One Day as a Lion is a music project that was started in 2008 by Zack de la Rocha, the vocalist of Rage Against the Machine and Jon Theodore, former drummer of The Mars Volta and current drummer of Queens of the Stone Age. The duo blends elements of rock and rap. One Day as a Lion released their eponymous debut EP in July 2008.
Zack de la Rocha had known Jon Theodore for several years before the band was formed and was very impressed with his skills as a drummer, comparing him to John Bonham and Elvin Jones. The duo first started playing together at a mutual friends rehearsal room with Theodore on drums and de la Rocha playing an old Rhodes Mark 1 keyboard through a delay pedal and an old metal amplifier. The band’s name was taken from an infamous black and white graffiti photograph taken by Chicano photographer George Rodriguez in 1970 reading “It’s better to live one day as a lion, than a thousand years as a lamb.” This comes from a minatory slogan popular during the 1930s in Fascist Italy, “Better one day as a lion than a hundred days as a sheep.” The saying is an allusion to Psalms 84:10, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.” The band had soon written a number of songs and signed with Bad Religion guitarist and co-founder Brett Gurewitz’s record label ANTI-.