At the Beautiful World Syndicate record store in South Philadelphia, the three long-time friends of Leggy hunt through stacks of vintage vinyl before their in-store performance. Inside of the small, independent shop, the cashier’s Yorkie puppy perches itself beside stacks of used record players, and sixties folk music echoes through out the room. But soon, the quiet, hole-in-the-wall store will house the booming, lo-fi garage rock of Leggy, one of Ohio’s most vibrant bands (You can view photos from the show here).
In January, Leggy released their third EP Dang, a nine-minute adrenaline rush recorded in a single night. Over repetitive, assertive punk-influenced guitar riffs, the four-song release is defined by Veronique Allaer’s shrill yet controlled vocals, which detail vivid images of Lana Del Rey in love and babies smoking cigarettes.
Draped in her bright pink hair and long, leopard coat, Allaer turns around, leaning over a shelf of records. “I’m feeling margaritas–how about you?” she says across the store. Her bandmates agree and head down the street, where they text their local friends to meet them for drinks before the show.
Over two pitchers of frozen lime margaritas and a massive bowl of chips and guacamole, Leggy reflect on the past several months of endless touring before heading back to play an intimate yet loud set to a crowd filled with new fans and old Philly friends.
You’ve been touring almost non-stop since October. How did you find time to record the new EP, Dang?
Kerstin Bladh: We had a day off at the very end of our summer tour. It was the day before our last show, and our show in Columbus fell through, which is really close to Cincinnati. So we had the night off, and we hit up our friend and recorded in his basement over like, four hours.
Veronique Allaer: The most we did was like, two takes.
Chris Campbell: We were just on tour for about a month, so we were so used to playing the songs that it made recording go a bit more quickly.
There’s a lot of themes in your music that play with the idea of what a cliché is, like in “Even Lana” where you reference Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans”, as well as storybook romances like Dear John. On the last EP, Nice Try, there’s the lyric from “Grrls Like Us” that says, “There are many fish in the sea/but girls like us don’t go on trees.” How do you think you’re deconstructing the idea of what a love song is?
VA: I really like messing with phrases and idioms, like “fish in the sea.” I try to work those into the lyrics.
CC: I think her lyrics are about very realistic relationships, as opposed to idealized relationships. A lot of times, lyrics aren’t actually depicting romance. There will be songs that are extremes, like being miserable, but Veronique’s lyrics are kind of in the middle.
KB: She writes a lot about her life, which I know, because I know everything about her life. It’s so specific. When the guys hear her songs, they’re like, “Are you fucking kidding me?”
VA: Those are the best songs, though. The songs I love by Lana [Del Rey] are the ones where you can tell she went through something and then wrote about it.
Tour seems like such a bizarre way of life, but you’ve been going on a string of few-week tours consistently over the past year. How has that lifestyle been?
VA: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: tour is addictive. You just meet new people, and every tour that you go on is better than the last tour, because you’re moving forward musically, and more people know you.
KB: I think touring forces you to live more in the moment. It’s kind of like, if you’re really high or tripping on acid, and someone calls you like, “Hey, do you know what time you’re supposed to be at work tomorrow?” And you’re like, “What are you talking about?” It’s another world, and all that matters is the show that night.
VA: When you come home from tour, it’s a comedown. You don’t know what to do with yourself. You just pace around the house, and then decide to go back out.
KB: But our first night on this tour, we got bed bugs. We stayed at a really bad motel in Detroit on Eight Mile Road.
CC: But the worst thing that’s happened on tour is when our car broke down in the desert out west. We had to scrap it and get this super expensive rental, which ended up getting a flat tire anyway.
Do you think you’re learning how to tour more effectively over time?
VA: It just gets easier the more you do it, because your name is out there more.
CC: You learn different ways to prepare and budget time with each time.
VA: Even booking the tours–I know what to say when I email someone, what to include, just short, straight, and to the point. I used to include these giant paragraphs.
KB: We’ve toured once a month since October, mostly around the Midwest.
CC: I think the only areas we haven’t been to are the Pacific Northwest and the Southeast.
VA: I just booked us a tour for the south, though.
Do you think your shows are getting better as the tour goes on?
VA: I’m just glad we got to record that EP right after we had been touring for a month. We had thirty days of practice.
KB: We’re so tight with each other after tour. But we’re already tight, because we live together.
VA: We’re tight enough that I know about Kerstin’s Jared Leto fan blog.
KB: I was twelve. I taught myself web programming just so that I could make that website. I had my own domain name. I did my own coding. I think he’s a total piece of shit now, as an adult, but it’s okay. I met him when I was in sixth grade because my dad’s a sound guy and got me into a Thirty Seconds to Mars show, and he had like, this groupie, and she was so mean to me.
Did having a parent in the music industry get you more interested in being a musician?
KB: It got me more into live music. Even shitty local Cincinnati bands that I got to see just because my dad was doing sound were really exciting.
VA: Also, Kerstin and I started playing together when we were in high school. We were allowed to fuck around using her dad’s nice gear, which was awesome.
CC: I tried to join their band so many times.
KB: He would just comment on our Zanga.
What were your first internet screen names on sites like Zanga and MySpace?
CC: My screen name was a Radiohead lyric, and my picture was Thurston Moore instead of myself.
KB: I was xmidsummerdayx.
VA: Mine was a Brokeback Mountain reference. It was IAmJackNasty.
How did your high school bands evolve into your post-college bands?
VA: A couple of our songs from our high school band, we used on the first Leggy EP. I played drums in that band, so it was very different.
KB: We played together until our junior year of high school, I think.
VA: And then we met boys. We went to an all-girls high school, so we weren’t spending our time socializing outside except with each other.
KB: We reworked “High Heeled Shoes” and “Honey” for Leggy. Then we did “High Heeled Shoes” again as “HHS 2.”
VA: The newest EP Dang is the first one that we all wrote the songs together for. I think the songs sound more cohesive.
KB: It’s more of a collaborative effort. We’ll get into a vibe where we’ll be able to write like, three songs in a couple of practices.
VA: It definitely helps that we’ve known each other for twelve years. We were fourteen, and we’re twenty-six now.
KB: We used to steal Pokémon cards from garages together.
How did that turn into Leggy?
CC: I think the idea to start playing music again together happened when Veronique came back to town. Kristin and I stayed in Cincinnati for college, but Veronique went to D.C.
VA: Once we finally started as Leggy, we just went full-force with it right away.
CC: We all live together as well, so we just hang out all of the time. It made touring a lot easier too, since we’re already used to living with each other.
Has it been hard to live together, or is it just natural?
CC: There was one moment on tour in Wichita, Kansas. Our friend pulled us outside and was like, “Look guys, we need to have a talk.” He wanted to confront us about all of this stuff, but we were like, “No dude, we’re fine.” We’ve just been tight forever. It’s like when you argue with your best friend, and then you just drop it.
VA: We bicker like siblings. No one gets butthurt. I hate that term, but it was so applicable for this sentence. I hate the word “butthurt.”
CC: It sucks when I get guys coming up to me after shows like, “Yo dude, what’s it like being in a band with these hot girls?” And I’m like, “It’s like, being in a band with my friends?”
There’s a lot of great bands coming out of Ohio right now. Did you play in the Ohio scene with these bands?
KB: Right now, the front page of She Shreds Magazine‘s website is like, Heartless Bastards, All Dogs, and us. It’s a dream team.
VA: Ohio overload!