Gig Seeker Pro


Crystal Lake, IL | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Crystal Lake, IL | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Alternative Grunge




"Shark Tank Magazine Interview (Toronto)"

Lever is a hard hitting four piece grunge-punk band hailing from the Chicago area (mainly Crystal Lake) and they are riding a wicked wave of success from 2014, right into the new year. They released their first EP, played a bunch of unconventional shows and even dressed up as aliens. Well, at least one member did.

But it all began three years ago when Jeff Aquino (guitar/vocals) met Mike ReinHold (drums) online. They jammed and instantly clicked as musicians, and over a mutual love of Nirvana. Then at a party, while possibly more than slightly drunk, Mike shouted, “Where are all the musicians at this party?” Ariel Nebel (bass) answered the call and two years later, Jon Babin (lead vocals/guitar) joined the crew.

Now it’s 2015 and things are starting off with a bang. Lever has a new EP on the way, a summer tour in the works, and they aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Oh yeah, and they are a bunch of roller coaster, Goosebumps, cat loving 20 somethings. What’s not to love?

The new year has only just begun but what does Lever currently have on the go? And what’s on the back burner for the rest of the year?

Jeff: We’re going to record our next EP at Treehouse Records in Chicago in February. We’re also planning on booking a d.i.y. tour hopefully closer to the summer. A music video is also on the horizon very soon. Overall, we’re planning on playing a lot more shows whether it’s in Chicago, Joliet, suburbs, or out of state.

Now, after listening to your music, your influences become pretty clear. Nirvana, grunge, that sort of rock. How do those influences impact the writing and music process?

Jon: We’re all fans of Nirvana and grunge. Alice In Chains is a major influence as well. Layne Staley is a hero, but we’re not trying to recreate the past, but provide a refreshing step into the future of rock ‘n roll. We also take inspiration from what bands inspired our heroes. We don’t necessarily limit ourselves to just one genre.

You are all originally from Crystal Lake, IL. Do you all still live there?

Jeff: Ariel and Mike live in Crystal Lake. Jon lives in Hampshire, IL and I live in Carpentersville, IL. We all practice in Crystal Lake though.

Is there a music scene in the city?

Jeff: There’s definitely a music scene in the city full of really cool punk/garage/rock bands. It seems to be growing. It’s a total d.i.y. underground kind of scene. We have yet to really experience that scene, but we’d like to.

What’s your relationship like with Chicago? It’s about an hour and a half away, but does the scene there at all influence your music or decisions as a band?

Jeff: Well, we’ve played places in Chicago such as The Abbey Pub, Reggies Rock Club, Red Line Tap, Cole’s Bar, and the Elbo Room. To be honest we’d like to focus more on playing shows in Chicago rather than the suburbs. There are so many venues in Chicago that we’d love to play such as The Metro, Empty Bottle, Double Door, Bottom Lounge, Township, etc. Even house shows would be really cool in the city. The scene doesn’t influence our songwriting at all though. We write the music we like regardless of scenes, trying to fit in, etc. We’ve always been into hard, grungy, rock and roll ever since we’ve picked up our instruments in the first place.

What’s your current music scene like? Where are you favourite places to play and why?

Jeff: Other than Chicago, there’s a growing music scene in Joliet, IL which is located about 40 miles southwest of Chicago. There’s a bunch of really talented bands coming through and playing at this place called The Drunken Donut. That’s probably our favourite place to play. A lot of touring bands play there as well. Bands from France, Pennsylvania, New York and Florida have played shows in the Joliet scene. Even Maxwell Hughes who was formerly in the Lumineers played at The Drunken Donut recently. It’s a diy venue and it’s always packed with people who sincerely love music. There are just so many good bands that play there including Delta 88, Lumberjerks, Etlin Zylin, Programmable Animal, Overcast, Element Control, The Redtones and more. Other than the Drunken Donut, we really like playing house shows, and diy places. It’s more of an honest and real vibe with those types of settings. There’s a place in Chicago called Cole’s Bar that’s really cool too.

You guys also play quite a bit of covers. You’ve done Nirvana a bunch, and also some Smashing Pumpkins. Who’s your favourite to cover and why?

Jeff: We just try to throw in a cover or 2 once in a while for our live sets depending on how much time we get. I’d say our 2 favourite covers are “All Day and All of the Night” by The Kinks, and “Cherub Rock” by The Smashing Pumpkins. We really try to make “All Day and All of the Night” our own and put our own spin on it. “Cherub Rock” is just really fun to play live and it’s always an attention grabber.

In your Reverbnation bio, you mention that you’ve played a wide variety of shows “ranging from your mom’s birthday to city venues.” Have you ever played someone’s mom’s birthday party before?

Jeff: We’ve actually played Mike’s (our drummer) Mom’s birthday before. Her name is Linda. We do book birthday parties for moms though. So, if you’re interested email us at leverband@ymail.com or message us on AIM. Our away message might be on though.

Aside from the birthday party then, what’s been the strangest show you’ve played?

Jeff: The strangest place we’ve played would have to be overnight at an office in Joliet, IL. We wanted to do this open mic, but all of the slots were filled and we didn’t get a chance to play, so our friend let us play at his dad’s office overnight instead haha. It was just so funny being surrounded by cubicles with beers everywhere at like 2 in the morning. We played pretty sloppy due to the fact that we were already pretty drunk. People still enjoyed our set regardless haha. I’m surprised beer didn’t spill on any of the computers and ruin them. I’m even more surprised that the cops didn’t show up. They usually do.

To build on that, what’s the strangest thing you’ve seen while on stage?

Jeff: The strangest thing we’ve seen would have to be people singing along to our songs when we play live. It’s just a crazy feeling that people have memorized our songs. It’s really flattering. People have also done weird dances to our songs. By weird I really mean awesome. I’ve seen people doing the hand-jive and even jumping jacks during our set. I can’t help but laugh and want to join in.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve done with the band?

Jeff: We played at a freelance wrestling show at the Abbey Pub in Chicago in front of about 200 people. That was pretty awesome. Most of us love professional wrestling and the nostalgia that goes along with it from growing up watching it. It was pretty cool to be apart of.

What kind of band do you want to be and be known as?

Jon: We try to take our influences, and then ironically throw them all together, almost in a comical way. I think we’re being looked at now as a tight group, but it’s kind of a hard question… It’s not really up to us how we’re going to be known as… A band that doesn’t suck?

What’s been the most memorable moment for you so far with the band?

Jon: There’s many to choose from! But one time, and this is before we got really involved with The Drunken Donut, we were playing at Mojoe’s in Joliet, IL. We met The Redtones that night! We were blown away by them. There were like 11 bands, but we got stuck playing last with nobody there (minus a few close friends and the sound guy). We finished the set with so much energy and threw our instruments all over. We were pissed. I must have lost my voice singing, but it was really fun to burn that energy haha.

Your debut EP, Brainwashed, came out this year. What went into making the record? How do you feel with the finished product?

Jon: The drums were tracked about a year before we started layering them. I had just joined, and practically learned what I had to do during those sessions. A lot of laughs, good vibes, and beer went into this EP.

Jeff: Most of the songs on the Brainwashed EP I had already written even before the band formed, so we had a lot of time to practice these songs before we recorded them. I feel really happy with the finished product. It took like a year to finish because our former singer Maura left for school, so we had to put some of it on hold. Jon stepped in and did a fantastic job putting his own style to the songs and learning everything. Overall, I’d say we’re satisfied with it.

You guys played a show in October for Fall Farm Fest and were all wearing costumes. Who was each member dressed as? And what was it like playing in costume?

Jeff: Our drummer Mike went as an alien. He had an alien mask and a hood to go along with it. I remember his hood kept going over his mask and blinding him while he was playing that show haha. He took it off after the first song. Our singer Jon went as a witch. He decided to wear his witch hat backwards so that the hair completely covered his face. It looked pretty rad. Our bassist Ariel went as a nerd. She kind of looked like Velma from Scooby Doo. And I tried going as a monk, but it ended up looking like I was the grim reaper. I had this black wig on and it kept getting in my face. The hair was so long that it got tangled up in my strings and messed up my strumming. So, I threw my wig off during the solo to “And I”.


When you guys aren’t doing Lever, what do you do in your off time?

Jon: We all work. We like movies, some of us like watching sports and playing video games. Especially the old Nintendo games!

Jeff: I especially like to play hopscotch and twister. They’re my favourite pastimes.

You are in taxi and in jumps Kurt Cobain and Kanye West to split the trip with you. What happens for the next 45 minutes?

Jon: “Kurt Cobain! I thought you were dead!! What’s up man? Since you’ve been gone we’ve been dealing with fools like this!” (Point to Kanye West). I have a soft spot for hip hop. It’s part of my youth, but Kanye isn’t necessarily a hero of mine. I like singers who use their voices without autocorrection. So, I’d probably make fun of him in the taxi cab, but make up for it by buying him a whiskey shot at the nearest bar. Just hope he’d have a sense of humour.

Raid fire Shark Tank questions:

Pizza or burgers?

Pizza. Nothing beats pizza.

Grunge or psychedelic?


Fight Club or Clock Work Orange?

Neither. Back to the Future is the correct answer.

Fender or Gibson?


Basketball or hockey?


Roller coaster or bungee jump?

Roller coaster

Cats or dogs?


Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?

Harry Potter. I wish Goosebumps was an option.

The Clash or Sex Pistols?

Sex Pistols

Small, packed and sweaty show or large outdoor festival?

Large outdoor festival just for the fact that we haven’t really played one before, but we do love small, packed, sweaty shows. - Shark Tank Magazine Wordpress

"Local Anesthetic Playlist For Sunday, March 22, 2015 [Playlist & Free Download]"

I’m hoping the rest of what we hear from Lever is on a par with “Lucky”. Really nice track from their forthcoming Hover Bored release. - Richard Milne

"Alternative Nation’s Modern Artists Showcase: December 2014 (#2)"

Just like our favorite 90’s rock groups, Lever possesses a knack for distortion-fuzzy tracks with a bad attitude. The Illinois-based band has released their debut LP, Brainwashed, this year. Each song harkens back sounds of Nirvana, Sex Pistols, and other bands that would fit perfectly in a grimy, small club venue. - Riley Rowe

"Music Junkie Press"

Their new album, Hover Bored was recorded at Treehouse Records by engineer Barrett Guzaldo in Chicago, IL. The album brings back our true love of analog as it Treehouse Records is a professional analog recording facility. ‘The tape machine used was the same model used for the Nirvana masterpiece In Utero. Most of the album was done live with vocal overdubs, and a few guitar overdubs. Even most of the solos were done live.’

The band formed back in 2011 with original members, Jeff, Ariel, and Michael. They later met Jon and today Lever is :

Jon Babin – Lead Vocals/Guitar
Jeff Aquino – Guitar/Vocals
Ariel Nebel – Bass
Michael Reinhold – Drums
They have several upcoming shows and make sure to visit their social media sites to stay up to date on their latest news. You will want to keep this band on your radar! - Marisol (Music Junkie Press)

"Eastern Iowa Rocks: June 2015"

One Last Thing:
Yes, Eastern Iowa rocks, for sure, and the bands around here, doubly so. A lot of their rocking is done on stage, but it also comes in the form of the careful selection of the bands they bring to town to play gigs with them. One amazing out-of-state band that I got see last weekend at ICYC was Lever, out of NW surburban Chicago.

The band is a four piece with a drummer, 2 guitarists, and a bass player. They describe themselves as "bipolar grunge rock: and, after the privilege of getting to hear their set, I totally agree. Lots of dirty, fuzzy guitar riffs with heavy bass and super loud banging drums topped with sometimes screamy, sometimes melodic lyrics make for a way fun, head-banging listening experience. They are also very tight and technically talented. All their stops and starts and heavy, heavy jam spots were right on and super clean. I sincerely hope they come back to Iowa City, or that I can make it over there so see one of their local shows. Anyone out there in Not-Iowa-Land who hears that Lever is playing near you - GO SEE THEM!!! You will not regret it. Click on the here to get to their FB page so you can see where they are going on their tour. - Mandab (Easter Iowa Rocks Blog)

"Vicarious Venues (Lever Article)"

“Chicago's got a brand new beat, and it's headbanging to the sound of Lever, a four-piece rock-grunge-punk installment married to 20-something-year-old angst and no-fucks-given-attitude.” - Amanda Tugade (Vicarious Venues)

"Interview With Lever"

If you first mistook Lever’s latest album Hover Bored, as a Back to the Future-inspired ’80s rock tribute, it’d be hard to blame you. The first song is called “McFly” for goodness’ sake.

But take a listen and you’ll hear that sonically, Lever draws from another era, about 10 years after Marty McFly met Doc.

The band describes itself as “bi-polar” grunge, and that’s an accurate diagnosis. With influences like Silverchair, Nirvana and Speedy Ortiz, the fuzzy guitars, slacker attitude, and loud/quiet/loud dynamics permeate throughout their catalog. But pigeonholing Lever as grunge revivalists doesn’t give the full picture — they’ve taken the sound of their heroes into modern times, blending it with contemporary influences from Wavves to Metric.

The fluid guitar work on “Last Call” show how Lever add some pop sensibilities while keeping their grunge roots intact. “Lucky” takes those qualities and cranks them up, adding in jangling guitars and a Motown-style beat to craft for the most upbeat track on Hover Bored. And if “Lucky” is the pinnacle portion of this “bi-polar” grunge record, closer “Bad Vision” may be its low point. Singer Jon Babin’s voice deteriorates into a haunting scream during the chorus and the song closes with a cacophony of drums, feedback and screeching guitars.

Bassist Brandon Erker joined Lever last year, stepping in for a bassist who took a spot in Barb Wire Dolls. Before Erker joined, the band already had several songs in their back catalog waiting to be released. Erker has also worked on a bunch of new songs with the band, since joining, so they have no shortage of material to release.

“We have enough material right now to probably put together two full lengths,” he said.

Lever hopes to release a new EP later this year, followed by another full length sometime next year.

“I wanted to put as much new stuff on the album as possible, so that’s where the idea for the EP came in — put a couple of the new songs, put a couple of the old songs and then we have one or two of the old ones that we will use probably at some point,” he said.

Erker is the only member who lives in Chicago — the rest of the band reside in suburbs about an hour outside the city, so Lever has experienced the differences of playing in the city versus the quieter suburbs. For example, in the suburbs, where cover bands tend to dominate, it’s easier for an original rock band to stand out.

“A lot of times they’ll just need a band to come in to play for their bar crowd, so you play all night, like two hour-and-a-half long sets,” Erker said. “You have to play all night but you get paid pretty well.”

On the other hand, it can be tougher to get gigs in the city, where there are often too many bands and too few spots. But the extra effort to get booked is made worth it.

“It’s just cooler playing a lot of venues in the city. There are a lot of bucket list places: like for me the Empty Bottle is a big deal,” Erker said. “We’re playing Double Door in August and that’s pretty big for me, especially because it might be closing.”

Follow Lever on Facebook for their tour schedule and updates on new music! - zZounds


Lever - "Hover Bored" LP Released (May 30th 2015)



Named after Silverchair's song "The Lever", the original 4-piece rock band of twenty-somethings have taken things into their own hands. Self-releasing their debut album "Hover Bored" in May of 2015, they've set out to share their music in everyway possible. zZounds said "With influences like Silverchair, Nirvana and Speedy Ortiz, the fuzzy guitars, slacker attitude, and loud/quiet/loud dynamics permeate throughout their catalog. But pigeonholing Lever as grunge revivalists doesn’t give the full picture — they’ve taken the sound of their heroes into modern times, blending it with contemporary influences from Wavves to Metric." Lever has toured all over the United States performing anywhere from tattoo shops in Billings, Montana to the legendary Whisky a Go Go in West Hollwood, California. The Crystal Lake band has shared the stage with national artists such as Barb Wire Dolls, Summer Cannibals, Doll Skin, Thunderpussy, Maszer, Darling Parade, City of the Weak, and Stitched Up Heart. Lever has also played to rock musicians Bill Bateman (The Cramps) and Richie Ramone (Ramones). They continue to play all over Chicago at venues such as the Metro, Double Door, Subterranean, Beat Kitchen, Bottom Lounge and Quenchers. Even community colleges and offices are a favorite of theirs to perform at (even though they get kicked out for being too darn loud). Their songs have been played on 93.1WXRT, 101.1WKQX, 103.9 The Fox, and 101.5 Huntley Community Radio. You can find Lever's music on Pandora, Spotify, ITunes, Amazon, AOL Radio, Bandcamp, and more. A follow up EP is expected by the end of 2016, along with a brand new full-length in 2017. Be on the lookout for a Lever show near you.

Band Members