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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Local Frequency: Bay Area Band Q&A w/ Leopold and His Fiction

Posted By on Thu, Mar 4, 2010 at 8:00 AM


Leopold and His Fiction have spent the past five years shuffling through various members to achieve their current lineup and a sound they've been seeking from the start. What was once a tinny garage rock band has traded its dour low-fi sound for an upbeat, folk-twinged, energetic aesthetic. 

Frontman Daniel James uses a twangy guitar style and vivid lyrics to depict stories of his upbringing in Detroit. The keyboards, bass, and backup vocals from Jon Sortland and Micalya Grace lift James' raspy, Southern rock vocals to an approachable sound that softens his tough Rust Belt upbringing. 

Touring extensively for the last two years, the three had yet to record an album with their new, realized sound until now. Leopold is ready to make its official debut with the band's upcoming album, tentatively titled Golden Friends, to be released mid-March. Leopold and His Fiction met up with Local Frequency at Atlas Café to chat about their new album, Celine Dion, and some guy named Leopold.

If you could describe your sound as a San Francisco neighborhood, which one would it be?
Micalya Grace:
You're from Detroit [Daniel], what's the most Detroit neighborhood here in the city?
Daniel James: I think the Tenderloin kind of fits. The Tendernob is a better fit--some blocks are nice, and then you turn the corner and it's hookers, drugs, and bums.
Jon Sortland: No matter how our clean records are, Daniel's a shady character. You don't know what his past is, and to be honest I don't really know him that well. I'd say the Tenderloin.

Where are your favorite drinking spots around town?
DJ: The Buccaneer, it's near my house.
MG: I really enjoy Elixir. They have organic cocktails.
JS: I found a place called the Red Room by the Commodore Hotel, but now it's called the Minx. It's right by our house. It's a good place to have a one-on-one with friends.

You all are doing double-duty, playing two or more instruments each. Is this intentional, or did someone leave the band?
DJ: I started Leopold over five years ago with a friend who left. Everything is pretty new within the past six months or so. The songwriting now is such a unit, I feel instrumentally it's a three-way split.
JS: When I was in an old band of mine, I used to play keys and drums simultaneously. When I played with Daniel for the first time, there was an old keyboard in our rehearsal space and I just hooked it up, and we started jamming, and it worked. So now with every song we're trying to incorporate the keys.
MG: We don't really want an extra person in the band. Now it's kind of tricky because there are new sounds that we want in a song--for example two guitars and a bass, but we don't have that. It makes us more creative. We might eventually need another person, but it's a tall order. It has to be someone who can play sax, guitar, and whatever else.
DJ: Yeah, we need someone who has skills that we don't have now, something that isn't in our musical vocabulary at all.

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Jasmine Blocker


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