Gee-Gees football alumnus Zach Raynor and his band the Lionyls have made the finals in Live 88.5’s Big Money Shot contest and on Friday October 17th, will be competing for their chance to win a professional recording contract that will give the band the national recognition that they are longing for.
Zach was a four year starting cornerback for the Gee-Gees from 2009-2013. The Ottawa native started playing football at the age of 10, but grew up around the sport with his dad being a former CIS football player. In addition to football, Zach always had another passion that motivated him off the field, and that was music. “I’ve always really enjoyed singing and performing in general. On a whim in high school I sang in a talent competition and came in second place. That was a revelation to me because, up until that point, I’d never sang in public. That positive feedback was all I needed to get started. Since then, I’ve been working on my voice and taking it more and more seriously” said Raynor. During his playing days, he found ways of incorporating both his passions by singing at the team dinner at the beginning of each season. In fact, that’s how he thinks he gained the respect of his teammates because year after year he was called upon to put on a show for the team.
Knowing that his future in football was limited, Zach made the tough decision to leave the Gee-Gees football team behind after four seasons to focus on his music career. He accredits his time as a student-athlete to giving him the edge in the music industry. “In my first year, Coach White, the defensive back coach at the time, introduced me to the concept of “Kaizen” which means constant and never-ending improvement. I apply that teaching every day as I gain knowledge and refine my performing technique. On the football field, I learned a thing or two about teamwork and creating an inclusive family environment amongst peers. This experience has proven invaluable - a band is a team like any other. We have one common goal; we leave our egos at the door; we work towards the success of the group”, exclaimed Zach.
Zach studied theatre at uOttawa because he loved performing but not necessarily acting. “I wanted to find the purest way to express my ideas, and myself, but in acting you’re always playing a role”, explained Zach. One day, one of his classmates jokingly told Zach that they should start a band because they would get to perform as themselves, and that’s how the Lionyls were born. In case you’re wondering, the band name is a combination of ‘Lion’ and ‘Vinyl’. Their sound of “Rock’n’Soul”, as they like to call it, is raw, instinctual, and inspired by old rock’n’roll, Motown, funk and soul music –the type of music you find on old vinyl records; the classics.
When the Lionyls decided to pursue music, they started doing research on other bands from Ottawa who had achieved national and even international success. The bands that had particularly caught their attention had all won the Big Money Shot Contest in past years. Immediately, they set out to do the same. This will be their second appearance in the competition but admittedly were not ready to compete last year. This year, however, things are different. They’ve refined their songs, improved their technique, updated their image, and created an exciting live show.
Zach and the Lionyls need your support to win this contest and follow their dream of playing music on the national and international scene. On Friday October 17th at 11:30 p.m., they’ll be playing at Ritual (137 Besserer Street, Ottawa ON) where they will be displaying what they’ve learned throughout the four rounds of competition that spanned throughout the year – performance, music recording, business planning and developing a unique marketing strategy for their brand. If you’re in the Ottawa area, come out and bring your friends and let’s help make this Gee-Gee’s dream come true.
When asked what winning this contest would mean for the band; “In the Canadian music scene, this competition functions something like a rite of passage. Winning the contest would be like a big gold star on our band résumé that sets us apart from the competition. Big music festivals and high-profile venues will be more inclined to take our applications seriously. Record producers and label executives will have greater incentive to work with us. Not to mention, the winner will receive free recording time and $5000 in development cash, as well as the opening spot for The Trews for their Ottawa tour date. The money would allow us to record and promote our debut album. ”
To purchase your ticket to Friday’s finale or for more information on the Lionyls, please visit their Facebook page or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.