Early April, right before their hometown show at the Foundry in Cleveland, Ohio, I got to sit down with four of the five members of Leav/e/arth – Leah, Jared, David & Benji. They were kind enough to invite me into their tour van & let me pick their brains for a while. They just got off a tour of the East coast, but don’t worry – they’ll be embarking on a tour of the Midwest here shortly with Words Like Daggers.
You can check out our interview with Leav/e/arth below, as well as those upcoming tour dates.
How did you all meet?
Leah: They found me on YouTube, so that’s my thing.
Jared: David & I have played –
David: Yeah, we’ve known each other for like 12 years or something.
J: – In bands together. We all pretty much just met through other bands, other than Leah who we found on YouTube.
What kind of band are you, if you had to pick a genre?
D: Alternative rock.
Benji: I’d say alternative rock.
L: Yeah, I’d say that’s probably accurate. We’re not picky.
You announced the signing with InVogue Records in January. How have things changed since then?
L: We’re on the road, for one thing, which is awesome. A lot of what we were doing before we had a contract was…living a normal life and then trying to do as much of the band as we could. I think we weren’t able to let go of a lot of things and a lot of responsibilities until we knew for sure that we had something solid to support us. So, it’s been really nice to have that weight lifted off our shoulders a nd be able to really concentrate on this full-time.
Where do you hope this signing takes you?
L: BRAZIL! Just kidding.
B: We’re making the transition into touring full-time and it’s nice to actually have a CD out, I think this is all of our first full-length release so this is really cool. We’ve never done anything like this so it’s been really nice to get the distribution.
D: InVogue has a lot of potential to move up, like you see a lot of other bands moving on to bigger labels, and they’re all different labels too, it’s not just one. We don’t really have a specific place we’re trying to go, we just want to go somewhere.
J: Nick honestly believes in his bands, that’s the main thing.
L: Yeah, it’s a huge thing. Even having him at all has helped us move forward tremendously already, so from here…it’s already taken us farther than we ever expected, so at this point I guess it’s just seeing where the road leads us.
You’ve been on a tour of the East Coast since the fourth of April, how has it been?
L: Cold. Rainy.
B: It’s been pretty good, we’ve been to some pretty cool towns. The shows have been pretty good, we’ve been selling a lot of shirts, merch, and stuff like that. The turn out hasn’t been the best, but it’s been a lot of weekday shows.
L: Yeah, our first weekend show was a house show in Edinboro – it was awesome, the energy was amazing. So now that we’re getting into more on the weekends, I feel like we’re going to have a lot more energy and we’re really excited to play our hometown, obviously.
D: The backend of this tour has a lot of promising shows.
Any plans to tour the West Coast soon?
L: I hope!
J: It’s on the list.
D: It takes a lot of money to get all the way out to the West Coast.
L: It’s almost like chipping away. You have to get into the Midwest, so that way you can fill the dates on the way to the West the next time around so that the more you build, you can expand.
Have you developed any before-show rituals?
B: We do a couple shots?
D: We eat chicken out of the crock pot! We cook all day in the van, so we roll up to the venue and then we break out the crock pot. And then the shots.
L: I feel like on previous tours there was more that went into…not really preparation for the show, but I feel like it’s been easier than past tours and I feel like it’s because we have a daily routine: we wake up, eat eggs, we do this.
D: All of our stuff is so streamlined that we do have a routine, we just don’t realize it.
L: We consciously aren’t like, “We have to do THIS before we go on,” or anything like that, but we have a schedule, I guess.
What is your writing process like?
D: Music first, usually. Either myself or Benji will write out guitar parts, we’ll sample in some drums, and then we’ll throw it over to Jared so he can make the drums make sense.
B: Make it a song, basically.
D: Yeah, make it a song, then Luke will put some bass on it, then Leah takes it & does whatever she wants to it.
J: Everybody does their own thing & then we collectively work together.
L: Yeah, everybody works together. I’m normally the last piece of the puzzle, I feel like even though on the record we tried a couple different writing techniques. There’s a song [on the album] called “Someone Else’s Hands” and I actually wrote the piano, almost like a ballad. I brought it to the guys and I was like, “Y’know, I think if we could turn this into an upbeat song, it might be kind of cool,” and it ended up making it onto the album. I think it’s a lot of experimentation this time around with writing this album. It was trying out a couple different things, but I think for the most part it goes guitar, drums, bass, me.
You’ve said before that “A Perfect Disarray” is about disconnection & coming back from that. Is it more about those feelings, or were there certain events that inspired the concept?
L: I think probably both. I mean, we all went through a lot. This [album] encompasses about two years of writing. A lot of it was situational, things that really sparked us into thinking “We’re going to write about this.” But I think ultimately, over the course of however long we were writing, we made it through a lot of road bumps – whether it was our own personal lives or as a group. That’s ultimately what we wanted to convey, the message was that regardless of what anybody might be going through, or if they felt like they didn’t have anyone around that could help them or relate to them, there’s always coming back from it. Even if it’s relying on yourself to get there.
What inspires you?
D: I’ll say right now, this is cheesy, but my friends.
L: Yeah honestly if it wasn’t for them, especially at the beginning of this record, I was having a lot of trouble writing lyrics – like I said, a lot of this had to do with overcoming obstacles. So for me, I was kind of in a slump for writing at the beginning. If it wasn’t for them kind of pushing me to use the things that I was going through as writing, I feel like I probably wouldn’t have been able to get everything out of my system. We help each other a lot and I think inspiration can come from anything. We could be sitting around and somebody might just say a couple of words, and it just sparks something in my head. I write it down and I’m like, “I’m going to use this later!” Even listening to other music might spark us to say that we want to write something with a tone like that, or that has a beat like this.
J: We hold each other up and get each other through a lot, we’ve been through a lot together. Our friendship has really pulled through it.
D: That’s number one. I feel like a lot of bands go through without that and end up breaking up because they hate each other. But, we all hate each other in a different way.
What has been your biggest obstacle so far?
B: Student loans.
D: Rebranding. Changing our name.
J: Learning how to do things the way we’re doing them now.
B: Learning how to be really self-sufficient and not outsource everything as much as possible to save money. Learning new skills and not relying on other people to do it down the road.
L: We’ve all been friends forever and we’ve been playing music together for about five to six years now, but with all that being said I think it wasn’t up until we started writing this record that we started realizing how serious things could be going. I think it was putting a lot of trust into each other to be like, “Hey, are you willing to quit your job & your whole life to do this with me?” I think going into that with people, you have to learn to overcome your fear of putting your faith in other people or in a situation that might be out of your hands.
D: The truth is at the end of the day, once you take that step, you’re trusting the other four people in the band. If one of them says, “Actually, I don’t want to do this anymore,” then your whole life is screwed. Especially if you have student loans.
Okay, now a fun one. If you were able to sneak under a table & listen to any two people speak, who would they be & why?
D: I don’t know how to answer this…
L: I’d kind of want to listen to Taylor Swift & Kanye West have a conversation. That could go a LOT of different ways. Or maybe…Bill Nye & the owner of the Westboro Baptist Church.
D: I think any conversation with Bill Nye would be a good one.
B: My parents, to see if it’s just all a charade.
L: To find our if you’re adopted?
Describe your shows visually.
L: Dodgeball…cages…black lights. Malarkey.
B: A lot of ripped jeans.
D: Oh, yeah. A LOT of black clothing.
B: A lot of boots.
D: LED lights, our symbol everywhere…it’s pretty high energy, but not crazy.
L: Yeah, we don’t jump around a whole lot. We groove.
D: If you like to cry, we’re good for that.
L: I’ll make you cry, yeah.
Why should people attend your next few shows?
B: Because we’re good looking.
L: We just released our new CD, we’re really excited about it, so I think that’s our biggest encouragement for people to come out. We’ve been working on this for so long and have been putting everything into it, so we’re hoping people will come pick one up and see what we’ve really been about the past couple years and what we’ve been working on. We’ve been MIA but it’s for a good reason, I promise.
5/13 – Mahall’s Twenty Lanes, Lakewood, OH
5/18 – The Firebird, St. Louis, MO
5/19 – Bubba Spins Flip House, Kansas City, MO
5/20 – Sunshine Studios, Colorado Springs, CO
5/21 – Moes, Denver, CO
5/23 – Lookout Lounge, Omaha, NE
5/24 – DG’s Taphouse, Ames, IA
5/25 – The Garage, Minneapolis, MN
5/26 – Royal Skateshop, Lansing, IL
“The Other Side”