I’ll start out by telling you that I haven’t seen Leslie live before, but I have heard a lot of good things about them. Leslie is from Charleston and currently on tour with a band from Atlanta called StoneRider. According to their Myspace, StoneRider sounds like “The greatest rock band in the world.” I’m going to take their word for it. Make plans to go to this show because it should be good, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Read what the Free Times has to say about Leslie…
|5 Points Pub w/ StoneRider||Columbia, South Carolina|
|Gottrocks w/ StoneRider||Greenville, South Carolina|
Leslie at Five Points Pub
BY KEVIN OLIVER
Five Points Pub: Thursday, Aug. 14
Google Leslie and the first result that pops up is the Wikipedia entry for the Leslie speaker cabinet, famous for its use with the Hammond organ on tons of classic rock recordings. The Charleston band Leslie really does use a Leslie cabinet, but in a more in-your-face manner, hooking it up to an electric guitar. It’s a sound that has powered bands from Pink Floyd to Cream, Led Zeppelin and more, and it propels the Lowcountry trio’s rock into retro overdrive.
The band’s larger-than-life sound is equaled by its swaggering stage presence, so when a recent conversation with lead singer and guitarist Sadler Vann proved him to be a relatively soft-spoken and thoughtful guy, any connections to his wild onstage persona were turned around quicker than the treble horn in the band’s vintage cabinet.
“People can tell that we have a classic rock influence, but they say it sounds modern at the same time,” Vann says when asked about the group’s sonic reputation. “That’s really the best spot for us to be in.”
Indeed, guitar-heavy tunes such as “Devil Ain’t Ready” or “No Time For Mercy” easily bring to mind classic Cream, MC5, Aerosmith or AC/DC. Leslie isn’t the only band out there cranking out guitar rock reminiscent of decades past, and its connection with one of those like-minded groups resulted in a brush with Hollywood for Vann last year — a connection to The Mooney Suzuki, which was cast in Tropic Thunder, landed Vann a brief cameo in the film.
“The whole movie thing started with a co-write I did with [vocalist] Sammy James Jr.,” Vann says. “We were touring with them at the time and I was filling in on guitar, so I got invited to go out and do the filming with them.”
Like many bit parts for big-time movies, however, you won’t see them in the version that’s hitting theaters this week — Vann and The Mooney Suzuki will be in the director’s cut on the DVD release. But Vann and bandmates Jason Fox (bass) and Jonathan Carman (drums) aren’t waiting around for unlikely movie stardom. They have been working on finalizing their first full-length album, something Vann says they have deliberately taken their time with to get just right.
“It’s not necessarily different, but it’s better,” Vann says when asked about the direction of the new album’s studio sessions. “There is more production value, more groove in the songs, more confidence. We weren’t going to try anything without thinking we’re the biggest band in the world.”
Hearing the preliminary results, I’d say Leslie certainly sounds like it could be the biggest band in the world, if that world gets to hear these songs.
“We got done with the record in mid-June, but we’re going back to record a couple more songs and mix the whole thing,” Vann says. “We don’t have a projected date for it to come out yet, but it will probably be early next year.”
Until then, the band plans on doing more of what has brought them this far — touring and networking to reach as many ears as possible.
“What really helps us is getting out on the road,” Vann says. “Myspace, Facebook, the usual online outlets, that’s where we are connecting with people. The music business doesn’t really affect us right now. We have taken our time with everything and done what’s right for us.”
What’s right for them these days is touring with like-minded bands such as Bang Camaro or Stonerider, who’ll be opening this show. Just like their own fans, however, the members of Leslie are suckers for a great rock concert, including a recent Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers show they attended together.
“We really get into his music because he’s a Southern boy and his story is really a grassroots one, the way he came up and worked really hard,” Vann says. “He’s had a career just by continuing to write good songs — he’s an inspiration to us in that way.”