Leopold and His Fiction is one of Austin’s most well-known bands. Fronted by longtime musician Daniel James, the group has a long history starting in San Francisco in the early 2000s, when James was attending the San Francisco State University to pursue writing. Starting a band in a city that didn’t have a strong music scene proved difficult, so he relocated to Austin soon after finishing his studies and has been here ever since.
While the band has traveled all around the world promoting their music, their upcoming appearance at Sound on Sound Fest this weekend is a bit closer to home.
We caught up with James at Stouthaus Coffee Pub to chat about the group’s history and their feelings about performing at Austin’s newest festival. Thanks to living in many different cities throughout his life, James has drawn inspiration from all of them, leading us to wonder just how much of these cities have played a role in his songwriting.
“Well, I was born and raised in Detroit,” he tells us. “I didn’t really know how much that would affect me until much later. I moved to Los Angeles for a minute and then moved to San Francisco for ten years. I was 22 and that was a chance for me to dive into what I really wanted to dive into. I went to San Francisco State for writing, and I was living in the heyday of the beat poets. Being 22 that was the only thing on my mind, figuring out what inspired them. I was fortunate to live in such a beautiful place with such history. Then I moved to Austin, but I didn’t move here by chance. My daughter was born here, so I had to be here.”
James is gearing up to release his next album with Leopold and His Fiction titled Darling Destroyer on January 20th:
“It was written the minute I got here. I was briefly in a band called Cowboy and Indian with Jazz Mills, the mother of my daughter, and Jesse Plemons. Leopold was going strong but we needed a break since we had made three albums. We needed to step back and analyze everything. It was super right brain and left brain since Cowboy and Indian is super folk, and Leopold is rock. Fast forward three years, I became a father and having the pressures of that was the most drastic change. I think if channeled properly something good can come out of that and those pressures pretty much became the record. It’s a pretty poetic album. If people were going to sit there and analyze it’s pretty obvious where the material is coming from.”
Speaking more about Cowboy and Indian, we asked James if he was going to bring to the group back. “It’s still a thing, we hang out all the time. If we come up with something, we’ll record it. Cowboy and Indian’s best friend is no plan. We recorded a whole album, but only a few of the songs saw the light of day. It kind of fell by the wayside and the funny thing is that none of are like that. I’m not going to say that the band isn’t coming back, but you never know”
With talk of side projects aside, we wanted to head into more current territory, and asked James about his upcoming appearance at Sound on Sound.
“We are super excited to play it. We know the challenges of being a first-year festival. There is so much excitement and inspiration coming from everyone who is involved in it. We had played the Fun Fun Fun night shows a few years back, so this is something that we really wanted to do. We told our manager and our agent to keep our sights on this,” James explained. “I’m pretty confident that it’s going to be successful since the people running it have a good business sense and a good mind. I’m really interested to see how it will do. The location is amazing, I’ve never been out there before, out in Sherwood Forest. It’s a really quirky place to throw a festival.”
To wrap up our conversation, James gave us some details about what’s coming up next for the band with the release of their new LP on the horizon. “We have singles and are wrapping up videos. Right now things are pretty quiet, we usually tour about 250 days of the year and we haven’t had that much to promote until now. When the album comes out in January we will be touring worldwide again, we just got back from a great trip in Germany. We’re just trying to have as much down time as possible, spending time with our families and writing, and then come January we’ll be shipping out.”
Darling Destroyer will be out on January 20, 2017 on Native Fiction Records. Leopold and His Fiction will be performing on the Dragon’s Lair stage on Sunday, November 6 from 2:20-3:00 p.m.
Listen to “I’m Caving In” below.
If you would like to read more of Lauren Gribble’s interviews, you can head to her website Listen Here Reviews.