Interview: Lepers & Crooks get in the zone
Sydney five-piece Lepers & Crooks are hitting the road in May/June. We have a chat to them:
Hi and thanks for taking the time out to speak with us at Something You Said. I remember seeing you guys play at the Roller Den back in 2014 when you were supporting She Rex. She Rex have since disbanded but you guys are still going strong, what do you think the key is to a bands longevity and sustaining momentum?
Every band is different, each with its own struggles. We can’t speak for anyone other than ourselves but we started this thing as a bunch of misfits in a boarding school where music felt like our only escape, so as much as we can be at each other’s throats at times, we’ve been close enough for long enough to have learned to laugh and not cry when shit hits the fan.
You have chalked up quite a few gigs, having performed around 200 shows over 24 months. In that time how has your live show evolved?
I think there’s this place you can reach when playing live or even when enjoying live music where you are blank, you’re transported from your normal everyday concerns. Early on I would get so nervous and preoccupied with all the things that might go wrong that I wouldn’t even have the chance to give it everything. We’ve become so comfortable on stage now I think it’s easier to get in the zone and give the best performance and enjoy what the audience is giving back.
Of your many shows, which ones stand out as absolute highlights and why?
At the beginning of last year we did a 60 date national tour, we did the whole thing in a van, about 30,000kms, we played the final show in Sydney at Oxford Art Factory, we hadn’t been home in four months and we couldn’t believe the turn out, the vibe was electric, it was the perfect welcome home.
In recording The Heathen Circus EP, you locked yourselves away in Byron for some time, do you feel that getting out of Sydney enhanced the final cut or was it more of a consolidation process for everything that had gone into its making whilst living in Sydney?
To be honest the last four months has actually been the most time we’ve spent in Sydney for the last three years, Byron has certainly become a home away from home so it felt fitting to do the record there.
What does the EP say about where you are all at in your lives right now?
The Heathen Circus EP is a collection of songs we wrote when we all decided to leave our jobs and live a life on the road, we moved to a beach shack in the Northern Rivers and wrote most of the material there. It was a very liberating feeling to leave everything behind and devote all our time to the band and I think that reads in the songs.
How do you approach the songwriting, is it a collective process?
It’s different for each song, usually we start with one small idea and jam it out introducing new flavours and sections. Occasionally one or two of us will bring a more constructed song to the drawing board but it’s always a collaborative effort.
The Heathen Circus was produced by Jeff Martin of Tea Party fame. What did Jeff bring to the table that shines through this EP?
Jeff said to us from the beginning that making a seamless record where every little beat and syllable is in perfect place is no trick for anyone with a grasp of digital recording technology but he didn’t want to take any part in something like that. He wanted to create a record that captured the personality and mood of our live show, something we’ve never been able to do in a studio before and I think we achieved it, he brought the rock n roll.
What was your biggest challenge in putting out this EP and equally what was a positive surprise during the process?
Learning to not always be such perfectionists and letting some of the mistakes become part of what makes the recording human.
How is the rest of 2016 shaping up for you?
It’s going to be busy, we’ve got an EP we’re excited to share with everyone and Let You Go is the first taste of what’s coming.
Thanks for your time.
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Interview and live photo by Courtney Dabb.