Cleveland indie rock band Dead Leaves is in a good place after making the decision to reinvent themselves. A year ago, the band went by the name of Call It Fiction and released their first EP, Amend Regret. It did well, streaming on the Property of Zack and AbsolutePunk websites. But for Alex Tucker (bass) and Elliot Blair (vocals, guitar) there was still more to do. With band members leaving and busy lives intruding, they were faced with the heartbreaking choice of giving up, or continuing to push forward.
Fresh voices bring a new sound. By adding Gene Bernardo (drums) and Vin DeFilippo (lead guitar), the band gained new skills and insight. The fast moving pop/punk sound of the original band has evolved to a more indie rock genre. Blair explains, “We have toned it down from the super-fast upbeats in pop/punk, matured the lyrics a little bit, added cleaner guitars, so it’s definitely closer to indie rock.” The result is a cohesive collection of songs that make the most of the abilities and experiences of each member.
Everything changes when the music changes. The stage show is naturally affected as the music progresses. High energy is still there, but balanced by softer musical parts, allowing an ebb and flow to each song. Starting out with a small group of listeners, I watched as the audience grew larger with each song, until the entire room was engaged. During the second song, “Reconstruct Your Body”, the crowd reacted to Blair as he sang the words, “We have all made bad decisions/throw old perceptions away/build some new ones” by focusing their full attention on the performance in front of them. A person is not defined by mistakes he makes, but can move forward to be better. It certainly works for Dead Leaves as they move forward with a new lineup and sound. The overwhelming applause for this song was affirmation that the powerful lyrics hit home with the audience.
Divide and conquer. Producing a completely new EP was a time-consuming project. It has taken Dead Leaves a full year to write, produce, track, and finish the future recording. There were setbacks. Blair’s father became seriously ill, while Tucker is plagued with a high pressure job that consumes large amounts of his time and attention. With a prime spot on the Fashion Meets Music Festival in Columbus, the new band members had to get up to speed quickly. In order to get everything done and maintain the forward motion, Blair took over the primary music duties, while Tucker concentrated on the business side. But the light at the end of the tunnel is the release of their self-titled EP which will be available in the next month.
Dead Leaves will continue to grow and change with their music by performing at local and regional shows in Ohio. I plan to attend as many as possible, because I am intrigued by the process of reinventing the band and sound. I believe their new music is distinctly original and as unforgettable as the journey they have traveled to make it.