sense a bittersweet element to the sound, but there seems to be a general positiveness surrounding the tracks.
Sturz: Definitely. The EP is very personal and it was written during some of the darkest hours of our lives thus far. BUT, all of the songs have an underlying optimistic theme without a doubt. There’s always hope no matter what!
Name some bands you’ve enjoyed touring and playing with.
Sturz: Almost all of the bands we’ve met and played with on the road have been so good to us. There are a lot of humble, talented dudes and dudettes out there who work hard. It’s admirable. We toured with Hotel Books in March (they’re awesome) and we’ve played with From Indian Lakes a couple times. Those shows were always a blast.
What have you guys been listening to a lot of lately?
Sturz: On tour, we’ve had the new From Indian Lakes album on repeat. Personally, I (Nick) have been on a Young The Giant/Bad Religion kick. That’s a huge gap in genres, but those bands rule.
What are your plans for the next year?
Sturz: Recording early 2015, and then hitting the road right after. Lots of touring, God willing.
What’s the evolution between the last album and These Hands been like?
Sturz: Oh man, haha. If this is in reference to the 2011 EP, it’s night and day in our opinion. Everything seemed to change between that album and this one. Members, musicianship, lyrical content, etc. These Hands is the most raw and personal material we’ve put out yet.
How was the journey writing and releasing These Hands?
Sturz: From successfully launching a Kickstarter last December, recording in January, self-releasing in June and signing to Tooth & Nail shortly after, it’s been a non-stop year for us. We learned a TON this year. It was awesome and we can’t wait for the next one.
How do your personal experiences play into the creation of your music, if at all?
Sturz: Personal experience is what we feel makes music authentic. We didn’t have to make up heartache or try hard to sound depressed in any of the songs. It just happened and writing the songs was therapeutic in a way.
Love the look of the EP cover. Who designed it?
Sturz: Stephen actually took that picture on his iPhone and the label slapped on the band name/album title. 2014 style man, haha.
Do you have a message for your listeners?
Sturz: We want people to treat each other well regardless of their differences and/or current problems. Love always wins, and we hope our songs and lives reflect that.
Check out the song “Once Dead, Now Alive”