Cover Photo Courtesy Shane Loudon Photography
By: Addie Hayes, Editor/Lead Writer, Regional Music Journal
Oklahoma City hard rock/metal band Sign of Lies has been around since 2014, but they really started gaining attention over the past couple of years. The band was founded by guitarist Arik Hanradt and bassist Jessie Marin. Recent additions to the lineup include lead vocalist Devon LaCore and the newest member, drummer Cole Lemmon, who joined in early 2019. This lineup has produced a hard hitting, explosive sound, along with an equally fiery live performance.
The first time we saw Sign of Lies was at 89th Street Collective in Oklahoma City, when the band provided local support for John 5 in Marh. In a lineup packed with extremely talented artists like Dead Girls Academy, Jared James Nichols, and of course John 5, Sign of Lies made an impact on the crowd early. They delivered an amazing performance and everyone at the show loved the energy coming from the band. Sign of Lies have crafted amazing music, but their live performance, which is marked with stunning physicality, is something fans cannot ignore. During the set at 89th Street Collective, guitarist Hanradt was constantly moving around the stage and engaging the audience, even leaving the stage and going into the crowd. LaCore kept the fan’s attention with his strong stage presence; he also climbed exposed piping in the ceiling. Those in attendance loved every minute of their set.
Following their performance at 89th Street Collective, Sign of lies took a trip to Texas. The band performed at Dirty Fest at the Dirty Dog Bar in Austin, Texas. It is the largest venue on Austin’s famed 6th Street and an official venue for SXSW. Sign of Lies also played in Houston and San Antonio during the month of March.
In mid-April, Sing of Lies released their EP titled Purge, which contains four tracks. The first track on the EP, “Fake”, grabs the listener’s attention with a strong opening and keeps fans listening with hard and heavy guitars, hypnotic riffs and pulsing drums. Sign of Lies stands out from other bands due in large part to LaCore’s vibrant vocals and Hanradt’s ability to speak through his guitar. On the second track “Mad Hatter”, the frenetic guitar sets the tone. The rhythmic vocals, perfectly executed riffs and powerful guitar solo captures the essence of madness.
The standout track on Purge is “Stitched”. The song starts with the famous line from the 1931 classic movie Frankenstein, “It’s moving. It’s Alive, It’s Alive…”. The guitars start with a slow, melancholic tempo, before erupting along with pounding drums and a churning rhythm. LaCore starts off singing in a heavier tone, showcasing his vocal dynamics. Throughout the song, he smoothly transitions between deep and menacing, before moving on to a more melodic tone and then on to a deep, almost growling vocal. Toward the end, the song returns to the slower tempo before again erupting into a heavy rhythm with searing guitars.
With “Stitched”, Sign of Lies has their full talent and versatility on display. This is a group of extremely talented musicians who are not afraid to take chances and write music that is original and fresh. The EP ends with “The Truth”, a song that opens hard and heavy. LaCore delivers a more melodic vocal performance that dances with the heavier tones, creating a beautiful contrast. Throughout the song, Hanradt continues to impress with his guitar skills and delivers a strong solo.
Following the EP Release, Sign of Lies headed to Altus, Oklahoma to the Red River Music Hall. They provided direct support for Hinder. Following the performance in Altus, the band headed to Dallas in early May to perform at Reno’s Chop Shop. Over Memorial Day Weekend, they performed at Rocklahoma on the Darkside Stage as part of the Thursday night pre-party. We had a chance to sit down and talk to them after their performance at Rocklahoma.
Sign of Lies Performing at the Darkside Stage Thursday Night at Rocklahoma 2019 – Photos by Addie Hayes
Sign of Lies has always stood out on the local scene. Before joining the band, singer Devon LaCore had several opportunities to see the old lineup perform. He explained, “I don’t know exactly how long ago it was, but I was in a different band and I played a show with them. I just remember ‘damn, those guys are really good’, and just because I’m me and I talk to everybody and I talk a lot, I started talking to them and became friends, and kept playing shows together.”
LaCore continued, “I was in another band at the time, but I was looking for something a little bit different and I talked to them about it and they were like ‘we’ll see’. I went and tried out and had a show like 9 days later. It’s been 90 to nothing since I got in the band and these guys, they’re some hard-working fools.”
Sign of Lies have been traveling outside of Oklahoma for performances and they are gaining a following on the regional level. LaCore said, “I think it’s been pretty awesome, especially like San Antonio, we’ve been down there, and we just instantly made a lot of friends. Every time we go there it’s more and more people showing up.” The band has also traveled to Kansas and Tennessee to perform.
One thing that is instantly noticeable during a Sign of Lies show is the energy between the band members. They seem to feed off each other during performances and LaCore said, “yes, absolutely, it’s the part of me that wants to be professional would like (say) ‘oh so it’s choreographed a little bit’, but the problem for that, with us is that we are a very feel band. We feed off of each other and we feed off the crowd and so even if we were to sit down and choreograph and entire 40 minute set from start to finish, when we got on stage, it wouldn’t happen.”
This is also the case with their physicality during the live show. LaCore explained, “that is one thing I do on purpose, and it actually works out really great because that’s something that Arik has always done, Jessie’s done it, the first time I saw them they did it, and I was like ‘that’s cool’. The reason behind it to me is that…it’s not just our show and when we get out in the crowd, the point is to just be one step closer to getting people to be a part of the show and something as simple as moshing with the fans that are enjoying it and things like that, it’s ‘hey thank you for your time, thank you for your attention and thank you for being here’.”
While watching a live set, it is obvious that Hanradt and LaCore have connected and feed off each other’s energy throughout a performance. But what about Marin and Lemmon? As the rhythm section they are cohesive and tight during every performance. With Lemmon being so new to the band, it is amazing to see him fit in and work so well with the entire group but especially with his bassist. Marin said, “the first couple of shows yeah, the first couple of shows was getting used to it, but after that it just kind of fell into place.”
Hanradt added, “he was another one that had a very short period of time to learn all the songs to get ready for a show. I think we only had 2 practices with him and an audition prior to that, yeah he’s been learning fairly quickly, he’s been getting better and better each time. We’re happy to have him because he’s from Arkansas, he actually hit us up and first we were kind of like ‘are you sure you want to make that drive’.”
Lemmons determination to be a part of Sign of Lies helped him make the decision that distance did not matter. LaCore can relate, he said, “I was talking to him after I first met him and there was a time that I was driving 4 hours so I got 2 hours less than he does right now; but I know I love this enough to be that driven and so I see him do that, it’s like I got a really good compass of how driven you are and how bad you want to do this.”
LaCore continued, “One of the scary things for any band that loses a member and looks to replace them is stuff that yeah obviously we want them to play well, we want them to fit, but we’re going to be in a band with this guy, we’re going to be at practice with this guy, we’re going to be riding with this guy, and how well does he get along with us…that has been the biggest blessing for us where Cole is concerned. He came right in and he was one of the dudes and that’s from the start.”
For the EP Purge, the band re-worked some older songs, Hanradt said, “at first when we started we had a different singer and different drummer and basically it’s been Jessie and I from the start. We’d just kind of been going through and finally we found Devon and we were like, we need to get something out with his voice on it, and we decided to go and kind of Frankenstein those tracks out and got it out as fast as we could.
LaCore continued, “any time you replace a singer, your sound and your vibe is going to change and I think the conversation was we want people to know, whether it be people who are already fans or possible future fans that this is what Sign of Lies sounds like as of now.”
With the change in the lineup secure, Sign of Lies had to figure out how they would approach the songwriting process. In the past it had been Hanradt and Marin who wrote the music for the band, but with new creative blood, the process had to change. Hanradt said, “it’s changed recently since we found members that are completely interested in it and want to do it. At first it started out me and Jessie in the garage and just kind of jamming out and we sent the material to everyone else and worked something out from there. But now, recently it’s been an all-around creative process for everyone. It’s definitely different, it’s really good, but it’s different.”
LaCore added, “I think one of the most important things in writing is multiple opinions. I mean I might come up with a line or a lyric or a melody that I think is just awesome, and if everybody else in the band is like ‘yeah sure whatever’, then I don’t think that melody really gets the best presentation and it could be the same for a guitar riff or a drum part or whatever, the more heads the better.”
Sign of Lies worked with producer Ricado Sasaki, owner of RS Recording. Hanradt described the experience, “it’s very nerve wracking at first, I can only speak for myself, you kind of get a little intimidation. He’s very chill, on this EP he got really into it and really involved with it as well as we did. I think he enjoyed it, the whole process.” LaCore added, “sometimes when you are paying someone to do a job like recording and producing, they can have a tendency to want to rush it…because they’re invested in the job, and my favorite thing about Ricardo is he wanted it to sound the best it could. He was very invested in the band and he was very patient. Even though I had been singing the songs for a little bit, I still had some things that weren’t quite ironed out for the studio without having had more time. He was very, very patient with working with me, he was very understanding and open to ideas.”
Choosing to work with Sasaki was a wise decision for the band. Purge is one of the best EPs released by a local band on the hard rock/metal scene. In addition to the recording sounding fantastic, the music translates wonderfully in a live setting. With the help of Sasaki, Sign of Lies captured a sound that sets them apart from other bands in the area.
In July Sign of Lies headed back to Texas, first stopping in San Antonio for the 4th of July Bash, followed by a stop in Dallas at Reno’s Chop Shop for Red, White Rock N Metal. They returned to 89th Street Collective on July 16th as the local opener for metal band Flaw.
Sign of Lies are making a name for themselves and quickly rising through the ranks of the regional music scene. Their next scheduled performance is on October 18th at Oklahoma City Limits, opening for Nashville Pussy. Make plans to head out and see Sign of Lies, you can keep up with the band on Facebook, Twitter or on their website.
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