Interview: Leisure Birds

A&E’s keeping you up to date with the best local bands of 2009.

Mark Brenden

Rock âÄònâÄô roll is like a speech impediment: Some people just have it. Take Leisure Birds , for example. This quartet of local psychedelic rockers was selected to play at Radio KâÄôs Best Bands of 2009 show and is hitting the Minneapolis scene like a pull of Jack Daniels with their high-energy live shows. Their brand of rock âÄònâÄô roll meets at a four-way intersection between the neo-âÄô60s psychedelia of local juggernauts Velvet Davenport, the melodic brattiness of The Kinks , the whiskey-torched masculinity of Motörhead and the facial hair of The Guess Who . That recipe for success is topped off with the reverb-frosted vocals of singer Jake Luck , which stir appropriately into their stew of meaty bass lines, jangly guitar riffs, cigarettes, gasoline and pine tar. And whiskey. CanâÄôt forget the whiskey. A&E was invited into the groupâÄôs jam basement (which featured, among other things, a drum set, an ironing board, an American flag and a photo of Osama bin Laden with bullet holes through his face) to discuss wussy rock, Slash and Scott WeilandâÄôs striking knack for arm dancing. How much of psychedelic music has to do with psychedelic drugs? Nick Ryan : In our case, not really that much. Alex Achen : Maybe if beer were a psychedelic drug. Who are some of your influences? AA: Everything we listen to. IâÄôm not sure that one influence really outweighs the next. Cory Carlson : My friendsâÄô bands seem to influence me more than anything else âÄî like local stuff. What are some of those? CC: Oh, like Daughters of the Sun. They seem like pretty cool dudes. I havenâÄôt met them yet, but, theyâÄôre doing our record. You guys were in Radio KâÄôs best bands of âÄò09. What kind of music was being played there âÄî any common denominators? NR: No. [Laughs]. Just that we were all new. Do you think that has anything to say about the music of 2009? AA: It seems like everybody is really into the idea of psychedelic bands right now. CC: A lot of drugs must be coming through. [Laughs]. AA: ThereâÄôs also been a lot of, like, wussy-ing of a lot of bands. So everybody is kinda turning into a bunch of pussies? AA: Well, no, it just seems like itâÄôs a really popular idea right now. CC: Say âÄúchilling out,âÄù not âÄúwussing out.âÄù How do you think 2010 will be different than 2009? AA: More rain. How about musically? CC: I hope thereâÄôs more guitar solos in 2010. NR: I doubt it, though. CC: ThatâÄôs what I want, though. Are there guitar solos on your new record? AA: ThereâÄôs a couple. Jake Luck: And theyâÄôre excellent. [Laughs]. So are you cool with this mass âÄúwussying outâÄù of music? AA: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I didnâÄôt mean it as a bad thing. I just meant that thereâÄôs a lot of bands, like âÄî IâÄôm trying to think âÄî Velvet Davenport; bands like that that are definitely trying to have that âÄò60s sound. Like itâÄôs cool to be sloppy, which is cool. JL: Personally, my biggest thing with whatâÄôs been going on in the past couple years is that itâÄôs either incredibly wiener-ish or itâÄôs like overly … CC: Overly tough … JL: Like overly … grunge-y guitar, blues-y, you know? And neither one really appeals to me much, so weâÄôve been trying to get away from both of those things. Whatever the outcomeâÄôs been âÄî I donâÄôt know. Who is recording your new record? NY: Cole Weiland from Daughters of the Sun. AA: Scott WeilandâÄôs younger brother. [Laughs]. Yeah I was going to ask, but I didnâÄôt know if you guys were Stone Temple Pilots fans. You donâÄôt really have that baritone thing going. NR: Yeah, thatâÄôs the one regret I have about this band. [Laughs]. Yeah weâÄôre trying to get Jake to wear his shirt less and dance around with his arms, like Scott Weiland. Scott Weiland is remarkably skilled at dancing with his arms. NR: Oh, he does things with his arms most people canâÄôt do with their bodies. The Velvet Revolver project he did with Slash was pretty disappointing. But I think we can all agree that Slash kicks ass. AA: Slash is awesome. If this article can have one of those quotes that is in bigger letters it should be that SLASH IS AWESOME, says bassist and drummer. NR: Well heâÄôs a lot better at guitar than me, but IâÄôm better at guitar … hero. JL: I donâÄôt really think about him that much. NR: Yeah I listened to hip-hop when I was a kid, so I was into like MC Hammer. CC: YouâÄôd probably like the new Guns âÄòNâÄô Roses record then. [Laughs]. Would you guys resent it if you were tacked as an âÄúindie rockâÄù band? AA: No. We are four white dudes with facial hair. We are the definition of âÄúindie rock band.âÄù