With layers of harmonies that exist to move and flow, a soulful sweetness, and technical savvy, there is little surprise as to why the Leghounds won our Battle of the Bands and the $1,000 prize. With their new End of the World EP, the Leghounds are marking their territory as a Greeley groove machine.
Three music majors and a criminal justice major, this newly-formed group ignited when Karl Markgraf (guitar/vocals/harmonica) and Daryl Cozzi (drums/vocals) met in a former band. In the Fall of 2012, the duo scoped out bassist Jake Batts in a University of Northern Colorado music course, and they invited Batts to join. Likewise, Markgraf recognized Jon Ruffin’s (lead vocals) talent in a vocal jazz class, and the Leghounds gained a vocalist. By September, the band was practicing as an official group, and they quickly began booking a series of shows around town at community venues such as The Clay Center and The Jager.
Despite their rapid success, the four members of the Leghounds are humble and simply excited to share their own original music. The group established that it needed the Battle of the Bands win, but they also loved performing the show.
Batts admitted, “That was the probably the most fun performance I’ve had so far. It was a blast! A lot of it because all the other bands were so good too.”
Cozzi added, “It is great as a new band to gain popularity right off the bat.” In fact, according to Markgraf and the rest of the Leghounds, winning the Battle of the Bands “was the best thing that could have happened to us.”
The songs that wooed the judges at the Battle of the Bands are the same original songs showcased on their new EP.
Markgraf said, ”[The EP] is kind of like a teaser for our full-length album, which will hopefully come out [in the spring.]”
The dynamic interplay of several different musical styles highlights the technical and instrumental abilities of the band. Addressing the band’s knowledge of music, Markgraf said, “We study our instruments a lot, and the goal is to get so comfortable with our instruments that it’s second nature, like an extension of our bodies, and because it’s second nature, we can express anything we want through our instruments. We all have a really solid understanding of music and have a strong facility, which opens a lot of creative doors.”
From the passionate R&B-vocal sound like Brian McKnight caressing the lyrics in their track “The Last Cigarette” to the electric Hendrix-like guitar chords that introduce the song “Sugar,” every track demonstrates the Leghounds’ musical influences and the use of their musical knowledge to transcend that inspiration to make each song their own.
Working from and through their influences, Ruffin said, “A lot of bands think they have to sound a certain way or they don’t. They kind of discard other styles. I think we take from all different styles of music, and we put it together. I think that’s what keeps us really cool.” Some of the band’s influences are Red Hot Chili Peppers, Al Green, Passion Pit, and D’Angelo but, as Cozzi said, they “are not restricted to one certain thing [when it comes to songwriting,] but when we keep going in one direction we also keep those unique sounds in mind.”
And it seems that live music’s undeniable ability to ask the audience to be in the sounds of the music in the moment, feeling each note, is also at the heart of the Leghounds as a band. The band really began to find a relaxed, improvisational niche when they got started by booking one and two hour gigs that turned into three and four hour gigs. Appropriately so, the band’s new EP was, Cozzi said, “pretty much recorded live with mostly live rhythm. We then went back in and added a few layers.” Giving a big shout-out to their producer Greg Heinbecker, the guys recorded the End of the World EP at UNC Recording Studios, and as a gift to their fans they included a cover of the classic Christmas tune, “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.”
Upcoming performances include Friday, January 18 at A.F. Ray’s in Greeley. The Leghounds will also be playing with another Battle of the Bands contestant, Grits and Gravy, at the Marquis Theater in Denver on March 15th.
Photos by Luke Leasure.