Born out of a chance encounter in the 9th Ward at Babeville, new-to-the-scene dreamy duo the Leones will perform Nov. 20 at the Waiting Room for the pair’s first headlining show.
While playing with the now-defunct Americana act Crows and Jays in the Babeville basement venue a couple of years back, singer/songwriter Justin Bachulak met Dustin Lau, a guitarist out of Tacoma, Wash., and immediately sparked a connection that would lead to the future project.
“After the show we met and discussed influences and sounds we’d like to explore,” Bachulak said. “Two years later, the Leones came to life and will be returning to Babeville for our own show [in January].”
If you keep an eye on the Buffalo local music scene, you may a notice a considerable influx of talent from the Batavia area. A Batavia native himself, Bachulak has had the pleasure of growing up with, playing and working with some of the best talent in Western New York.
“I say it from time to time when people say ‘Oh you’re from Batavia?’ There are an incredible amount of talented people I grew up with or have met from this area,” Bachulak said. “The drummer of my old band, Peter Metzler, was part of the successful pop-punk band Down to Earth Approach that toured on Vagrant Records through the 2000’s. Of course, Brandon Schlia of Steak and Cakes Records has been instrumental in producing and supporting many independent Western New York artists. His brother, Ryan, is the drummer for the Slums.
“Then there is Anthony DelPlato, the multitalented and former guitarist of Crows and Jays and many other acts, who is churning out his own EPs and producing some of the best audio engineering in the area.”
Those familiar with considerably folkier Crows and Jays may notice a drastic shift in sounds when it comes to the Leones. Gone are the fluid guitar solos, crisp keys and cascading harmonies. Taking their place are Bachulak’s soulful vocals drenched in reverb backed by Lau’s dreamy guitar.
“As a piano player, I always loved minor chords and dark themes, so creepy scorelike piano seemed to fit perfectly with Dustin’s emotional guitar and pedal work,” he continued. “It gave me a chance to use my songwriting in the way I always intended and we are having a lot of fun and getting some deep connections with our listeners with the new format.”
The shift from alt-country to shoegaze and freak-folk came naturally, Bachulak explained. “I personally wanted something darker and a little more experimental. Dustin and I both loved the War on Drugs albums, My Morning Jacket and Neil Young and Crazy Horse along with jam-bands and progressive rock acts like ELP, Yes, Peter Gabriel-era Genesis and the Moody Blues.”
His biggest influence, Bachulak said, is Elvis Costello, who he calls a musical encyclopedia and a man who flawlessly hops genres. He even named his son Declan, Costello’s birth name.
The duo plans a small regional tour following the release of its debut LP “Ghost in the City” (recorded by DelPlato) in early 2016..
And in case you were wondering where the Leones got their name, look no further than Bachulak’s grandfather Louis, a man that the songwriter describes as “one of the best I’ll ever know.”
“I liked the idea of using that name for the band,” he said. “It seemed to fit this type of music as well. It incorporated the idea of family, which is what a band should be.”
The Leones with Applennium and Hundred Plus Club
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 20
Where: Studio at Waiting Room (334 Delaware Ave.)