Notable Nashvillians: What Does LEAGUES Wannado?

They’ve got a spotlight, oh, oh.

Chances are, you’ve heard of LEAGUES. These dudes are the talk of Nashville. From Live on the Green to Cannery Ballroom this Friday with a world tour in between (check out their Vine to get an idea of their road life and the shenanigans that ensue), LEAGUES is a success story of what’s exciting in the Nashville music scene. The band, made up of Thad Cockrell, Tyler Burkum, and Jeremy Lutito (all with rich musical histories of their own) is a sort of supergroup, combining charisma, impeccable lyricism, and inescapable melodies.

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From L to R: Jeremy Lutito, Tyler Burkum, Thad Cockrell

Their debut album “You Belong Here” is a thoughtful-yet-danceable triumph of catchy songwriting that doesn’t feel like “catchy” was the ultimate goal. Their single “Spotlight” is one part modern surf rock, another part indie pop, and all parts AWESOME. You won’t be able to resist. (Also, your Wannado tip: check out the last track on the album, “Friendly Fire”. Preferably by yourself when you’re driving and feeling particularly angsty. Not that we’ve done that…)

To celebrate their homecoming show at Cannery Ballroom this Friday (you WILL be there), we chatted with LEAGUES about all things Nashville, from the music community to breakfast food to a dance move called “The Frisbee”.

OK, starting off very Nashville-centric. What part did Nashville play in the way you guys came together?

Tyler: None of us would know each other if it wasn’t for Nashville – it was the connector to all of our relationships. When we started the band, Thad had just moved back to Nashville from Raleigh and I lived in Minnesota. In the more romantic way, Nashville played a huge role by  being a backdrop of support and songs. We always say we’re searching for the best song. It’s not about just trying to make an album or have a cool sound. That’s a huge way that Nashville has impacted our band. It’s been a song town for a very long time. You’re always as good as your next song. We could list tons of our favorites, but if we were asked what band is your biggest influence we’d be like…uhhh? But that’s how Nashville is: What songs are blowing your mind right now?

As you’ve been touring, you’ve plugged in to a lot of different music communities. What makes the artistic community in Nashville unique?

Tyler: I think what makes Nashville stand out, other than it’s incredible history, is really amazing. The talent – obviously there’s lots of talent [elsewhere], but there’s a kind of humility in Nashville.  For a place that could be so competitive – there are probably parts of the Nashville scene that are competitive, but if someone succeeds it’s not like you have to knock them down. If you have a friend in a band and they get a great record deal you’re just really happy for them. The scene rallies around them more like a small town than the big music scene it really is. That is not the same every where. Other places if you get big the scene is like, eh, we’re done with you. Nashville celebrates their own when they succeed.

Here’s the rapid-fire fun part. We want y’all’s take on your favorite places in Nashville. First one: favorite local band right now.

Tyler: Roman Candle. That’s easy. (everyone chimes in with declarations of agreement, including an “oh yeah!” from Thad in the back of the bus)

Favorite Nashville meal?

Thad: Ashley Christensen when she was a guest chef at City House. She did a family dinner.

Tyler: No, but like, right now. (laughs) Thad’s house for breakfast, maybe?

Thad: To eat right now would be… can I do top three? Arnold’s. Rolf and Daughters. (Jeremy asks what he would get there) Just about everything I’ve had there. Just order one of everything. And…I mean, there’s nicer places, [but] we love Salvadorena. It’s a pupuseria off Nolensville Road and it’s our band’s staple. Nobody knows about it. It’s where we take every body to do business and we bury people in the back in the parking lot. (he’s kidding, y’all)

Now: Favorite coffee place? We don’t want you to make any enemies, people are passionate about this!

Thad: (laughs) Yeah, I mean, people are jealous for our love! We like them all for different reasons. We kind of go to all three of these equally – Roast, Barista Parlor, and Crema. Each one does certain things the best, but we love all those.

Weirdest night you’ve ever had in Nashville?

Thad: I don’t know if I can say…we’ll just say any night that ends at Santa’s. Usually weirdness precedes it.

Thing we don’t know about LEAGUES that’s never been covered in an interview?

Thad: (listening to Jeremy from the front of the bus) OK, here we go! Jeremy at the age of 12 was in a dance troupe with 25 other girls – he was the only guy. They wore sequined, shiny outfits and the name of it was Body Talkers.

And his body does talk! He dances. The other night we went into this hotel and there were these two huge wedding parties there…by the end of the night all the wedding parties were circled around Jeremy watching his body talk.

Any signature move?

Thad: There’s one signature move he invented post-Body Talkers called the frisbee. The frisbee dance.

What’s next for LEAGUES?

Thad: Rest. We’re trying to make our gray hair turn un-gray. Rest. That’s next. Outside of that, I’m not sure. And I’m not sure that we mind that either.

Please play “Friendly Fire” Friday! It’s our favorite. 

Thad: We have a request for Friendly Fire! You know I make my own hot sauce. It’s called Friendly Fire – my version of sriracha. It isn’t for sale, but maybe I should have some for sale at the show! If you ever go to Otaku South, the ramen pop-up, they use my hot sauce.

And there you have it, folks. LEAGUES is a hot sauce-makin’, body-talkin’, song-lovin’ Nashville dream. Grab Wannado and get the show details/tickets, and we will see you on Friday night! Colony House, the band formerly known as Caleb*, will be opening – we are in for a treat, y’all! Bring your dancin’ shoes and make sure you’ve got that album memorized pre-show! It’s great.

– Your local guide.
[spotify id=”spotify:album:6vKL22hr376FaLLQZGCB1h” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]

*10 points to Gryffindor if you get the Prince reference