It’s not often that one of New England’s most beloved jam bands—Percy Hill—play together, but when they do, they usually sell out. Coming up this weekend, Percy Hill will play two shows for fans—one in Maine and one in New Hampshire. Founded in Durham, New Hampshire, in 1993, the band has consistently maintained a die-hard fanbase that comes back, again and again, to see the group perform. Live For Live Music caught up with Percy Hill bassist John Leccese to get a better insight into the band and what they have coming up, as well as gaining a few details about some movie soundtrack nuggets in his past.
L4LM: No matter how much time has passed between shows, fans always flock to see Percy Hill, and your shows generally sell out. Having not performed in the area since March, how does it feel to come back to your New England roots with the upcoming shows in New Hampshire and Maine?
John Leccese: The last time we played New Hampshire, or at least Portsmouth, it was in 1998, I believe. It feels great because we haven’t been back in that long. When we played Portland last summer, we did our own show, but we also played with Twiddle and moe. at Thompson’s Point. That was fun. It feels great to be back with the guys. We’ve been playing for however many years, and I want to see some old faces and just want to put on a great show.
L4LM: With the album Color In Bloom winning the Studio Album of the Year Award at the 1st Annual Jammy awards in 2000, followed by the Live album in 2003 and the After All album in 2005, is there anything new on the horizon as far as albums go? Is there anything fans can anticipate in the coming future?
JL: We are currently using the internet to our advantage and passing music back and forth. We are essentially layering back and forth from the comfort of our own home. We’re overdubbing ourselves. Yes, there is new music that is being circulated. As far as an album goes, we have a lot of material, and we are going to see how much of it we can get together. You never know, but we’ve been talking about it.
L4LM: Let’s step away from the band for a moment and talk about something completely different. As a bassist, your resume not only includes performing with Percy Hill, but also with Groovechild in your early career, followed by Moon Boot Lover. Plus, you have been an original member of Assembly of Dust since 2002. However, what many may not know is that you and Nate Wilson, also of Percy Hill and Assembly of Dust, were composers for the 2004 film, Second Best. How did that project come about?
JL: A man named Carl Schel was working on the movie, and he was tasked to find music for the film. He was a fan and approached us. We definitely said yes because it was such a great opportunity. We would get rough edits of the film to get our creative juices flowing. Nate and I would sit in a room, hammer out some ideas, and go back and forth. We would come up with full-on themes and ended up recording them in our basement. We recorded about an hour’s worth of music, and it was such a great experience. We just sat in the room, made music, and recorded it. Thanks to Carl, some of the music made it into the movie. I wish we had done some more [with film], but with our other commitments musically, we just never had the opportunity. Hopefully, we can get back to that at some point.
L4LM: Having been involved in several different musical projects throughout the years, how do you keep your schedule straight with Assembly of Dust and Percy Hill?
JL: It’s not easy to juggle it all. Assembly of Dust is playing a little less than usual right now, which makes it a little easier. We have decent communication with everything. We try not to step on each other’s toes schedule-wise. The bands are pretty different, stylistically. I like the variety, so it’s great to be able to step into a couple different pairs of shoes and explore a lot of my influences because there are a lot. Obviously, with Percy Hill, there’s Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon, which I dove deep into for a lot of my listening experiences. Assembly of Dust pretty much compliments in the other way with Neil Young, The Grateful Dead, and some of those other artists that I’ve been influenced by very heavily. It’s a nice spread.
L4LM: Other than the New Year’s Eve show, with Pink Talking Fish, Keller Williams, and Bearly Dead in Worcester, is there a potential for more Percy Hill shows in the future? In addition, is there anything on the horizon for next year?
JL: 2018 is the 20th anniversary of the album Color In Bloom. We’re trying to think of ways to commemorate that with shows and possibly looking into putting the album out on vinyl. It was a good time for us, and we definitely enjoyed it. At the same time, we’re all still creative people, and when we do get together, we think forward. We don’t want to just get up there and play Color In Bloom as well as our other tunes that we’ve played for the last twenty years. We are always thinking ahead and looking ahead. Even at live shows and within the “Color In Bloom” tracks that we play on stage, we’ll go places we wouldn’t normally go musically and wouldn’t be heard on the record. In 2018, we’re hoping we’ll see some exciting stuff in terms of shows as well as other little treats that may come along. It’s fun to be with those guys again and we’re really enjoying it.
For more information on Percy Hill and their upcoming shows, please visit their official website. Plus, check out their video of “After All” from Boston’s Paradise Club in 2016 below, courtesy of the band.
Words by Sarah Bourque