This article is from Issue 54: Nov/Dec 2011


The Drop

For the last decade, LEAGUES frontman Thad Cockrell musically flew solo. Except for brief stints of collaboration, Cockrell crafted his thoughtful, alt-country singer/songwriter sound by himself. But in 2010, weary of writing—as he calls them— “songs about me,” and ready to hang up music altogether, Cockrell’s creative journey took an unexpected turn into new territory—
full band rock ’n’ roll.

Through a series of seemingly happenstance meetings that later led to secret jam sessions, LEAGUES was formed when industry veterans Cockrell, Tyler Burkum (guitar), Jeremy Lutito (drums) and Mike Simons (bass) decided to take a chance on one another. “[ There have been] a lot of small cliffs we’ve jumped o and some bigger ones. … that’s kind of how LEAGUES came into being,” Cockrell says. From the first time the four got together in the same room, Cockrell says it “felt like something trying to become—a sound trying to get fleshed out—and we started writing songs immediately. I’ve never experienced anything like the music these guys put out onstage. … It continually captures my imagination.” Cockrell believes the songs born during the LEAGUES sessions are the “best [that] have been given to me.”

In many ways, LEAGUES’ music is a prism—refracting different versions of Cockrell’s voice, the players’ instrumentation and musical atmospheres. You can almost hear the band seeking out what its sound will become, all while Cockrell explores lyrical themes of relationships and redemption. “Every song is a worship song,” he says. “A conversation with the Creator.”

Despite the experimentation, each of LEAGUES’ songs are high-spirited and singalong-able.“We all want to make music that’s bigger than ourselves, that picks you up from wherever you’re at and gives you life —even if it’s just for a moment,” Cockrell says.“The only way that happens for a listener is if it happens for us.”

And while playing with a full band has expanded Cockrell’s sonic options, the singer is clear this new venture “is not people playing Thad Cockrell songs.” For the members of LEAGUES, this new leg of their musical journey is about what can be accomplished when four artists aspire to a sound bigger than merely the sum of their individual parts.

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