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LivePics/Bus165.JPGBorn in the buckle of the 'Bible-belt' and now calling 'Sin City' their home, Leaving Springfield is a band that draws comparison to Weezer, Fountains of Wayne, and Social Distortion. Proudly wearing their influences on their sleeves, Leaving Springfield brings a sonic wall of big drums, loud guitars, and lyrics that are tormented, twisted, and usually with tongue planted firmly in cheek. With two EP's and two full-length CD's under their belt, Matt Norcross (drums, keyboards, vocals) and Brent 'BK' Kessler (guitar, bass, vocals) have established themselves as a songwriting tour-de-force, and their live performances will leave you wondering how two people can make that much sound.

 

The summer of 2006 found Las Vegas musicians Brent 'BK' Kessler and Matt Norcross both searching for new musical horizons.

"I had been in a band for about four years that had finally called it quits. BK had played in that band for about the last four months that the band was together. That's the first time we had played together."

Matt had several side projects going at this time, one of which was with with guitarist/vocalist Jeff Scott Carlson.

LivePics/LScitylife8.jpg"Jeff and Matt were just starting to rehearse and put songs together when I ran into Jeff at a club. He said he and Matt were looking for a bass player and I told him I'd play bass for them and it was just kind of a done deal. Of course, the truth is, is that I didn't even own a bass at that time. So the minute I got home I ordered a bass online and hoped it would arrive before we were supposed to rehearse. I suppose deceit is as good a way to get into a band as any!"

By the fall of 2006, the band, now calling themselves Leaving Springfield (a tribute to the fact that they were all displaced Midwesterners) were ready to begin recording their first EP. In true rock and roll fashion, Carlson left the band shortly before the sessions were to begin. Finding themselves without a guitar player or vocalist, Norcross refused to halt the progress they had been making.

LivePics/Brent_rockcity.jpg"Matt said we should do the songs I wrote and that I should play guitar and sing. It seemed more like a dare than a request. So that's exactly what we did. We set up a studio in a warehouse and recorded the six songs that are on the first EP."

The next hurdle was performing the music live. As a two piece band, it seemed obvious that they needed additional personnel or would have to resort to playing with pre-recorded tracks. In the end, they decided to do neither.

"BK's kind of an evil-genius/techno-nerd. He designed a guitar pickup and then an amp setup that basically allows him to play bass and guitar and the same time. We didn't want to be a two-piece band that was a novelty act, we wanted to be a band that just happened to have only two members."LivePics/Matt_rockcity.JPG

"It was kind of awkward at first," says BK. "It took several months and lots of shows before the guitar/bass system had the bugs worked out of it. We'd play and people would just kind of look at us like something was going on but they couldn't put their finger on it. After finally getting the system dialed in, we played a small club in Vegas and the other bands on the bill were standing by the side of the stage trying to figure out where all the sound was coming from. That's when I knew it was going to work. That we could be a band just the two of us."

Most of the music on the Leaving Springfield EP, were songs penned by BK. Two notable exceptions, Pretty, Skinny, and Blond, and irreverent Negative Attention, were the first collaborations between BK and Matt.

"Even now, when I go back and listen to that EP, those two songs stick out. Those were the two songs everyone picked up on and it was obvious that those songs were an indication of where the band was heading. Sure, I was bringing the songs in, but Matt would change things and add little parts that took them to another level. Everything I had been writing in the previous year or two was just laborious, self-indulgent, ten-minute songs that were about as exciting as toast. But when we wrote those two songs, I felt like I was playing in the my first garage band all over again. I couldn't put down the guitar."

LivePics/LScar.jpgOne song that was not included on the EP was a tribute to legendary Southern California TV weatherman, Johnny Mountain.

"Matt was out in L.A., and drunk dialed me at about 4am yelling about how cool this weatherman was and how I needed to write a song about him. Now, I had lived in L.A. and knew who Johnny Mountain was, and yes, he's the Steve McQueen of weathermen. But it was 4am and I really didn't care. However, being unable to get back to sleep and I now have the name Johnny Mountain racing through my head, I got up, grabbed a guitar and wrote the song in about five minutes. Once Matt got back to town, we tweaked it and were eager to add it to the EP."

The band quickly went into the studio with the intention of adding Johnny Mountain and a couple other tunes to the EP. However, legal details delayed the process and prevented the song from being added.

"BK and I thought it would be great if we actually got Johnny Mountain to do a voice-over or cameo on the track. We pursued this for months and finally got a response from the CBS affiliate in LA, stating that they would not give us permission to use his name, likeness, image, etc., in conjunction with the track. However, they did wish us good luck with the project!"

The band scrapped parts of the vocal tracks and changed the name of the song from Johnny Mountain to Johnny Sunshine. Even though the track was not included on the EP, the song did open a lot of doors for the band. It was included in the Smash magazines’ Viva Rock Vegas compilation CD and the band began appearing as a support act for such bands as The Start, The Rev. Horton Heat, and Cowboy Mouth

By the time Leaving Springfield was released in April of 2007, most of the songs for 2008's And Leave all this Behind were already written. LivePics/BK1HOB.jpg

"At one point we had to make a decision to stop writing songs while rehearsing for shows. We were spending so much time on new material that we found ourselves forgetting the songs we were suppose to be promoting! We had plenty of material to choose from when we went in to record the next record."

In picking songs for that album, the band choose to re-record Pretty, Skinny, and Blonde and Negative Attention and include them on the CD.

"We felt like they were a part of that first group of songs that we wrote as a team, so that's why we wanted to included them on the And Leave All This Behind CD."

Other favorites from the And Leave All This Behind CD included Leela - a love song to the Cyclops hottie from Futurama, I'll Spin - an anthem for every nerd who knows there's a debonair ladies man somewhere inside them, and Burn Alive - a plea for attention from a dark place.

To some there has been a bit of confusion as to the name of the first full-length CD. Some call it The New Album and some call it And Leave All This Behind.

"We were in the middle of mixing down the CD and BK asked a crowd what we should call the new album. Some of our hardcore fans shouted back, 'The New Album!' We thought that was funny so we called it The New Album. However, that name became a who's-on-first routine when it came to sales on the internet. So to reduce the confusion, we changed it to And Leave All This Behind. The phrase, fortunately, also happened to be on the CD artwork. But to us and the superfans, it's still The New Album."

2009's Tragic As We Speed Away release found the band with a slightly harder-edged sound that was more in keeping with their live show. One notable exception was the dark and haunting Lost. A song heavily layered in keyboards, Lost was one of the few songs with a guitar solo. It was also an immediate favorite among the fans.

LivePics/Matt1HOB.jpg"We put Lost on the Tragic CD because we thought it was a good song, but we also thought it would add a little spice to the CD. You know, just something a little different. We never expected the response that it generated, and BK and I hadn’t thought about playing it live. Once the response ton the CD started coming back, we knew we would have to play it. It took a lot of time to figure out an arrangement that stayed true to the song, but could still be pulled off by two people. The response we get from that song live is amazing. I switch from keys to drums halfway through the song -- it's almost a circus act to pull it off, but it's worth it."

Other favorites from the Tragic CD are Love Smells Like Avon and Cigarettes - a tribute to ladies with county-jail tattoos, swap meet hair extensions and tube tops, Cocktail Cool - because all you really need is a silk smoking jacket and a martini to be cool like Michael Caine, and Walk On By - a song about being stalked by 40-something, botox'd-up soccer moms.

Late in 2009, the band offered download-only EP For Some We Still Wait; a collection of songs written about a wounded soldiers' return from the Iraq. The EP is only available as a free-download from their website (leavingspringfield.com).

"We were going to put some of these songs on the Tragic CD, but Matt and I felt like they told a story and kind of stood on their own. I had seen a news story on a kid that came home from Iraq in pretty bad shape and it just kind of stuck with me. We decided to make the For Some We Still Wait EP available as a free download. When you go to our website, you’ll find a link to the Nevada Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. It’s a great charity that helps injured veterans right here in Nevada. It was our hope that as people download the EP, they'll check out the PVA website and find a way to help them help others."

As the summer of 2010 approaches, the band is currently in pre-production on its' fifth release.

"Going into the studio is like taking a road trip without a map -- you don't know how the songs are going to evolve until it's done. Let the madness begin."

 

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