It may be cold outside but these guys are about to heat up the stage!
Wisconsin winters are not warm, like the South Florida winters I've been used to all my life, where the locals reach for their heavy jackets if the thermostat reads 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Wisconsin winters are freezing. As a matter of fact, freaking cold. And when the angry winds from Canada come blowing South and move across Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, well, the rocking local band, Three Left gets onto the state and heats things up with thundering drums, loud guitars, ballsy bass lines and great vocals.
I catch up to the guys on a Wednesday evening before they venture into the rehearsal studio; their weekly ritual. Although the band's name says "Three Left," there's five guys here, ready to break this interview wide open like the Packer's offense.
FM: Hey guys. Thanks for making time for this interview. I promise this won't be too painful.
TL: Thanks for wanting to interview us. We don't mind a little pain. We want to let you know that Chadwick and Rich couldn't be here today. They're a bit under the weather.
FM: No problem. I'll let you guys speak on their behalf...but remind them, they're not here to counter or protect their images.
TL: (laughing) Perfect!
FM: Let's get right into it. The name Three Left. What's the origin of your band name?
TL: Well, in our prior incarnation of the band, there were originally 4 of us. Three left the band. Now we are five though. Hence the name, Three Left.
FM: You guys have been together since 2006?
TL: Yes, since 2006.
FM: Was Three Left the first name of the band or have you changed the band's name before?
TL: (laughing) Originally, we called ourselves Chronic Detour. John vetoed that.
John: There was no way I was playing in a band called Chronic Detour. So we came up with the name Three Left.
FM: Probably a better choice. You guys don't want to come across as always heading toward a dead end and then have to move in another direction.
FM: Where are you guys from? Are all of you from Wisconsin? I’ll start with John:
John: I've been in Wisconsin a long time but I'm originally from Indiana. Chadwick is originally from California. Rich, along with Dan and Ron are also from Wisconsin, although Dan was in the military and moved around quite a bit.
FM: How did all of you meet, from the local scene? (I assume not at some Macy's white sale?)
John: Yes, that's exactly how we met! Actually, you're right on point. We all pretty much knew each other from around the music scene and three years ago is when the five of us put the current lineup together and it's worked well. But, we've all known each other for about twelve or thirteen years.
FM: Do you think it's benefited you guys as a band to have known each other for a long period of time before coming together as a band?
TL: Absolutely. We pretty much knew each other's personalities and playing style so there were no surprises.
FM: Do you guys consider yourself alternative rock? Metal? Neo-Punk?
TL: I'd say we're hard rock or groove metal.
FM: Do your fans agree with that?
John: Yeah, I'd say that most would say we're more a hard rock band.
FM: Growing up, what music did you listen to? Rock? Rap?
John: I listened to a lot of different types of music; Elvis, Classic Rock, Doobie Brothers, Slayer, Exodus, Metallica.
FM: How about Chadwick and Rich, since they're not here to answer? What music did they listen to?
John: Chadwick, definitely Megadeth. For Rich, he's into groove rock.
FM: Dan? How about you?
Dan: All kinds of metal, Megadeth, Tool, Hatebreed, Killswitch. But, definitely metal.
FM: And Ron. What was your music?
Ron: I was more into the old-school rap scene; Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog. I also listened to Godsmack, the Chili Peppers. I wasn't tied into one particular genre but I did, and still enjoy old-school rap.
FM: I can definitely see how a lot of this music has influenced all of you as a band. Very hard edged but there's still a melodic feel to it. Would you agree?
John: Yeah, I think that's a pretty fair description.
FM: Individually and as a band, you guys have a great sound and great musicianship. What was the first instrument you were interested in? Let's go with the same order we've been following. John?
John: (laughing) My parents would tell you Pots and Pans! For me, it's always been the drums. I got my first drum kit when I was thirteen so it's been a few years that I've been playing now.
FM: Someone answer for Chadwick and Rich.
TL: Chadwick? I'm going to say the harmonica or didgeridoo.
TL: (laughing) He's been singing since he was a kid but he can play a mean harmonica. He plays live on stage, no backing tracks.
FM: That's pretty cool. What about Rich?
TL: Guitar. He's been playing since he was about twelve or thirteen.
FM: Dan? Ron?
Dan: I've been playing the guitar since I was 11.
Ron: My first instrument? That would be a Ninja Turtle Drum Kit. I've been playing bass since I was 28. I got a late start.
FM: What artists impress you? Who do you listen to that motivates you to be better?
John: For me, it' always been Mikkey Dee from Motorhead. He's a tremendous drummer. He's been with the Scorpions now for a couple years. I really enjoy his drum skills.
Dan: I really like Tool and Adam D from Killswitch Engage.
Ron: Being the rap fan of the group, definitely Eminem. He writes incredible verses. I also like Shannon Larkin of Godsmack, great drummer.
FM: Do you guys do this full-time now or do you have day jobs?
John: Nope, haven't quit the day job just yet. I do flooring installations. I've been doing that for about twelve years. Before that, I was a mason/laborer. Good, hard, honest work. Chadwick's head of security for some supermarkets, Rich sells auto parts.
FM: John, don't you worry about hurting your hands while doing floor installations?
John: You know, with any job there's always a risk of injury. I've played with cut fingers, broken fingers, broken legs. It just goes with the territory. If I'm injured before a gig, I just make it happen. II did once cut my hand 3 days before a show with a sharp razor knife while doing flooring. The show must go on.
FM: How about you Dan? Ron?
Dan: This is my full-time gig.
Ron: I've worked as a cell phone technician for a while.
FM: Ok, so your hands are good then.
FM: Are you guys with a label or have you gone independent like most bands these days?
TL: (laughing) We've gone that direction but now, we're independent. We prefer it that way.
FM: Do you feel that remaining independent gives your band an advantage over some others who are signed with a label?
TL: It gives us the flexibility to do what we want and we get final say so on our creativity. What it doesn't give us is the financial assistance to record or tour.
FM: Well, most bands that are with labels would tell you they make most of their money from tours and selling merchandise these days. They really don't benefit too much financially from their CD's. Who books your shows and tours? Do you have a booking agent or do you guys take on this responsibility?
TL: That would be us. We do it all.
FM: Let’s get you guys some endorsements. John, what drums do you play?
John: I play a seven piece set, Tama drums. I use Ziljian symbols, Remo heads, DW Pedals and XL sticks.
FM: I'll make sure to hashtag all of that when it's published. What mic does Chadwick use?
LT: He uses Shure 57's. And Rich plays his PRS and Schechter.
FM: Both great guitars. Very versatile. Dan? What's your guitar?
Dan: Schechter and ESP.
FM: Nice. You guys aren't messing around. Ron? How about you? What bass are you using?
Ron: I play an Ibanez. I run it through Ampeg cabinet.
FM: I've heard some say Ampeg's are old school. Ampeg still makes some pretty great amps.
FM: Do you guys do all the mods and repairs on your gear?
John: I'll use a drum tech for some things but the rest of the guys usually do their own mods and repairs.
FM: That must save you guys some money.
John: Yeah, it does.
FM: Are you guys keeping a pretty busy tour schedule?
John: We're pretty busy for the next several months. We like to get out there as much as possible and perform.
FM: Do you guys travel a lot out of state to other venues?
TL: Yeah, we do. Iowa, Kentucky, Texas. We'll be in Florida some time next year so you'll have to come see us then.
FM: Most definitely! Do you guys have a favorite venue where you just really enjoy playing?
TL: Probably the Route 20 in Racine, Wisconsin. It's a pretty cool place. Usually great crowds and we get them going.
FM: You guys are around each other a lot. I assume it's like being in a marriage but with five different personalities. Are there days when some of you aren't into getting together and practicing? How do you get past that?
TL: Yeah, that's something we have to deal with sometimes but we talk it out and get to business. We all share the same goals with respect to our music. And, we get along well, so that makes it easier as a whole.
FM: Are there some practical jokers in the band? How do you sometimes keep the mood light?
TL: We once played a trick on Ron by having the studio producer play back a track we just recorded, set on full auto-tune. Ron hates auto-tune and went nuts. The producer looked at him with a straight face and told him he was crazy, it sounded great. We let it go on for a bit and then told him we were joking.
FM: Ha! That's great. Do you guys ever play any covers? Disturbed really nailed it with Sound of Silence. Is there a Sound of Silence in your future?
TL: No, we really don't do covers. We got into this to do our own music and that's the direction we're in and will continue to be.
FM: If you were offered a lot of money to do a cover and had to perform it live at all of your shows, would you do it?
TL: That's a good question. Possibly. But, it would have to be a cover that we all agreed upon and something that fits into our sound.
FM: Your song, “Let Me Go,” very cool. I hear some Godsmack, Metallica, Alter Bridge, Pantera. What do you hear when you listen to this song?
TL: Some Metallica, Sevendust, Killswitch. We sound like a lot of other bands so when people come out to see us live, they know what to expect. You know; "If you like Metallica, you're going to like Three Left."
FM: Your new CD, “The Calling,” how long did that project take to put together?
TL: It went very quickly, about a week. Once we had everything all set with the songs, we went into the studio and banged it all out pretty fast.
FM: What about the mastering of the CD? Who does that?
TL: Eric LaBrosse of Cherry Pit Studios. Eric is great, really one of the best.
FM: I'll make sure to hashtag him too. Songwriting. Who writes most of your songs?
TL: We do that collectively. We all share in the writing of the music and lyrics.
FM: What’s your writing process? Does someone come up with a riff? Melody? Words first?
TL: We usually have some sort of riff and then we all take it from there and once all that's done, Chad comes up with lyrics.
FM: How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
TL: It's definitely gotten tighter, more aggressive and more modern. We're a more rounded band now. Our next CD will be heavier, darker and more metal.
FM: What has been your biggest challenge as a band?
TL: For one, to be heard live and get bigger venues to play. We always want to focus on the music and we want to stand out. We all strive for the same goal and we love doing this. But, at the same time, there's always temptations for other things so we all keep each other focused and in check.
FM: Are there any egos in the band?
TL: No. That's never been an issue with us.
FM: That's great because a big ego can destroy a band.
Tl: Most definitely. We all are focused and keep each other grounded.
FM: What advice do you have for someone who wants to form his own band?
TL: Be yourself, don't give up. It takes a lot of time and effort and a lot of work. But, in the end it will be well worth it.
FM: What’s on the schedule for the next few months?
TL: We'll be touring and writing. We'll be recording our new CD next Winter.
FM: Any last words?
TL: You can catch up to us on ReverbNation, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. We're pretty active with all social media and are always posting new updates and videos.
FM: Guys, it's been a pleasure. I'm looking forward to seeing you when you make your way to South Florida.
TL: Thanks, Fretboard Magazine. We plan on being in your area sometime next year.
FM: We will come out to hear you, and we will get the word out.
Craig Marks, Editor