Their music may overflow with haunting vocals and comparisons to bands such as Circa Survive and The Mars Volta, but for the experimental rock outfit, that’s just the beginning of it all.
LEONE (pronounced Lee-own and meaning ‘lion’ in Hebrew) is a young Florida rock band on the move. The group is counting on the tenacity and perseverance of its four members (Will Thomas, Terry Younger, Terry Brent, and Bobby Serago) to generate enough momentum to pull the band from the primordial soil of its infancy into the realm of recognition that will come with the upcoming release of LEONE’s first full-length, Into The Swine, Into The Sea, which they’re currently in the middle of recording.
Just because the band hasn’t yet put the finishing touches on their full-length debut doesn’t mean they haven’t been keeping themselves busy. Leone has already brought their brand of experimental rock to a number of states including Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio.
“We all love playing in front of new people,” says vocalist/guitarist William Thomas. “Somehow it makes our music come back to life for us. It’s always great to play in front of people that are familiar with you, but it’s so refreshing to play in front of a new crowd.”
Though their exploration of the regions north and west of their home in Florida has not yet brought them north of the 49th parallel, LEONE hopes to get up to Canada as soon as they can. “One of my good friends’ bands got up there and fell in love,” says Thomas.
Several stops LEONE has made this summer include the Cornerstone Festival in Illinois which was headlined by acts like mewithoutyou, The Devil Wears Prada, and Underoath and the Florida Music Festival which was capped off by a performance by Filter. Thomas recalls the Cornerstone Festival simply as muddy, wet, and metal. “We got there on the fourth day of the festival, and before that supposedly there had been great weather,” he says. “Well, the day we arrived it started pouring.”
Touring as a young band without an extensive catalogue of original songs to draw from definitely makes for a different experience than touring as a headlining act. During their summer tour, Thomas says the band used each show as a writing or rehearsing practice. He explains how three songs for the record that weren’t completely written before the tour were developed while they were on the road. “Let’s just say the first few shows were a little rough, but by the end we had everything sounding noisy and beautiful,” says Thomas.
The singer/guitarist remembers how, “before we hit the road [bassist] Terry [Younger] told me he hoped this tour was going to be really tough so we could look back when times get hard and say ‘yea, this sucks, but remember that first tour?!’” Looking at the evidence, it seems like Terry’s wish came true. During the course of their mid-summer travels LEONE’s tour van proved to be less than reliable, as, in Nashville, they were forced to lay down some $680 in repairs to get it moving again. Some of their other troubles can be blamed on a lack of experience on the road; elsewhere on the tour their van ran out of gas and, later, was unexpectedly towed. “We all kind of figured it would be a growing experience,” says Thomas. “It definitely was.”
Describing the songs on the forthcoming Into The Swine, Into The Sea, Thomas states some songs are a little older while others were just finished before they entered the studio. (“For me, I feel like this record is a snapshot of 2008”). According to Thomas, the name of the album has many meanings but overall, it, like the album as a whole, is about trying to find what you believe in – whether that be if you believe in love, in God, or even in yourself.
The sounds and words on the upcoming album promise to bring about an internal search in the listener – a search that may lead listeners into some dark places.
“For me, writing lyrics is definitely an outlet to release some demons of mine, I never sit down and say ‘okay, I want to write a dark, serious song,’” says Thomas, explaining that the darker themes on the album arose from trials he faced in the last year. “This record definitely explores that.”
For Thomas, performing live is as therapeutic as writing lyrics, but these aren’t the only ways he relaxes. For him, another great way to relieve tension is through the cathartic release found in fireworks. “I really love to pass the time by blowing random things up,” he says, “it relieves stress and makes me feel like 007 and or John McClain.”
Using Tumblr.com, LEONE has kept fans up to date on their touring schedule, and blogged about their tour and experiences in the recording studio. In spite of benefits like these that come from living in the digital age, Thomas says he really wishes LEONE would have been a band in the 90s’.
“We’re a band that will always write records, and back then kids still went to the record stores and picked up full lengths,” he explains. “The whole ‘technology era’ that we live in is good and bad. I feel that, back then, bands had a mystery about them – a larger-than-life persona. You didn’t know what they did in between shows. I kind of miss that.”