Brother Lee and the Leather Jackals make the kind of music dads perform dashboard percussion to. En route to the nearest golf course, on the way to work, dragging an unwilling son or daughter along for what will eventually be called "some of my favorite moments with Dad." Anywhere, really.
Except it isn't going to be just any dad zooming up I-40 all hollers and hysterical finger piano pyrotechnics. It will be one who burrows in the basement to meet friends late into the night. He already reeks of dope and brought the bourbon. That cat that never gives a shit, but somehow keeps a job. He goes to local shows and touts the badassery of bands like Brother Lee and the Leather Jackals. And that child in the front seat of his future will be mortified.
The sights and sounds of a good show stay with the attendee well into their parent years. Whoever sees Brother Lee and the Leather Jackals now will remember the dank passages of the Lemp Mansion. It creaks with every step, as though living souls inch between the baseboards. A tragic encounter with the heel of a Doc Marten will smush them to smithereens.
Lemp is the place where the Jackals meet us for an interview. It is also a practice space and makeshift venue. The members of the band -- each looking rougher than the last -- are scattered around a table littered with whiskey bottles and damp ashtrays. Lead singer and guitarist Josh Eaker is perched on an amp. It is a common sight during a Palace show, one of Eaker's other projects -- Eaker plays bass and wiggles like warm molasses. Here, he looks like an emaciated Davy Crockett. He's Eaker for now, all lengthy appendages and a coonskin cap for a crown. On stage he becomes Brother Lee, ashit-talking, Graceland vandalizing, b-b-b-bad to the bone guitar man.
For Eaker, Brother Lee is a way to channel the rock stars of yesteryear. "Brother Lee feels... he feels... he feels like rock & roll," he begins, dripping down from his perch and onto the cold couch. "What you think of with rock & roll in '60s and '70s music." The Beatles, FREE WEEZY, and Cold War Kids graffiti give a vague sense of what Eaker is talking about.
But the Jackals' sound more like nasty kids who rake sticks against picket fences. Bassist Jared Dickinson and drummer Dylan Blaies clank against each other in a heterogeneous way. Blaies gives movement to the Jackals' hypo-groove rock & roll. Dickson's lines hold steady like packed sand. They work together, but the listener is aware of both. Keyboardist Dylan Doughty chirps in with joyous jumps across the deck. And guitarist and singer Bobby Stevens scoots on into songs without diminishing Eaker's presence. They exchange verses and keep vocals audible above the Jackals' heavy sound.
Continue to page two for more of our interview with the band.
"The jackal is described as a 'pack creature' and they are all about doing shitty things together," offers Blaies. "They're scrappy; they're a gang." One look around the room and it is easy to feel surrounded by feral creatures. The Jackals are all in their early to mid-twenties and saturate a room with reckless energy. "The jackal aspect is a ton of people doing shitty things together. Just getting in trouble," Blaies says. He finishes his sentence as three of the five Jackals light cigarettes under Christmas lights. The flames from each lighter punch through the darkness.
And that "shitty" behavior has become the band's slogan. Blaies used his marketing degree to scheme up Jackal propaganda: stickers emblazoned with the band's slogan "JACKAL AS FUCK."
Anyone can be "JACKAL AS FUCK," Blaies explains. The lifestyle that Brother Lee and the Leather Jackals propagate is one that smells of whiskey and tobacco. Somehow, an acoustic guitar is always to be found. "You're supposed to be playing for a bunch of drunk people at a bar and play the same riff for ten minutes, then come back to something else -- to play spontaneous music and jam."
The Jackals will perform this weekend at Garagefest, held at the Heavy Anchor. Brother Lee and the Leather Jackals anticipate bad behavior.
"A band can't hold your attention the whole time," begins Blaies before he trails off and back onto his train of thought. "When you're hanging out and you're drunk, or you're by yourself, you want to just be able to do whatever you want to do. You have to find where that is and get lost in it."
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