Q&A Scene: Leeroy Stagger

New album/ tour? ‘Strange Path’ album

What’s your favourite work at this point in time?

My latest is always my favourite, in this case it’s an album called Strange Path

Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.

Oh God, I’m not good with anecdotes I don’t think. The road has been a mythical thing for me my whole adult life, its been a source of depression, taking me away from my children for weeks on end as well as a beautiful source of joy, self growth and financial gain for me as well. I try not to figure her out too much.

 What, or who, inspires you?

People inspire me. Everyone is surviving through the struggle. I love just sitting and watching people, listening in on strangers conversations. That is where 90% of my art comes from, just watching the dance of life.

How would you describe your sound in food form and why? 

Hahahaha, Poached eggs on toast. Simple and nutritious!

Which song do you wish you wrote?

Oh I’m sure there’s a few. Pretty much any Leonard Cohen song.

What’s next for you?

I’ve got to make my boys breakfast this morning then go for a big run after that. I’m getting healthy to go on a big tour for our album. We start on the east coast of Canada and go from there all over the states and then into Europe. I think we are coming to Australia in March.

What’s your scene?

My scene is my family, whether it be my family at home or on the road, we look out for each other. I don’t go out a lot, my boys are 3 and 6 so I like to spend as much time in with them when I’m not on the road. I have a couple close friends that I spend time with. I’m really mellow, I haven’t always been, but now I try to take really great care of myself so that I can do my job properly and feel good doing it.

‘Strange Path’ Album out today, Sep 13, thru True North Records / MGM. Grab your copy here

It’s said the cells in your body replace themselves every decade or so. After 11 albums, two EPs and 17 years as a singer-songwriter, Leeroy Stagger has been wondering if maybe the soul works the same way. Ten years sober, with two kids, a home in Lethbridge, in the Canadian province of Alberta – and a world class recording studio to go with it, he’s far removed from the hard-living twenty-something who started on this musical path. As far as Stagger can see, they aren’t even the same person.

Strange Path is the name of Stagger’s newest album and book, a name that applies as much to his unexpected route from the BC punk scene to southern-Alberta singer songwriter as it does to the album’s own evolution. Following from 2017’s critically acclaimed Love Versus LP – itself a creative re-emergence after a years-long fog of anxiety and depression, Strange Path is the end result of a triple-album’s worth of scrapped demos, record label rejections, and a spirit-reviving retreat inward.

It’s also Stagger’s most ambitious and philosophical creation yet, a veritable self-help book pulled from a lifetime of struggling towards the light and brimming with the hard-won joy at the heart of his recent renaissance.  From the appropriately haunted “Leonard Cohen is Dead” and the cosmic reflections of album-closer “The Light” to the hard-edged stomp of “Jesus and Buddha” and glam-rock bliss of the first single “Strange Attractor,” it’s an album of sharp hooks and sharper insights, a statement on loss, forgiveness, pain, faith, The Clash, Gord Downie, love, death, fear, letting go, higher powers, Mother Earth, obsession, redemption, and the path we all walk through life.

Exploring all that terrain takes one monster of a band. To piece it together, Stagger surrounded himself with some of the best players in the business. The first step was enlisting Love Versus drummer Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Elliot Smith, Los Lobos) to once again lend his meticulous musicianship to the mix. If anyone could navigate the heady themes Stagger was charting, it’s the man Tom Waits once called the best rock drummer in the world.

Long-time collaborator Tyson Maiko stepped in on bass, with Paul Rigby (Neko Case, Garth Hudson, Jakob Dylan) joining on guitar, and Stagger’s touring band, the Rebeltone Sound (Ryland Moranz on guitar, mandolin and vocals, and Michael Ayotte on piano, synthesizers and keyboards) rounding out the arrangements.

Production duties were trickier to pin down. Brad Barr of acclaimed act The Barr Brothers shared the helm on four of the eleven tracks.  The album was mixed by five time Grammy winner Ryan Freeland (Ray LaMontagne, Bonnie Raitt, Rodney Crowell).  That left Stagger, a veteran producer of other artist’s albums, to steer his own ship for the first time. Self-producing took a more methodical and patient approach than the shoot-from-the-hip style Stagger usually preferred. It turned out to be a blessing, though, another insight gained on the long road to Strange Path.

Of course, there’s no path so long without a fork or two along the way, and one of the roads-not-travelled on the way to the album turned out too tempting to abandon. Released on May 17th, Me and the Mountain is a companion piece to Strange Path, an Americana-influenced counterpart to Strange Path’s contemporary sound. Featuring guitar wizard Steve Dawson (Zubot and Dawson), and award-winning multi-instrumentalist Steve Marriner alongside Stagger and Rigby as well as Barr, the album shows yet another facet of Leeroy Stagger’s ongoing musical reflection’s.

Following up a career-redefining album like Love Versus is no small task. Strange Path and Me and the Mountain prove Stagger is more than up to the challenge. Bristling with love, grit, and confidence, they show the singer, songwriter, producer and performer at his best. He’s stared down his past, retraced his steps, reflected on the beauty and pain of a life that’s had more than its share of both. Maybe he’s not the same person he was 10 years ago, but if anything, Leeroy Stagger is more himself than ever.

Strange Path the book will be out at the same time as the album. It is described as an artists’ path through trauma, healing and music and finding self purpose through the art that this work entails.

Online links

https://www.leeroystagger.com/

https://www.facebook.com/leeroystaggermusic/

https://twitter.com/Leeroystagger

https://www.instagram.com/leeroystagger/

https://www.youtube.com/user/officialeeroystagger

About Mary Boukouvalas 1115 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs Rocklust.com where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos, blistering.com, theaureview.com, noise11.com, music-news.com. She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.

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