East Coast rock band The Lionfish fuse multiple influences into
original sound on new album ‘You Won’t Keep Me Down’
FAIRFIELD, CT – It was while attending college together that the four members of the rock band The Lionfish first started playing together, but it took a year-long trip to Ecuador for the band to find its voice showcased on its newest album, “You Won’t Keep Me Down.”
Lead singer, keyboardist, trombonist and co-band-founder Robby Schwartz recently returned from a year-long stay in Quito, Ecuador, where he served as a volunteer teacher. Though the band had been going strong in the years prior to his departure, he knew it was an experience he needed to have and he hoped that upon his return,. the band could still play together. Not only was that the case, but it turns out that his experiences in Ecuador led to some of the best songwriting he’s ever done – all of which fed the songs that can be found on the group’s new album.
“We were trying to make a unified rock album, but we didn’t want to constrain ourselves to a particular genre or hyper-specific sound,” Schwartz said. “Blues rock is our main thing, and this album is blues rock through the lens of all these other compositional influences – acoustic, Latin, and some jazz. I wrote most of the songs while living in Quito, Ecuador. Most of them deal with love, which is the central theme that runs through this album. Down there I really witnessed all sorts of love between the different characters that I met, and it really connected in multiple ways back home.”
Though “You Won’t Keep Me Down” is the most recent project for the band, it’s not the first. They’ve been playing together for about six years – since the time Schwartz, drummer Dan Horstmann, and multi-instrumentalist Chris Finelli met in one of their music classes and immediately hit it off.
“We met in jazz band,” said Finelli – who plays lead guitar, trumpet, bass and vocals. “I was a sophomore and Robby was a scared little freshman, and I said to him, ‘Hey dude, you’re really good. Let’s hang out.’ We played in jazz band and pep band together, and then we started doing some things on the side and kept with it and made it our own thing.”
It wasn’t long before they had added another guitarist and bassist to the band, and the lineup evolved over the years. Mark Schwartz – Robby Schwartz’s father – plays guitar, accordion, bass and backup vocals. Dan Horstmann is the founding drummer and percussionist, and also provides backup vocals. Original guitarist John Domenico joins the band for live performances. From time-to-time, the band collaborates with guest vocalists such as Hattie Briggs and Samantha Mazzeo, both featured on the new album. And when they tap into their jazz roots, they’ll occasionally play live with a horn section featuring Tim Rhone on trombone, Matt Finelli on alto saxophone, Tim Vyskocil on trumpet, and Amanda Ocasio on alto and tenor sax.
“We have a diverse range of influences that we synthesize well into one voice,” Robby Schwartz said. “With any song, we can probably tell you three or four different influential artists or ideas or sounds that we drew from and were able to shape into our own. It comes from everybody in the band. We have a real commitment to the rock album as a form that we are trying to work our ideas into, which isn’t necessarily a mainstream idea.”
The Lionfish’s new album is available for download on all digital distribution platforms. To listen
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