THE RED LESLIES | THE UNIVERSE IS ON THEIR SIDE
I own a very old, unreliable Honda that has a dashboard full of lights that should not be lit up but I drive it around anyway because I like to live life on the edge. A couple weeks ago we were far from home, in an unfamiliar city for a show when my car battery decided to give out as we were trying to get home. As a AAA gold card member you’d think I wouldn't panic but I did. After pointlessly calling my father, he told me what I already new; I needed a jump start. During the show we’d briefly talked to the guys in The Red Leslies and as I panicked I saw them drive past us. I shouted after them like a crazy person and they nicely agreed to help us out. It’s funny how things work out because a week later we found ourselves meeting them over coffee.
We arrived a little late, I know, how typical of us, and we found them already waiting for us at a table. Although, we’ve held interviews with a couple bands already, each one of them has been a distinct experience. It can be awkward meeting up with them without really even knowing the individuals in the band so we imagined it’d be just as awkward meeting these guys for coffee. Each time we do this it kind of feels like we’re going on a blind date, a blind interview if you will. But after moving the interview to a table outside conversation rolled out naturally and so we talked for a couple hours without any real awkwardness. Read on to learn about their start as a band, their passion for music and their second debut EP, yeah, second.
The Red Leslies are a rock n’ roll duo from Anaheim, California that consists of Lui Buenrostro on vocals and guitar and Adrian Martinez on bass.
Their excursion together as an early incarnation of The Red Leslies started about two years ago with three other friends when they performed Lui’s original material at an open mic. It was Adrian’s first time picking up an instrument, in this case it was the keyboard. Yes, that’s right. At the time he’d never played an instrument live, while Lui was more familiar with the situation. They knew how to compose music before playing instruments for the band but after that live show together they were both left wanting more.
“[After] the open mic we thought, this is sick, we should do this. We should start writing more songs and maybe get a band together,” Adrian says.
One thing lead to another and they ended up as a duo. Which was fine because even before meeting each other they’d already planned on pursuing a career in music whether it be in a band, individually, or simply in the production of it. After playing together they fell in love with the idea of performing as a band and decided to continue doing so as a duo.
Their passion for music was, quite frankly, the best thing we’ve ever witnessed. I don’t know how to describe to you the way they both talked about music with such reverence without making them sound like the cheesiest guys in the world because there’s really nothing cheesy about them, if anything, it’s contagious.
“There’s never a shortage in wanting art,” Adrian says.
Their logic is that art, including music, is always high in demand regardless of where you are in the world. Lui then went on to say,
“It’s impossible to fail at something you love doing –it's not failing.”
Although I agree, what amazes me the most from this duo is that they are fearlessly and unapologetically following their bona fide passion.
“It's my life,” Lui says without hesitating.
Any art-related career is not easy to pursue. They are unquestionably aware of that but regardless of that they’re going after it. From personal experience, it’s sometimes a bit of a struggle to admit what you want to do with your life, whether it’s to other people or even yourself, when it’s something as trivialized as a career in art or specifically in this case: music.
From their songwriting, to their performances and even their album cover art, it all truly shows how very detail-oriented they are about their work.
“When playing live we want to engage the audience, at least personally I don’t want it to be something where the audience just watches you play,” Adrian says.
“We want to be more sharp and piercing live, we want to break through people’s attention barriers and then when they go home hopefully have them think of us and throw on one of our records and then they put on one of our songs, and it’d be like our b-sides [to their performance] the songs we really want to play,” adds Lui.
“We want a few songs where you can hear the classical influences,” Adrian says, “we have some songs where you can hear weird orchestrations, and some songs are just going to be bass, guitar, and drums like a rock'n'roll band should be. I think both are valid. We have room for both of them. We don't want to have a specific style. We think that from song to song we should just be a new band.”
“Every song calls for a different ...,” Adrian starts.
“Universe to be pulled into,” Lui finishes.
They know what they want to create and they have high standards of what they produce because, obviously, they are passionate about their craft.
While we met up to film their video teaser, I asked Adrian what was his favorite thing about playing live and he said, “Playing live is one of the most fun things I’ve ever done in my life, It’s beautiful, It’s spiritually rewarding as it is fun. I think playing live is a form of sorcery, we’re using these machines to make magic.”
And then immediately asked to do another take. We all laughed about his oh-so-melodramatic answer but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. That’s how it feels to him when he’s playing music because he’s aware of it’s powerful influence on people and the world. As Stephanie and I discussed this she brought up a good point: there’s probably no one out there in the world that can say “this painting saved me” but as for music, there is. Music is definitely magic.
I’m going to go ahead and dare to say that from the beginning Adrian and Lui’s destiny was to create The Red Leslies, or at least we think so. If you don’t believe in destiny here’s something to test you.
Lui and Adrian basically decided to go to college in order to meet other people to start a band. It so happened that this duo went to the same college and met in a recording class that neither of them were keen on taking from the beginning. The fact that they were able to bump into each other in a campus with over a thousand students is remarkable.
Yet they met, they vibed, they jammed together a couple of times and things seemed to be working out for them. Adrian happened to a go to a show at Programme, a music store in Fullerton, but wasn’t feeling the vibe so he casually walked into the Goodwill next door. At this Goodwill he purchased a book about cats that paint that would later inspire their band name. That same day he found out about the open mic and pitched the idea to Lui. If a single one of these things did not occur it’s possible that they wouldn’t be where they are today. Imagine if one of them hadn’t taken the Friday class, imagine if Adrian liked the show and didn’t walk into Goodwill or imagine if they didn’t do an open mic for fun. I mean, I can’t actually confirm the whole they’re-meant-to-be thing and I don't know what's in store for them in the future but you have to admit that things have played out very nicely for them so far.
The thing is, even before briefly talking to them at the show and them helping us out with my car issues, we already knew who they were and frankly, we were already fans of their music.
I remember the day that Stephanie sent me a link to their music after she’d somehow stumbled upon their Instagram. I sat by my window as I watched the sun disappear behind my neighbor's house with their music playing in the background. It’s the perfect soundtrack for a chill, summer afternoon.
Actually, if you’ve already listened to them before you know that they once had music up. An EP known as Sounds of the Sun was up for awhile but they wanted a clean slate and took it down. If you didn’t get to hear that EP, then you truly lucked out. (I'll sell you a copy on eBay in 10 years when it's worth a lot of $$)
But, honestly I lack musical knowledge and therefore can't do them any justice. I can not continue. We are not a music blog. I'm not qualified to tell you why their music is good based on official music standards or whatever, so I'm saying this as their friend and their fan; All I know is that they know how to play their instruments well and that together, along with the help of many other talented individuals at Melodious Din Records, they have and will continue to produce incredible music.
Today their debut EP, The Listening Room, has been released. This is, in a sense, their official beginning as The Red Leslies. I don’t know what to expect, except I know that it’ll be magical. I guess there’s only one way to find out.
I was going to finish this post like that but before I posted this, at exactly 5am, Spotify sent me a notification saying their EP was out. I can officially confirm that it is indeed magical. Listen here.