Your Fearless Leader
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Your Fearless Leader

San Francisco, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF | AFM

San Francisco, California, United States | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Rock Indie




"Fear Itself: Marcus Ghiasi of Your Fearless Leader"

Musicians aren't always fearless.

In fact, Marcus Ghiasi — the frontman for San Francisco indie-rock band Your Fearless Leader — was gripped by anxiety during his first performance under that moniker, on a trip to South Africa in December 2014.

"It was one of the scariest things I've ever done," Ghiasi says, "but it was awesome."

Ghiasi was in another band at the time and unhappy with that group's output. He had never played a show by himself, and while he had started writing stuff on the side, Ghiasi never actually thought he'd perform those tunes. He had no grandiose thoughts for the future. He didn't plan on putting a band together, either.

"It was just me, simply writing," Ghiasi says.

Upon returning from the trip, Ghiasi realized that if he wanted to actually spend his life playing music, he had to commit to the idea. He brought in singer-keyboardist Aeryka Denton — one of his college friends from S.F. State — and at his 25th birthday party met Hannah Glass. Glass and her brother Elliott would join the band on violin and drums, respectively, with trumpet-guitar player Lucas Kang rounding out the ensemble.

Even though Your Fearless Leader is a recent incarnation, its roots go all the way back to 2004, when Ghiasi started playing guitar in eighth grade after switching to a new school.

"At this school, all the guys played guitar, so I kind of thought it was the cool thing to do," Ghiasi says.

He purchased "the coolest guitar" he could find and has essentially been in bands ever since. The origin of the Your Fearless Leader name actually goes back to that time period as well. It was the name of one of Ghiasi's school-day acts — "We had like one show, maybe, and we kind of just jammed in a garage really," Ghiasi says — and when he finally started doing music on his own, Ghiasi asked his friend if he could use the name.

With that name, Ghiasi also took on a new persona. When he first started performing as Your Fearless Leader, Ghiasi used a stage name, creating a distance from his work. This was music that he'd never planned on sharing, and it was covering personal topics, saying things about his past and his family that he was, perhaps, too shy to say himself.

"Those were things I didn't really truly want reflected upon me, myself," Ghiasi says. "Just because they were coming from a pretty negative place."

Again: Musicians are far from fearless.

From that negativity, Ghiasi did end up dropping the charade — "In a way, I kind of created a mask," he says — and the stage name along with it, ultimately uniting himself with his musical creations.

"I just kind of took ownership of the songs that I was writing and the experiences that I had," Ghiasi says. "I was like, 'You know, this is very much part of me and the type of person I am today, and that I shouldn't be kind of scared or ashamed or nervous of expressing that through the music I'm creating.' "

Your Fearless Leader's first show as a band was April 20, 2015 at Brick & Mortar. Its first EP — Retrospection — was released in November.

It's "sort of under the umbrella term of, like, indie rock," Ghiasi says. "But I don't know. I sort of think of it as this fusion of, you know, the indie rock up-driven sound, but then we incorporate like violin and trumpets and sax. So we have this sort of orchestral element to it."

Ghiasi mentions how he'll come up with complicated parts that he wouldn't be able to play and give them to Glass and her violin, which take the sonic space of what in other bands may be the lead guitarist role.

And unlike some indie bands' usage of strings, which may only focus on using the arrangements for texture or longer background notes, Your Fearless Leader goes for a different approach.

"Here I get to let loose and like, you know, really be featured," Glass says.

And while she doesn't really use pedals or any of the electronic trappings of many guitar soloists, she does feel the freedom to play scratchy or to bring in other styles, like jazz.

"I think I play a bit more blues scales than the average indie violinist, I'd say," Glass says.

As Your Fearless Leader has grown, its also started to shift toward a more collaborative effort. Before the past month, Ghiasi was the main songwriter, but that task no longer falls on his shoulders alone, as other members are starting to bring their own songs to the group.

"It's been kind of an awesome transition that we're in right now," Ghiasi says. "Because it seems that everyone's a little bit more motivated, a little more driven."

The band is in the process of working on four new songs, which it hopes to release as singles later this year. And while Ghiasi is still not sure where Your Fearless Leader will take him, it's already gone farther than his initial thought of just writing for himself.

"If I can find a way to connect people emotionally, mentally, find a way to bring them out of whatever position or place they're in, just for a moment and connect with them with the words I'm singing and the chords I'm playing, I don't know, that's my ambition as a musician here in San Francisco," Ghiasi says. - SF Weekly

"Your Fearless Leader at The Richshaw Stop"

Your Fearless Leader is aptly named, as their leader Marcus Ghiasi is truly fearless: leading his 7 piece band into a headlining slot at The Rickshaw Stop. They have a genuinely unique sound in the Bay, combining a eclectic lineup of sax, trumpet, violin, keyboard, drums, guitar, and bass. It may sound like the lineup of an up-and-coming ska band, but they are far from it. Their sound is closer to a hard-rockin’ jazz band with anthemic guitar riffs and driving bass line which combine well with Marcus’s distinct vocals.

They have taken their diverse musical backgrounds and truly made a sound that is uniquely them. Your Fearless Leader has a deeply personal nature to them and hold a wide range of topics as opposed to just the usual love and heart break to relationships. They have a catchy quality that draws in the listener and can truly get them into the lyrics of the song.

It was great to see a reprise and reinvention of a song that Marcus originally wrote for GRMMR BCH (Grammar Beach); a band made up of Balanced Breakfast members Marcus Ghiasi (Your Fearless Leader), Alexi Belchere (The Y Axes), Nick Schneider (The Y Axes), Suzanne Yada (Little Spiral), & Fred Hausman (myself). The song evolved into something more than just a one-off project, as it was for GRMMR BCH. The amazing rendition fully realized the potential of the song and truly ushered it into a different realm.

I have never seen a venue so packed on a Tuesday night as the Rickshaw Stop was. Your Fearless Leader closed out an amazing night of music after The Old Grey Whistle Test, Ice Cream, and We Arsons (who was celebrating their EP release). I had not had the pleasure of seeing these artists before. It was great to see a diverse and talented lineup of artists performing on an early weeknight and to see the crowd staying late to support the amazing headliner, Your Fearless Leader. - I Heart SF Bands

"Review + Photos: Rickshaw Stop comes out for SF Suicide Prevention benefit"

The Rickshaw Stop was unusually crowded for a Thursday night, but the good people of San Francisco had gathered for a special reason. A small woman was helped to the stage and addressed the audience, “This is our dream. It has been our dream that someone would do a benefit concert for us, and you’re here. All of you are here! You’re here for the best concert in history,” said a resplendent Eve R. Meyer, Executive Director at San Francisco Suicide Prevention.

Meyer has been with San Francisco Suicide Prevention for nearly three decades. I had the opportunity to chat with her a little during the show: “When this was first started, it was started by an Episcopalian priest, and he went to clubs and handed out matchbooks that said ‘Feeling like ending it all? Call Bruce.’ Back then, they couldn’t say suicide; there was too much stigma. He knew the way to get out to people was to go to the clubs, though.” Meyer said. She went on to explain that the suicide prevention hotline received 30 phone calls in its first month of operation. They receive 200 calls a day now. “I’m amazed that we’re here, we pay the rent. We answer the phones. We’re here.”

The first opening band, The Damn Fanatics, echoed Meyer’s enthusiastic commitment to life with a firecracker set. Vocalist and guitarist Andy Strong hobbled around on a cane before going on stage, but danced expressively once in rock star mode. His transition was reminiscent of Grandpa Joe coming to life once Charlie handed him the Golden Ticket — dressed in a cowboy hat, bandana, and gym shoes, Strong pranced about on stage like an ayahuasca-fueled Matthew McConaughey. At points, he got on the ground and mashed the effect pedals with his hands with a maniacal look in his eyes, making the visual of him doing so just as important as the sound it produced.

Usually, I don’t have kind words for bands who neglect to include a bass player, but The Damn Fanatics managed to create a full sound with only guitar, keys, and drums. The set started with a song that reclaimed the cowbell back from the slapstick joke its become following Will Ferrell’s infamous “more cowbell” routine. The Fanatics used this would-be-campy accent with a dirt-under-the-nails, blue-collar funk flair that instantly informed me that they might be the real deal. Juggling between the velvet tones of an Albert King influence and a Jello Biafra sneer, Strong twisted the feel of each song. Strong played with feedback and sound more like a painter than a musician, and I think that’s a good thing. The Donovan-esque lyrics of songs like "Stand by the Man" and "American Dream" deserved nothing less than a beautifully strange backdrop. At the culmination of The Fanatics' set, Strong put on a large papier-mâché mask that appeared to be a hybrid of a rabbit and a human. While masked, Strong led the crowd in repeating a chant from earlier in the night: “This is what victory feels like!” It certainly did feel like a victorious moment.

In contrast to the first act, second opener Mad Noise filled the stage. They honored the description on their website as “punk blues,” with their first number — a biting piece of social commentary with Motown keys, funk horns, lyrics from the voices of the oppressed, and a bassline right out of CBGB. They kept with the musical traditions of southern bluesmen, but dropped the imposed use of metaphorical lyrics for a more direct message and, thus, provided a set that was just as varied, conflicted, and thrilling as the city of San Francisco. At points, their sound was a near copy of a fired-up Tracy Chapman, with winding soul and oaky timbre. At other times, it was light and melodic — ethereal. It was somewhat mind-boggling; a band that so expertly leads the crowd in a call-and-response straight out of a Zora Neale Hurston novel should not be able to pull off a cover of a Bjork’s "Joga" with confidence and competence, but Mad Noise did just that. Cellist Marica Petrey twinned the Icelandic art-rocker’s spritely-but-sharp sound as she cooed to the audience. It was positively uncanny.

The main act of the night, Your Fearless Leader, kept up the energy and joy from the first two acts with a set that was also varied and charming. Their sound started with a heavy high-hat intro that bled into a psychedelic sound that echoed hints of 1970s prog-rock a la Beggar’s Opera. Breaking into big, bombastic moments like the back-and-forth refrain of "I’m a Hypocrite," Your Fearless Leader provided a clean and polished chaos that is usually only found in more orchestral outfits, not rock bands. Singer Marcus Ghiasi sang so confidently that it seemed to be as in his nature as breathing. For a few acoustic songs, he seemed to steer into church music territory — without all those references to God. He was able to shed this persona for later, harder-hitting numbers that evoked The Kinks with powerful simplicity.

Most of the night, I was thinking that Your Fearless Leader sounded like The Killers, if The Killers had more musical substance. Then they went and played a Killers cover, "Mr. Brightside," and confirmed my suspicion. Compared to their original songs, the cover paled in comparison. There was nothing wrong with it. It was played just fine. It just didn’t have the flavor or the depth of their own work, and therefore was almost sad to hear. I was grateful when they got back to their own pieces.

I cannot fully encapsulate the feel of this band in words — they were playing for a small, albeit packed, club, but it was as if they were playing for thousands. In fact, that could be said of all the bands that night; they had sound and hearts bigger than the stage. I guess that should come as no surprise since they were playing for a potentially life-saving cause. “People think we’re just looking for someone to answer the phones,” said Meyer during our conversation, “but we’re not! We need people to get the word out, go to the clubs, talk to the kids in schools, put on parties like this one! We’re here right now, and we are saving lives.”

If you would like to get involved or volunteer with San Francisco Suicide Prevention, call 415-984-1900 or visit You can also provide support by attending their annual fundraiser comedy show May 4, 2017 at the Julia Morgan Ballroom. San Francisco Suicide Prevention accepts phone calls on their crisis line 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The crisis line number is 415-781-0500. - The Bay Bridged


Retrospection  - 2015 - Retrospection is Your Fearless Leader's (YFL) debut record that encompassed topics relating to a coming of age and identification with the self. Highlighting upon the relational stress within families, mental illness, denial and haunted past lives, Retrospection is an effort to look back in order to see where we are going. Celebrating personal growth and the beginnings of a band, YFL established themselves in the San Francisco music scene as continued to grow since.

RITES -2018 - After three years of writing, performing, re-writing, performing more and finally recording, Your Fearless Leader released their much anticipated sophomore album, RITES. A clear sign of musical and emotional maturity can been heard as the listener drifts on a indie, orchestral cloud through the heart and mind. Encompassing the emotions that many expressed at the results of the 2016 election, the album sought to voice the fear, pain, anger and schism within a community. Associated with rapid change, betrayal, lust and thrill, RITES summerizes it's message in the final track, "More To Give", reflecting the desperate need for love and attempt to express it in a way that would be received. 

Call My Name - 2018 - Just four months after the release or RITES, YFL dropped their third record titled Call My Name. Thematic concepts reflecting upon the beauty and horror of schizophrenia and it's relation to passionate suicide. Narratives of debaucherous revelries, lonely millennial hearts and perseverance through social changes can all be heard. Call My Name was a milestone for Your Fearless Leader and set the pace for all that is to come.



San Francisco band, Your Fearless Leader (YFL), began in 2015 as the solo project of guitarist and lead singer, Marcus Ghiasi. What was initially a personal diary soon progressed into a novel, influenced by the inclusion of each musical element in the band today. Incorporating the sound of a small orchestra into their music, YFL challenges the generic flavor of indie rock to create something fresh and invigorating. The band’s diversity plays a critical role in their versatile sound, at times reminiscent of dancehall or baroque pop with stadium rock energy.

YFL released their debut EP, Retrospection, in 2015. “With its arresting violin lines, propulsive drums, and anthemic sonic arrangements, “Retrospection” provided a refreshing and distinct sound to a genre overly-cluttered in the digitized century.” -BayBridged

After spending three years writing and evolving their sound, YFL released back-to-back EPs titled RITES and Call My Name (2018). Their widespread embrace allowed them to cement their place as one of the Bay Area’s most prominent indie rock bands. 

Band Members