LevRage is pure American metalcore. No bells. No whistles.
Formed in the year 2000 and based in Madison, Wisconsin, the band is fronted by Wisconsin native and vocal powerhouse Joel Beaulieu. I had the opportunity to speak with Joel and find out what makes LevRage tick.
MI: Can you start by giving me a little background on LevRage and who makes up the band? It is LevRAGE right, not Leverage?
JB: It is LevRage, long A. The band was formed 4 or 5 years ago in Lake Geneva, WI. Four of the members were from Illinois and one of them was from Lake Geneva. They were based out of Schaumburg. The band made some changes, my brother Mike created the band and he’s the one who stayed constant. He made personal changes as they went, not only him but other band members. As we exist now, four of the members are from Wisconsin and only one is from Illinois. We decided to move our base out of Illinois and into Wisconsin to the Madison area. We feel that Madison is the most legitimate place to put your music out in Wisconsin and one of the biggest rock cities in the Midwest.
MI: What keeps you motivated, you personally and as a band?
JB: What keeps me motivated is hearing the constant progress the guys are making as a band. Every time we create a new song the feeling of creating something that gives you the chills that makes you feel the energy. Along with that, just playing out live, I enjoy playing out live in front of people. I love the energy you get, there’s nothing like it. It doesn’t matter the size of the crowd. I don’t care if I’m playing for five people, I don’t care if I’m playing for 50 people. We want to give you the same energy, because that’s the energy we’re feeling. We’re having a good time and we’re just having fun and I think that’s the biggest drive right there, just to have a good time with it.
MI: You currently have one CD, correct?
JB: We actually have two EP’s. The first EP though is with prior members that aren’t in the band now. That one you can’t find anywhere really anymore. We are getting ready to record our third EP this winter and we hope to be bringing that to everybody by January or February.
MI: How many songs will be on the new EP?
JB: The new EP will include 4 new songs. We’re doing it in groups of 4 because budget wise it works and we don’t want to put too much out there at once. In my opinion you want to save a little bit. The way we’re writing music right now we could go bigger, there’s software coming out left and right but we’re going to stick with four just to keep the budget low, so it doesn’t take forever and keep people guessing, waiting for more, hopefully.
MI: What can you tell me about the four songs that will be on the new EP?
JB: The four new songs are going to be what LevRage really is now, as we exist with its five members today. These are going to be songs that show what we really are, what we’ve jelled into and what we’ve become. The first EP with “Angels and Demons” and “Pushing Resistance” on it, we put that out a little bit too quick, I don’t think we worked together long enough.. It didn’t turn out badly, we were all happy with it but I think it could have turned out a lot better given a little bit of time. We didn’t want to take the time, time is money, time is everything right now for us. The new CD will be four of our newer songs showing what we’ve really become, what we’ve jelled into and what we want to be going forward. I think they’re more dynamic, I think they’re definitely put together better and it shows how we’ve progressed. I think there’s going to be a big difference when people hear the first four to the next four. Hopefully they’re really happy with it. Hopefully we get a really good response from it.
MI: You expect to release this EP January / February?
JB: Yes, we’re really, really pushing to get it out February at the latest because we would like it to be available for people to listen to going into the next touring season or into the next music season, into the spring when people go out and are ready to go see shows during the spring and summer. It seems like a lot of people don’t want to go out in the winter too much.
MI: You are currently working on or getting ready to work on a music video?
JB: Yes. We weren’t going to say which song the video was going to be on, but it is going to be on “Pushing Resistance.” We’re going to be doing the video for that song. We wanted to do it with one of our newer songs that we have. Unfortunately we don’t have them studio recorded yet, and the time it would take, we can’t fit it into our schedule. The video thing came out of nowhere. Someone approached us actually as a backer. He wants to take care of us financially and have this video made. He’s got some very, very professional connections that he’s going to be bringing into this. We are very, very excited for this opportunity. We can’t be anymore excited. A lot of bands don’t get these opportunities. Financially it’s a burden, it’s really hard to do. Anytime you get lucky enough for somebody to give you this opportunity you’ve got to jump all over it, whether you’re ready or not. You’ve got to jump on it and that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’ll be filming that, shooting that at the end of October. The rest of the work we have to do on it over the next month or two. We hope to have that out by the end of the year, actually sooner than that, I’d like to see that out by the end of November truthfully. For sure by the end of the year.
MI: I think a lot of people, including me, take those music videos for granted. Like, oh, somebody just takes a video camera and shoots the band doing something.
JB: These days technology will allow you to do a video that way. Some of these smart phones they have and the way that you can set up a sound on the computer and things that you can do with your computer these days. You can put up a video that looks quite decent together that way. It’s all your personal preference and choices if that’s what you want to do. We would probably have done it if we had to, but being approached right now in this situation, we’re going to just take it and we’re going to run with it. A video is very important to have. If you put a video out there, it gives people something for their eyes, not only for their ears. You open yourself up to a lot more multi media, more social media, internet, YouTube, wherever else you can go to find a video. I think that’s going to open us up to a whole new audience. Then the people that can’t come out to see us play live, it will give them a glimpse into us. Here’s a video, here’s a visual, this is who we are. I can’t wait. It can be a lot of fun.
MI: Once you finish the video and get the new CD released, do you have some long term goals?
JB: Yes, next year our goal is to play in several different states in the Midwest. It’s time to branch out for us. We’ve played in three states only, that needs to expand. There aren’t a lot of people hearing your music if you aren’t getting out and about. We plan on doing a multi-state tour next year. We would like to reach every state in the Midwest. We’re not going to shoot too huge and say that we’re going to try to get all over the place. Nationally, financially that’s a big task. I would say that hitting all the states in the Midwest would be the goal.. Social Media can only take you so far. There’s a lot on Social Media, a lot of people can hear your music, but the best way to do it is to get out there, tour, play for people live. Until they experience you live I don’t think they really get the true feeling of who and what you arE. I think that experiencing a band live is when you find out what the band really is and what they’re about.
MI: Are you basically the person that takes the lead with the band?
JB: We have no manager, we have no booking agent, we have no promoter, we do this all in house definitely. We try to split the work up as much as we possibly can. There’s just a couple of us that have the niche with the computer, have the niche with Social Media, have a niche with getting our name out there that work on it maybe a little bit more than the others because we have a little bit more time. Everybody in the band is putting in what they can, nobody is slacking. They are giving it their all, giving what they can give based on the situation that they’re in right now. It’s working out good. It gets a little hectic sometimes. Sometimes it will drive you a little crazy trying to do all that. I understand why bands go out and hire all these people to do these things for them. Unfortunately, again, that’s a burden. It’s really hard to come up with money. Another thing is, a lot of bands are lucky enough to have people that will volunteer to do things for them. Unfortunately we don’t have that either. We rely pretty much all on ourselves. We don’t even have roadies. We load our own equipment still.
MI: I don’t think that’s uncommon either. I hate to say it.
JB: It isn’t uncommon. I still see those bands that have those good friends that will come and give them a hand on stage. To those bands I say, hey, take care of those guys because they are more valuable than you know. To have somebody to be able to come along and help you out with a show is huge, take care of those guys.
MI: What is your strategy as far as reaching people via Social Media? How do you find people using Social Media?
JB: I will admit I did have a strategy for what I was doing with Social Media. I’ve heard other bands say it, I can’t recall who it was, they were found on Social Media. They said whatever you do, don’t give up, use Social Media. I believe in using Social Media a lot. If it weren’t for Social Media right now there wouldn’t be a lot of people right now that know who LevRage is. There are people all over the world now that know who LevRage is. I can honestly say that because we are played on many independent music stations around the world. We are played in the UK on Neueregelradio.com. we’re played in Japan, we’re played in Canada all the time on Onlyrockfm.com. There are a number of stations in the United States that are playing us, also Australia.. When I send a friend request on Social Media, I don’t just send a friend request to anybody, I send a friend request to people who are in the music scene. Number one, you have to meet people in the music scene. Not everybody can drive all over the state or all over the United States and go meet these people. Where do I find these people? I look in the heavy metal forums, the rock forums, groups like that. Sometimes, you’ll see on Facebook “people you may know” that has thirty mutual friends with you. Okay, so let’s see who this person is, see if they seem to be a nice enough person. I don’t want to know people that are going to go on our page and say all kinds of crazy things. You can run into a lot of crazy people out there on Facebook and other Social Media sites. For instance, I sent you a friend request. I had really no idea what you had to do with the music industry, but I could tell you were in the music industry. Here we are today, conducting an interview.
MI: You have one more show scheduled for this year?
JB: We have a gig at The Back Bar, it will be Halloween. Then we’ll be calling it for the season I think unless a good opportunity comes along. We’ll always consider any opportunity during the off season, what a lot of bands consider the off season. Hopefully we’ll get a couple that we can play out. You know what, I don’t look forward to taking four months off and not playing out. I actually hope that something comes along that we can do a couple of shows. If not, Halloween will be our last one. We’ll be going into the studio, we’ll be taking care of wrapping up the rest of that video and getting it out to people as soon as possible.
MI: Is there anything else that we haven’t talked about that you want to throw out there?
JB: The most important thing I want to stress is that people get the name of our band correct. It is LevRage with a long A in Rage which is why we capitalize the R to make it stand out. We took the word Leverage and inuendo’d it, so it is LevRage.
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