Artist Interview: The Leones

If you take epic piano riffs and dreamy synths, then mix them with influences like 80’s horror movies and Neil Young, you get The Leones. Hailing from Buffalo, NY, they dub their sound “ghost-gaze,” which is a great way to describe their haunting, cinematic sound.

The Leones submitted their song to one of our opportunities where they were picked from thousands of bands to be signed to End Of The Trail Records. We spoke to them about how they got started, the submission process, and what’s next for them.

Tell us a bit about your band. How did you form, how long have you been together, what kind of music do you play, etc.

Hi, there! Well, I’m Justin Bachulak, the founding member of The Leones and the singer/songwriter, pianist, and synth player for the band. I guess The Leones started on a snowy night at Babeville 9th Ward in Buffalo, NY where I met our future guitarist Dustin Lau at a show I was playing with my former band. Dustin and I really hit it off and found we had a lot of similar influences. After my folk band disbanded, Dustin and I started playing those original folk/rock songs I had in my pocket but the vibe was taking us somewhere new and the love we had for bands like The War On Drugs, My Morning Jacket, Pink Floyd, and Neil Young took us to a really fun place. Dustin’s emotional swells and pedal work complimented my darker score-like piano and I threw a ton of reverb on my higher-register vocal approach. Haha we called it “ghost-gaze.”

As a kid, I grew up loving 80’s horror movies and scores and would ride my bike every week to rent a VHS that would scare the crap out of me. So with that newer, dreamy format we had, I kind of threw those John Carpenter synth vibes in there to have a sharp contrast that just really worked. It was definitely the best musical moment I think either of us had ever experienced and we continued to jam in my garage late into those summer nights of June and July 2015 to really hone that sound. It was kind of magical.

About 6 months later we added our drummer, Kevin Carney, who has helped us produce our albums and mixed and mastered both of them! We are currently adding a new bass player and another synth player/guitarist as well.

Without the help of a big team what has been the biggest struggle for you as a DIY artist?

Well we’ve had great support in our region of Western New York and a good amount of online activity, but our goal is to expand. People tell us all the time they think our tunes would be great for television and film. It’s hard breaking into that world without some kind of support helping us find more opportunities.

How did you hear about ReverbNation and our opportunities for labels and artists? Had you heard of End Of The Trail before this opportunity?

We’ve had our music on ReverbNation for a while now and have had some awesome support. I try to submit to the opportunities on ReverbNation that I feel would actually be well suited for us and End of the Trail’s opportunity seemed like a great fit.

What was the submission process like? What was your reaction when you found out that you were picked for this opportunity?

It was an easy submission. It was exciting to know a label like EOTT was behind us and wanted to help us grow for sure. It was perfect timing.

What are you hoping to achieve with End Of The Trail? What are your goals?

As I mentioned we would love to get our music into television and film, and just have more people hear us while we play more fun shows with great bands. We’d love to have our albums pressed on vinyl too. I have a 700 LP collection at home and that would be just really fun to open up our own gatefold someday.

Any advice for new musicians just starting out? How do you get your name out there, find new fans, keep fans engaged, get noticed by labels etc?

I say this to Dustin a lot. I don’t know how we would be able to do this if we didn’t really love the songs we have. It takes a lot of time to post on the different social media sites and to still have fun with it by thinking of new material to post or ways to engage your fans. It’s obvious, but write songs YOU love and that will show when you play them. It gets a lot easier to gain support if you have that.

What’s up next for The Leones?

We have released two albums in 8 months and I have about 5 or 6 new songs that are in more of a dream-pop format. We are adding a new guitarist/synth player for our shows to help capture the appreciated synths sounds found on our albums. We look forward to working more with End of the Trail Records to find new opportunities and grow more. Really I just want to keep writing and playing music we love.

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