“Orlando always seems just to be kind of crazy,” said Bergman, the guitarist for the band Lionize, which is coming back to the City Beautiful this month for a performance at Will’s Pub.
“We’ve played The Social (club in Orlando) a few times and the House of Blues at Downtown Disney three or four times,” he said. “There’s something about Orlando. People really go to see music. They’re there to have a good time. There also seems to be a lot of musicians in Orlando.”
In fact, when the band was unable to find a strong fan base in their home town of Silver Springs, Maryland, they went out on the road and found more receptive audiences elsewhere – including in the Sunshine State, which Bergman said is one of their favorite places to perform.
“We started out playing bars in our area, and quickly kind of got bored with people who weren’t really interested in listening to music,” he said. “We started getting out of state in the first year, and now we have a following in places like St. Pete’s, and we have fans in Orlando and in Detroit. I can’t really explain why those places have caught on more than others. I guess we don’t question it. We just feel fortunate that somebody is listening.”
But he also knows that this D.C. band, with its 1970s-influenced sound, should find another receptive audience when they perform in Orlando on Tuesday, Aug. 21 at Will’s Pub. The band has been touring non-stop for the past several months in support of their new release, Superczar and the Vulture.
“It’s hard to put your finger on the pulse of it,” Bergman said. “Orlando is just one of those places that likes rock and rock.”
The band first came together in high school, after several years of jamming together. They eventually formed Lionize with Bergman on guitar, Chris Brooks on keyboard, Henry Upton on bass, Mel Randolph on drums, and Tim Sult on guitar.
“We all went to high school and middle school together,” Bergman said. “We were all kind of jamming in different groups, and we just kind of knew each other growing up, and we all went to similar concerts together. I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock, and reggae and Jazz and soul.”
That’s a healthy mix of difference influences, Bergman noted, but he said blending all those varied styles of music together has been one of the band’s great strengths – the diversity they bring to each performance.
“I think that’s the one thing we have going for us,” he said. “We can’t really be pigeonholed thus far into a specific genre. We’re definitely a rock and roll band at our core, but there’s a heavy funk and Jazz and reggae influence, too. We think it’s a strength. Why limit yourself? There’s so much music out there, not even talking about specifically right now. For the last 75 years, there’s been such an array of music, from gospel to Jazz to blues, to early rock and roll to hardcore punk rock. It’s kind of an endless treasure trove to dig through. If it’s good, we’ll try it. Musically, we’re kind of sponges depending on who we’re touring with.”
This has enabled the band to build up a fan base, he said, that knows to expect a good show – and to expect the unexpected.
“Everything has come through constant touring, not through being part of a tailwind of another band’s success where they are in the moment,” he said. “We write a different (song) set list every night. Each member of the band takes a turn alphabetically. When people come to the show, they know they won’t get the same show as last night. We get a little bored as well ourselves, and we improvise as much as we can.”
It helps enormously, he added, to be able to use the Internet and sites like Facebook and YouTube to post their music and videos of live performances, and build up a fan base across the globe.
“It’s definitely just made the world smaller,” Bergman said. “A band from Silver Springs, Maryland can reach fans in Australia quicker than years ago. You don’t need a major labor or MTV or radio play anymore to do it. You just need to have good songs. And the Internet is a great medium and catalyst to carry over instantly. For a band our size, the Internet is awesome.”
Will’s Pub is at 1042 N. Mills Ave. in Orlando. The Lionize show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $10.
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