Interview: Veronique Allaer Discusses Her Pop-Punk Trio Leggy

Leggy is Véronique Allaer, Kerstin Bladh, Christopher Campbell
Leggy is Véronique Allaer, Kerstin Bladh, Christopher Campbell

After an “accidental tumble off of a fire escape” led to a broken hip, guitarist and vocalist Veronique Allaer decided to turn her lifelong dream of being a musician into a reality. That was back in 2012, and since then she hasn’t looked back, forming the band Leggy the following year with the help of longtime friends: bassist Kerstin Bladh and drummer Christopher Campbell. With several EP’s already under their belt, including 2014’s Cavity Castle and 2015’s Nice Try, the band kicked off this year with their newest offering, DANG, out now on Manic Static. In addition, the band will tour select areas of the US this winter and spring–with dates planned for SXSW. Live Eye Tv recently caught up with Allaer to talk about how the band formed, as well as the recording their new EP which you can stream here…
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LETV: Veronique, let’s begin with how the band got started. Is it true you guys began playing together after a potentially life threatening accident? What can you tell me about the initial inspiration for Leggy, and how the trio formed…

VA: That is partially true! Kerstin and I played music together in high school and never really took it that seriously. I went to school out of state (American University in DC) but stayed really tight with Kerstin and Chris (we’ve all known each other for over 10 years). I graduated in 2012 and had a plan to go to grad school for philosophy. Then on July 4, like two months after I graduated, I took an accidental tumble off of a fire escape and ended up breaking my hip. It obviously could have been a lot worse !! It was definitely life changing. I hadn’t played music at all since high school but I knew right away that I wanted to pursue being in a band. Playing music professionally has always been my dream- but like a day dream, you know? Like a fantasy that seemed so ridiculous that I didn’t consider it a realistic possibility AT ALL.

After I fell, I didn’t care at all what was realistic . I just knew that I had to be honest with myself and do what I really truly wanted to do. So I was on crutches / the couch for like 3 months while my hip was recovering and I started to write songs again. Then at the end of that year, I moved back to Ohio from DC and the 3 of us moved into a house together and started a band.

It still took awhile to get our stuff together- we played 3 shows in 2013 under the named “Sweet Teeth”, then changed our name and had our first show as Leggy in Feb 2014. We put out a tape in April and went on our first tour that August, and have basically been touring once every 2/3 months since then!

LETV: Wow, that sounds like a harrowing experience. I could see how such a fall and extended recovery would give you the clarity to pursue your own dreams unequivocally! While the band is young from the perspective of recording and touring, you already have several releases out, as well as a dialed in sound. I would imagine that is the result of your resolve to pursue this “thing” you’ve always dreamed about, but I’d like to know more about how the band approaches song writing. Do you do most of the writing yourself, or is it a collective effort?

VA: When we were a newer band, I would come to practice with a song mostly written and we would finish it / jam it out. Now we tend to write songs together from start to finish, or I will bring one lyric/ or a small vocal and guitar melody and we will write the rest of the song together (though I still write lyrics alone). The songs are a lot better when we write em together 🙂 the sound is a lot more cohesive too . For example, DANG is the first release where we wrote all the songs together and because of that, all the songs go together really well.

leggy_live_bnwLETV: Let’s talk about the new EP, which came out this month. Looks like on this record you worked with a new producer, someone different than on previous releases like Nice Try and Cavity Castle. How did the band approach recording the new EP, and was it different than previous efforts?

VA: Recording this EP was completely unlike the making of our first two releases. DANG came about at the tail end of our month long summer tour- our show in Columbus was cancelled at the last minute so we went to Cincinnati instead and hit up our pal Sam (Cowan), who we had spoken to about laying down some new demos. Sam recorded us in his basement and the whole session only took like 4 hours. We were coming off of a month of playing the songs every day so we were pretty tight 🙂

We got the tracks back after Sam worked on them and we were so happy with how they came out that we decided to put them out instead of just saving them as demos. The songs are much grittier / less polished than our other releases but we are stoked about it!

LETV: Ya, I agree! I think that basement grittiness served you guys well, and it gives the tracks an edge. Regarding Leggy’s sound and style, are there bands that you look to as an influence?

VA: Leggy’s sound and style come from a bunch of super varied influences. I know musically Kerstin and Chris both are really into 90s music such as The Replacements, The Breeders, and Hole. Musically, my style reflects more on the bands whom I was listening to when I learned to play guitar, which was a lot of garage rock revival bands like The Vines and The Von Bondies. I looked up tabs to their songs and that’s how I started playing. The Strokes are another huge influence, I especially love how they use interesting and intricate bass lines, which is something Kerstin does well.

Lyrically I really am inspired by songwriters whose lyrics have a lot of imagery, especially when that is used to create a very specific identity. For example, Lana Del Rey, Joanna Newsom, Brody Dalle of The Distillers, even pop stars like Taylor Swift and Kesha. All of these women use repeating phrases and such to sort of “create” a world that they are singing about. I try to do that when writing songs as well. I also really prefer lyrics that obviously happened to the person – like super poignant, soul bearing shit.

I also would say I’m heavily influenced by dream pop bands like Eisley, they definitely started my reverb addiction 🙂

leggy_live_colorLETV: I can hear that…90’s-era “indie” rock filtered through your interest in reverb heavy garage! I grew up in the Midwest in the 80’s so that was our diet as well. I’m interested to know more about the Ohio/Cincinnati music scene, and how “region” might play apart in the band’s sound, but first I’d like to touch on song writing a bit more. As you mentioned, lyrics are an important part of these songs–they almost seem like the driving force. Which comes first for you, lyrical ideas or musical ideas? Also, is it a cathartic experience performing those kinds of 1st person, “soul bearing” lyrics, or is it more complicated than that?

VA: Usually, I’ll get one good phrase/ lyric in mind that I sit on and think about for a long time before it actually becomes a song. I’ll have some “good” lyrics that I know I eventually want to use, and then when we are all playing/ jamming at a band practice, if one of the lyrics makes sense with whatever we are playing, then that’s the beginning of a song. 🙂 Then I’ll finish the rest of the lyrics much later, usually only finalizing them right before we have to record. Now that I am thinking about it, I absolutely place more importance on lyrics I write over guitar parts I write.

It can be super strange singing songs about things that actually happened. Every time I sing them I sort of have to relive the experience. So when the song is about a past love, I gotta think about that and the jumble of emotions that accompany that relationship’s story. Or, if I’m singing a song inspired by something that ended up being quite insignificant in my life in the grand scheme of things, I’m still forced to think about them all the time, which ends up being really weird.

LETV: I think, though, if you can’t still “feel” it, no one else will. I imagine there might be a “burden” in sharing the stories thru song, but also a release–a away to gain distance and perspective…Let’s switch gears if we can, and talk about Cincinnati as a music town. You’ve had a chance to travel now with the band for a bit, how does the city compare with others you’ve seen while touring? Do you think region or locale affects the band’s music?

VA: Cincinnati truly has a great music scene! it’s really varied and diverse. Something that is pretty unique to Cincinnati is the plethora of venues that host really good shows for free. Like actually free, not donation based! I can think of at least four popular venues for shows that are always free. It encourages people to check out new music, which is rad.

I’m not sure if the region affects the “sound” of the music, but living in the Midwest has been really beneficial when it comes to pursuing music. The cost of living if so affordable here, we are able to take off of work for weeks at a time to go on tour and still live comfortably. Also, Cincinnati is very centrally located, which makes it easy to tour to / hit up different regions.

leggy_live_color1LETV: What is the band working on next? Will you be headed back to the studio for more recordings soon? How about upcoming touring plans?

VA: We are going on a week long tour in mid February, hitting up some college towns and cities in the Midwest. After that, we’ll be home for a couple weeks, and then we are going to be on tour for all of March. This is will the first time we are hitting up the deep South, so we are very excited. We are going South, then into Texas for SXSW, then up through the Midwest as far north as Minneapolis, then back down to Cincinnati. It’s going to be a lot of fun, I can’t wait! Currently I am spending my effort finalizing the tour dates for this long tour.

No plans to record within the next few months…

Checkout Leggy’s upcoming tour schedule:
Feb 4- Athens, OH @ Smiling Skull
Feb 10- Bloomington, IN @ Bishop Bar
Feb 11 – Kansas City, MO @ The Brick
Feb 12 – Lawrence, KS @ Jackpot
Feb 14 – St. Louis, MO @ Bonerville
Feb 15 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
Feb 17 – Cincinnati, OH @ Comet
Mar 7 – Nashville, TN @ Drkmttr
Mar 8- Athens, GA @ Go Bar *
Mar 9 – Atlanta, GA @ Masqerade *
Mar 11 – Tallahassee, FL @ Shark Tank *
Mar 13 – New Orleans, LA @ Saturn Bar *
Mar 14 – Houston, TX @ Satellite *
Mar 15-19 Austin, TX
Mar 20 – Dallas, TX @ Crown and Harp
Mar 22 – Little Rock, AR @ White Water Tavern #
Mar 23 – Tulsa, OK @ Sound Pony #
Mar 24 – Oklahoma City, OK @ Power House #
Mar 26 – Lawrence, KS @ Replay Lounge #
Mar 27 – Omaha, NE @ Milk Run #
Mar 28 – Sioux Falls, SD @ Total Drag Records #
Mar 29 – Minneapolis, MN @ Hexagon Bar #
Mar 31 – Milwaukee, WI @ Riverwest Public House #

* = with Pet Sun
# = with Arc Flash