In 2013, Veronique Allaer celebrated the completion of her political science/philosophy degree from American University by climbing to the top of a three-story building in Washington D.C. for a better view of the Fourth of July fireworks. It nearly became the headline of Allaer’s obituary; in her revelry, she fell off the building.
Luckily, she only suffered a broken hip and contusions from which she recovered. But the extremely close call made her reorder her life priorities in a skipped heartbeat.
“I loved music but was not taught that I could be a musician, because it’s not realistic,” Allaer says. “I wanted to go to grad school for philosophy. That summer I graduated, I fell off the building. It wasn’t super crazy, but it was life changing. I could have easily died. I knew I wanted to be a musician. Why not? You could die any minute. I hadn’t written or played music since high school, but I was on crutches for two and a half months so I was staying inside alone all day and I started writing songs. It was a blessing in disguise. I’m much more on my correct life path. And my parents were so relieved that I wasn’t dead, when I said, ‘Oh, by the way, I’m not going to grad school and I’m actually going to start a band,’ they were like, ‘Do it! Whatever you want!’ ”
With her course corrected, Allaer recovered and returned to Cincinnati, contacting best friend/co-class president at Ursuline Academy high school Kirsten Bladh (who was in the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP program) about getting into band mode. Bladh, a drummer, switched to bass, while a second guitarist ultimately didn’t work out.
Chris Campbell, longtime friend and fan of Allaer and Bladh’s high school band White Linen, was a logical choice behind the drums, since he was also their roommate. And thus was born … Sweet Teeth.
“We played three shows as Sweet Teeth and then did our first show as Leggy in February (last year); we found out there was a different band called Sweet Teeth and they were really bad and we didn’t want to risk any confusion,” Allaer says with a laugh. “I had already written the song ‘Sweet Teeth,’ so we just kept it as a song and transitioned it that way.”
“We didn’t want to do a Bad Company thing,” Bladh quips. “A song, an album and a band [all called the same thing].”
Leggy’s sound — as evidenced in its live presentation, on Cavity Castle, its digital/physical cassette release, and on its latest digital track, “Grrls Like Us” — is an amalgam of Allaer’s seminal love of the Vines’/Strokes’ simple power chord/garage reverb equation, Bladh and Allaer’s early affection for Joanna Newsom’s Avant Psych Folk and their mutual love of Lana Del Rey and St. Vincent. All of that runs on the atomic power provided by Campbell’s thunderous drum skills, honed by years of pounding the anvil behind a number of local Punk/Hardcore bands.
“I feel like my main influence is that before, for the most part, I was in Hardcore and straight Punk bands, so my playing style is still that way,” Campbell says. “When I try to tone it down, I still usually end up playing fast and loud. So adding that to the St. Vincent/Lana Del Rey mix, it’s intense. Even when I dial it back, I still break cymbals and drumheads.”
“We didn’t really know how we sounded as a band until we had our first recordings,” Allaer says. “We were like, ‘We’ve got this sound going on, let’s just run with it.’ ”
“There are things that we all listen to and are influenced by,” Bladh adds. “But then we each have our own distinct music taste.”
A straight, short line could be drawn between Leggy and Tweens, last year’s Cincinnati Entertainment Award winner for New Artist of the Year, given Tweens/Vacation drummer Jerri Queen’s role as co-producer of Leggy’s recorded output to date. But there are substantial differences between the Pop/Punk outfits.
“Outside of being kind of Punk-leaning Rock music with strong lyrics from a female perspective, we’re completely different bands,” Campbell says. “We have a completely different vibe and sound and, to a certain extent, energy when we play live.”
“The biggest difference to me is the vocal styles,” Bladh says. “Even though the lyrical content is similar.”
Leggy is hoping to hit the studio to record a full-length later in the year and will continue balancing the full-time job/touring regimen that occupied 2014. The trio is ecstatic about their New Artist CEA nomination, feeling that it validates all the effort they’ve put into Leggy over the past couple of years.
“It’s like a sign that all the work we’ve put in will reap the rewards,” Allaer says. “It’s definitely positive reinforcement. We love Cincinnati and I guess this shows they at least like us a little bit back.
“And it might make our parents think we’re more legitimate.”
For more on LEGGY, visit leggy.bandcamp.com.