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Leopold And His Fiction w/ The Docs & The Beans
November 23, 2013 @ 9:00 pm - 11:55 pm
Leopold & His Fiction
Naked, stripped down and aching with adrenaline is the rawness of Leopold and his Fiction. A revolving group of friends led by Detroit native Daniel James (lead vocal/guitar), their essential make up sprouted from collaborations made on the road in the whirlwind cycle of touring. From San Francisco to LA to Austin various musical adventures had come and gone, until James found a common vision in the musicians he’d met along the way. Their seminal force is the catalyst for soul-drenched, bare-bone rock ‘n’ roll that shakes with the power of ’73-era Stooges while seducing with the rhythm and blues of Motown.
Originally formed as an outlet for Daniel James to exercise his virtues gained from years in Detroit, Leopold and his Fiction absorbed pieces of the Motown catalog along with the protopunk resonance of Iggy’s Stooges and molded them into a personal version of the rock ‘n’ roll dream. “I lived a heavily drug-induced, alcohol-crazed lifestyle that I thought you needed to live to get to the top of an industry whose facade is fueled by such,” says James. “It wasn’t until I moved far away and met this family of musicians, that I found who I really am, it’s where I need to be.” James balanced his raw, naïve energy and became a founding member of country folk rock act Cowboy and Indian, enjoying a successful run playing festivals including Austin City Limits and recording a full length album.
“Vocal harmony and traditional folk is one side of me,” says James, “but I need to release this direct surge of energy.” Composed and redefined on and off stage, Leopold and his Fiction is a beast in all its glory when plugged into their amplifiers and fully cranked. It’s as if they, themselves, are connected directly into an electric socket. “The band elicits a power when it’s time to perform that is unable to be harnessed in any other medium short of a fist fight,” says James. “Whether that’s on stage or in a recording studio it’s almost hard to contain it. It’s more life than I’ve ever felt before.” It was that sonic fever that landed the group recent support slots for The Cult and ZZ Top.
When James was younger he wrote songs about escaping, and long trips through a desert, never really looking back, always pushing forward. With Leopold and his Fiction the songs have naturally matured. “Leopold is a fictional entity that gives me a vehicle to discover these characters,” says James. “For me, it is similar to writing a novel by cultivating very specified personalities in various and often ominous situations with different outcomes.” The songwriter claims to have gone through a rebirth since coming to Austin. It’s where he fell in love, quit drinking and had a daughter. “With nothing blanketing my receptors I can let down my guard,” he says. “I’ve never been more vulnerable and, in a way, never more fearless. It’s very honest and liberating.”
For the past year Leopold and his Fiction have been working with Grammy-nominated producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith (The Datsuns, Slayer, Jet, The Dandy Warhols, etc…) in recording and capturing a captivating musical journey that is as relentless as it is inspiring. “Frenchie saw our show and listened to our records,” says James. “He was very blunt and said, ‘I’m confident I can make you guys shine!’ He brought a lot out of me and the band. The energy was very positive and the songs are confident, edgy and packed with emotion.” Amidst the band’s hook-filled party rock James was also able to refine his more melodic Neil Young / Jackson Browne side.
“When I was really young and spent all my time listening to records, I would dedicate my attention to songs that facilitated my emotions,” says James. “Sometimes ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,’ other times “Going to California’. The best music for me explores a demographic of both introversion and extroversion. It’s a craft just like any other. I have to work at it rigorously over and over until I find the combination that works best for the song.” The next Leopold and his Fiction album promises a full pallet of artistry from America’s deep, dark underbelly and rootsy fabric to a revival of an Rn’B-tinged, backwoods charm. It goes back to the days when Motown and Stax loaded singles with a hip-shaking groove on the A-side and a ballad in 6/8 on the B-side that could be crooned under the moonlight.
When the Docs are playing, the sheer energy coming from the stage will pull you in, and the aura they create in the room will keep you riveted. Pulling from a wide range of influences and diverse backgrounds, they evoke the full range of emotion in their audiences with a raw, passionate sound that fuses the soft, harmonious tones of traditional Southern music and the aggressive energy of progressive rock. This is a tight-but-loose four-piece band that stretches and pushes the boundaries of current rock and roll. But The Docs didn’t start out as a high energy, in-your-face modern rock band. Each member brought his musical influences and professional background to the mix.
The members were all brought up in Houston, Texas where at various times in their lives they met and befriended Brendan. Nearing the end of his college coursework (in December 2010) Brendan called together his friends for an informal jam session with the hopes of masterminding a sophisticated & crude rock n’ roll band. His plan worked. The Beans started writing songs and performing around the city in March 2011. By January of 2012 The Beans had finished recording a demo and built a devout fan-base largely due to the raw energy of their live shows. They are currently working on touring to promote their debut album.