RGM Introducing – Gardner Leonard

Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

Daryl – Thanks for having us we really appreciate it!

Rhiannon – Happy to be here!

What made you decide to start a band ?

Daryl – Well honestly, it took a global pandemic for us to finally get this started! I played in a few bands many years ago, but the last big musical project I did was #stanger2015, which was a re-recording of Metallica’s St. Anger which went viral back in 2015, so it’s been quite a few years since I’d sat down and thought out a project from start to finish, until now…

Rhiannon – I was in an all-girl emo band in the mid-noughties, and I’ve wanted to be in a band again ever since but it just never happened. I’ve been doing acoustic stuff for the last 10 years or so which I love, but it is a very different vibe and I’ve been dying to get back to this kind of music. Originally Daryl had an E.P’s worth of songs and approached me and a few others to potentially write lyrics and feature, but we worked together really well so it ended up becoming an actual band, albeit a tiny one.

Introduce us all to the members?

Daryl – Well it’s just the 2 of us. I play guitar, drums and bass on the record…

Rhiannon – and I sing!

What have you been doing during lock down?

Daryl – Creating this album! It’s pretty crazy but I don’t think this album would have seen the light of day if it wasn’t for the situation we are all in. Lockdown gave me, in particular the time to just sit down and finally put a record together that I was proud of. I’d wanted to make a record like this for as long as I can remember, and when I sent the first demo I had to Rhiannon and heard what she came up with, I knew we were onto something special which gave me the motivation to spend every evening writing and going through 5 years of voice memos of riffs!

Rhiannon – Working, I’m a teacher but did get to work from home for the first part of Lockdown 1, which meant lots of Zumba sessions over Skype, and long dog-walks that I don’t normally get to do during the week. Then over the Summer holidays we wrote what was originally a 5 track EP, but when we were about to head into the studio Daryl suddenly had a new song every day, and I’d send back lyrics, and we ended up with an album really quickly. I think there was one week where I swear we wrote about 6 songs.

Daryl – I also caught up on a load of shows and films that I’d missed. I finally got round to watching Curb Your Enthusiasm in its entirety which I would definitely recommend!

Rhiannon – Oh and I did the full Marvel binge from start to finish, and played The Last of Us 2 … twice!

How has it affected your mental health?

Daryl – Honestly, not to sound dramatic but creating this album kept me sane during lockdown. I don’t want to downplay the severity of this situation and I’m aware that there are people who have really struggled during all of this, and my thoughts go out to them, but for myself it actually gave me time that I never knew I needed to just press the reset button and work on lots of things that I just never had the time to do before. Sure there have been rough patches, and the general uncertainty about it has been unsettling, but having this project to keep me focused really helped.

Rhiannon – All I can say is thank God for dogs. I’m a big fan of exercising through my problems so I’ve found that to be a great outlet too. But I have to agree, having the chance to make music made it purposeful and meant I always had something to do. I’m extremely fortunate to have job security, so I’m not in a position to complain at all.

How do you think the government has looked after the night time economy / live gig circuit?

Daryl – Rather not get political, but let’s be honest, it’s been pretty shocking. It seems they have funded a few venues now and hopefully every venue gets saved, but it feels like live music and nightlife has been an afterthought for them throughout all of this.

Rhiannon – It’s died a death. I find it hard not to get political so I will just say, let’s be hopeful we can get it back soon!

Which one is the biggest pain in the arse? (Lateness, forgets stuff etc.)

Daryl – Due to lockdown we haven’t actually spent much time together in person so it’s too early to say, although I think I was late to the few studio sessions we had…

Rhiannon – No you are an incredibly nice person, so I get that title by default.

What is the unsigned scene in Stourbridge like at the minute?

Daryl – If you’d have asked me last year I would have said it was great! But obviously it’s been cancelled for the year for the most part. Stourbridge in particular was known mostly for its covers bands, and there are some excellent ones that we can’t wait to see again soon.

Rhiannon – At the moment I’d say it’s fairly non-existent. There used to always be a good band somewhere (usually covers but still good). 

What good bands are coming out of Stourbridge at the minute? 

Rhiannon – Some of my friends have started a new project and that has got some extreme talent in it. But I think it’s all under wraps for now, I’m not even sure if they have a name yet!

Daryl – Different style entirely, but Young Empress are a great 80s synthwave duo and good friends of ours. I think that there will be so many awesome bands who have been writing throughout the pandemic though so I’m looking forward to hearing what is coming in 2021!

What useless talent do you have/ party trick? 

Daryl – I’m really good at spinning a pen, oh, and using Yo-Yo’s…

Rhiannon – I think I’d be really good at gurning. I have a very malleable face. 

Whats your biggest achievement as a band?

Daryl – It’s early days for us as a band, but writing and recording an 11 track album in the middle of a pandemic is a big achievement for myself for sure!

Rhiannon – Being able to search for us on Apple Music is honestly more than I’d ever hoped for, I’m just happy to be involved.

What makes you stand out as a band?

Rhiannon – We definitely have very different musical backgrounds. Any band with a female singer makes you stand out a bit I reckon, there still aren’t loads of us. 

Daryl – I think we have a really diverse range of influences and I think a lot of that can be heard on the record. It’s a pop-punk/emo record by a metal guitarist and acoustic singer-songwriter, so it probably shouldn’t have worked, but it does. Well, we like to think so anyway!

Whats your favourite song to play live and why?

Daryl – We won’t know until next year (fingers crossed) but my favourite song on the record is ‘mine’. It was the last song that we wrote and it’s probably my favourite song I’ve ever been a part of! It has a bouncy poppy verse but the pre-chorus has a very post-hardcore feel, and Rhiannon really went in on the lyrics…

Rhiannon – It’s the song I’ve needed to write for 13 years. We were pretty much done with the album and so I thought it might be my last chance, so just gave it a go. I remember sending the lyrics back to Daryl and his reaction was, ‘first of all, are you okay?’ It definitely packs a punch. If we get to play that one live I’ll have an absolute field day. I also can’t wait to play ‘conspiracy’, that has a pre-chorus that is just begging for audience interaction.

Daryl – Just to add, ‘conspiracy’ will be released on the 18th December, and ‘mine’, the final single from the album, will be released on New Years Day!

I hear you have a new single brewing, what can you tell us about it?

Daryl – Yeah so as of time of writing, we have a new single, ‘say the word’, dropping 4th December. It’s arguably the heaviest song on the record and is inspired by one of my favourite bands of all time, Funeral for a Friend. I think people will really enjoy it, and it shows the two extremes of the album as our first single ‘wish it was me’ was one of the lightest tracks.

Rhiannon – Originally Daryl was going to sing on it too, so it was going to be a very back and forth song. It still has that vibe even if with just me, the vocals move very quickly. It’s a fun song.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

Daryl – Stay safe out there people! This is all going to pass, and we’ll look back on 2020 and be like, wtf happened there!? but soon we’ll all be hugging in a huge field drinking beer and listening to live music again, and I for one can’t wait!

Rhiannon – Wash your hands more, so it can pass sooner. 🙂

Daryl – Oh, and our album ‘milquetoast’ is available 8th January 2021!

Thanks for doing this today folks, all the best and keep in touch.