Leopold and his Fiction
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Leopold and his Fiction

Austin, Texas, United States

Austin, Texas, United States
Rock Folk

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"Leopold and his Fiction – “Ride”"

It’s been a long wait for new music from SF rock band Leopold and his Fiction, as news about the band’s recording sessions with Thom Monahan faded away and bandleader Daniel James became understandably occupied with Cowboy and Indian. “Ride” is a new single from the Leopold camp, and it’s an equally gorgeous visual and song. It’s on the mellow side of the band’s sound, so it doesn’t capture the trio at its most rocking, but it’s a strong tease that makes us hungry for more. - The Bay Bridged


"Kentucky Slang & Detroit Grit"

November 24, 2006

Kentucky Slang & Detroit Grit: Leopold and his Fiction
Filed under: Audio, Bands To Watch — Chris DeLine @ 9:30 am


There’s something odd about the air when Leopold and his Fiction occupies its space, it’s fresh but still smells like something that’s been sitting on your daddy’s record shelf in an uncovered beat up slip cover. The band’s songs are a strange brew of Kentucky slang mixed with Detroit grit, at times sounding like a sober Perry Ferrell, all the while attempting to find balance between pop and bottleneck. The duo is comprised of drummer and Berkeley graduate student Ben Cook, and guitarist/vocalist Daniel Toccalino, both of whom bring their hometown characteristics to the collective.

“She Ain’t Got Time” successfully sets the band’s pace at a high level, one which it primarily stays away from; though in doing so the song relates itself to something familiar to Toccalino’s Detroit home and the band’s which have risen from the city in the past decade. “Go On and Have My Way” connects in a manner specifically associated with a bluesier rock musician along the lines of Robert Randolph. Together the duo provides a fairly accurate depiction of where modern rock might be headed; second generation Strokes fans desperately seeking the importance of .38 Special; which isn’t really a bad place to be.
- Culture Bully


"Eugene Review"

Leopold and his Fiction are from San Francisco, but just judging from
their sound they could easily be from Detroit. What era? Well, that’s
harder to pinpoint. Vocalist Daniel James has a gritty, soulful,
swaggering manner of singing that recalls the Detroit Motown era as easily
as the White Stripes’ Jack White. Their stripped down, energetic guitar
sound is not so far from that of The Stooges, and there’s a sense of physical
yearning for redemption that wouldn’t be out of place in a gospel revival.

On songs like “Shakey Mama Blues� and “Come Back Now That I’m Here,� drummer Jon Sortland and bassist Micayla Grace let out just enough rhythm rope for the song to wiggle and shimmy while still keeping things simple and tight. The garage blues of “Ain’t No Surprise� and “Gonna Be Your Boy� is very early White Stripes-y, and there’s a strong Southern rock vibe permeating just about every riff and rumble. There’s even a moody, reflective number, “Miss Manipulation,� replete with slide guitar and an almost hokey country vibe. Ultimately though, James’ tattered vocals and the train’s-a-comin’ melody elevate it away from filler material status.

While Jack White is busy descending into mediocrity with The Raconteurs, we have James carrying his basement blues torch out of California. And while The Strokes eventually seemed to grasp for any new genre to invigorate their once-promising rock, Leopold and his Fiction extended their tentacles and found just what they were looking for on the first try.

If you still mourn what The Strokes could have been and are equally as excited about what the Black Keys are becoming, put Leopold and his Fiction on your bands-to-pay-attention-to list. - Eugene Weekly


"Q-and-A with Daniel James from Leopold and His Fiction"

By MELODY STONE, The Eureka Reporter

Published: Sep 11 2008, 12:18 AM · Updated: Sep 18 2008, 3:35 PM

THE EUREKA REPORTER: Why do you make music?

DANIEL JAMES: For me it’s a medium to get the words across. That’s the main reason I’m doing all this, to get these stories and ideas across to a public that enjoys it that way.

ER: What kind of ideas are you putting out there?

DJ: Some are political, some are just everyday sort of ideas, like the hero doesn’t have to win every time and the underdog is always a contender.

ER: Do you like your new album?

DJ: I love it. I’ve poured out everything I have into it. Everything I’ve been able to dream is in it. I’m pretty proud of it.

Daniel James — Guitar/Vocals
Micayla Grace — Bass Guitar/Vocals
Jon Sortland — Drums/Vocals/Organ

Band Origin:
Formed in April 2004, as a Daniel James’ solo project of James and then grew into a three- piece. They are now based out of San Francisco. James, who is is originally from Detroit, studied. James was in school for fiction writing and poetry in school, he was writing poetry and fiction. As he was getting ready to graduate, he started combining his poetry and, fiction with and music.

Band name origin:
Leopold was one of the main characters of a story James was writing during school. Leopold would go from town to town telling stories, and his fiction became another main character.

Sounds like:
The White Stripes + The Strokes + Bob Dylan

Albums:
“Ain’t No Surprise,� is in the pressing stage now and will, to be released in January. Their debut album was released November 2006 and is self- titled.

The Show:
The Pearl Lounge, Eureka, on Friday at 9 p.m. This is just a one- show stop for them., They plan to go on going on a three- week tour in October and then on another tour when the album comes out in January. They expect to make another stop in Arcata or Eureka then.

“In January we will be up in Arcata or Eureka.�
- Eureka Reporter


"Flgstaff"

A cohesive blend of Detroit garage-rock ‘n’ roll, Grass Valley folk and Western darkness, Leopold and His Fiction offers a reason and energy for people to listen closely.
Of the trio’s American bi-coastal familiarity, Daniel James (vocals, guitar), Micayla Grace (bass guitar, vocals), and Jon Sortland (drums, vocals, organ) all contribute to a very diverse musical make-up through personal interests.
Garnering airplay on KJAK 1680AM, the band houses an honest and transcendent San Francisco rock ‘n’ roll band escalating into the West Coast music scene, playing “with a mellow harshness that's Detroit meets Cali meets Muddy Waters� (Soulfish Stew).
The balanced reincarnate of a sultry era of Western darkness underneath big city lights and country back roads leading to the morning shore of a transpiring musical horizon, Leopold and His Fiction releases their second CD, Ain’t No Surprise, in January 2009.
- Flagstaff Live


"Leopold and his Fiction -Ain't No Surprise"

Leopold and His Fiction - Ain’t No Surprise

Album Reviews • Friday November 7th, 2008 • 2:31 pm

Leopold and His Fiction’s sophomore album Ain’t No Surprise is a happy, two-man, one-woman marriage of rock, blues and country. Drums, guitar and bass, this small band has a huge sound. Crystal clear, but warmed with raspy vocals, understated drums and indie rock strumming, you can feel the songs pull you back in time even as it innovates. It borrows from a laundry list of superstars including the twang of Johnny Cash, the intonation, perhaps even poetry, of Bob Dylan, as well as Allman Brothers’-style southern rock and The White Stripes’ signature rawness, but the comparisons don’t do justice to the band’s originality.

The album moves seamlessly from traditional country to gritty blues to ballads that could be lullabies. Singer Daniel James’ mesmerizing, soulful vocals are one constant in an album of ever-changing sea of styles and tempos. But the changes are slow, gradual, leaving you with the sensation of consistency, even though it’s anything but.

Half the time you’re too caught up in the sound to even contemplate the lyrics, but in those rare moments of lucidity, you’re not disappointed. Founder, singer and guitarist James, a former English-major, as well as couple Jon Sortland, the drummer, and bassist Micayla Grace, comprise this San Francisco-based trio, which is as focused on telling stories as evoking emotions.

James often throws around terms like “story” and “protagonist,” when asked about his music, claiming the band is a means of getting his words out. The band’s name, in fact, is owed to a novelette James wrote years ago. His stories can be somewhat esoteric, but they’re largely character-driven, with intriguing transformations from innocence to experience or vice-versa.

The 11-track album starts strong, but subtly, with easy strumming and heavy rhyming on “One For Me To Find.” In the opening lyrics James croons, “I’ve got these outlaws chasing me and these lawmen won’t leave me be. It’s hard to make amends with myself and my dead friends,” but harder rock and weightier blues soon kick in. The album ends with “Adanelia,” a soothing, but intense, instrumental that basks in guitar riffs and the sound of lapping waves.

Though the band pays homage to its forebears - including a harder, sped up cover of Cash’s “Understand Your Man” on its self-titled, debut album - it’s created a sound all its own. Future reviews will refer back to Leopold and His Fiction when its followers try in vain to imitate their distinctive sound.

Ain’t No Surprise is a bit softer and cleaner than that 2006 debut featuring a two-man lineup of just Daniels and Ben Cook, which received surprisingly little attention. Leopold and His Fiction might have gone unnoticed these last few years, but that should no longer be the case.
- Stereo Subversion


"Leopold and His Fiction -Aiding and Abetting"

Kinda like the Kings of Leon before that band got dull, Leopold and His Fiction plays meta-rock with all sorts of rootsy trappings.

The thing is, this stuff is anything but simple and unrefined. The entire "rough" sound is carefully constructed. Even the raucous moments sound a wee bit crafted. Which does make it hard to get lost in the sound.

Funny thing is, I managed anyway. Part of it is the pure intellectual appeal of the songs. I like trying to figure out what subtle references the band throws in with its distortion and reverb. I even like trying to puzzle out the meanings behind the lyrics.

Best of all, this stuff is played with style and energy. Yes, it's crafted, but it's hardly stilted. These boys may be merely playing at the rough and tumble, but they might actually have a line on deeper things.

Contact:
www: http://www.leopoldandhisfiction.com

- Aiding & Abetting


"FLASHBACK: Concert reviews"

Playing the dark and seedy Larimer Lounge on the eve of Halloween, San Francisco garage rockers Leopold and His Fiction were scary good. (To a) crowd that came out to see what might be the brainchild of Detroit's best new songwriter since a guy named Jack White.

"(Jack White and I) are both from Detroit and I think it's evident that we grew up on the same kind of music, growing up about a mile from each other," said Daniel James, originator (the Leopold, if you will) of Leopold and His Fiction. "We're kind of from the same upbringing."

And at one point Leo consisted, much like the White Stripes, of just a simple drum and guitar combo. But after the departure of drummer Ben Cook, James added bassist Micayla Grace and drummer/keyboardist Jon Sortland. Armed with a kit on his right and a vintage Farfisa organ on his left, Sortland maintains driving percussions while, at the same time, adding haunting organ chords to Leo's musical sentiments. Meanwhile, Grace's deep, brooding bass lines help solidify James' screeching lyricism and manic, gospel- and blues-inspired ax rants.

"The right musicians have fallen into place and now I feel like our future's going to be great," James said. "In the last six months our band has accomplished more than I've seen some bands do in five or 10 years."

Predictable in the best kind of way, Leo and His Fiction lull the listener with heavy, soulful standards before interrupting their mulish melodies with gritty guitar rock that kicks and screams its way to the forefront, creating classic rock with a contemporary feel.

"We definitely have a vintage rock sound," James said. "And with the instruments we're using ? analog and vintage ? it comes out sounding that way." - The Metropolitain


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio


Naked, stripped down and aching with adrenaline is the rawness of Leopold and his Fiction. A revolving group of friends led by Daniel James (lead vocal/guitar), their essential make up sprouted from collaborations made on the road in the whirlwind cycle of touring. From San Francisco to LA to Austin various musical adventures had come and gone, until James found a common vision in the musicians he'd met along the way. Originally formed as an outlet for Daniel to exercise his virtues gained from years living in Detroit, Leopold and his Fiction absorbed pieces of the Motown catalog along with the protopunk resonance of Iggy's Stooges and molded them into a personal version of the rock 'n' roll dream. It's as if they, themselves, are connected directly into an electrical outlet. "The band elicits a power when it's time to perform that is unable to be harnessed in any other medium short of a fist fight," says James. "Whether that's on stage or in a recording studio it's almost hard to contain it. It's more life than I've ever felt before." It was that sonic fever that landed the group recent support slots for The Cult and ZZ Top. For the past year Leopold and his Fiction have been working with Grammy-nominated producer Chris "Frenchie" Smith (The Datsuns, Slayer, Jet, The Dandy Warhols, etc.) in recording and capturing a captivating musical journey that is as relentless as it is inspiring.