Steep Leans is the sonically multifaceted solo project of Jeffrey Gray Somers. In 2015, Steep Leans released their LP “Grips on Heat,” a work that displayed the band’s talent for creating an artistic nexus of sound. The LP blends the ethereal with the exciting, as the songs contain a dreamlike element all while upholding the degree of grit and tenacity that has become a longtime hallmark of rock and roll. Opener “Books End” is equally as energetic as it is entrancing, and serves as a strong foil to its closing counterpart “Rain Delay,” which is delightfully darker. What has perhaps become one of the album’s most recognizable tracks is “Nightmare City,” which adds a dash of fantasy to musical innovation.
Steep Leans captured attention nationwide after completing a tour with Wavves and Twin Peaks. Since, Somers and Steep Leans have continued to perform on the East Coast and are currently in the process of recording new material. I had the opportunity to chat with Somers about his creative process, Boston’s music scene, as well as what the band has coming up in the future. Read on to discover more about one of the industry’s most musically entrancing artists:
AMPLIFY: What’s the origin story of Steep Leans?
JGS: I guess I came up with the Steep Leans name in when I was living in Brooklyn in 2012. A couple sorta traumatic events in my personal life had led me to a sort of survivalist mode where I had to put everything into something creative, which was what became “Grips on Heat.” My mom had passed away earlier that year and a few months later I broke up with my girlfriend and moved to NYC from Boston. In NYC I sold my car and put a bunch of that money towards recording in a studio in BK, however in the middle of that process there was more family trouble, and I got back together with my ex, which took me careening back and forth from Boston, Brooklyn and Pittsburgh (where she was staying). Needless to say the relationship I ended up stranded in Boston stone broke in 2013 where I began working on what became “Grips on Heat” at at the Napoleon Complex Studio with my friend and engineer, Shaun Curran. I had to totally start from scratch when I started recording in Boston, because almost all of the music I had recorded in Brooklyn was lost when my computer crashed.
AMPLIFY: How would you articulate Steep Leans’ artistic growth?
JGS: I’m not totally sure how to answer that question. I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do with the first record and the second record isn’t done yet. But, I can tell you that it’s going to have a lot more “pep” to it. It’s being a done in a much nicer studio out in LA as opposed to the warehouse turned rehearsal space where I did “Grips on Heat.” We’ll see how I’ve grown after the LP comes out.
AMPLIFY: What moves you to create?
JGS: It’s just always been with me. I’ve been writing songs and making videos and things since I was a little kid.
AMPLIFY: You guys have played a lot of shows over the past year. Do you have a favorite memory from any of your live performances?
JGS: I don’t think there’s any specific memories, but you know when theres a good show cause you feel it. We played a really great show in Santa Cruz last summer but we were on the beach and it was the last show of the tour, so kinda goes without sayin.
AMPLIFY: What aspect of your work are you most proud of?
JGS: Comin up with vicious song titles, and I guess sometimes people telling me they get specific feelings from specific songs, and that feeling they’re describing is the feeling I was looking to project.
AMPLIFY: What emotions or feeling do you hope people experience when listening to Steep Leans?
JGS: Whatever emotions come naturally, bb.
AMPLIFY: Which artists have had the most profound impact on you, both as an individual and as a musician?
JGS: John Cassavetes, Diane Arbus, Julius Eastman, JJ Cale, and Bradford Cox
AMPLIFY: What is your creative approach when working on new material?
JGS: I get into a sorta mantra with the song i’m coming up with, and will just play the same chords or whatever over and over again till I can sort of get into a mindless place with it. Once that happens I know I’m onto something.
AMPLIFY: In your opinion, what’s the most unique aspect of Boston’s music scene?
JGS: We have a pretty organized and committed DIY scene in Boston. There’s actually a lot of good underground music press in Boston. A lot of people know each other. Not everyone, but it seems like it.
AMPLIFY: Lastly, what’s coming up next for Steep Leans?
JGS: Stayin pretty local and sorta low key until the next record drops in late 2017/early 2018. The roll out process with record labels can take for fucking ever. I’ve been recording out in Los Angeles. I’m going back out there in June to finish it up.
-Interview by Lindsay Teske
To learn more about Steep Leans and listen to their work, click here to visit their bandcamp page.