The Easy Leaves touch down in New Zealand on Wednesday, starting their five date tour of the country. We thought we’d better quiz them on a few things and get to know Kevin and Sage a bit better.
1. How did you come to play music when you were younger?
Kevin: My family wasn’t musical, but I remember always being the one who would take charge of the radio on family roadtrips and force everyone else to listen to the jazz or oldie stations we could find. My mom had Beach Boys, Harry Nilsson, the Beatles, and Stones records that she played for us kids, and I guess I just got the bug.
Sage: My dad was in a surf band called the Astronauts, in the 60’s, before I was born. He wasn’t around much during my early childhood, mostly visits in the summer, when he would play some songs for us, but my mom often sang around the house, and played her violin. When I was really young, they would bring us to Kirtans, and I liked to dance to the music, as a toddler, so they tell me. I still love East Indian music.
2. How did you two meet and form The Easy Leaves?
Kevin: We kept running into each other at open mics, and eventually decided we should try working out a few tunes together to perform at a show I had set up. I recorded the live takes of those tunes and about a year later one of the tracks, ‘Lines of Stone & Dust’ (which we later recorded for our debut record), came on an iPod shuffle during a cross country flight coming home from tour with another group. When it first came on I didn’t recognize the band, but thought the harmonies were pretty alright… of course it didn’t take long before I realized – so right then I made a decision to call up that Sage fella when I got back to California to see about starting our own collaboration.
3. What drew you to Americana and Country music?
Sage: I love to walk and write, and an acoustic guitar is great for that. I kind of fell in love with Hank Williams, at some point, and then Gillian Welch’s stuff. But also, I feel like traditional country music influences are all over classic rock, which is also a huge influence for me. CCR. Little Feet. The Band. Bob Dylan’s extensive catalogue of course.
4. What does touring and doing music full time look like in the States?
Kevin: It’s a long row to hoe, but we’ve been lucky to be in place where there’s plenty of fertile ground to work. I think we’ve been full timing it more or less for the past 5 years. Festivals are huge over there, and an important piece of the puzzle every spring, summer, and into fall. It’s always a bit of a juggling act living in an expensive place like Northern CA, but our local community & fans are very supportive and so far we’re lucky to stay busy enough to keep the lights on.
5. What does writing look like for you guys?
Sage: We write separately for the most part. I spend a lot of time working at it. Mostly I fail. I’m pretty superstitious about it actually, and I don’t think of myself as religious. What I’m always looking for are wide open spaces where I can really dig in.
Kevin: Being on the road sometimes it feels like the inspiration flies at you so fast there’s not even enough time to catch it all. So personally I just catch what I can when the opportunity presents itself and let the rest marinate. You never know what will inform a working song later. Sometimes I’ll rewrite the same song 12 times only to forget about it and have the chorus come back as a single line in another song that I wrote in one crack.
6. Finally, is this your first visit to New Zealand full stop?
Kevin: First time! I saw a show about NZ Cop Dogs the other day, so I guess I’m expecting to definitely have my bags thoroughly sniffed at the customs checkpoint. Other than that, all the folks I know from NZ are great folks so I’m hoping to meet a few more great people and maybe an actual kiwi bird or two… that would be so cool. Can’t wait to get acquainted with NZ!
Sage: Yes. I know very little about NZ, and I’m looking forward to whatever surprises I might encounter.
Catch the Easy Leaves on tour this week, check their website for all the details.