“Lyrics must be a stamp of the times we are living in,” explains Kamil Haidar, vocalist in Polish two-piece Lion Shepherd
“After 20 years, someone might look at our records from 2015 and 2016, and on the one hand, I want them to be as
universal as possible but on the other, the listener should know they’ve been written in unusual circumstances and
that the world was like this.” This openness to interpretation has defined Lion Shepherd’s diverse start in the world of prog.
Haidar started working with multi-instrumentalist Mateusz Owczarek in their current incarnation in 2013, at a time when the inquisitive musicians were looking to “make more sophisticated music than rock”.
So that’s what they did. Drawing heavily upon Middle Eastern influences and instruments – such as the oud – and tying it to Owczarek’s instinctively emotive acoustic guitar sounds and the occasional Porcupine Tree-esque riff, Lion Shepherd’s 2015 debut Hiraeth was a bold and bright outing.
“We’re not a political band,” asserts Haidar. “But we have social and political lyrics. We also have this philosophical and psychological thing.” An eagerness not to be defined or categorised has bled into all parts of Lion Shepherd’s existence. The band’s biog is unexpectedly empty, instead replaced with Aesop’s fable The Lion And The Shepherd, from which they take their name. When pushed on this, Haidar remains suitably cryptic: “The fable now lives with its own life. It’s a good accompaniment to the art and covers around the band.”
The Polish progressive scene, in the words of Owczarek, is full of bands with “an 80s prog sound like Marillion.” This description obviously doesn’t apply to the country’s biggest prog export, Riverside, who recently took Lion Shepherd on tour with them. Despite the recent loss of Riverside guitarist and friend Piotr Grudzinski, Lion Shepherd were delighted by “massive” response they got from the audiences.
With their second release penned for the end of the year and a diverse world music side project – called Lion Shepherd Orient Ensemble – in the works, Lion Shepherd’s global ambitions are to grow.
For more, check out Lion Shepherd’s website.