In January, 2016 John Leon met Gerard Smith and the two immediately hit it off after discovering that they have wildly similar musical tastes and experiences. Most importantly, the found that they enjoyed playing together. Gerard suggested that they bring drummer Lyle Hysen into the fold. And thus was the start of The Royal Arctic Institute, an instrumental trio playing an eclectic mix of post-punk, cinematic, orchestrated jazz. Having their music dubbed as “post-everything,” the group has embarked on a great adventure. Combining over 50 years stage experience between them, the three members of The Royal Artic Institute meld their experiences and accomplishments into a formidable hodgepodge of sonic exploration.
John Leon originally hails from Mobile, Alabama. He played in a number of post-punk/new-wave bands and toured the Southeast during the late 80’s and early 90’s. John relocated to Austin, Texas in 1998 where he became an active session player working with Texas artists such as Abra Moore, Billy Harvey, Trish Murphy, Calvin Russell, and many others. In 2003, John co-founded The Summer Wardrobe, an ambient-soul/psychedelic rock ensemble with ex-Agnostic Front guitarist Jon Sanchez. The band went on to release four critically acclaimed records, first on New York label Rainbow Quartz and then on San Antonio label Saus Pop. In 2007 John toured with “psychedelic rock pioneer” Roky Erickson and in November of that year, played alongside ZZ Top ’s Billy Gibbons and Roky Erickson on the legendary Austin City Limits television show.
Gerard Smith is an American Indie Rock bass player. In the 1980’s, alongside groundbreaking Homestead recording artists Sonic Youth, Swans, Sebadoh, Big Black, Dinosaur Jr., Daniel Johnston, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and many others, he played in the collaborative group Phantom Tollbooth. Gerard wrote the words and sang the manic songs “Jack of All Phobias” and “Flip Your Lid.” In 2004, Guided By Voices front man Robert Pollard rewrote the words and rerecorded the vocals for their 1988 release, Power Toy. Effectively, the album was reinvented and retitled Beard of Lightning.
Lyle Hysen was drummer of the band Das Damen from 1986-1994, touring throughout the US and Europe and releasing records on a number of major independent labels including SST, Sub-Pop, and Twin Tone. Post Das Damen, Lyle spent time playing with various bands and projects including three short east coast tours with Arthur Lee of Love. Over the years Lyle has played behind several indie rock luminaries including Janet Wygel (Splendora) and Jon Fine (Bitch Magnet). He also released two albums with Viewmaster and played with Charlie Gansa (Guv’ner) and Rebecca Odes (Love Child) in Ma’am.
After a year of writing material and playing shows, The Royal Arctic Institute hunkered down at Nuthouse Recording in Hoboken, NJ with master producer/engineer Tom Beaujour. Two weeks later, they finished their debut recording The French Method to be released in May 2017.
Glide is proud to premiere the video for “Greely’s Ghost” (below) from this penultimate indie trio. The video combines images of Leon’s immediate family and archival footage from Mobile and Gulf Shores, AL. However, t’s the music that sends a vital classic signal of post-rock haze with jazz leanings that lean on sophistication without running aloof. These three and a half minutes are as pure and unsolicited as the impressive indie resumes of Leon,> Smith and Hysen.