Am I wrong in thinking that there aren’t that many true blue rock n’ roll bands playing in Maine? I don’t mean indie rock or post-punk or power pop or whatever: I mean rock n’ roll. Loud, a little nasty and with a healthy dose of swagger. You know what I’m talking about. So when I do hear a Maine band that’s got that attitude, I get a little excited. And when I listened to the band Mother Leopard, out of Portland, I was pleased indeed. They are a rock n’ roll band. They even said it themselves.
“We kind of feel like the Portland scene is lacking a little in rock n’ roll,” said lead vocalist Darrell Foster. “We just wanted to make music that was fun and made people dance, and had that kind of attitude. We try not to take it too seriously, and yet I think by not taking it seriously it’s made us a better band. We just want to have a good time.”
Mother Leopard – who will play a WPC Presents show with Belfast’s The Class Machine at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Bangor Opera House – formed about a year ago, based on shared love of everything from classic rock to soul and r&b. And, according to Foster and company, they’re also influenced by zombie unicorns, fire dancers and apocalyptic meteors. Yes, that’s right. They took great pains to mention that, so it must be important.
Foster and bassist Kyle Kunesh went to Medomak High School together; keyboard and sax player Rob Crowson and guitarist Rich Tompkins attended Fryeburg Academy; they’re now all in their mid-20s. The four met in the fall of 2010, and after determining they all worshiped at the altar of Led Zeppelin, they went forward with forming a band. Craigslist helped them find drummer Alex Mitchell, and by early 2011, Mother Leopard was born.
One of the first things you notice about the band is Crowson’s baritone sax, which adds a seriously deep low-end to a number of songs, including the unhinged rave-up “Carolyn,” which you can listen to on the band’s ReverbNation page.
“We love bringing in that low end,” said Foster. “It’s pretty huge. It really adds a whole other dimension to our sound. More bands need horn sections.”
There’s also the fact that Foster is a born frontman. Where some lead singers seem timid about taking control and putting on a show, not so with Foster: he kicks, he careens around, he spins. In other words, he’s the lead singer. In my humble opinion, that’s what lead singers should do.
“There are so many shows where you go out and yeah, you have a good time, but people are just standing in the back with their arms crossed, being super cool,” said Foster. “I hate that. We want you to let go and get crazy. We let ourselves get crazy. I’m always running into people. I swing around and hit tuning knobs on guitars. I cut myself once. I love it.”
Mother Leopard and The Class Machine will play at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 12 at the Bangor Opera House. They’ll play a CD release show for their new self-titled EP on June 1 at the Empire in Portland. For more info, visit motherleopard.net.