Leroy Powell And The Messengers is a high energy Alt Country/ Southern Rock band and they have no problem with the term "Outlaws." They have opened and shared the stage with high profile acts such acts such as Kid Rock, ZZ Top, Gretchen Wilson, and many others. Leroy had originally spent a few successful years working, writing and touring with Shooter Jennings, but he now leads The Messengers. With a few albums under their holsters, their new release "The Overlords of The Cosmic Revelation" is destined to be shot into the terrestrial and satellite airwaves with a bang. The collection of songs is going to wrangle your attention with fine song writing, nice guitar work, excellent harmonies, and is backed with a hot sauce rhythm section. The track "Kong Kong" will grab hold of the women and men alike. I recently corresponded with Leroy.
R.V.B. - What kind of music were you expose to at a young age in California. Were your parents musically inclined?
Leroy - There were all kinds of radio stations and records floating around my house growing up. Hank Williams to Al Green to Metallica. When you’re young, you’re like a sponge and I soaked it all up.
R.V.B. - What sparked you into playing guitar? Did you take any lessons? What were some of the first songs you tackled? What were your influences?
Leroy - I was playing on brooms and tennis rackets for awhile until I started in on my Dad’s Yamaha acoustic guitar strung up with nylon strings. My dad showed me a couple chords and I had a handful of lessons. Then I mostly just listened super hard to recordings and tried to emulate what different guys did. Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Lightnin' Hopkins, Jerry Reed. Those guys.
R.V.B. - With your early bands, can you describe any incidents at any early gigs?
Leroy - On one of my first gigs I remember I was playing on my first legitimate stage with a PA and lighting and the whole works. I was maybe 14. My band was about 3 songs in and I turned around to rock out with the drummer when I tripped over a monitor speaker(I had never played with those before) and I took a digger into the audience which was about 5 feet down. And no one helped me. Everyone just watched me fall. The band didn’t even stop playing but laughed and pointed a lot.
Leroy - It was a creative outlet right off the bat, so I started to make up my own riffs and chord progressions immediately. And started to add little ridiculous rhymes over them a bit later.
R.V.B. - How did you get hooked up with Shooter Jennings? Was there an audition process?
Leroy - His old manager found me playing songs with a fiddle player at The Saddle Ranch on Sunset Blvd. in LA. I was serenading lunch and dinner crowds going table to table for tips. I guess we were pretty good at it. It was even fun sometimes. Shooter’s manager dude asked me to come hang with Shooter one day so I went. We spent an afternoon recording the Dukes of Hazzard theme song. Shooter played the drums, keys, and sang. I played everything else. We had so much fun so we decided we were going to play some more. That eventually became a band.
Leroy - At this point there’s been so many revolving members I’m not sure where to start. Mainly the group is me and Dean Tomasek who plays bass and cowrites a lot of the songs. When he’s not playing the bass he works as a graphic designer for tons of well known music artists. On the record there are 2 outstanding drummers - Adam Box of Brothers Osborne and my brother, Chris Powell, of Jamey Johnson’s band.
R.V.B. - How was your experience of touring with Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow?
R.V.B. - The new album "The Overlords of the Cosmic Revelation"... although it does have an alt country/southern rock feel, it also brings prog, spacey cosmic synth, heavy metal, and other styles into it. Did you have this concept of melding genres from the inception on this project?
Leroy - I made this record out of frustration. I had just recorded an amazing album called Life & Death with songs I was proud of with a killer band and that was produced by Dave Cobb. When we played it for labels we got a super cold response. My shock and disappointment turned into anger and that’s when I went to work on a record that was destined to be unsignable . The album concept started after me and Dean Tomasek wrote the title track. From there I just ran with it. I recorded all the songs by myself at my home studio. I just played the music that best fit with the lyrics and feel of the songs. It wasn’t very calculated as to what style I was going to play. It just came out the way it did.
R.V.B. - How did the writing process go? Did you bring a riff to the studio and expand from there or did you have the songs pretty much complete, or both?
Leroy - Each song is different. But mainly I’d have the songs written and then I’d sit at my little pro tools rig and play everything to a drum program. I’d get the sounds right and then I sent them to Adam Box to play the drums over the songs I’d recorded.
R.V.B. - Are you a science fiction fan? What do you think of the Hubble Telescope pictures?
Leroy - Love science fiction. I’m a huge science fiction movie buff. It’s a brilliant way to make political statements without being preachy or self righteous. The Hubble pics are amazing. I was really into the new horizons pictures of Pluto. Fun fact - I follow NASA on twitter.
R.V.B. - The singing is impressive on songs such as Checking Out, The Title track, Rising, and others. Does it take as long to work on the vocal arrangements as the music?
Leroy - Thanks for saying. Unlike other records I’ve done in the past I didn’t labor over the vocals that much. I would get the songs sounding good in my head phones, have a couple drinks, and then approach the song as a performance. I’d sing it through about 3 times and then I’d pick out the good bits.
Leroy - We’ll be doing some touring. All the shows will be posted on leroypowell.com.
you can see our new video here.
We have a radio team that’s going to the stations that play this kind of crazy.
For now I’m gonna put a couple copies in a time capsule and bury it in my back yard.
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
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For more information on Leroy Powell And The Messengers visit http://lp.leroypowell.com/
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