5 Questions with Rags #64 - The Leg-Up Program

This is a long one, because this is a genuinely huge band (In number and sound), so I'm going to try to keep this intro thing short. If you aren't lucky enough to live on Vancouver Island, maybe you haven't heard of the Leg-Up Program. And if you are on the Island and still haven't heard The Leg-Up Program, what are you doing with your life? And lastly, if you have heard or seen The Leg-Up Program, good work. For real though, The Leg-Up Program is one of the raddest bands rocking these parts right now. With a staggering number of musicians at any given show (I think I've seen them with up to 16 people, in various configurations) the music they make – soul, funk, hip-hop, gospel, jazz – hits with an incredible energy. Watching such a large group of people up on a stage, all working together towards that common goal, is really something to behold. Every time I see them perform I am filled with the kind of joy that reminds me of what starting making me love music in the first place. It's warm, fun, communal. I hear that there's an album in the works somewhere, due at some time in the future, but until then you have to venture out into the world and find them. But at the end of your journey, rich aural gifts await! Nailing such a large band down all at once is, for all intents and purposes in regards to interviewing, impossible, but I was lucky enough to catch 10 of them in a room at once, so 10 members is what you get for the biggest round of the 5 Questions yet. (On the docket, David – Trombone, Nick – Trumpet, Ashley – Drums, Greg – Guitar/making the trains run on time a day late, Daniela – Vocals, Kady – Vocals, Fred – Bass, Stevie – Raps, Sean – Keyboard, Simon - Percussion)

Keep up with all the Leg-Up Program goings on over the ol' Book of Face.


1. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?

David: Oh yeah. It was “Geist” by Smashing Pumpkins. I got it at a Walmart in California. I still dig it a lot.

Nick: I think it might have been Five Alarm Funk's first album. It was very informative to see that kind of music rather than what was on the radio. Instrumental music.

Daniela: Yes. I bought two at the same time. One was Boys II Men and the other was...uuhhh...Two boys and two girls from Sweden...What were they called?

Random voice from somewhere in the room: ABBA?

Rags: Ace of Bass?

Daniela: Ace of Bass! Yes!

Kady: Mine's not nearly as cool. <Don't know where Kady got the idea that Boys II Men or Ace of Bass is cool> I bought Backstreet Boys, because that was the thing back then. It was Backstreet Boys or the Spice Girls. Then also, Loretta Lynn. I saw “Coal Miner's Daughter” when I was about 6 and that's one of the things that made me want to start singing.


2. When's the last time you did something for the first time?

David: That happens all the time. I have trouble keeping track of it. And the amount of shit that happened in the last week has been incredible. Something I've been doing for the first time is working in the under-belly of hotels. I work for A/V company that subcontracts out to hotels. So I'm setting up projectors and stuff for hotels. It's really interesting to get the behinds-the-scenes view of a hotel and see how the staff acts when they're not around customers. Depending on the place...

Nick: Every week. I'm a first-year apprentice carpenter so I'm learning stuff every week. Last week I learned how to put in sub-floors. The work before that I learned how to do flashing...Uhhh, not the fun kind of flashing though. Every week is something learn and I can see my progression within a couple days.

David: Actually, I have a better answer. Last Friday I worked a trade-show for the first time. I work for this company called Limbic Media. Our product is sound-reactive lighting. We made this jam-tent and it was crazy. I was there for 11 hours, gave our pitch to so many people and I played hand-drums for the entire day. By the end they were tingling. Burst some capillaries for sure.

Kady: It was probably surfing. I sucked at it but it was a lot of fun. I got my ass kicked by the ocean. I would do it again but I wouldn't expect to be any better...no matter how many times I do it. I like the water a lot.

Daniela: I hate the ocean. It's cold and terrifying. I haven't done it yet, but I will, on April 1, being doing a solo show at Distrikt (Victoria) for this Sock-Hop night.

Kady: Better not be an April Fool's joke and you show up and there's nobody there.

Simon: I just got back from visiting Colombia for the first time.

Seann: St. Frank's restaurant downtown, I had a hot-dog that's dressed as a Big-Mac. It's called the Big-Mac Hotdog. It was really good. It was great.

Daniela: I'm stoked for you. A few years ago I had a taco that's a Big-Mac and it was fucking delicious.


3. If you could spend the day with anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?

Greg: Sorry to be all real on you, but I gotta go with either grandfather. Dad's side never met but he was a cool guy, I hear. Mom's side, gone recently and crazy artist. I would spend the day with them just talking.

Ashley: I'd spend it with my dad. He passed away a couple years ago and it would be really cool to hang out with him again. I'd give anything spend another day with him. And I'd ask him for recipes. One of my favourites, he called them “Beer-Can Yorkshires.” I don't know how he did it but he got them to grow taller than a beer can and I wanna know how!

Greg: That's such a deceiving name for bread. Yorkshire Pudding.

Ashley: Yes, it is.

Stevie: I would probably want to go skateboarding with John Cardiel...pre-paralyzation. I know that sounds harsh. Or post. Either way it would be great, because he's a really inspiring skater. I shouldn't discriminate like that, it's really terrible!

Rags: I don't know. I think he'd probably wanna go skating with you pre-paralyzation as well.

Fred: Gary Busey! Have you seen that show “I'm With Busey” that he used to be on? That seems like a good time. Pure chaos. I love that.


4. What's your favourite household chore to do?

Greg: Sweeping, because it's so easy! My dad had this rule where the person with the most food under their seat at the end of the meal had sweep. I found out years later that my brother used to just kick all his food under to my side. So sweeping is kind of nostalgic.

Ashley: Is tidying an okay answer? Just keeping things organized. Keep surfaces free of debris. Short of that, I really just like wiping things down. Clean surfaces.

Shawn: I would have to say cleaning the shower.

Daniela: That's crazy.

Sean: Just hold on. There's a good way to do it. You bring a sponge in the next time you take a shower and you just take a shower and clean at the same time. The water's already going, you spray the soap everywhere, free stuff and boom, it's done.

Rags: I do the same thing! Fucking rights. (At this point Sean and I shared a hi-five.)

Daniela: I feel like you're just scrubbing dirt off of the wall and it's ricochetting off the wall and onto your body.

Sean: That's why afterwards you clean yourself.

Simon: I really like tidying. Organizing. Sometimes just reorganizing it.

Ashley: My man!

Rags: So what is it about percussionists that make them so into tidying?

Ashley: Order.

Simon: Order.


6. What's one album people should listen or one book they should read before their time expires, what would it be?

Stevie: That's a real good question.

Rags: Okay, you can have one album and one book if you want.

Stevie: For a book I'm going to say “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. It's got lots of good insights. And then album...So many good albums...trying to think of one that's really varied in genres and hits all these points...

Fred: This is hard because I have all these things in my head that are important for me but I don't think other people would necessarily enjoy.

Rags: It doesn't necessarily have to to be something they'd enjoy. Something that makes them think or feel, even feel things they may not want to feel.

Stevie: In that case, for my album I'm going to say Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. It's incredible story-telling.

Fred: The most important albums for me in far as what I get from them would be Black Sabbath – Paranoid because the idea that that sound was so new at that time is important. I don't know if we've seen since that era something change like that. How do you even revolutionize like that anymore? 

6. The guest question comes from the funky homie Qdup: What's something you've been trying to accomplish musically that you haven't been able to?

David: For the trombone, playing fast and quiet. That's a thing I've been trying to do. It's really easy to play loud on the trombone. Also, you're moving the slide and you might move the slide half a meter to go between two notes. Sometimes doing that quickly, like if you're playing 1/16s it gets super intense. I see professional trombone players play like that and I think, “How do you even?” Keeping my eyes on the prize, practicing all the time to try to get that.

Nick: I'm also a bass player and I have this huge disconnect between trumpet and bass. I can read music with trumpet and I can solo trumpet very well, and with bass I can't do either of those things. But I feel like I'm a better bass player 'cause I hold down the groove so well. It's a weird battle with myself. I love the high of the trumpet, being right at the front of the stage but I love being part of the foundation sound too.

Greg: Soloing on any key fluently. I'll always get one finger in the wrong place.

Ashley: The Purdie Shuffle above 90 bpm. I can't get it above 90 bpm, it starts getting ugly from there. Think Stevie Wonder, “Higher Ground.”

Daniela: I wish my vocal range was bigger. There are songs we've been playing a long time I still don't feel comfortable with and I wish my vocal chords would just figure it the fuck out and get there. That's partly because I haven't been able to take vocal lessons, so that's been a challenge for me. Also, the guitar. I tried to teaching myself and got really frustrated. I broke a string and that was the end of it.

Kady: Similar to Dani, my struggle in always trying to accompany myself in uhhh non-shitty fashion. And I always struggle with my fundamentals vocally because everything I've ever done I've done by ear and it's mostly just a feel. There's a lot of stuff that I feel like I don't understand that frustrates the hell out of me. I wish had some theory or some better fundamental understanding of music.

Stevie: Okay. <sigh> I bought a banjo in 2003 and I'm still very rudimentary at it and I really wanna just be able to shred bluegrass. But I haven't got there because it's a really difficult instrument and I don't have the time to learn it while doing everything else. But if I could just rip that banjo I would be a happy man.

Fred: I can't improv. That's solely from a lack of even trying to get good at it on my part. I can write complex things, simple things, but when it comes time to completely improv a solo like these guys make me do sometimes, I get through it but it's a sweat. I find that it's proportionately easier the more booty there is in my face. Which I've enjoyed at one show so far.

Simon: Harmonica. I find it to be very difficult.

Sean: I've been trying to play woodwind instruments, clarinets or saxophones. Just recently got a job at Long & McQuade and there are sales going on all the time. I'm an impulse buyer and I saw a deal and thought “I better get it.” It just kept going from there. And now I have three instruments that I never played. I wanted to but I don't want to. I'm trying to sell them now actually. I sold a tenor last night.