Interview: Leroy Justice, Going Where the Road Leads Them

Leroy Justice is a band that has a long history, and while they’ve always done well for themselves, for a long time it didn’t make sense why they weren’t getting more attention. The music is profoundly distinct and about as tight as it gets, so as longtime supporters we couldn’t be happier to see the tides shifting in their favor as the band is visibly in the process of ascending through the glass ceiling that separates a Mercury Lounge band from a Bowery Ballroom band.

[Photo by Cory Schwartz]

In the past couple months, the band got the opportunity to support the North Mississippi All-Stars on the Northeast leg of their tour and perform with Lo Faber of God Street Wine in front of a packed house at the Brooklyn Bowl. At this point, LJ is one album away from becoming a big name in the indie/jamband crossover scene. In the midst of all the excitement, we caught up with lead singer Jason Gallagher to chat and the band was kind enough to kick down another exclusive HD pro-shot video release

Hidden Track:
So, there’s been a lot going on for you guys in terms of the last few months from headlining Brooklyn Bowl, to supporting NMAS, to playing with Lo Faber from God Street Wine. What have been some of the biggest highlights as of late?

Jason Gallagher: It’s nice to be busy! Well, we couldn’t have been in the company of nicer folks the last few months. The NMA fellows are just great guys and it was a pleasure to play on the same bill as them for a few nights. Luther sat in with us at Brooklyn Bowl and shredded some guitars with us, and Cody, well, Cody is all smiles all the time, so you can’t help but be in a good mood around the North Mississippi Allstars.

HT: I thought that was pretty amazing that you guys have gotten the chance to place with Lo from God Street Wine. How did that friendship culminate and what’s it been like performing with him?

JG: Lo is a friend of our manager as well as our good friend/loyal fan Michael Weiss, and he’s wanted us to get together for a while now. And you can’t stop the will of the fans, so there we were, on stage together at Brooklyn Bowl not knowing what was coming next. I don’t think anyone would guess it was Steve Miller. Our drummer (Josh Karis) always plays the Swingtown beat when things die on stage because of technical issues or tuning delays, and this time we called his bluff. Sorry Lo!

HT: So, there’s quite a bit of new material in the repertoire these days. Of the new songs, which ones are becoming the newer crowd favorites?

JG: Before I Die has this long jam at the end with some wicked guitar duets, so that’s become our favorite. As for the fans, people seem to be responding to Blue Eyed Blues, which is this tune that came together in about 20 minutes one rehearsal. I had some verses and a chorus written, and we agreed to keep it simple and fun and NEARLY cliche, and it turned out pretty killer. It started out as a song about a girl, as most do, and it turned into one about same sex marriage. How’s that for a 180?

HT: Along those lines, I imagine talks of a new album must not be too far off in the future. Any plans on that front to speak of?

JG: Oh, hell yes. We have been making some sweet demos of all the new stuff to be considered, and tracking will begin within the month. I think Hoboken is our first stop in the studio, and we always have our secret lab in Pennsylvania where we cook up new tasty treats, so time will be split between the two I think.

HT: One thing I think is smart is the way you guys have grown by really pounding out a lot of shows in the Northeast and building up a big fan base in your region rather than touring all over the country earlier in your career. I think a lot of bands make the mistake that once they can book shows, they need to drive all over the place and play everywhere. Has that been a conscious “business” decision so-to-speak from the earlier days, or more just the reality of balancing everyone’s priorities with the band priorities?

JG: When it comes to Leroy Justice, we always go where the road takes us. Sometimes that means playing a few months of great shows in NYC, and sometimes we’re in Colorado for a week or two, like we were in February this year. We loved it out there and will be heading back soon. I think every band wants to play as much as possible, and we’re no different. That’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

HT: What would you point to as areas where the band has progressed the most in the past year or so?

JG: I think the band renews itself every few years, and recently we’ve had a great understanding of how to make a song sound its best. I think “less is more” is a phrase that can be taken for granted in a lot of facets of life, none more prevalent than playing in a band with five guys.

HT: Has there been any music or styles that you’ve been listening to using for an influence lately that’s helped progress the band’s sound and styles of playing?

JG: There’s such a fine line between being influenced by music and ripping it off. And I’ve done both for sure. For the new record, we have the “Leroy Justice Tenets of Music Making.” They are a handful of commandments that we are trying to incorporate across the whole album. They’re not mandatory, but if we’re in deep on a new song, we can pull back and see if we can work one of them in. One of them is having the whole band sing in unison a lot more. It’s so powerful and adds another level to the new stuff. You’ll hear it on the album soon!

HT: Finally, what’s on tap for this summer and beyond? Any festivals or specific venues you’re all really excited about playing?

JG: We’ll be announcing a couple festivals soon that we’re really excited about playing, and of course we’ll be in the studio trying to work in as many Justice commandments as possible. Thou shalt not make a crappy album.

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