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New EP reflects Lion Oh My’s growth

Local band gains momentum, popularity since early days

Pretty much every phase of the Lion Oh My’s career has been made up on the fly.

When the Spokane rock four-piece played its first show, they only had four or five songs written and were practicing in an abandoned, windowless church that they rented for about $200 a month and kept warm with a small kerosene heater.

“It was the only place we could find to rent,” said David Arnold, the band’s lead singer and lyricist. “We would literally be huddled around the heater writing songs.”

“I couldn’t even feel my hands, and I’d be trying to write guitar parts,” guitarist Chris Renz added.

Renz was a spontaneous addition to the group. He was a classical player, unfamiliar with modern rock techniques, but he was asked to join the band because they all got along. “They hadn’t even heard me play when they said I could be in the band,” he said. “Our personalities just meshed so well.”

They’re an impulsive group of guys, but it’s paid off for them: Less than two years after their first show, they’re one of Spokane’s premiere local acts. Last weekend, they released a new five-song EP at a special event at the Bing Crosby Theater, and they recently opened for the Plain White T’s at the Knitting Factory.

Those days of shivering in that old, drafty church seem miles away now. At the same time, the last two years have gone by in a blur: The Lion Oh My has kept itself busy – they feel as if they’re always in the studio, desperate to record every new song they’re working on – and their “Cold War EP” comes less than a year after their self-titled debut album.

The differences between the album and the EP are immediately apparent, and the “Cold War EP” is basically a document of the band starting to find its groove. “We took what we thought worked really well off the first album and kind of ran with that,” said the band’s drummer, Sam Stoner.

“The album has the first songs we wrote, and it’s a good example of us trying to find our sound,” Arnold said. “And it’s gotten more energetic, from that first album to the EP: We wrote the album in the dead of winter, and we wrote the EP in spring and summer.”

“It’s our sound, but it’s more mature, which is the way it should be,” said bassist Andy Bartholomew. “The music still comes the way we want it to. We’re not really catering to any kind of area.”

And with the EP hot off the presses, Arnold said their newest songs are already taking the band in a different direction. “The stuff we’re writing right now that we haven’t played live sounds so different from what’s on the EP,” he said. “It’s constantly evolving, but we don’t really have a formula.”

Considering the leaps and bounds the band has made in just 12 months, it’s hard to predict where they’ll be around this time next year, but the odds are good that they’ll have another album and hopefully a tour under their belt. Either way, they’ll be keeping themselves busy.

“We all realized how unhappy we were not creating music,” Arnold said. “I mean, if we go a couple weeks without practicing, I start to get bummed out. It’s just something we have to do.”