Watch a clip for the band’s first single, “Take the Lions On.”

Trying out for American Idol didn’t lead to a record deal for Pat Via, but a chance meeting on a chilly Manhattan night did.

As fate would have it, Via and guitarist Mitchell CMitchell both attended a gallery opening on Jane Street in January 2013 with nothing more in mind than to escape the winter doldrums while supporting the arts. The next day, the two jammed together. Shortly after that, the pair wrote their first song, and within a year, they formed alternative rock band January Jane with keyboardist Peter Scialla, former bassist Enrique Mancia, and drummer Andre Jevnik. New bassist Cody Darbe rounds out the lineup. 

The band signed to independent label Whiskey Vinyl — which counts Sirius XM personality and former MTV VJ Matt Pinfield as a partner — and is gearing up to release its debut album and lead track, “Take the Lions On.”

Watch the video below:

Pinfield produced the track with John Bender (Breaking Benjamin). He was drawn to the song in part because of its positive message about “adversity and fighting back.” Mixed by Michael Brauer at Electric Lady in New York and mastered in Los Angeles by Howie Weinberg at Howie Weinberg Mastering, “Take the Lions On” opens with a catchy sing-along chant before leading to the chorus with the lyrics, “I can’t give in to all my regrets/now I’m taking the lions on.”

A former vp of A&R and artist development at Columbia Records who has shepherded the careers of Coheed and Cambria and Crossfade, Pinfield was impressed by the group’s potential after seeing them play an old theater in New York.  

Via, who auditioned in front of Idol judges Jennifer LopezSteven Tyler and Randy Jackson (he made it to Hollywood Week) tells Billboard the decision to put a black bar over his eyes in the clip was deliberately made to “divert focus from a single individual and provide a sense of anonymity.” He performed the entire piece seated on a cajón. Animated visuals were added by director Miguel Balbi, who completed the entire piece on a laptop in his bedroom.

The video for “Take the Lions On” was shot in prime Manhattan real estate: the Music Building in midtown where Madonna rehearsed and lived (illegally) for a time in the early ’80s — and where The Strokes rehearsed for Is This It?

“Although we are all unique and each person’s circumstances are different, what makes us all human are the common experiences we share,” Via explains. “Everyone, everywhere will at some point have to look within themselves to find the strength to stay afloat in rough seas.” 

“Take the Lions On” is available on iTunes and Spotify. Follow the group on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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