In a musical age where too many bands are thrust upon the public through reality TV shows or talent competitions, it is easy to forget the old school ways when bands had to get out amongst the people and earn respect.
The days where your music was judged by a live audience rather than a panel of washed out judges trying to relive their former glory days through the eyes of an unknown and unseen audience.
It is refreshing yet unfortunately less and less common that an up and coming band travels their own backyard and tests their mettle in the harshest of environments – the people who pay to see them play.
Sydney band Lepers and Crooks are such a band.
With already more than 100 live performances under their belt in the last six months, Lepers and Crooks are a band who is prepared to take the long road to the top and embrace the challenge of letting their music dictate terms.
It doesn’t hurt that the band are school mates, having sewn the seeds of their future career in their teenage years.
“We’re a five piece band that has known each other for a long time,” vocalist Sam Baker explained.
“We were mates at school and we learnt our respective instruments back in school and one day we were just like ‘fuck. We need a singer or we need a guitarist, do you wanna learn?’”
“We’ve now been signed with Chris Murphy after a lot of years of playing and he has seen some potential in us and he’s sent us all around the country and we’ve just been playing gig after gig. I think the second of May we would have played over 100 shows in six months and by the end of the year we would have played something like 230! We’re keeping our heads down and doing a lot of writing too. We’re holed up just outside of Byron Bay now and recording some demo’s and stuff and getting ready for the next album.”
“We’re a rock outfit but we’ve got quite an eclectic mix of songs and genres coming through. It’s just about choosing which one to put forward first but I think we’re definitely an energetic live rock band.”
Although having already released an album in their early years, and touring on the back of their E.P ‘Her Kiss’, Sam says that Lepers and Crooks are yet to release their definitive album, but also says that their new material is exciting and a true reflection of the band. It doesn’t hurt that they have had the assistance of one Jeff Martin from the Tea Party in their corner during the process.
“Yeah man, that was such a crazy thing,” Sam enthused.
“We’ve recorded two singles with him and it was a crazy experience. The guy had a perfect pitch and could play all these different instruments. One of his mentors was Jimmy Page and there was such a great energy between the band and him and even our older influences were quite on par. It was a great experience, we all learnt a lot from it and hopefully some more time in the future can be spent evolving that relationship.”
For a relatively young band, it can be a little overwhelming having someone of the caliber of Jeff Martin giving musical input and advice, but Sam says that each member found the experience inspiring and educational.
“It was all very different,” he explained, “because we’ve got very different people in the band but essentially the best advice is just wear your band hat and always be a band that has the time and connection between yourself first and foremost. Know where you want to go. Know where your material wants to go. Envisage the product. But one on one his advice varied quite a lot. For me we were just talking – coz I like a lot of old school poetry – I admire Jim Morrison and a few other people and he had similar connections to that so the conversations I would have with him were about being in the moment and little tricks you could use to hold all of this energy without letting it go and using it at the right time. I think I’m still letting a few words of advice sink in.”
Presently, the name Lepers and Crooks isn’t well known, but if energy and enthusiasm are measures of success then this band will one day be a household name, but in the meantime Sam gives a practical explanation of why you should venture to the Union Jack on Saturday night for their debut Cairns performance.
“Because we give everything we’ve got,” he said matter – of – factly.
“We’re not the kind of band who stands around and just plays music. We’re one who feeds off energy and the first platform of energy will definitely come from us. We’re going to offer you the opportunity to come and get your kicks and get your rocks off and we’re a good bunch of guys who love to have a drink and a bit of a party. We play every show as if it’s our last. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Lepers and Crooks play at the Union Jack Hotel this Saturday night from 7 p.m. Entry is free