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Leon III; Photo courtesy of Leon III
Longtime collaborators in the Wrinkle Neck Mules, Andy Stepanian and Mason Brent set out on a different path to create the debut Leon III album. Theirs was the last session recorded at Mark Nevers’ Nashville studio and brought on a diverse cast of storied musicians including Brian Kotzur (Silver Jews) on drums, Tony Crow (Lambchop) on piano, Pete Finney (Bobbie Bare, Dixie Chicks) on pedal steel, Jordan Caress (Caitlin Rose), Kai Welch (Abigail Washburn), and Chris Scruggs (Marty Stuart) to flesh out their psychedelic alt-country record.
Leon III’s self-titled debut, coming out on Cornelius Chapel Records, touches on influences from the Grateful Dead to Son Volt and Wilco.
Ahead of the album’s May 11th release, Leon III share their spacious alt-country take on the Velvet Underground’s dark religious lullaby, “Jesus”. An apparent studio glitch allowed for the haunting backing vocals by Jordan Caress with lead singer and songwriter Stepanian explaining that “during mixing some kind of glitch happened to Mark Nevers’ computer system during one of the rough mixdowns of the song. It caused a very odd delayed effect on Jordan Caress’ vocals in addition to the delays that were supposed to be there. We tried to replicate it and start over but could never get that sound so we just went with the glitching version.”
Speaking to why they chose this cover, Stepanian says he was “listening to a lot of Lou Reed and Velvet Underground while writing this record. For one reason or another, “Jesus” is a Velvet Underground song that I had mostly overlooked over the years. I never really thought about it or paid it much attention until a year or so ago. In the middle of the recording sessions, Mark Nevers – who produced the recording – asked if there was a cover I wanted to try. “Jesus” immediately came to mind. It just fits everything going on thematically throughout the rest of the songs. I love it’s placement right there closing out Side A.”
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