More rhythmic guitar, more arpeggiated synth, more delicious vocals. LEO have done it again. Their latest track ‘On My Mind’ ticks all the right boxes.
Real. Genuine. Characteristics that are hard to come by, and yet, this Adelaidian quartet couldn’t have fit the description better. Over a bowl of Chicken Pho soup at their favorite Vietnamese café, I picked their brains on ambitions, making it in Australian music and why ‘On My Mind’ is their favourite track to date.
For Tom (Montesi) and Matt (Schirripa), being self-confessed perfectionists, it’s the 1%ers that separate a great track from a sub-quality one and their attention to these minor details is one of many reasons that makes the single so special. The level of perfection doesn’t just stop at their music, everything they release whether it’s a track, album artwork or short film clips, it’s obvious that each are the product of tireless, impeccable hard work. They believe that branding and the music itself must coexist, particularly in today’s musical climate. “It gives and identity to your band and generates a theme that matches the style of music that you write” said Matt, synth player of the band, “designs have to be relevant and cutting edge otherwise people lose interest, people really do judge a book by its cover, particularly in music”
Despite being a local Adelaide band, LEO have found that the majority of their listeners are from the United States. I posed this question to Tom as to why this is the case: “Australia has a small population and it’s dispersed, if you compare it to places like the US or Europe, touring is much cheaper and there are more people to receive your music. Our biggest audience is in the US purely because the style of music we play isn’t that popular in Australia at the moment. So we try and target online a lot more so we can reach them” he explained. They went on to share that in countries like the United States tend to get behind small upcoming bands from their own state or city. They occasionally find this fact frustrating but stressed that they’re not writing music for fame. “we made the band because we love playing and writing music, I think as soon as you write music for other reasons like fame or money, it kinda just doesn’t make sense anymore.” said Matt, Tom nodding in agreement. For me, hearing a band speak with such honesty is what sets them apart from other acts, aside from their stupidly good music.
We moved next door to one of their regular café haunts and continued chatting away about all things from must see movies (side note: watch True Story) to laughing at horrible sounding cars. It was also made apparent to me that Ilia (LEO’s drummer), according to Tom, did not have the best sense of humor out of the four because he didn’t watch Seinfeld, which I think was Tom’s way of saying that he himself was the funny man in the group.
‘On My Mind’ was originally written by Montesi over 3 years ago, before the quartet had actually come together. He feels heavily inspired by U2, in particular their song ‘With or Without You’, a track which he says “in some ways started the idea for On My Mind in the hope to convey the same feelings expressed in with or without you but with the familiar LEO sound.” Originally sporting a vastly different sound, On My Mind has been produced and reproduced countless times in order to meet their incredibly high standards, and to fit the genre of music that they are currently releasing. “It’s a personal favourite of mine” adds Matt, and I can’t help but agree with him.
Reminiscent of their earliest releases, ‘On My Mind’ couples beautifully clean guitar, with both cavernous and penetrating synth tracks into an eclectic but perfectly combined masterpiece. Of course a LEO review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Montesi’s stunning vocals, which send chills to the spine from the second he starts singing. It’s a song that I still cannot stop listening too, and with their plan to release a number of songs over the coming months, I simply cannot wait to see what hidden treasure they are going to share with the world next.
To borrow words from LEO themselves, if you were going to show someone one LEO song, let it be this one.
Words by Zac Schneider