(All photos are courtesy of Leapling.)
by Amanda Beland
Leapling, of Brooklyn, is Dan Arnes on vocals and guitar, Yoni David on drums, R.J Gordon on bass and Joe Postiglione on guitar.
The fellas just released their first full length LP (Vacant Page) this year and have been touring for the last couple of weeks – including a couple day stop at SXSW – with Baked and Lost Boy ?. Their sound is dreamy, yet immediate – it’s hard not to feel like you’re in the same room as the band with each track off Page. However, they certainly didn’t start off with their current sound.
Leapling draws its name from Arnes who is a leap year baby.
Arnes said he seriously started listening to music – The Beatles, David Bowe etc – in 8th grade and began playing guitar shortly after.
“I didn’t have people in my high school that were playing in bands that much, so I would write music on my own and then record it bedroom style,” said Arnes. “I did that through high school just with like keyboards and my first PC. From there, it was kindof this slow build into what it is now.”
For a brief period, Arnes was in a band with current drummer Yoni David. After the project disbanded, Arnes continued working on his own music, drawing from his previous style – one focused almost entirely within a computer with no actual band. His first EP as Leapling – Losing Face – is based entirely in that style. While Arnes enjoyed “working in the box” for a period, he said the endless possibilities of digital recording became exhausting in a way.
“I was becoming very frustrated with doing every aspect of recording in the box just because there’s so many options to make changes and overwrite and second guess yourself, you know?” Said Arnes. “I would literally write a song and add stuff and there would be no real semblence of when the song would be done and yet, when it’s done, or you think it’s done, you can tinker with it. I did a lot of things, some on Face some afterwards – just more stuff than I needed.”
Arnes was still in contact with David, who was then playing in a band with bassist R.J Gordon. In late 2012, Arnes and David started talking about putting the band back together. A mutual friend, Joe Postiglione completed the group on guitar.
(Arnes, David and Gordon also managed Big Snow Buffalo Lodge for a time, a DIY space in Bushwick. Big Snow closed in 2013 after David was shot in the arm outside the space that same year.)
With a full band assembled, Leapling’s writing and recording process continued to evolve and grow.
“Losing Face was kindof a stepping stone between that stuff I had been doing and now – all those tracks I used to do in the box – all the drums on Losing Face are fake drums, they’re sampled and I would play in,” said Arnes. ” I would kindof do everything in little installments and kindof write as I was going – very bedroomy style. Now, from this record, Vacant Page, I did the same process – I basically wrote the song and recorded a demo, brought the demo to the band and then we’d learn it and then we’d workshop it. What ended up happening is that because we were playing so much together, we kindof developed a kindof thing and style as a band … we did the record all live. It’s been a strange process for me to go from completely bedroomy, no live instrumentation to completely live and very a musiciany kindof recording. It has been infinitely better.”
The band recorded Vacant Page live at Big Snow Buffalo Lodge over the course of three or four days.
“I specifically wanted to do it very quickly because we knew the songs, we had been playing the songs, and we knew how to record it and how we wanted it to sound so I had a very specific idea going into recording,” said Arnes. “We knew the tone of the record so it was kindof fun to do it quick and pull it off and everyone was on the same page.”
Although Arnes said he’s proud of the entire record – “releasing your first full-length is a really big accomplishment” – he said he does have some favorite tracks … one of them happens to be my favorite as well.
“I really like Retrograde a lot,” said Arnes. “All the songs on the record we had recorded except for that song and the first song, Negative Space. So I had them in original demo form for awhile. It was suggested that I put strings on it. We had listened to it and decided we should do strings on it. Carlos (Hernandez) took it to a completely different place and it’s very cool – it’s cool to have something around that’s familiar … it’s the same recording that’s been around for awhile, but to get it back and just to have this amazing string arrangement added to it – he killed it – and it’s a cool feeling that I get when I listen to it because it’s familiar but completely unfamiliar so I can enjoy it in a way that I don’t enjoy the other tracks.”
Vacant Page was mixed over three or four days – also in 2014 – and was released on Exploding In Sound Records and Inflated Records at the beginning of February of this year, just in time for the band to head out on their first major U.S. tour. However, in the midst of the release and tour, Arnes has started working on his next record.
“Basically we gotta figure out when we’re gonna do the record – and how we’re gonna do it, but I have a bunch of demos written out,” said Arnes. “Basically that’s how it goes, when I get a song idea, I work it out I basically just record it in parts. I have to record it instantly or put it down in some way, otherwise I lose the idea. What happened was we finished the record and there was little while before it came out so I had time to work. When it came out, I already had like 25 demos of songs that were going to be on the next one.”
Arnes said playing music and being successful at it can be difficult, but it’s continued prevalence and importance in his life motivates him to continue to produce and write.
“I’m kindof writing more consistently than I ever have and it’s nice,” said Arnes. “Music is tough a lot of the time. It’s just a tough racket. I think what motivates me is the fact that I still do it. I find myself realizing how tough it is. Also, in high school, for a long time, I wanted to major in film making and then music kind of just appeared into my life and kindof wasn’t going away. I just sort of realized I was spending more and more time with – in high school, I would just do it in my spare time and kindof enter a flow state with it and just do it for hours and it just became very apparent that maybe I should just do that as much as possible.”