As Tall as Lions

As Tall as Lions
As Tall As Lions
Background information
Origin Long Island, New York
Genres Alternative rock
Indie rock
Years active 2001–2010
Labels Triple Crown Records
Past members
Dan Nigro
Saen Fitzgerald
Cliff Sarcona
Julio Tavarez
Brian Fortune
Brian Caesar

As Tall as Lions was an Indie Rock band from Long Island, New York.[1]



High school friends Dan Nigro (vocals, guitar), Saen Fitzgerald (guitar, drums), Brian Fortune (guitar) and Cliff Sarcona (drums) founded the band in December 2001 as they were looking to continue the momentum of a previous project.[2]

Blood and Aphorisms

"Blood and Aphorisms" was released in July 2002 at local venue Backstreet Blues. Upon its release, vocalist Dan Nigro sent the EP to some websites, which caught the attention of then-influential "". The EP garnered the band local radio airplay and the attention of the local music scene. Without a permanent live bassist however, the band used studio engineer Rich Leigey, who had worked on the EP, and friend Julio Tavarez, before Dan Nigro began auditioning and recruiting bassists. It wasn't until October 2002 that the band brought on board bassist Brian Caesar. A few months later the band signed a joint development deal with Island Records and Triple Crown Records.[3]


In May 2003 the band relocated to Chicago, Illinois, to record their debut album, Lafcadio with Sean O'Keefe. Asked to re-release the EP by the label, the band settled on handpicking songs from "Blood and Aphorisms" as well as adding new ones. Given a tight budget, they holed up in a single bed hotel in Chicago, the band and manager struggled to find their place in the studio. Nigro explains, "I believed the songs would come to me. I was naive. In the past all the songs I wrote had just come to me naturally. I didn't think Chicago would be that much of a struggle." Fitzgerald explains it this way, "In hindsight, I had a blast in Chicago but problem was, we were all just floating by. We were experimenting to the fullest. Pulling out all the stops so to speak. The best analogy I can come up with is taking a chocolate laxative. You're trying hard to relieve yourself but all the chocolate is just making you more constipated." Adds Nigro, "I hadn't done my homework. I hadn't finished lyrics, I was struggling with confidence issues, I was even afraid to hit notes. I began suffering panic attacks, I soiled myself nightly at rehearsals, and the whole process became incredibly stressful to both me and my bandmates."[4]

The band went ahead with plans to mix at Smart Studios in Wisconsin. With three songs vocally unfinished the band was out of money and headed back home to Long Island. Immediately Nigro felt the mixes were not right and wanted to remix the record.[4] Later realizing the record was "out of phase",[4] the band needed to quickly accept their new record as it was. At the end of October of that year, Nigro, Sarcona and Caesar went back to Chicago's Gravity Studios, using money out of their own pocket and successfully remixed and re-tracked the final three songs. Later the band returned to O'Keefe on several occasions to record the songs "33" & "Mellon Collie..." for an unreleased Smashing Pumpkins tribute album, the song "Children in Bloom" for the Counting Crows compilation album "Dead and Dreaming" and the song "Girl of the North Country" for a Bob Dylan tribute album.


While three of the band members were in Chicago, guitarist Brian Fortune had enrolled at St. John's University in Queens and withdrew from the band. After months of auditioning guitar players with little luck, the band agreed to move vocalist Dan Nigro to guitar (he had previously been strictly a vocalist) and continue on as a quartet. The band set out on numerous tours in support of "Lafcadio" and while they admit they were "young and having fun," they were losing money daily.[4] Then in July 2004, guitarist Brian Caesar left the band citing a desire to lead an ordinary life.[4]

Recording the self-titled

The band came home from tour and wrote the songs "Stab City" and "Where Do I Stand." In July 2005, while writing, Fitzgerald, Sarcona and Tavarez left for a trip to the Dominican Republic. While there Nigro stayed home as he was feeling good about the writing process and was comfortable with the progress he had made. Instead though, this new found optimism turned into pressure and Nigro once again offset a series of panic attacks, self doubt and a lack of confidence.

The band returned from vacation to find Dan completely unfit to make music. With no other options, the band was faced with the difficult decision of removing their good friend and vocalist from the band. While the remaining three were left to reformulate their future plans, Nigro found time to meet with his bandmates and persuaded them to let him rejoin. Soon thereafter As Tall as Lions wrote "Songs for Luna," "Love, Love, Love" "Maybe I'm Just Tired" and "A Break A Pause." In October, just as they were about to enter the studio, the band completed writing with "A Soft Hum," "Ghost of York," "Be Here Now", "Kicking Myself," and b-side "Underbelly." The band gathered together producer Steven Haigler and longtime ATAL producer Mike Watts in the Freeport, NY VuDu Studios. They continued recording through the fall, finishing the mixes in January 2006. Incredibly proud of the record, the band showed the songs to their record label, who immediately wrote the songs off as "soft" and maintained that there were "no radio singles." In the third week of January, the band finished mixing and set out on tour. It was around this time that the band decided to ask friend, Rob Parr, to join the band on tour as keyboardist after having met him while touring in support of Lafcadio. Having never played piano, Parr worked hard to familiarize himself with the new instrument and by February of that year, he was touring with the band in support of the not-yet-released self-titled album.

As Tall as Lions (album)

On August 8, 2006 the band released their self-titled album. In October the band set out on tour in support of it. Between tours the band began work on a holiday EP, and recorded "It's Only Christmas", cover "Across The Universe" and cover "O' Holy Night", only to be unreleased but lived on via different web sites & released compilations. The band inked a spot on the AP Tour in March of that year and remained on that bill through April. The band began a headlining tour in June and July, playing to packed crowds nightly. On July 17 the Long Island quartet made its television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live. They continued on tour in August and September and came home in the winter to work on new material.

Into the Flood and You Can't Take It With You

Reformulating previous ideas, As Tall as Lions began writing what would become the EP "Into the Flood." On Nov. 27, the band released the EP to iTunes, charting the Top 50 for the first week of release. During its release, drummer Sarcona and bassist Tavarez went on a national tour with the Boston-based project The Dear Hunter. An ATAL tour with Silverchair followed in December, as well as other select dates. The EP was released on vinyl on March 17. In January 2008 the band began work on their new record "You Can't Take It With You."

Break up

On September 29, 2010 As Tall As Lions announced that the band was amicably splitting up.[5] Three fourths of the band (Julio, Saen, and Cliff) will continue making music together in their experimental/improvisation/instrumental band Kilimanjaro.[6] Lead Singer Dan Nigro will be moving on to a new project called Blocks.[7]



Title Release Date Label Billboard 200 peak
Lafcadio May 8, 2004 Triple Crown Records -
As Tall as Lions August 8, 2006 Triple Crown Records -
You Can't Take It with You August 18, 2009 Triple Crown Records #88


Title Release Date Label
Blood and Aphorisms September 2002 Self-Released
Into the Flood November 27, 2007 East West / TCR
The Circles EP December 7, 2009 Triple Crown Records


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d e Sept. 2008 interview with Greg Robson
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^

External links

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