Monday, September 30, 2013

Nashville band Leagues bringing infectious sound to Chicago

Photo by Eric Brown


After carving out esteemed careers on their own, singer Thad Cockrell, guitarist Tyler Burkum and drummer Jeremy Lutito have come together to form Leagues, a band that continues to create a buzz.

The band's debut album, "You Belong Here," debuted on Billboard #1 on the Alternative New Artists Chart and the first single, "Spotlight," is featured in a national ad campaign for Bose headphones.

Nashville band Leagues,, will bring its infectious sound on Oct. 10 to Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Hall, Chicago.

The Dig and Tall Walker also are on the bill. The show starts at 9 p.m., and tickets are $15, available at

I had the chance to talk to Cockrell and Lutito about the band.

Q - Great to talk to you. The band has been named one of "15 Music Artists To Watch In 2013." In forming the band, what were your goals and do you think you achieved them?

Thad Cockrell - I think our goal was to find something that not only captured our imagination, but of the greater public. The idea of it not being just for me or just for you but for the big "us". Something that will connect us. 

We want nothing to do with irony or cynicism. There is this great documentary on the husband and wife duo Eames that had a huge impact and they set out a goal "the best for the most for the least". 

Bravery is a good and dying thing. Starting this band in our 30s was risky for us on lots of levels and it isn't like we had piles of money and we were bored. 

It was an intentional journey. So when there has been the kind of response as there has been toward the music, we feel very encouraged. 

Q - One of the things that I like about the CD is that it roams through a lot of musical territory and is not a one note album. What were the band's goals in sitting down to make the album?

Cockrell - We feel music before we hear it. And we have in a sense let that be the starting point. I think we wanted to make music that gives us lift. 

Something to sing with, to and at each other and if dancing breaks out, all the better. That being said, we believe a "pop" song can be a powerful thing so while we're at it, let's try to actually say something in the lyrics. 

Artists are in a sense reporters.

Q - The album veers in a different music direction than your solo efforts, which had more of a rootsy sound. Did you intentionally want to do something different? Have your fans accepted your new sound?

Cockrell - Yes, I intentionally wanted to do something different and creative. I grew up and still listen to absolutely all kinds of music and to box that into a corner would only be partially true.  

As far as the fans I have no idea. I hope they do. 

However, they might not have any idea what I'm up to with Leagues. But there have been a good many fans that have followed me through the journey for which I'm thankful.  

Q - Jeremy, you've worked with a variety of musicians over the years, including Backstreet Boys, Jon Foreman and Jars of Clay. Why do you think you are in such demand? How have you grown as a drummer by working with so many musicians?
Jeremy Lutito - I'm not sure it was about being in demand as much as I made myself available and was willing to cut my teeth working hard as a hired drummer. I've most definitely grown from playing all kinds of music in many different situations. 

I had a fortunate start as a drummer and have been fortunate to have my career shift into more creative areas that I personally get a lot more out of as a musician.  It was exciting to be asked to be a part of others music. 

Especially when they were great people and the music was quality. But as time went on I realized I had to build something that I had true ownership in, which has become Leagues and much more.

Q - What's next for Leagues? Do you see this a side project or a main project for the three of you?

Lutito - We will be touring this fall and next spring. Hoping to make some new music this winter. 

This is definitely not a side project. We've given so much of our time and effort to Leagues. 

We all believe it would suffer if we didn't give it our all. We're out there to win hearts and connect with people. 

This record we put out in January is still so new to us. We want to see it get to as many ears as possible.