Entering The Meadow

Leo Drezden is a new Irish four-piece seamlessly blending contemporary jazz rock and electronica with their own special groove-laden sauce. Their weapons of choice are a mix of vintage analogue and cutting edge handheld technology. Their debut album ‘Multi-Moment’ is a 30-minute electronic-space-rock journey that would perfectly soundtrack Jodorosky’s Dune, should he ever get the go ahead to complete it.

You’ll be able to hear an exclusive stream of the album on GoldenPlec later this week before Leo Drezden launch ‘Multi-Moment’ in The Twisted Pepper, Dublin, on March 6th.

Leo Drezden invited GoldenPlec into their studio as they take tentative steps towards album number two, to show us how they work and offer an insight into how they achieve their ageless, cosmic sound.

Tucked away in the control room of The Meadow, a studio with big windows framing beautiful scenery, in a quiet corner of Wicklow offering chilled-out vibes despite only being minutes from a motorway. With piles of assorted equipment everywhere, it feels like being transported to another planet; a most suitable working environment for a band like Leo Drezden.

The Meadow is run by Rian Trench of Solar Bears and overseen by Scan; recording engineer, photographer and vintage gear hound. The Meadow is also used to shoot ‘making of’, photos and videos, as the team recognise how “it’s important nowadays to get to know the characters, not just put an album out.”

“it’s important nowadays to get to know the characters, not just put an album out.”

A Fierce Merging

The members of Leo Drezden originally played together as instrumental, prog-rock outfit Rocket Surgery, but it never quite came together for the Knockanstockan perennials.

“We’d pretty much do one gig a year at Knockanstockan, get inspired to record and then circumstance would get in the way. Our last Knockanstockan was 2 years ago and then it materialised into Leo.”

Some Leo Drezden tunes were gigged as Rocket Surgery before they “brought them into the studio, kicked them around, and then decided to take a fresh start with the bits we enjoyed the most from Rocket Surgery”.

In studio today working on the first track from their second album already, this talented crew are not hanging around. Leo Drezden is now the main project for all the band members.

Rian tells us that the track they’re working on today “...is half written. Typically, we get it to a certain stage in rehearsal then write the rest in the control room. Sound wise as well, there are no real production ideas, we just throw some stuff up and if it doesn’t work out, take it down.”

The ‘half written’ bass line is jammed out over a swirly Flash Gordon-esque synth-scape.

Typically we get it to a certain stage in rehearsal then write the rest in the control room.

The Approach

Where do the initial ideas come from for these half written tracks? “It’s different, sometimes we’ll be jamming and we’ll come up with something together. We all write little bits at home and sometimes someone will say ‘oh that would go really well with…’ this thing I have prewritten. Then we’ll transpose it for the band to play.

So it’s usually a mosaic of different ideas. We butcher loads of old tunes we didn’t like as well. We were in Chris’s house the other day and were taking turns to just name things like, ‘seagull’, ‘golf balls’, and we made little tunes out of all these random things from YouTube using an iPad.”

Their choice of gear gives an insight into how they achieve their distinctive sound, which manages to seem simultaneously vintage and modern. Scan collects “weird, old amps” that are “good for recording as opposed to live and do particular things well” and is particularly happy with how his latest purchase sounds today.

It’s late ‘60s and would have been “fairly clean sounding back in the day” but sounds deliciously gritty and distorted now.


This is just one-half of Leo Drezden’s approach to their sound. The stacks of old analogue synths and Scan’s ever-growing collection of “weird and quirky” old amps is married to the newest of technology.

According to Chris and Rian, the Sampler iPad app is “Amazing! You can record ANYTHING into it and sample it.” On this occasion, Chris has used it to record his daughter’s ballet recital.

The plan is to use the ambient audio of people talking with orchestral ballet music in the background spliced up and mixed into the track. "It’s like an instrument in itself” raves Steve, as Chris casually takes minute snippets, one of strings and another of a tiny portion of conversation, and reworks them into entirely new compositions.

Rian tells us that they all have an app on their iPads for sampling, and jokes that “farts, burps and crisp noises have all been well covered already”.

Their recording process is a true collaborative effort. As the bass groove is tweaked repeatedly from the live room, everyone at mission control pitches in, and vibes off each other.

Steve goes over to a keyboard at one stage, throws the headphones on and starts trying something out. Scan will sporadically pick up his camera and disappear for a bit before coming back. Everyone seems totally absorbed in the process.

Green Fire Magic

Leo Drezden are a remarkably tight-knit unit. At times, they seem like the Borg, finishing each other’s answers, when asked about anything to do with the band. They say that they never really disagree on anything.

This Borg like, hive mentality, extends itself to their physical mannerisms with Leo Drezden -all arms in unison- trying to explain their writing process “We toss ideas up in the air, compare them and A / B them. Then kind of say yeah that’s good, and that’s good… We generally all agree on things, we’re all mad passive! Whatever works, works.

We all have similar tastes in stuff. We’ll compare sounds and decide well, that sits better there, or we might use a blend of things. The recording of the album flowed very naturally; there was never really any stopping point where we were stuck on something. The flow and taking the least obvious route was important”.

So no egos or tantrums getting in the way then? “A lot of the album was recorded at night. We spent a good portion of the time eating - the only bone of contention ever was Chinese or Indian? With the occasional pizza thrown in.”

Godfather of electronica Gary Numan has expressed distaste at producers and musicians harking back to the past to recreate, when the ethos of electronic music is supposed to be about looking to the future. Leo Drezden’s approach to making music would surely receive Numan’s seal of approval.

“We’ve got stuff like these 40 year old Korg synths , the first two synths they ever brought out, and we’re plugging them into equipment that’s come out this year, that’s only been invented three or four years ago. It’s definitely a blend of the technologies.”

The flow and taking the least obvious route was important.

Black Palace

For a band that embrace technology so readily, their live shows are surprisingly... live.

The only exception is a “sampler to run the backing tracks, the little salt and peppery bits from the album, stuff that we couldn’t really do live. So we do play to a backing track but its minimal. It’s just gilding, decoration really.”

While they typically have “two car loads” full of gear for a live show, their future thinking is demonstrated again in their set up, which instead of the traditional lengthy soundcheck, coupled with hanging around before the show, takes them just minutes.

“Last December in Whelan’s, from the stage being clear; 12 minutes later we were playing our first song. Even though we bring our own drum kit and everything. It’s so handy.

We basically have our entire live set up to cart around with us, including the mixing desk that we have on stage. But, the desk uses Wi-Fi, so we just have to hand the engineer a stereo feed, then our own house engineer uses an iPad to control it."

We do a rehearsal here in the live room; get everything sounding exactly how we want it. Then because it’s a digital mixing desk, we just have to hit recall at the show. Plus we can keep it consistent that way.”

we do play to a backing track but its minimal. Its just gilding, decoration really.”

Hunting Drums

The only issues so far with this is the audience getting confused it seems. “It’s hilarious cos Ivan who does the sound is walking around the venue with his iPad with people bumping into him during the gig, looking at the iPad and going NO WAY!!.

We can get all our own in ear monitor mixes on our phones as well, the only danger is the audience thinking were not interested, that we’re just on our phones playing Solitaire or something!”

By the time, we’re done talking, with the help of a gritty old amp, a 21st century app and a team of stupendously creative musicians, the first track from album two sounds ready for lift off.

While Leo Drezden are busy taking Numan’s advice of always looking to the future, us mortals can enjoy their debut 'Multi Moment' from this Friday.

Leo Drezden play The Twisted Pepper, Dublin, on March 6th and Roisin Dubh, Galway, on March 7th.

Photography by: Scan