Texas-based band, Leeland, aptly named after their frontman Leeland Mooring, are the best kept secret in music this side of the stratosphere. Leeland along with his brother Jack (vox, keys), cousin Jake Holtz (bass), and friends Jeremiah Wood (guitar) and Mike Smith (drums) have also made it apparent with their talent that age and experience don't always need to go hand in hand for greatness to occur.
Jack Mooring is a proud brother and begins to tell where the band got its start, "Leeland wrote his first song at 11. We were all traveling full time as a family leading worship at different churches, my mom sang, dad played piano, Leeland sang alto and I sang tenor, and we'd just travel around and sing." I began thinking of the Johnny Cash song, "Daddy Sang Bass" before Jack moved on to talk about Leeland being so anxious to begin making music professionally he said, "mom, give me a producer!" A year later at a talent seminar in Nashville Leeland met EMI executive Kent Coley, now the band's manager, and Coley signed Leeland at the tender age of 15. Jack continues, "Leeland got to write with Marc Byrd (God of Wonders) and when their work was taken to executives at Provident Music, he got signed."
Leeland began bouncing off ideas and working on music with his current line up and they eventually formed into a solid band. "Provident felt like family and it was also important to bring the band together as Jack is my brother, and Jake the bass player is my cousin and so it was about bringing family together, I wouldn't go on the road with anyone else," says Leeland.
Sound of Melodies is the debut album for Leeland, so Soul Shine investigated the themes and origins of the music, Jack said "Back in the day we traveled with an Australian evangelist named Nigel McNeil and him and Leeland were having a conversation one night basically about how beautiful angels must sound when they worship God and it progressed to Nigel saying, 'Angels probably sound amazing, but I think God enjoys us singing more than He does the angels because the sound of the redeemed and the people who have chosen to worship God and have been brought out of sin and covered by His grace, that makes our sound even more beautiful. So Leeland brought that idea for the song "Sound of Melodies" and how beautiful that is, and so Leeland was praying in his room one day and seeking God and God just dropped the song on his lap and we practiced it that night and the presence of God was really strong in the place we were practicing and we all thought 'this is a really good song'. We chose it as the title track because we feel it really encapsulates the vision of the album and as a band, we're very melody driven, a few riffs, but lots of melody, so it suits us as a band too."
Leeland was the primary writer for the album and began talking about being in a rock band for the heck of it versus leading people to God, "'Sound of Melodies', 'Tears of the Saints', and 'Reaching' specifically came out of prayer and we practiced it and the guys and I'd just sit there and merge all the influences we had like Coldplay, Travis and Keith Green, but not put in too much stuff that may draw away from the lyrics or worship itself. When we first got signed, we were writing all the songs and figured out 'man, we're just a rock band' and out of that we wanted not to just make cool music, but draw people closer to God with our lyrics and allow them to see the passion [we have for Him] in the singing."
Leeland continues with a laugh that much of the band's practices were held in a funeral home in Texas. "Our church didn't have a building yet, so they held service and we did our practicing at a funeral home in Baytown. So we thought to ourselves, 'hey, no one will wake up so you know it's ok!'".
Leeland continued on a more serious note to talk about the purpose for the band's music, "You know, you walk into a convenience store or a mall and about 80-90% of the people in there are going through stuff and they don't know God [can help them]. So our number one call is to minister to the hurting and lost, God never says to shove things down people's throats. I think it's all about showing your family and friends how you live your life [as a Christian] and how you deal with things, pray, praise God, and how your love for Him just overflows into your everyday life. I would say to our generation to just seek after God and pray for that hunger. Just to remember that we're all human and we need God in everything we do. If we live our life true to God no matter what people do to us for it, sooner or later people's hearts will break and feel that love. I remember, before we got signed we were just this local band and we were at this venue called The Harbor in Baytown and kids would just come up after and ask 'What's different about you guys?" and we just talked for hours with kids about God and how you can really have a true and real relationship with Him by seeking Him not to get something, but to actually love God and get closer to Him. So, really, you don't have to do anything, people are going to be able to see it, and God will just begin to shine through you and it'll just be evident in your life by just loving people wherever they are with Him."
Leeland closes by talking about Canada, "We'd love to play in Canada, we've been in Canada technically, as we played in Washington state and went over to Vancouver for a day, so definitely."
You heard him folks, keep asking Leeland to Canada via www.myspace.com/leelandmusic or by holding a banner in the Texan sky, but do it quick as these guys are being held on Mighty shoulders and set for superstardom.
Writer: Lindsay Whitfield