NYC’s Leroy Justice reaffirms one’s faith in rock ‘n’ roll. They aren’t out trying to reinvent anything, but instead choose to refine and rework rock’s best traits, and it’s impossible to miss their enjoyment at sculpting songs and then bashing them around in front of friends & strangers.
The group’s 2009 sophomore slab The Loho Sessions — produced by John Siket, who’s manned consoles for Phish, Sonic Youth, moe. and more – is an end-to-end winner that feels like a friend as you let their truth seeking, goddamn real tunes past your personal armor. Put ’em on a stage and they exude the same kind of roughshod authenticity, musicians whose fruits are born from active engagement with life, unhindered in the long run by all the bad breaks, skinny wallets and untrustworthy confidants. On some level, Leroy Justice’s music is about how one smiles in the face of it all and how we might leave behind all the garbage we drag around in our heads and hearts.
We sat down with chief songwriter-singer-guitarist Jason Gallagher, who’s also been performing on the Counting Crows’ Traveling Circus And Medicine Show Tour in 2010.
- Why do you think you’re a musician?
- That immediately makes me think of my high school friend Mike Jones saying to me when I was going off to college for science or something, “What are you doing? You know you have to play music. That’s what you do.” And it was that simple, and I’ve lived by that idea since. I think you have to. Once you start you can’t stop.
- It’s great to have people in our lives that function as crucial pointers for us.
- I rely on that, hopefully accurately [laughs]. It’s something you can’t stop doing once you start. I think Eddie Vedder said that once, too. Once you start writing songs you never stop.
- Are you a journal or diary keeper, a logger of snippets for future songs?
- I do that with lines and words but not daily events. But, I’ve been trying to do that on this Counting Crows tour I’ve been on because everyone on it keeps telling me you have to write, write, write and keep all the moments you can.
- How’s the Crows tour been for you? What footage I’ve seen of it reminds me of Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue.
- It is very much like that, and it’s been as much fun as you can imagine. Everybody’s onstage at several points, it’s being received well and we’re having a good time onstage, which is most important. It’s infectious. We find the same thing with Leroy Justice. When we have a good time and we enjoy playing the music it translates to the audience.
- Leroy Justice brings that vibe into the studio, too. You’re definitely believers in rock ‘n’ roll as something larger than just making music.
- It’s a living thing for us and it’s organic — as much as I hate that word because it’s so overused – but it is a living, breathing thing that you have to be a slave to sometimes. You have to listen to it and go where it wants you to go. That’s what I hope we are at our best – guys who listen to the music and let it go where it wants to.
- You guys record live-in-the-studio sometimes, right?
- We have and it’s created some of our best stuff. I love recording both ways. When we record live it creates the best energy and it’s the most genuine Leroy article.
- Where are you on the follow-up to The Loho Sessions?
- We have a little handful of songs written and we’ve played some of them live. We’re thinking about setting up to record in a friend’s old bakery in Pennsylania, this huge open, beautiful room. The guys and John Siket are looking into getting some analog gear and doing a homemade, hometown sounding record. Hopefully it’ll be a little further than we’ve gone before but still maintain our sound.
- Siket seems to have an instinct for picking out the best elements in your band
- Oh yeah, he keeps us real honest. He doesn’t pull any punches, and he’ll push the right buttons to get the best in us out there. He’s one of the guys. He’s very friendly and very much our friend but he can also tell it like it is without hurting our feelings.
- It doesn’t hurt to have an adult in the room sometimes
- Exactly [laughs]. It’s like an older brother vibe, where we think, “Well, we better listen to him. He’s done a few things.”
- So, what’s usually going through your head right before you go onstage?
- I’ve really had to get my head together on this [Counting Crows tour] because I’ve felt incredibly intimidated by the number of musicians onstage and the caliber of talent. I’ve been trying some of that projection focusing, where you really try to put yourself in the moment and you see yourself doing what you want to do. It’s kind of like a weird fantasy world where you’re daydreaming about it for a moment. And I think it’s really opened me up to some things and given me some ideas. It’s almost like a rehearsal in my head.