Leon III | Interview | New Album, ‘Something is Trying to Change My Mind’

Uncategorized December 7, 2023

Leon III | Interview | New Album, ‘Something is Trying to Change My Mind’

The Texas-based genre-exploratory outfit Leon III recently released their new album, ‘Something is Trying to Change My Mind,’ out via MonoSonic Records / Soundly Music.

Leon III is led by Andy Stepanian (vocal, guitar, keyboard, piano, omnichord) and Mason Brent (guitar, bass, vocal, banjo) who were both members of Wrinkle Neck Mules, a long running Virginia based band with a significant cult following, and founders of the popular Austin apparel brand Howler Brothers.

“A mosaic about optimism and joy”

Would you like to talk a bit about your background?

Andy Stepanian: It’s a long, twisted journey. Musically, Mason and I spent many years in a band called Wrinkle Neck Mules that skewed towards a sort of rough bluegrass inspired rock music with lots of harmony vocals. We had a moment in the sun when we had a song in a television commercial where a talking amphibian gives a sales pitch to people about car insurance. For a variety of reasons, that band got pushed way to the back burner. After a little down time, Mason and I dreamt up Leon III as a way to explore some different sounds and influences. It’s a good bit different from Wrinkle Neck Mules.

How much time and effort went into recording this new album?

Lots of each. This was the hardest Leon III album to make so far. We tried a number of different experimental approaches that lead to some really good stuff but also some pain and frustration. But, the hard work ultimately led us to a path that rendered a unique result.

What can you tell us about the tracks on it?

This is a hard question to answer. I could probably write a dissertation on this topic since all of this stuff originates in my mind and I have a unique relationship with each and every second of these songs. Speaking generally, the songs are interrelated and meant to exist together. They can stand on their own but the intended emotional dosage is the full eight songs. Thematically, it’s a mosaic about optimism and joy in the face of the inescapable burdens our own minds bring to us. There are no love songs.

Where was the album recorded and who produced it?

The bulk of the base tracks were recorded at Sonic Ranch out near El Paso, Texas with a whole host of players. Like all of our albums it was produced by Mark Nevers who has a long history working with some indie rock deity types like Will Oldham and the late David Berman. We also did a little bit of recording in Mark’s studio in Pawleys Island, SC and in my home studio in Houston.

Would it be possible to draw a parallel between this album and your previous release?

Sure. It’s like looking in the same mirror from a different angle. There are moments that probably could have been on either album. Big, dreamy, slow burning sequences meant for long term ingestion. But there are differences too. We intentionally tried to be more brief at times on this one. And there is a lot of world percussion thanks to Mike Dillon (Punkadelic) and Isaias Gil bringing all kinds of toys to the studio. Oh, and strings. This one turned out pretty symphonic.

What are some future plans for you now?

We recorded almost another complete album pretty much by accident back in May on some days off from a tour. So, we’re working on that and adding layers at the moment. We have some shows coming up as well to celebrate this release and hope to carry that into next year.

Let’s end this interview with some of your favourite albums. Have you found something new lately you would like to recommend to our readers?

I just got the new Morphine re-releases of ‘The Night and Like Swimming’. I love Morphine and think they are just so original in the pantheon of “rock” music. These releases are a great reminder of this for me.

I also like a lot of dub reggae and I love what Pachyman is doing. His new album ‘Switched On’ is cool.

Other things I’ve been on lately are …

Frank Black & the Catholics – ‘Complete Studio Recordings’ reissue, Adrian Quesada – ‘Jaguar Sound,’ Yves Simon – ‘Au Pays des merveilles de Juliet,’ Bill Callahan – ‘Realty’.

Klemen Breznikar

Leon III Official Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Bandcamp / YouTube / Spotify / Apple Music
MonoSonic Records Instagram / Bandcamp
Soundly Music Official Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter 

Leon III | ‘Fly Migrator’ Remix by Kai Welch

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