Most musicians spend their entire life waiting for a big break but the four members of Lions on the Moon are living the dream before any of them graduate high school.
The band, which recently recorded its first album, will play the Pleasantville Music Festival this Saturday and the four members, ages 13 to 17, are excited for the opportunity.
“I hear there are a lot of hot girls in Pleasantville,” joked 15-year-old drummer Henry Thomas. “I hope they come to the music festival and check us out.”
Despite their young age, the members of Lions on the Moon have a strong respect and love for classic rock groups. Thomas said it was listening to The Rolling Stones in the car that inspired him to learn an instrument at seven years old. He said that older music tends to have more depth and soul than modern pop music.
Nick Winegardner, the band’s 13-year-old guitarist and lead vocalist, agreed that classic rock is accessible to most people in a way that other genres are not. The band members’ fathers have also instilled a love of classic rock in their sons.
“Speaking for the whole band, I would say that our dads really got us into that music,” Winegardner said. “The dads may not be great musicians, actually they don’t even play, but they really like rock.”
Lions on the Moon write or co-write all of their songs. Winegardner began writing music at 11 with a music instructor from his hometown named Michael Mugrage, whom he said helped him find the direction he wanted to take. Since then he has collaborated with Mugrage and his bandmates.
“Normally I don’t really think about what songs are going to be about until after I have a structure,” said Winegardner. “I’m not the type of writer that writes lyrics without music, so normally most of my lyrics and melodies come from what I’m feeling at the time.”
Although Winegardner writes most of the band’s material, Thomas said each of the members contribute to songs, adding their own unique licks or grooves to a track. The band works well together, although they all didn’t know each other until Georgia musician, Col. Bruce Hampton, introduced Winegardner to guitar player Brandon Niederauer and his brother, bass player Dylan Niederauer. Thomas was the last to join the group, but said from the first time the four played together, it was as though they had been together for years.
“When Henry came, it became even clearer that we had something special in the works,” Winegardner said. “Not only does our styles of playing work well together, but our personalities are all different but fit together like a puzzle.”
Finding a name for the group came next, and was inspired when someone compared the four boys to a pride of young lions. Later on, another person said their career was going to skyrocket to the moon.
Although the band has only been together since last year, Winegardner already has ambitious goals for Lions on the Moon. He said he would love to play the Beacon Theatre in New York City, hopes to sell out Madison Square Garden and one day win a Grammy.
For now, Winegardner said that the band is honored to have been asked to play the Pleasantville Music Festival. Thomas said their performance at Saturday’s event will be energetic and loud while Winegardner added that they plan to exceed any expectations the audience may have for a band with such young musicians.
“Audiences always seem kind of surprised when they see us for the first time,” said Winegardner. “I don’t think they see us coming.”
Lions on the Moon will play the Beer Garden Stage at 1 p.m.