Chicago-based Pet Lions have forged a strong relationship with CU in their short time as a band. With the aid of locals like Santa and WPGU, the indie-rockers will return to town on Friday, Dec. 4 for the Laughing Prairie Dog Festival at the Canopy Club. buzz spoke with lead vocalist/guitarist Karl Ostby about the band’s rise to success.
buzz: Pet Lions is a relatively young band in terms of lifespan. How did the group come together?
Karl Ostby: Prior to moving to Chicago, I posted an ad on Craigslist looking for someone to write with and Shuhei [Yamamoto] (bass) responded. We eventually met at a diner in Chicago and discussed musical interests, which we felt were pretty similar but also different in good ways. Things seemed to click pretty quickly the first time we played together. When I moved to Chicago, I found an awesome space to live and rehearse in. Tom [Owens] (guitar/keys) was already living there. Tom and Matt [Dahl] (drums) had been playing music together for some time and they’re both extremely talented, creative musicians. It only made sense to ask them to join. We’ve all become pretty close friends, and that makes it all the more enjoyable.
buzz: How has the reception been towards Soft Right? You recently put the EP up for free download — what was the motivation behind this?
KO: We’ve been pretty happy with the response our Soft Right has received. Our first EP was really just meant to get our sound and our name out there. We figured that would happen quite a bit faster if it was free. We’re hoping to have generated a little more interest by the time we release our next record.
buzz: You seem to have formed a relationship with WPGU and the Champaign-Urbana community. How did this come about, and have you enjoyed your time in town?
KO: Our first introduction to the town as a band was through our friends in Santa. We played our first show in Champaign-Urbana with them at Canopy Club and they played at our record release show in Chicago. I personally mailed our debut EP to WPGU, and they’ve been awesome to us ever since. We always look forward to playing in Champaign-Urbana, especially for the house parties.
buzz: What has been the highlight of your time as a group thus far?
KO: Getting our first van, named Catface, was pretty exciting. We’re looking forward to getting on the road more. We recently signed with AEMMP Records, an independent college label. We’re pretty excited about our new material we’ll be releasing on AEMMP. Recording a Daytrotter session which hasn’t been released yet was definitely another highlight.
buzz: How do you feel about the line-up for the Laughing Prairie Dog Festival? Do you have any big plans for the show?
KO: The lineup is excellent. We’re definitely grateful to WPGU for asking us to play with these talented groups. We may play a new song or two live for the first time, but we’ll see. It should be a fun time!

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