Today we’re spotlighting The Dead Leeves. I had the pleasure of seeing them perform for the first time about a month ago when they were guests of Chowder. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. They played some of my favorite music, including an incredible rendition of “Moby Dick”. Did I mention that the members of this band don’t exceed the age of 16? I had to learn more about them and why they choose to play music that was made, on average, four decades before they were born. I’m talking to Nick, Mason, and Mike, the 3 members of The Dead Leeves.
First and foremost, how old are the members of the band and what do each of you play?
Mike: I am 12 years old and my main instrument is the bass. Ever since I picked up the bass I loved it. I also play piano, guitar, and the ukulele.
Mason: I’m 15 years old and I play drums/percussion. I started playing when I was 4 years old and I have been playing ever since.
Nick: I’m 16 years old and I am the guitarist and singer of the band. I have been playing guitar for 4 years now and have been singing since I began to play.
How did you all meet?
Nick: Mike and I met in June of 2014 at Rauchuts Tavern on Frankford Ave. His dad runs an open mic there on Sundays and I stopped in to play. When I got there, I saw a boy playing bass while sitting on the amp, and his feet weren’t even touching the ground! After he was done playing, I approached him and asked if he wanted to get together sometime to play and he said “yes”. We started to get some acoustic gigs together, with him on bass and I on acoustic guitar and vocals. We did this for a year until June of 2015, when we realized that we needed a drummer to form a full band. In July, only one month later, I came across (the new) 14 year old Mason Rosenfeld, who also shared a love for music, especially classic rock. We all got together and played some songs, and it just clicked…the stars aligned…we had perfect chemistry. I was offered a headlining spot at Disston Rec Center on August 6th just 4 weeks later, and I asked Mason if he was willing to start a band and play this huge gig in 4 weeks. He said “yes”, and we got our 22 song setlist together in just 4 weeks (a lot of music to learn!) and we rocked Disston! We played a 2 hour set and it was phenomenal! After that, we had our own gigs at Frankford and Cottman, Hop Angel, and Reale’s. We’re still practicing every week and more and more people are coming to see us perform. We’ve come far in a short time, and we’re working now, just as hard as we were 6 months ago when we had to learn so many songs. The Dead Leeves will be rocking for a long time to come.
To say I was shocked at the music you were playing, would be an understatement. Of course, there are plenty of bands that play classic rock, but not at your ages. What inspired you to want to play that era of music?
Mike: My Dad inspired me to play old rock. He taught me the guitar and songs from bands like David Bowie, The Who, The Beatles, etc. I really got into rock though, when my parents took me to a Who concert. I loved it.
Mason: My Dad always listened to the music when I was little. I remember the first song I listened to was “Love Me Do” with my Mom when I was 3 and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Nick: When I was a kid, my Mom would always play Janis Joplin’s, “Me and Bobby Mcgee” in the car, and jam out using the dashboard as a keyboard and her left hand as if she was playing the drums, and be so full of excitement. This pure love and passion for rock n’ roll has remained with me to this day.
What do you think sets apart today’s music from the music of the 60’s and 70’s that you play?
Mike: I think that a lot of music today is digitalized, and less pure. Old rock has always seemed more real to me.
Mason: Music from that time period is more fun to play and listen to for me, plain and simple. Popular music today heavily relies on the computer, and I want to play the drums. The raw tone of rock n’ roll has always fascinated me more than any other style of music.
Nick: Playing music from the 60’s and 70’s has always been the most authentic style of music for us to play. The energy in the room after picking up our instruments and playing Zeppelin or Cream is unmatched, and the reaction from the audience proves to us that the spirit of this music can truly last, even 50 years after it was released.
What bands do you think have represented rock and roll the most?
Mike: Many bands have represented rock n’ roll well, especially The Who, Rolling Stones, Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin.
Mason: The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, my two favorite bands, have definitely represented rock n’ roll the best.
Nick: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin are easily a few of the most influential bands in history, so I consider them the bands that have represented rock the best.
Do any of you write original music?
Mike: I do my best to put chords together and things like that, but no, I haven’t written a full song just yet.
Mason: I write and play my own drum fills/parts and I’m going to use them for our band’s original music.
Nick: We will definitely be including original songs in our performances this year, 2016.
If you could play any venue in the world, which one would it be?
Mike: If I could play anywhere in the world, it would be Wells Fargo Center in Philly. I was born and raised in Philly, and the Wells Fargo Center is where I saw The Who, Paul McCartney, and Kiss. Also, my favorite hockey team, the Flyers, play there.
Mason: The Royal Albert Hall in London, because that’s where Led Zeppelin played in 1970. I have that concert on DVD and that show is my biggest musical influence.
Nick: Madison Square Garden in New York City. In January, 2015 I went to see Jack White play there to a sold out arena, and the show was spectacular, and it changed everything for me. Witnessing that concert, I have made performing at Madison Square Garden a goal.
Where do you hope to see your music take you?
Mike: I hope to see my music career to be limitless.
Mason: I hope to make a career out of music, because I love it so much. I want to perform as much as I can and be a studio musician.
Nick: I am going to do music full-time, possibly be a musical therapist, but I know that I will always be a performer.
Check out The Dead Leeves for yourself:
War Pigs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwe5pp2miSc
The Ocean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zh2wMHX_dhY
Moby Dick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TE4r0HRxTK