The Life I Lead are a rock group from NYC that have been making a buzz by writing catchy songs that differ from the standards of what we consider "rock" bands today. The energy in their songs are unparalleled for their style and play them with even more intensity live. I had the privilege of seeing this band live on a bogus show that did not cater well to them, but the band stuck out to me and made me a fan of their music. Thanks to the guys for taking time out to answer these questions.
1. Introduce yourself and your role in the band.
I'm Jay and I sing in The Life I Lead.
I'm Steve and I play guitar.
2. You've had the EP "Me Against You" out since January, how do you think the band has matured since then?
Jay - We've become closer as friends and musicians which shows in our new songs that we're working on. We also had a few line- up changes. Steve went to guitar and Jason is now playing bass and I think this dynamic changes what we will sound like on our next EP.
Steve - I'm very proud of "Me Against You", but those songs on the EP are my first batch of songs that I had written on guitar in a very long time. Almost a year later, I have been really hitting my stride and figuring out where I want to go as a guitar player and songwriter. The newer material is very much more rock oriented, and definitely it's meant to be played live. After playing out on the EP for a while now, we have all kind of come to the same conclusion about what parts of the older material work in a live setting, and what we need to change up.
3. How do you approach your songwriting and composition by trying to be more "rock" than being "pop-rock" like The Academy Is or The Maine?
Jay - We grew up listening to rock. We didn't have The Maine or bands like that to influence us. We go with what we know and that's bad- ass riffs and a whole lot of sexual innuendo.
Steve - Bad-ass riffs for sure. We have a pop mentality in our song writing, but there is something in all of us that just needs to get up on stage and play loud and jump around. I'm a sucker for a great pop song, but when I listen to a lot of the "it" bands nowadays, I don't think I could bring myself to play some of that stuff. It just seems so contrived. Plus, we don't put too much time into doing our hair, well maybe Stan, but that's besides the point.
4. Being from NYC, do you find it harder to stand out and get your music to the masses rather than being the big band in a small market?
Jay - Definitely. Bands here are more indie or hardcore. Everyone in NYC either wants to be an elitist and listen to bands that no one's heard of, or rely on Miley and Ke$ha. Thanks to the internet though we can get out to where people want to hear our music and it seems to be working.
Steve - NYC is very jaded, there is so much everything going on everywhere. Kids don't have too much of an attention span to check out newer acts because there is a larger, cooler tour coming through the city every week. It can be harder to build a real fanbase in New York City than in other markets because everyone is so busy. The local scene is barely breathing, bands can really only rely on opening up for larger packages, and that's a hassle.
5. You had the opportunity to play Warped Tour this year on the Ernie Ball Battle of the Band stage. What did you learn from the experience?
Jay - I learned that that's exactly where I want to be. Playing a big stage in front of ton of kids and having fun with them.
Steve - Warped was amazing. In addition to playing the NY date, we followed the tour from CT down to FL, and just met so many amazing kids that were extremely receptive to new music. Plus, it really is a traveling circus, which we definitely need to be a part of next summer. ::wink wink::
6. Steve - you were previously in Endwell. How has being in that band helped you with The Life I Lead and what's the biggest difference between the two?
Steve - That band helped me realize what I am supposed to be doing with my time. We did the DIY tours and paid our dues for a while, and then had the ability to sign to a label and head out on some pretty large tours. I experienced a tremendous amount ups and downs in those 3 years, and unfortunately it all fell apart and there was nothing I could do about it. I needed to keep going, so I took what I had learned and applied it to The Life I Lead. Endwell had a tremendous opportunity, and I feel like we could have made some different choices. I have a much more level-headed, hard working attitude towards this project. I was able to use a lot of my contacts from that band to help get The Life I Lead into the swing of things, so that was extremely beneficial. Biggest Difference? Well, other than the genre, we have much more of a go-getter attitude, and refuse to wait around for things to happen for us.
7. With so many bands looking and sounding the same, how does TLIL stand out in the crowd?
Jay - How we look as a band I feel makes us stand out physically. We don't have long hair, or wear bright colors. Musically we all have different influences. Mine range from Radiohead to Circa Survive, Led Zeppelin to The White Stripes. So I derive my vocal melodies and lyrics from bands that aren't in our genre which I think helps separate us a bit from the rest.
Steve - The one thing we strive for is a sense of honesty and sincerity. There are a slew of bands that are following the mold and doing exactly what they're told to do to make them popular right now. We do play a very "accessible" form of rock music, but it's music we are proud of and intrigued by. It's material that everyone of us is stoked on and would want to listen to. For me, it's definitely a conscious effort to balance the "hooks" with riffs and instrumentation that can keep my attention. I suppose it could be straight forward 4-chord pop, but I enjoy my riffs way more.
8. You've been able to do several tours, release an EP, play sold out shows and much more without the backing of a label. How has the DIY mentality progressed the band to this point?
Steve - Everyone knows that you have to work hard to get where you want to be, and nine times out of ten, there won't be too much support from elsewhere right off the bat. We all understand that and spend all our time trying to spread the word, have a presence in the online community, and build a fanbase from the ground up, one show/one person at a time. If they feel inclined to tell their friends, then that just makes our job a little easier. At this point, we have to tour DIY and make our own connections because we don't have people who want to do everything for us. I'd prefer it that way, because at the end of the day we can say that we honestly worked hard and earned everything we have.
Jay - We know what we want and we go out there and do it. We all have jobs that we work hard on just to pay for whatever the band needs and we appreciate everything. We believe if we could do all this without backing of an agent or a label, we could do ten-fold with other parties supporting us, so we just try to get better and better instead of waiting for things to get handed to us.
9. What are the plans for the next several months for the band?
Jay - We're working on a couple of tours on the east coast. We're constantly writing new material, so were also going in to the studio soon to record a couple of new songs.
Steve - There is going to be a music video for the track "Confide" coming up very shortly. We might record some acoustic renditions of some of the tracks, and push that as a sort of re-launch for the "Me Against You" EP, before we start release some new singles.
10. Is there anything you would change with the course of actions you took to get the band this far?
Jay - I don't believe that we could have gotten to where we are without everything we've been through as a band and as friends. We have to pay our dues and hopefully it pays off.
Steve - Everything happens for a reason, we have to look forward and figure out what's next, but at the same time appreciate how lucky we've been thus far. I suppose we could have sat and nerded out on myspace a little more, but who knows...