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Q & A: FROM PEARL JAM TO PANTERA, WE TALK HIGHS AND LOWS OF THE MUSIC BIZ WITH LEAF





PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF FOR THOSE WHO ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH YOU AND YOUR MUSIC AND TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.


We are Leaf UK a four-piece rock band from the midlands, (we added the UK even though I think we go back further than all the other similarly names bands on Spotify etc.). Doesn’t sound very unique? Maybe superficially, but we are not average, not a young clone of the latest ‘thing’. We are a mélange of all that is good about rock: big riffs, melody, angst and humour. Imagine AC/DC without the shorts, Motorhead without the headache, mixed with the groove of Soundgarden, the subtlety of Pearl Jam and the grind of Pantera. Oh, and a big dose of punk attitude. We have been around for a while, but want to bring our songs to a wider audience, before we die of old age.


TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR NEW ALBUM OR SINGLE?


At the moment we have a 4 song EP on all the major platforms (Black and White) which has gained interest from some far-flung places. We have recorded 5 new tracks and will be releasing them every two weeks from the middle of October, and they are effectively the ‘new’ EP (working title A Hole), but the format of releasing an album or an EP seems a bit ‘old-school’ so that is why we are trickling them out – keep in touch and get to hear some cracking tunes, produced by a fantastic young producer Jonny Price (the lad will go far!). Drop us a message and we will send you some snippets!


WHAT INSPIRED THE ALBUM OR SINGLE?


Inspiration is everyday life. Sounds boring? Nope, we hail from Stoke-on-Trent a poor city in the UK. We are overlooked by an uncaring government as we are dirt poor working class and life is hard, gritty and smelly. But Stokies are tough and gnarly and that influences every song that we write. These songs are ‘real’ and chock full of attitude, there are no simpering love stories, no 13-minute meander through worlds of witches and wizards. If you want ‘pretty’, Leaf songs will not be your type of thing, but if you want to feel connected to your music, get angry and punch the air and rail against idiots, then we are for you. Talking about pretty, we used to be…but that was long time ago.


CAN YOU SUM UP THE ALBUM IN A FEW WORDS?


We grab the raw nerve of reality and wrap it up in big fat riffs and catchy choruses. Monster earworms that you will hum for days. Too many????


WHAT RECORD CHANGED YOUR LIFE AND WHY?


Jeez. The first one for me was Highway to Hell, on cassette. That riff and guitar tone still send shivers down my spine and turned me towards the harder side of music. Jarad; Killers by Maiden, he was so inspired that he took up the drums, which he subsequently sacked off for the guitar because like a ham-fisted lunatic he kept putting skins through. For Mark it has got to be something by Led Zep (I think he said III), because he has been wedded to the drums for as long as I have known him, 1986 I think and who better than John Bonham? For Dan it is Deliverance by Corrosion of Conformity; all I am saying is that he is younger than us, but he does like the classics


DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE MUSIC VIDEO FILMED BY YOUR BAND OR ANOTHER ARTIST?


We all absolutely hate standard rock videos. We all agree that the standard wheeze of moody lighting, band playing/miming is utter pants. I love the stuff done by Idles, weird little stories, we all like Hot for Teacher by Van Halen (although Jarad isn’t into the music) because of the humour. I would love to make a video like Radioactive by Imagine Dragons, that is weird and emotionally charged all in one. We have commissioned a young video/photography student daughter of a friend of mine to work with us. The stuff she is producing is graphically beautiful and slightly disturbing. The first makes up for our ugly faces and the latter matches what is in our heads! None wants to look at us for too long, even though we sound amazing. I suppose Dan is easy on the eye. If you squint.


WHAT WOULD WE FIND YOU DOING WHEN YOU'RE NOT MAKING MUSIC?


I am a teacher, trying to guide them towards a better future and feeding their minds with questions and alternative viewpoints. The energy of youth permeates my every day and inspires and frustrates me in equal measure, but my songs and Leaf are my cathartic release. Jarad eats his weight in meat in between smashing riffs out constantly - our group chat is bursting at the seams with his noodling. He doesn’t like TV which forces him to practice, and he runs his own business when he isn’t. Mark is an avid news/FB/social media whore and his anger and frustration finds its outlet in the drums that he smashes two shades of holy living hell out of. His commitment to making people lives better is truly inspiring and that comes from his day job as an advocate, supporting those forgotten by society; he can get real feisty when people rights are cast aside. When Dan is not playing, he is listening to music and lots of it. You should see his absolutely massive CD collection! Because he is a ‘listener’ of so much he brings a musicality to the bass missing in lots of bass players, backed up by his incessant pedal board building/rebuilding shenanigans.


DO YOU GET NERVOUS PERFORMING LIVE, IF SO HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT?


I don’t at all, but I am emotionally ‘blunted’ and abnormal so just channel my energy into the performance. Mark is hyper self-critical rather than nervous and he is never satisfied with his (or the bands for that matter) performance. Jarad and Dan, both hate the first couple of minutes until they loosen up – their solution to the unbridled nerves? Head down, smash the opener and liven up when the first cheer hits.


HOW DID YOU FORM THE BAND?


The original line-up got together in 1992 when we were young, beautiful and full of sass and swagger. We had a number of promoters wanting to turn us into the British ‘Pearl Jam’, but unfortunately the old bass player had worrying habits which lead to a lot of internal angst, particularly with the original drummer who was a bit strait-laced (I mean really, in a rock band?). We imploded. I had a career in the professional library music biz, made some money, did session work for the BBC/ITV/Channel 4 – check out Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow for how low things got (singer in the Kitchen band). The rest of the band trod the circuits in multiple bands (Goya and Electus are a couple). Roll on 25-30 years the urge got hold of me, Jarad got a message the years rolled away and we started smashing out monster riffs. We are older and wiser now, all the crap is behind us in the past and the songs are raw, real and actually mean something, and the addition of Dan and Mark has added dimensions of professionalism to the sound and the songs (they are much better musicians than Jarad and me, but don’t tell them!).


HOW DO YOU WRITE? - DO YOU HAVE A KEY SONGWRITER, OR DO YOU ALL WORK TOGETHER?


Most of the times I write the stems and demo a tune in my studio (I used to be a sound engineer). I take it to the lads, who rip it apart, criticise everything and then we end up with a decent tune …that we rework again and again until we are happy with it. Or we just pick a monster riff from Jarad and jam it to death. We can work up a tune quickly and have so many songs (25 in the gig-able set, with the same number in the to-do list). Jamming is a bit of a lost art and so central to sparking the creative juices. We always record bits and pieces and have a whole Google Drive of snippets not even worked into songs.


WHAT INSPIRES YOU?


Where the inspiration for the songs is concerned? I used to write about escapism, but it got up and went somewhere, so now I just get angry and smash stuff – with some humour though, this band is not about doom and gloom. We look at the world, talk carp and then I/we get inspired. Being around each other is inspiring, we talk honestly and openly and that is why the music is genuine, real, meaningful.


WHAT IS NEXT?


We want people to hear how good we are. We are not after massive fame and fortune (but it would be nice), which is not realistic for most bands today thanks to streaming services etc., but to be able to play our music and get people to hear it is our short-term goal so gigs, wherever, whenever and getting our music out there – watch out for the next five tracks coming through October and November!


PLEASE TELL US ANY SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS SO WE CAN SHARE.


Leaf Website - leafband.co.uk Facebook - leafbanduk Instagram - leafbanduk Linktree - https://linktr.ee/leafbanduk On Bandcamp - https://leafuk.bandcamp.com/


We are on all major music platforms under Leaf UK - including Spotify, Amazon Music and Itunes - the latest EP should be released onto the platforms from Mid-October to Early November

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