One of the up -and coming new American bands is without a doubt Philly's Legion 76! Although they heavily impressed with their demo, that was released as an EP at the end of 2015 through Vinyl4Bootboys Records, these guys go for the kill with their upcoming 7" for Contra Records, "Brick And Bone"! Time for a little chat with Eric!
Hi Eric, thanks a lot for taking the time to do this interview! How are things going with you at the moment?
No problem Mano, thanks for the questions! Things are great at the moment. The last few months have been really busy for me but that’s a good thing so I can’t complain.
You play in various bands at the moment, but this interview will mainly focus on Legion 76. I am curious though, because I believe Legion 76 was formed right around the time one of your other bands, Thunder And Glory, was taking off with its first release. What was the main reason to start another band?
You’re right, there was definitely some overlap when we started Legion and there still is. Even though we both loved playing in Thunder and Glory at the time (and still do of course), my brother and I wanted to start something that we could play more shows and tour with. Half of Thunder and Glory spent a lot of years in a van with previous bands so the band was always meant to be a little more laid back. We’re still trying to play shows and travel a bit, just not every possible weekend. Everyone has other priorities so we fit it in when we can. Chris and I still have a lot of gas in the tank though so on the flip side for Legion, we’re trying to do as much as possible. We’re all still young and know that we may not be able to do this forever so we’re doing everything while we still can.
The second main reason for starting Legion was so Chris and I could get back to writing again with just the two of us. We were playing in bands together but it had been a few years since we focused on just our own songs so we figured we would get back at it.
At the end of 2014 you released your first two-track demo online and it was very well received, to say the least! Did you ever expect this kind of response to the band’s first recordings?
I definitely did not expect the response we got. I was happy with the way the songs came out but I figured that they would kind of just stay floating around unnoticed except for our friends in Philly. I’m really critical of myself and the stuff I write so some of my friends told me I was an idiot and that people would be into it. They were completely right and continue to be. I’m amazed that so many people from around the world care about what we’re doing. I couldn’t be more grateful for the feedback and support we have gotten so far.
It literally took a year though to get these tracks on a slab of wax! How come it took so long to get it out on vinyl?
Yeah that was completely my fault. Michal from Vinyl4Bootboys was really patient with me throughout that process. He hit us up about releasing it really soon after I first posted the songs. I didn’t want to release only two songs on a 7” so we booked studio time to record the B side, Ville Morte by Warrior Kids. I think we had that track ready to go by the end of spring. After that things got busy for me as usual and I just couldn’t find the time to finish the artwork and layout. I eventually got my shit together and finished it. After that, Michal pushed it through production really fast to get it released by the end of the year. Even though it took longer than it should have, I’m really happy with the final product.
On the flipside there’s an English version of Warrior Kids’ “Ville Morte” which translates to “Dead City”, a great take on the original I must add! What is your connection to French Oi! and the Warrior Kids in particular?
I have always been a fan of French Oi! I know some people think it’s the hip thing right now or that it’s hipster oi! or something along those lines but that doesn’t matter to me, the French bands write amazing songs. I wanted to do a cover that wasn’t stereotypical for an American band to do so I wanted to pick a foreign song and do it in English. I was listening to Warrior Kids a lot around the time when I was trying to figure out what song to record. Ville Morte stood out because it wasn’t a straight oi! song. We figured it would be more interesting and more of a challenge.
Referring to the hilarious alternative artwork that was used to wrap up the test pressing of your demo EP, are you guys also big on Kiss?
While they are great, it didn’t start because of a fan thing or anything like that. It all kind of started as a joke and the artwork was a product of me being bored at work. We were playing a show on Halloween last year and we figured we had to dress up as something. KISS was probably the most ridiculous and dumbest of our options and it gave us an excuse to close our set with “Love Gun.” Most of us half-assed it and just wore wigs with shitty makeup but Brennan decided to go full on Gene Simmons.
Looking back we probably should have actually learned the song, we sounded terrible. We’ll leave the KISS covers to someone else. The artwork was just so ridiculous that we figured we might as well get some more use out of it for the test pressing.
Only several weeks after your first release the next EP was already announced! “Brick And Bone” will hit the streets soon through Contra Records, what kind of impact you think this record will have?
I think “Brick and Bone” defines how we sound right now. The demo still sounds like us but we’ve progressed a lot in the last year. Contra and Longshot have been great to us so far. We’re looking forward to getting more records out to more people with their help.
I had the pleasure to review it already, so obviously I have heard it many times already and it absolutely kills! Can you tell a bit about Legion 76’s influences and what our readers can expect from it?
Thanks, I’m glad you were into it! I try to take influence from wherever I can. It doesn’t matter what it is, if there something musically that I can learn from then I am all ears. That being said, I still mainly listen to oi! and all of the genres attached to it so you can expect a lot of that. Definitely a lot of melody in there too.
As said earlier, you play in Thunder And Glory, obviously in Legion 76 and more recently you also joined Sweet Fuck All. How do you decide on what you use for what band when it comes down to music and perhaps lyrics?
Each band actually has a different primary writer which is why we all sound so different. I think it is better that way. I write for Legion, Greg writes for Thunder and Glory and Brian writes for Sweet F.A. If I was writing for multiple bands at the same time I would be worried about things starting to blend together.
Besides recording you guys also play live every now and then, with a fantastic trip up ahead next month to Sweden! How did this gig got together and what do you expect from the show and Sweden in general?
We can’t wait for Sweden. My brother wanted to go to PSK anyway and I told him if we’re going all the way over there, we might as well try to play while we’re there. The timing `worked out and Rixe was touring through Philly when we were talking about everything so we asked Wattie to put us in touch with the promoters. They agreed to let us play and that’s it. It’s our first show overseas and there are a ton of incredible bands playing that I’ve never been able to see. There are also a lot of friends that will be there who I don’t get to see because we’re separated by an ocean so it will be good to hang out with everyone. We’ll also be drinking any and every beer we can find.
It won’t just remain exclusive to Sweden though, because I understand you are touring Europe later this year! Something to look forward to I reckon?
That’s right! We’re coming over for ten days in October starting with Pogorausch in Munich and then making our way from there. This is another first for us so we all can’t wait to get over there. I’m looking forward to drinking with the locals in every city. I said this before but it still amazes me that people from that far away are interested in what we’re doing.
Alright, we are almost there… final question! Give our readers a quick update on all three bands you play in and what we can expect from them in the upcoming year or so!
Legion 76 is probably the busiest of them all. Most of our shows for this year will be on the east coast of the US but we’re doing a few different festivals including St. Patrick’s Day Weekend in Montreal, Pretty Shitty Kjell in Stockholm, Midwest Live & Loud in Minneapolis and Pogorausch in Munich followed by a ten day European tour. The new EP comes out this month followed by an upcoming split in the next few months and then hopefully another release by the end of the year.
Thunder and Glory is still at it even though we have been quiet recently. We’re in the process of finishing up a bunch of songs for a 10” coming out on Crowd Control Media and also have a few split EPs in the works that should hopefully be announced soon. We’ll be playing shows here and there but we’ll also finally be making it out of the Philly area and playing Midwest Life & Loud in September.
Sweet F.A. just recorded a bunch of songs over the last month or two and we just put five of them up on our Bandcamp page. Brian is a machine when it comes to writing songs so expect a lot more from us this year.
Thanks a lot! If there is anything you’d like to add to this interview, feel free to do so!
As always, thanks for the support Mano. Appreciate you taking the time to write up these questions. Keep up the good work with everything and I’ll see you in Stockholm!