Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Inspiration, the subconscious and old Tony Curtis films: An Interview with Ollie Trevers from The Great Leslie

While their most recent single “Out Of My Hands” demonstrates a polished sound that harkens back to the stadium anthems of 2000s pop rock (think The Killers/Kaiser Chiefs/The Fray) The Great Leslie is a band that refuses to be pigeonholed. 

Citing influences such as Queen, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, the band have already displayed an array of styles from post punk, psychedelic and even a dash of house music (“I Know You Know”, which still contains an ample amount of rock n’ roll flair). They have also amassed an impressive fanbase since forming in 2019, with comical band updates presented to fans via their blog.

I had the chance to speak with Oliver Trevers from The Great Leslie about upcoming music, inspiration and the trials and tribulations of being a musician during lockdown...

1) Firstly, I would like to ask you about your name, The Great Leslie. What was the inspiration for it and how does it relate to the band’s sound/image?

The inspiration behind our name comes from the film The Great Race, starring Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon. Tony Curtis’s character was The Great Leslie. There was no specific reason for picking it as such, it just happened to be our favourite film and our favourite name out of a long list of names! In terms of relating to the band’s sound and image, I suppose I’d consider any correlation as serendipity, as we simply didn’t think the name had to match our look or sound - not because that wasn’t important, but because you become the name you give yourself.

2) You mention your vast array of influences from David Bowie to Franz Ferdinand and Ella Fitzgerald. How important is it to keep an open mind (and ears) to different genres when songwriting?

I don’t think we look at music in terms of genre; we look at it in terms of what we like and what captures our imaginations, and how other artists evoke certain emotional responses from their audience. It is of course important to be open to all influences, as a wide range of influences tends to create very interesting music and sometimes the most innovative work.

3) Music has been an increasingly important part of our lives in lockdown. How has music helped you and what have you been listening to to keep your hopes up?

Well, the difference between myself and most other people is that my life revolves around music. I wouldn’t say music has helped me any more or less than it normally does as a result of lockdown. However, lockdown has given me more time to discover new music online, and to write more copiously! Though I must say I’ve been listening to a lot of The Killers, they always raise my spirit.

4) Your single last year, "Out Of My Hands", gives a message of self-acceptance and admitting to your own faults without hating yourself (in an upbeat way). What inspired the song and do you think we need more positive, uplifting songs being released?

With ‘Out Of My Hands’, I always describe it as a subconscious creation, as there was no initial idea before I began writing it; I just sat down and wrote, and the words that came to me were true. Whenever this happens, which is rarely, I don’t feel like I can explain what inspired it, as there wasn’t enough of an active thought process for me to accurately say where it came from.
With regards to uplifting songs, I believe that that’s completely contingent on artists and bands. If they feel happy or uplifted, then they should write a happy or uplifting song. The best art is the most honest. Artists shouldn’t supply their audiences with what they think they want, they should give them something honest. People don’t listen to music because they want positivity, they listen to it because they want to feel something real, to connect to it, to find something that says how they feel better than they could have ever expressed it themselves. We need songs that speak the truth, positivity be damned!

5) What part of performing live do you miss the most (and are most looking forward to when live shows resume)?

There are so many parts of performing live that I miss. I miss it when we’re all playing, and everything is perfect and I go into an autopilot mode and feel the music as if I were one and part of the audience. It’s the audience that makes it what it is, without them it’s just another practise. So, the truth of the matter is the audiences are what I miss the most. The music is the conduit for everyone’s love and happiness, and when we have an audience in front of us, that’s all I feel.

6) There have been a lot of "homemade" albums due to the lockdown. Do you think this will change how bands record in the studio?

Possibly for some bands who have developed and found a sound that they like during lockdown when using their ‘DIY’ methods. However, the recording technology we have now has existed for some time - I wouldn’t say there would be a significant change, particularly as recording studios have for the most part remained open with Covid restrictions in place.

7) What inspires you when you are writing and how is the process different for you when you are not psychically together in the studio?

Well as I previously stated, I think the best work is the most honest work.  So contextually what inspires me is anything that I have felt or experienced, anything that is true that has affected me in some way or other. Musically I suppose it really comes down to playing around and seeing if something interesting happens, whether that be physically with the whole band, or by myself.

8) Finally, what can we expect from you in 2021?

You can expect six new singles released throughout the year, and God willing many raucous, joyful, live spectacles!

The recently released music video for "Out Of My Hands" can be viewed here.

Josh Lambie
Image: thegreatleslieband.com

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