Leigh from Echo Arcadia
ONE of the best things about music is coming across a band that not only takes the…
breath but comes back and keeps on producing great material. Echo Arcadia are a Scottish force of nature who have undergone some personnel change but seem at their strongest – as they prepare to release their latest album. Following from the critically acclaimed Beauty in an Average Life, the band are causing tongues to wags and fans to simmer with excitement. I have been chatting with lead vocalist and guitarist Leigh. He reveals what we can expect from the new album; how the band has progressed and his reaction to Echo Arcadia overtaking Red Hot Chili Peppers in the Dutch charts.
You are the lead of Echo Arcadia. Where did that band name come from?
The band name is actually a mixture of two things. Our old keyboard player, Majied’s wife, works in fine art and she suggested the name of a piece called Ecce Arcadia. If memory serves; it’s Pan’s entrance into Paradise. We have a deep love in our music for the Roland Space Echo so we chose Echo Arcadia – the drug reference with ecceys also helped us change that first part haha.
How did the band come together and were you guys friends from way back?
I had a band with Dan, our drummer, called Brightside. When some key members left we wanted to reinvent ourselves so pulled in some friends of friends (mush) and my partner Vonny to form the original Echo line-up.
There have been some changes in staff but the core has remained the same.
Kate, who was part of Brightside, has now rejoined us so it’s been like old times.
It seems like there is a lot of jollity and brotherhood within Echo Arcadia. Does the band hang out away from recording and who is the most ‘troublesome’ member of the band?
We do hang out a lot; though as an older band we have less time to these days. We try to make it about the quality of the hang more than the quantity these days, though. The thing I love about being so close with everyone is that it’s always like I’ve just seen them no matter if it’s been a couple weeks or a couple of days.
You have a new album on the horizon. What can you tell people about its songs and themes?
The album is about a journey through my recent life. It’s a little dark: as anyone who knows my lyrics this shouldn’t come as a surprise (and details my recovery from the breakdown of a major relationship to depression and the journey to the other side).
The tunes are poignant without being weighed down in the subject matter. They’re very Echo’.
Beauty in an Average Life was the previous album. How would you compare your current work to that and how has the band changed?
Our producer Garry Boyle recorded us in his studio in Castlesound called the Slate Room. He found the album to be much more mature than Beauty’. It’s a more coherent album too, I feel. It was written and recorded in a year and has a real continuity to it. I like that it feels like a step forward in a journey.
A couple of your members have left – Tony and Jenna – since the band’s inception. Have the changes affected the music or have you managed to remain close-knit?
We are closer than ever; we are a band of brothers (and a new sister) and the new guitarist (Dawid) has been a breath of fresh air.
His input has sparked the writing of album three and it’s sounding great so far. We’ve been together a long time as a core and there’s barely ever a cross word spoken between us all. It’s all held in the belief in ourselves that we love each other and what we do.
I see you have been tussling with Red Hot Chili Peppers in the Dutch charts and Into the Shadows is overtaking Dark Necessities. Any messages you’d give the band to ‘commiserate’?
I’d say: “Don’t worry guys, there’s plenty of room for us both. Dry your eyes on the $100 bills and keeps at it haha”
I know the current album has taken a lot of effort and hard work from the entire band. Do you have any immediate plans to tour the album and what does the rest of the year hold?
We would love to tour it. We are in negotiations with two rather large indie labels to release it so that’s what has been the delay so far.
Don’t let our quietness mislead anyone to think we aren’t busting to release this album haha
As a songwriter and singer: what inspires you as a songwriter and what events compel your music?
I’m a morbid wee fucker at the core I think. I do find the whole process of writing my heart into little stanzas to be pretty cathartic; like free psychotherapy. Then, making people listen to them in the guise of Pop songs haha. Life events as a whole inspire me. I’ve lived a storied existence and when I seem to be running low on fodder I just make more by being the fuck up I naturally am.
The band hails from Edinburgh. It is a city notable for its great music. Do you think it gets overlooked in favour or areas like London and Manchester?
Without question, people can’t seem to see past Biffy (Clyro) as all that Scotland has to offer and Edinburgh suffers from this too – in favour of Glasgow bands usually. I feel that a Renaissance has happened in Edinburgh and we are producing some amazing bands and singer-songwriters. Hopefully, the rest of the country catches on soon, though.
Which local bands and artists would you recommend we check out?
Broken Records, Posable Action Figures; Lost In Vancouver, Return to the Sun; Carrie Mac… The list would be never-ending there are so many great and talented people around here
Can you give us some juicy tabloid-worthy gossip about Echo Arcadia? Any members who are particularly unruly or possess a dark secret?
We are a good bunch of mature fellas. There’s a chemtrail theory perpetrated by one member (who is suitably quizzed and mocked in equal measures). A couple of vapors who are single-handedly eroding the ozone layer; but overall, we wear our hearts on our sleeves and are nice to old ladies
For musicians tempted to follow in your footsteps: what advice would you offer them?
It’s cliché for a reason but stick at it.
Write what makes you happy; not what people expect of you.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can select any song (other than an Echo Arcadia one as I’ll put that in) and I’ll play it here…
The Motorcycle Boy Reigns by Broken Records.
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