On our first night in Austin we caught up with New York-based band Leverage Models (one of our favorite bands to groove to) as they were setting up for one of their first shows at SXSW. Shannon Fields, lead singer and founder, chatted to us about their time on the road so far, and gave us some behind-the-scenes pictures to let us take a peek into what goes down while on tour.
Interview by Katie Gregory
Hey Shannon! Do you guys have a rider at all?
I mean, we could put together a rider but nobody would read it [laughs]. If I can get some towels and hot water I'm very happy. But that never happens, because who the fuck am I? [Laughs] I can make up something ridiculous for you, though. Like we want all of 2014's general accounting standards from North America, and at every show we want updates and texts for tax purposes. Because that's the kind of band that we are.
Is everyone in the band from the same area?
The band is based in Brooklyn, and they all live in Brooklyn. I lived in Brooklyn for a long time but I moved to upstate New York, rural upstate New York, and I live on a farm. I breed horses with my wife. Or rather, she's doing it, and I'm doing what I'm told [laughs]. But I'm from Kansas City originally and the band is from all over. Nobody in New York is actually from New York.
How did you all get down to SXSW?
We drove in my 2008 soccer mom SUV, packed so full we can't move. That's our style. We've got a little roof rack; we look like a family on vacation. A very long, loud vacation.
How long did it take to get down here?
Well, we toured on the way down, so we did maybe seven or eight shows on the way down. We're out for two months so this is kind of the beginning of something much longer.
This is a good place to start. Do you have any rituals that you like to do before going on stage?
I got a respiratory infection right before I left on tour, so my very un-rockstar ritual is filling this [thermos] up with boiling water and using it as kind of a makeshift humidifier. Throw a cough drop in there and it's like being in a mentholated spa. I close my eyes and imagine everyone around me is naked in towels. There you go. [Laughs]
Is there anything you all brought that you just couldn't leave home without?
Portable electric water kettle. This makes it possible for us to heat up rice and lentils and things like that since we can't afford food, and we also have a little charging station in the van so everyone can charge their computers and they aren't whining at me all the time about that. God, this is boring. [Laughs] Nothing terribly exciting. We had to leave gear at home because we couldn't fit it. It was only the essentials. Pretty glamorous.
What else are you guys planning to check out at SXSW?
We're doing two or three shows a day but Thursday is the one day that I kept free for vocal rest and also because I wanted to hit Barton Springs and go swimming while I'm here. I don't care how cold it is, I'm still going to go. Might take a canoe out on the river. And then some of the carnivores in the band want to have BBQ, so we'll probably do that. I really like Austin outside of the festival. None of us have really made plans, though, because the best-laid plans at SXSW never happen.
How many tacos do you guys plan to eat in Austin?
I have already had at least 26 tacos and I don't plan on slowing down. We go out to get breakfast tacos every morning at the Tamale House on Airport Blvd. It's just a carry-out window on the highway, and there's 99 cent breakfast tacos. There's a huge line but it moves fast. It's fucking awesome.
What do you want people to take away from your shows down here?
Last night was kind of the best case scenario for me. Everyone here is industry and everyone wants something from someone. I'd like to cement a relationship with a booking agent, but honestly I just want to play good shows. And last night, it was bursting to the gills and everyone was dancing, which is something that doesn't always happen for a band that no one knows at SXSW. I don't want anything from anybody, I just want everyone to have a good time and forget that they are here working. Because we're all gonna die someday [laughs]. But we had a blast and that's what I want all the shows to be.
All photos shot with Fujifilm Instax