(Originally appeared in Mutant Renegade Zine #14, Spring 2000)
About a year ago I was at Canal Street Tavern in Dayton, Ohio at the annual Battle of the Bands. Three things stood out that night; a chair throwing bar fight (nobody I’ve talked to could recall when there has ever been a fight at Canal Street Tavern before that.), the fierceness of Jamie Holiday as he leaped over the bar with a baseball bat in his hand ready to fuck someone up, and finally getting to see Irish Leo, a band that I had heard so much about. I was recently lured to Irish Leo’s practice space, when Nick promised me naked photos of the band.
MR – So, where are the naked pictures of the band Nick? You said there would be naked pictures of the band here.
Nick – No. We’re selling them on the Internet. We can’t just give them to you.
MR – Nick, how does the feel of the this band differ from your previous bands The Oxymorons and Candyass, which were pop punk bands with an aggressive edge as opposed to Irish Leo which is more flowing?
Nick – The first bands you are in are like going to school. The Oxymorons were four people trying the capture the spotlight. Everybody was running into each other and jumping into the drums while I was trying to play. With The Oxymorons, you added anything to the mix. With Irish Leo, there’s a need to try to fit in and support the song rather than just playing what you want.
The Oxymorons went through some experiences touring that I am glad that Grog took charge of, because otherwise I don’t think that I’d be alive today. I learned how to get along with others that you are kinda stuck with during touring.
MR – And the same question for you Dave concerning the alternative jug band Aunt Beanie’s First Prize Beats?
Dave S.- Aunt Beanie’s was a really good experience. I was awful young in my head when I was playing with them. Therefore, I really didn’t know where I wanted to go with my music nor did I know what I wanted to be when I grew up. When I played with them, I really formed a lot of habits and styles. I brought the accordion into that group. So, without them and without that approach, I don’t think I would be able to achieve the sound that I have.
MK – Tell me about the CD you’ve been working on.
Nick – Right now, we have about four songs pretty close to completed. We were just in the band play offs and we won some free time at Hidden Music Studios. We were just there yesterday and recorded a song. In this studio, we have four songs mostly done and we are beginning to record some parts of five more songs.
MR – Any due date for the new CD?
Dave B. – Before the next millennium, which will be next year. I really want it to come out in the summer.
MR – What is your songwriting process like?
Elisha – We just jam and things just sort of gel together really well. We all work together well.
Dave S.- I subscribe to the theory that if we can remember what we played the following week, then it is worth making into a song. Basically someone has an idea for a part and that inspires everyone else to come up with something.
MR – As the vocalists, are you responsible for the lyrics or do you get a lot of input from your band mates?
Elisha – I have written lyrics to a few of the songs and Dave has written lyrics.
MR – Has anyone ever heard Nick sing?
Elisha – Nick is sour.
MR – What are your plans for the future for playing shows?
Nick – I think we played eleven times between February and November of 1998. We were all busy during the holidays and we all wanted to spend more time concentrating on the album. The combination of running out of money and wanting to get out and play a live show forced us to play a show.”
MR – You’re first vocalist left because she had children. Nick, I know that you are expecting a child soon. How do you think that will effect your work with the band?
Nick – You know when I breast feed, we might have to take a break from practicing. Other than that, I don’t think it will be a problem.
MR – Elisha, how is it working with these four guys?
Elisha – They do a lot of dumb things and it did take a while getting used to. It’s like having four big brothers.
Nick – Who are really irritating.
MR – Dave, What made you decide to start playing the accordion?
Dave S. – It was because of Aunt Beanies. They came to me and asked me to play the piano. This is the whole downward spiral of the few years that I played with them and I didn’t think that I was ready, but they believed in me and that was great and touching thing. The music they were playing was so interesting to me.
I had an accordion and asked them if they thought it would fit. Chris (Montgomery) said that if you have an accordion, I think that it would be nice if you played it. I picked it up and started to play some romantic styling on it. From that, I really fell in love with the instrument. I never brought my piano playing to the level I wanted to, however I found that I could bring the accordion to a level that was pretty unique. Because of the piano experience, it wasn’t difficult to learn the accordion.
MR – So what are your hopes for Irish Leo?
Nick – That’s one of the things we have in common, the resentment of having to work for a living, the idea of having to go to a job day in and day out. The idea of having, the people in Irish Leo as my co-workers is a dream, only because I can push them around.
FiL – We have a lot of robust plans. We are really excited about the unlimited potential for independent music in America with alternative distribution options such as MP3.
Nick – Like Dakota Records. You have a web presence and anyone can order your stuff. It’s great because you don’t have to be signed by a major label to make a decent living even though I wouldn’t a adverse to signing to a major label.
MR – What ideas do you have to promote the band?
Nick – We currently do not have solid plans. I think we are going to try to get together three or four songs and send them out to radio stations and a couple of record labels. We’ll play out some more once we get the record finished. I don’t think any of us are into touring as in going out for two to three weeks at a time, but I think going to shows on weekend within driving distance is not out of the question. Basically, have a product to sell, play a few shows, and push a little harder.
Dave – I think a goal for a lot of us since we are in excellent financial position in a lot of respect is to sell the CD at minimal cost to promote our group.
Nick – I really like this group both personally and musically. There are things that I hear that are very promising. It’s not one of those things where we had some good ideas and we used them all. We are constantly coming up with new and different ideas. Things we haven’t even tried yet.
MR – What do you think about the comparisons you receive that you sound like 10,000 Maniacs?
Nick – That’s happened with a few people. To tell you the truth, we are not trying to create musical categories for ourselves. I don’t think we are that ambitious that we are trying to create a new type of music. Our category is probably alternative pop.
Not saying that we are on this level, but I sort of look at things like Peter Gabriel and Sting make good pop music with interesting things in it and it is influenced from different cultures. If you sit down and play one of their songs on a piano it is just a simple little pop song and good solid songwriting.
FiL – I like comparisons to other musicians because most often people hear something in our sound that reminds them of another artist and I am flattered to have someone recognize an element from another artist within our sound. Nobody learns music in a vacuum and you are going to have influences unless you have never listened to music before. Okay, we have them and if you can recognize them. Cool.