Houston Music

Artist of the Week: LEAF, Veteran Rockers Who Are Not Afraid to Wrestle a Bear

Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to.[email protected]

In high school there was this kid named Eric. He was a kinda mysterious, good-looking kid and he drove one of those older-style trucks that people like to recall with far more appreciation than they originally had for it. Also, he always seemed to be able to get beer. He perpetually looked like he might punch you in the nose on account of it being cloudy outside, but he was actually way polite to everyone. Naturally, he was extremely popular. And he's a pretty solid analogy for studio-rockers LEAF.

LEAF is a ten-year-strong rock band that we happened across while out on Nightfly duty. They rocked pretty heartily - in particular, bassist Chris Kubecka, who appeared to be trying to shake his eyeballs clean out of his head - so we searched them out and hit 'em up for an interview. After the jump, read about the great Bear Bare Hands debate, live show vs. the studio work, and how not to kill someone you have to hang out with for ten years.

Rocks Off: You guys have a song called "Bear Tracks" that rocks fairly well. It also serves to bring up an important debate: Bears are pretty vicious; they're basically land sharks. How big of a bear do you think you could kill with your bare hands?

Leaf, "Bear Tracks"

Leaf, "Bear Tracks"

L: When we originally wrote "Bear Tracks" we were tapping into a new style for us at the time; one [that's] more edgy and aggressive. This track serves as a powerhouse intro to our EP, immediately establishing the high energy found present throughout the following tunes.

Since recording, we have encountered many bears, so to speak. But so that we can settle your great debate, we hear that the grizzly bear is one of the most powerful animals native to North America. I don't think you'd find any one of us going after that thing bare-handed any time soon.

RO: As intimidating as your music appears to be, lyrically you all seem to be way more positive than you'd expect a band who dubbed their last album First Kill would be. Can you talk a little about why that is?

L: We feel that we have a unique balance of emotions and subject matter built into our music. Lyrically, the band collaborates as a whole, based on the theme of each song. While our music does tend to be more aggressive at times, we like to share an overall positive message through our lyrics. Music is a powerful language that we have vowed to use to better one another. We steer away from the overdone and often tough to understand screaming vocal parts, and actually utilize the melodies and words to tell the story of each song.

This balance has allowed us to visit many topics, from alien invasions to end-time prophecies. Often, we leave the interpretations up to the listener. With a name like First Kill, we knew we would generate a lot of mixed perceptions.We simply felt that after numerous musical releases, this was the one that from start to finish we literally poured every ounce of ourselves into.

RO: When we saw you all live you guys put on a solid show. We once spoke with the guys from the Literary Greats and they mentioned how some bands can put on a great live show and then suck it big time (our words, not theirs) when it comes to recording. If you had to pick being great at only one or the other, which would it be?

L: Nothing more disappointing than to venture out to see some band you've recently heard of, only to witness them suck it up live. All too often, with the level and accessibility of recording technology available today, musicians take the risk of their music being over produced to the point of being impossible to recreate live.

If you cannot perform with the intensity and level that your recording boasts, then quite frankly you are a fraud. In the best case scenario, the live show should take the music to the next level. The true measure of a band's longevity is in their ability to not only record great music, but to also perform it. This will make or break one's impression of a band.

After all, musicians also double as entertainers. Audiences hopefully are not paying to see a band kick back and lip-sync to a click track. The adrenaline runs plentiful at any given LEAF show. We treat every performance as if it is our last; anything goes!

LEAF, "Who Is It"

LEAF, "Who Is It"

RO: You all have been together for a decade now, is that right? How has that worked? We can't even go two months without throwing away all of our pants and buying new pairs. There's no telling how many times we would've tried to kill someone we had to hang out with for ten years.

L: LEAF has been enduring the hardships of the industry since 1999. Although the original founders of the band have long since been replaced, the current line-up of the group has been solid for more than five years. Just like any relationship, there are definitely times where you question your commitments.

However, no matter how difficult, the labor is easily overshadowed by passion every time we perform. Ultimate happiness is sharing something that you love. This has survived the test of time.

Grab more details about LEAF at their Web site.

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Shea Serrano