Warren Jackson Hearne and Le Leek Electrique
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Warren Jackson Hearne and Le Leek Electrique

Denton, Texas, United States | SELF

Denton, Texas, United States | SELF
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"Equaticus EP Review"

North Texas' Own.
Le Leek Electrique Add A Bold New Dimension To Warren Jackson Hearne's Dark Sound.
By Cory on Friday May 4 2012 at 2:35 PM

Montana native Warren Jackson Hearne has been performing music in North Texas since 2003.

He initially performed in the eclectic Denton death-folk act WJH & the Merrie Murdre of Gloomadeers, who used their mix of guitars, banjo, strings, and accordion to add a gypsy-like liveliness to Hearne's often woeful ballads, tales of dead lovers, and of murdered friends. His focus on morality and man's fragility remained in Hearne's solo work as well. While always heavily sonically steeped in the past, his 2010 album, Musa Dagh took an even bleaker tone, stripping away the Gloomadeers' spirited instrumentation to just a single plucky acoustic guitar.

With his newest project, Le Leek Electrique, a name which Hearne admits doesn't really have much meaning, the singer reverts back to the full band scheme, bringing back drummer Tex Bosley and guitarist Dan Dockrill from the Gloomadeers days and adding organist Zach Landreneau, bassist Ryan Williams, trumpeter Mike Shields and tenor sax player Adam Robertson to round out his most electrified lineup yet.
The lineup is also his most polished and well-rounded. On Le Leek Electrique's new release, The Aquaticus EP, the damned western narratives of Hearne's solo material are rounded out with rich southern jazz textures that breath some much-needed life into the otherwise inauspicious batch of tales.

The more electrified approach and hot horns seem to have an invigorating effect on Hearn's vocals as well, helping him to tackle the singing duties in more confident and lounge-y manner reminiscent of the late '90s neo-swing revival -- albeit with more of a Tom Waits-like swagger.

Doubters in Hearne's massive leap forward need look no further than Musa Dagh tracks "Death You're So Cold" and "God Will Strike Me Down," which are transformed from semi-standard folk tracks into fully-realized southern jazz scorchers. When Hearne sings about death this time around, it doesn't just cause the listener to contemplate his cold demeanor; it sends a bitter chill down their very spines.

Take a listen to the new EP below, which Hearne has been unveiling one track a time. - Central Track


"Equaticus EP Review"

Warren Jackson Hearne and Le Leek Electrique is a Folk Jazz band that's been around for not too long, forming in just 2011. The band is a seven piece outfit that has featured another artist at least once. A big band with an even bigger sound. The EP The Aquatics is a relatively short album that can be best described as a Rock 'n' Roll, Jazz, and Folk mashup, similar to Lindby, which can be read about here. The EP is relatively short being only four tracks long. My favorite song features the work of an artist I've never heard of that goes by the name Sabra Laval. My favorite song is The Loner and The Lonesome. It's the most emotional track on the album and also the strongest. The EP shows some promising stuff, hopefully a full release will come from these guys in less than a year. The EP is available for 4 dollars. Listen or buy here
- Indie Middle of Nowhere


"Dancing About Architecture - with Warren Jackson Hearne"

Warren Jackson Hearne's got style. Whether you're talking about his clothes, his hair, his voice, his swagger or his music, everything about him is authentically and uniquely him - even the way he makes pizzas at local eatery J 'n' J's during his day job.

And even after decades of performing and artistry, he remains respectful, even reverent of those who came before and of the company he is in. Discovering his passion for music at his daddy's knee was the first step in a journey that has brought him both to a new brink of musical experimentation and back home to Texas, to share it with us.
SG: Hey, Warren. Thanks for doing this. Right out of the gate, I'm gonna put you on rumor patrol - Do you still live in Denton? Rumor has it you had moved or are planning a move...?

WJH: I moved to Austin about two years ago and came back a year ago. Not planning to move at the moment.

SG: OK. So there's that. What projects are you currently involved in?

WJH: I'm always involved in my solo work. I just put out a CD called Musa Dagh (which is an infamous mountain in Turkey.) I have a new band started also. It's taking my strict folk/acoustic sound and transforming it into seemingly more of a soul and jazz edge. I've actually started a Kickstarter campaign to help put out a vinyl record with this band by the fall. Check out Warren's Kickstarter page here.

SG: This is a backing band for your solo stuff?

WJH: Pretty much. I'm trying to write/find 20 new songs by next month. I've also talked to my dad about sending him some lyrics to collaborate with him more. We'll no doubt use those in the new band as well. There is so much I want to explore musically now and the new group will certainly be a faucet for them.

SG: What are your thoughts on the whole Kickstarter thing? Some people love it; others are totally against it; where do you land?

WJH: I know people that have not met their funding and I know people that have. I think that it is a great way for the little man/woman to find funding through patrons who believe in what they are doing. It's really the next step from myspace/facebook and other social networking sites. It actually gives the artist a chance to help fund their art through a live community and I think that's pretty great. I mean, most artists are not business people and have no idea how to fund their projects. Kickstarter is a way to help those people out.

SG: Who turned you on to it?

WJH: When I was on tour with Thrift Store Cowboys last year, they were doing one for their new album. My friend Amanda Kitchens sent me an article on it that got me really excited about it and made me really think "I can do this." Amanda plays with a great group called the Inheritance from Austin. Their Kickstarter thing was to go to a school in Cali for Balkan music. They're on the road out there as we speak. My Kickstarter thing is that I want to put out some vinyl records.

SG: Talk more about collaborating with your dad (Lindy Hearne.) What's his musical background?

WJH: He started singing in church- Shaped Note, Sacred Harp stuff. He was in the Texas Boys' Choir when he was younger too. He went to school at John Brown University and met my mom who also was a music major. They had a group together. Dad started touring a lot after that. He and my mom stayed in touch and eventually married. They were playing in Roy Clark's band at together and were on the road constantly. Dad put out three solo records out back then as well - one before I was born and one after. I remember him touring in '82 or '83 in this giant blue tour bus and it was probably then I decided that's what I wanted to do. He is back touring now after many years with Lynn Adler, who's been a family friend/member since I was very young.

SG: Did your dad teach you to sing or write?

WJH: Probably more organically than directly. Dad always helps when I ask for help though. He's always been more of a guide than a drill sergeant, which I appreciate. We lived in a house in Memphis for years where I would go and listen to him all day play the piano and write and record songs. I was in the studio with him too.


[Dad] recorded at Ardent in Memphis and at the time I was a big ZZTop fan and they were in there doing something. I was 3 or 4 and asking everyone at Ardent if they'd seen Billy Gibbons.

SG: Is that the first time you wanted to make music? How did you discover you had a talent for it?

WJH: Dad was always encouraging me to sing and play instruments as a kid. He would always sing to us, show us new music, expose us to everything. An evening with dad always involves sharing new songs that have been written. It just seems like the need to express myself through music has always been there.

SG: The project you're best known for is Warren Jackson Hearne and the Merrie Murdre of Gloomadeers. That's a heck of a name - how did you come up with it?

WJH: I think that's just my anti-social nature coming out. The rhythm of the words sounded right. Gloomadeer is supposed to be this idea of balladeer singing songs that you wouldn't sing for your mom, you know?

SG: Are you guys still gigging?

WJH: Not at the moment. Mike (McConnell) is working on his Jakey's project which is exciting, so Tex (Bosley), Dan (Dockrill) and I decided to start another band with an entirely different format, which is the band we were speaking of earlier.

SG: You haven't broken up though, just on a break?

WJH: Yeah. Mike and I have been doing it since early 2003. That's a long time for any band. I've been toying with "Gloomadeer" bands since 1999, so I'm kinda ready to do something outside of that box.
Jazz and soul music are such natural branches off of my gospel, blues, folk and country roots. That's the palate, so to speak, of the new band. It's not going to be a jazz band or a soul band. It's just another pot to cook in.

SG: While we're on the subject of Gloomadeers , a lot of great - and some truly horrifying - stories have come out of those tours...personal favorite?
WJH: My favorite story is the triumph over NYC and Freddie Prince JR. That felt like going to battle and going home to wives, husbands, and children afterwards.

SG: You MUST elaborate.

WJH: After a great day of seeing friends in NYC we get to the gig and Freddie Prince JR was shooting a flop at the venue. We knew he was shooting there, but he was supposed to be done by 8:00. We played at 11:00 or something. Well, needless to say, the shooting ran over. The booking agent said that she had emailed us about the cancellation earlier that day, but I never received it. Cursing went on and "This would never happen in Texas" kinda talk, when our friend Jeremy Yokum came up and said "Y'all can play my bar on the corner." I said, "See? This guy's from Texas!" We played an acoustic set that night at Clem's in Williamsburg to a great crowd. People were crying in the audience. The booker nosed over after the show and said that we could play her venue anytime we wanted. I just told her: "Nah!" There were so many great times on that particular tour though.

molly.jpg
Asleep near the wheel: Warren sleeps peacefully perched atop his legendary tour bus - a quasi-renovated school bus affectionately nick-named Molly Bluebird.


SG: Where were you born?

WJH: Tulsa, OK. We didn't stay there long. Maybe a couple of months. Dad and mom had lived there for a while, but dad needed to be in a music town. It was either Nashville to write songs how they want you to or Memphis to do secular music how he wanted to do it. We lived in Memphis for 5 or 6 years. My brother Jonathan was born there.

SG: So you're one of those "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as quick as I could" guys?

WJH: Oh, sure. Texas is very much home to me. Most of my family lives in or around Fort Worth and have for generations. My dad was the rolling stone. He was born in Fort Worth. My granddad is from Mineral Wells and sang shaped note gospel in a group with his brothers. His name was Henry. He played harmonica, piano, organ and accordion.

SG: Please educate me (and our readers who don't know) as to what Shaped Notes is.

WJH: Shaped notes is a method of music notation that literally uses shapes in place of the notes, basically so you know what harmonies are supposed to go where. I've never learned to take advantage of the actual notation style, but I know a lot of the songs from when I was a kid and family reunions and that. It's also a style of southern Gospel singing. If you've ever heard of "The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion" or "the Sacred Harp", those are both popular books in their day for the shaped note style of singing. Actually when that movie "O Brother Where Art Thou" came out by the Cohen brothers, my mom called me up and begged me to go see it, because a lot of the music was old Shaped Note stuff. At family reunions we eat and then sing shaped note music till we drop.

SG: It sounds like playing instruments also runs in your family. What all can you play?

WJH: I played woodwind instruments in school, mainly clarinet, bass clarinet and contra alto, but saxes too. I know the piano basics, accordion, a bit of violin, mandolin and banjo... there are probably things I'm forgetting. I played percussion in marching band and drums in a Slayer type band in high school. My main instrument for years has been the guitar, but I'm really interested in voice as my main instrument. For the last two years or so I've had Dan backing me up on guitar so that I can just sing. It's great! I love just singing!

SG: That's pretty obvious to anyone who has ever been to one of your live shows. You have a very passionate and unique style.

WJH: You mean the singing style?

SG: The whole thing. The hair, the clothes, the dabbing of sweat with your pocket square, the arm flailing...it's like you are hearing it for the first time - and it hurts.

stop.jpg
photo by Jay Stevens

WJH: The sweat thing is a Louis Armstrong/Jacques Brel tribute, I guess. Both of them were great singers, performers, writers.

SG: How much of that is choreographed? Or are you just writing lyrics that are THAT personal?

WJH: None. Jacques liked to choreograph a lot of his lyrics, but I like to just let the feeling come over me.


All of my lyrics are personal. It's the way I breathe emotionally.


SG: Currently the Gloomadeers are you, Tex, Mike, Dan and Tamara Cauble, right?

WJH: The lineup is really free. It's really whoever wants to play. We've played gigs just Mike, Tex and I. Paul (Slavens) still plays with us sometimes. We've had people sit in with us that had never sat in on a practice. I'd love to do a show with the old lineup once more someday.

gloomadeers.jpg
photo by Jay Stevens

SG: What was the original line-up?

WJH: Claire (Hecko) and I started playing together in 2002 and James (Spangler ) started in a few gigs later. We added Mike (McConnell) and got Adam (Loudermilk) on for a show and ended up staying. Ethan (Bell) started the next summer.

SG: Random thought - You should book a night somewhere and do one or two songs from each Gloomadeers incarnation.

WJH: That would be great. I'd love to do that. Everybody lives somewhere else, so getting them all together would be hard. Claire is in LA now, Ethan is in probably on a boat somewhere, Last I heard from James he was living on an island on the Columbia river, I think...

SG: Yeah, that does seem rather tricky.

WJH: Gabe Lit lives in NYC, Dr Nate "Cuddles" DeYonker lives in Memphis. Etc, etc.

SG: OK, maybe never mind ...

WJH: No, no. It could happen; Christmas almost worked out once...

SG: What's next for you, Warren?

WJH: Well, I'm going to release this next record with the new band, hopefully with help from the Kickstarter thing. It will be released on CD, Web, and most importantly, vinyl. Then we'll start gigging and touring. I've been getting some pretty interesting offers to go out of the states, but nothing in stone yet.

SG: OK, last call; anything you want to tell the town?

WJH: Just that I feel lucky to live in a town of like-minded musicians who support each other and wish for all to thrive. That's on the top of my list of "Denton, lemme count the ways!"

SG: That's a lovely way to end. Thank you for your time, Warren.

WJH: Thanks for your time! It was great to talk to you.


- Denton Record Chronicle/Local Spin Blog


"Violent Squid/Warren Jackson Hearne & Le Leek Electrique/The Diamond Center (Simone Lounge)"

Denton’s Warren Jackson Hearne has cut a haunting figure in the area for years, even though he’s always received scant mention in the press. His dark singer-songwriter material seems increasingly fascinating when compared to the sort of popular local nature folkies he and his band could musically chew up and spit out if necessary. Add to that a new horn section, and the potential melding of soulful backing contrasting the artist’s woefully bleak minor-key melodies is especially appealing. The seemingly prohibition-era prices of Simone Lounge can’t hurt either. - D Magazine


Discography

The Aquaticus EP - April 2012
Untitled LP - Aug 2012

Photos

Bio

Warren Jackson Hearne and Le Leek Electrique is a cadre of musicians steeping rooms and lounges alike in an atmosphere of southern jazz that guides audiences through narratives haunted by ghosts, devils, and personal tragedy. The band is a culmination of Warren’s previous projects from the clove-scented mystique and gothic beginnings with the Merrie Murder of Gloomadeers to the damned western narratives found in his solo touring. Rather than pick through tatters of those projects, the jazz infused narratives create a tapestry out of Warren’s classical and folk guitar composures allowing for a music experience of rich texture. In a single song a listener can drink alongside a vicious jazz tempo accompanied by Warren’s poisonous lyrics and be lead along with his own change of perspective into a song that caresses and venerates the once-damned subject. The band that has become Le Leek Electrique brings back previous project musicians Tex Bosley and Dan Dockrill as well as honed and trained performers Mike Shields, Adam Robertson, Zach Landreneau, and Ryan Williams. Their performances are to be heartily drunken to, appreciated alone or with company, and listened to repeatedly with each listen peeling back layers of unique musicianship, lyrics, and storytelling.

~ Rob King - 2012