One of my all time favorite things is discovering bands that absolutely rule! It’s especially awesome when I am late to the game and the band has been around for awhile. I then get to go through all their releases and be amazed over and over by their ass-kicking prowess. Well, Ladder Devils is one of those bands for me. I recently discovered them when I stumbled upon their latest release Clean Hands, which came out last month on the excellent Brutal Panda Records. Needless to say I was floored by Ladder Devils’ brand of noise-rock chaos and have since adopted Clean Hands and their entire back catalog into my collection of favorite music. As usual, whenever I become obsessed with a band I need to know all I can about them. So I hit up Ladder Devils’ bassist / vocalist Matt Leo to find out more about his bands awesomeness.
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Leo – How we came to be… fuck. Well, the long and short of it is, The Minor Times was quit, and Tim (Leo, Guitar) and I were left with a ton of gear… or at least it had to be CLOSE to a metric ton, and no feasible plan on what to do with it, and in my case, no substantial ability to play it. So we stowed it somewhere for a while, and then at one point, convinced some poor sap to rent us a rehearsal space in north Philadelphia. Eric (Haag, guitar / vocals) always has some songs he wants to write, and I think he owed me some money… so we got him to play guitar. He and I railroaded Tim into playing drums for awhile. Tim actually wrote some of the earlier stuff as a drummer first, then went back and played guitar. We wrote a bunch of songs, with a bunch of drummers, got kicked out or moved in and out of a bunch of places for being too loud, and forced some really good sports to listen to us at shows. Eventially, we landed with Mike Howard on drums and everybody settled in. All told, took about 6 or 7 years to get comfortable… it all just happened so fast.
Clean Hands your first full length release, does it feel any different from releasing EP’s and splits?
There we’re people out there who said we couldn’t do it, that we just didn’t have the heart, the talent, or the work ethic in us to put out a full length. I, personally, was among those people. Turns out we were all wrong. It took the better part of a couple of years and there’s definitely a sense of accomplishment and an urge to move on, but it’s also a big payoff for us. Most of the fun of music is writing songs together, messing with them in the space, in our kitchens, bedrooms, in the studio, and then putting them out. We’ve been lucky to have an outlet for it with some really great labels and bands, but we’re likely just going to keep doing it, so don’t complain if it happens again.
Which song from Clean Hands do you think would sound the coolest played backwards?
“Feeling is Natural.” No contest. That song makes no sense played forwards, so logically the reverse would be pop genius on the order of “Hey Jude” or “Crazy In Love”
Track eight from the album “Land of Beauty” seems to let up on the aggression a tad and incorporates some keys and what sounds like female backing vocals. How did this song come about? Do you see your future material branching out into a more experimental sound?
Someone’s always got a crappy out of tune piano, a whole mess of tamborines, a weird synth sound, or something weird lying around that we could use or base a song off of. Experimental isn’t a word that comes up, ever. However, historically, we’ve not shown a lot of restraint in these situations… I don’t know if we have a sound, but no matter what we do, it usually sounds like us.
Solid question! 80’s extreme sport/buddy cop movie. Along the lines of Rad \ Gleaming the Cube, mixed with a little Tango and Cash \ Lethal Weapon. All jokes aside, I would watch that… real talk, I would BE that.
Greatest noise rock album of all time?
Huh, that’s not really the question for me, I’ve been turned on to so many awesome bands by other people. People who really dig deep, search out new things, really put the time in, you know? I am probably the most superficial appreciator of music I know. I have a few records that I go back to like old friends, because I’ve developed this relationship with them… I’ve vetted them, and gotten comfortable with them… where I know they’re not going to get hooked on percoset and show up at my door at 3 am, when I have to be at work in like 2 hours, throw up on my cat, and start trying to tell me about their latest side project, and how they just need a little scratch to get it started, to get that les paul outta hock… But OK, yeah, all things being equal: Harkonen Shake Harder Boy.
Brutal Panda has put out three of my favorite releases in the past year. Kowloon Walled City’s Container Ships, Boyfrndz’ Breeder, and Clean Hands. Why is your label so awesome? How did you come about being signed with them?
I really like that Kowloon record too. We would basically just be a group of friends and a bunch of amps in a leaky ass practice space if it wasn’t for Mike and Bob and Brutal Panda. We owe them a great debt of gratitude for the amount of work and resources they commit, for what I can only imagine is very little monetary return. Don’t know what we’d do without them… Actually, I don’t wanna know… I try not to think about it, ever…