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Jungle Book

Allowing your debut album to share its title with a children's book is a dicey proposition, but it isn't the only risk As Tall As Lions has taken. That 2004 album, Lafcadio, was a beautifully textured, sonically rich and emotionally dynamic beast that allowed listeners to smell both Hey Mercedes and Journey on its breath, all the while licking its lips menacingly. Slowly and carefully chewing on its influences -- from pop punk to shoegazer to bombastic '70s rock -- the lithe animal roared with layered, ringing guitar lines, vibrant melodies and soaring vocals. But the Long Island-based outfit wasn't satisfied. When it came time to work on a second outing -- scheduled for release sometime this summer on East West Records -- the Lions applied the lessons they learned to create a work they could truly be proud of. Daniel Nigro, the act's lead vocalist, offered us a sneak peek at the results.

Westword: What can we expect from the new album?

Daniel Nigro: We were all really unhappy with Lafcadio. We don't like the way it sounds, and those songs aren't us. They were a lot of old songs that Fred [Feldman, founder of Triple Crown Records and president of East West] made us re-record. After Lafcadio, we talked a lot about what we wanted to do. We wanted to make the record more rhythmically based. On Lafcadio, the drums and bass just followed the chords in a predictable pop way, but on this record, we tried to work on unique rhythms that are unexpected and very groove-oriented. I felt like we were afraid to try things on Lafcadio -- like, if we put vocal harmonies, people would think we were cheesy. But our mentality was completely different this time. There are five of us singing on a lot of the songs, with harmonies and countermelodies.

And how do you feel about the results?

The band is really happy with it, and the label's extremely excited about it. I used to think that Fred was this monotone character without a lot of enthusiasm, but now I get calls where he's saying, "These songs are great! I can't get them out of my head!"

What do the girlfriends think?

Nobody in the band has a girlfriend, actually. The more I tour, the more I realize it's impossible to have a girlfriend, because you're not there to nurture the relationship. It would be selfish to try to keep a relationship going like that. Before the band started touring, I had a girlfriend. The reason we broke up is that life changed and I wasn't home every day. I had a job where I had to be in the studio or on tour in different states, and I couldn't give her the time that she needed. We've been touring for two years, and I haven't had a girlfriend -- and I almost don't want to have one, because it would take away from the band. It's like I have three boyfriends right now. I'm married to them.