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Leo sets eyes on NEPA music on the menu

For Ian Eddy, lead vocalist for the modern rock band Leo, music is more than a passion.

It has been his salvation.

The singer admits that, when still in high school, his love for rock and pop music and his own ability to sing gave him a sense of purpose and self-worth, and ultimately probably gave him a better life.

“If I didn’t have music, I’d probably be really heavily into drugs, or crime,” says Eddy, calling from the band’s home base of St. Louis. “I was a pretty angry little kid. My parents were divorced at an early age. I bounced back and forth my whole life from one parent to the other, and they had both started brand new families. I kind of felt caught somewhere in the middle. I didn’t really feel like I belonged to either one.

“Music is something that I definitely needed.”

Leo — which offers a fiery brand of rock anchored by polished vocals and melodies — features Eddy on vocals and guitar, Michael Roberts on guitar and vocals, Rek Mohr on bass and Mark Grabowski on drums. The group’s debut CD “Nightmares” was recorded at the band’s studio in St. Louis in 2006. It was signed to Dreamakers Music in 2007 and is managed by Freddie Fabbri, known to area music fans for his work with Breaking Benjamin. The band, which has four area performances this week, was actually formed in 2000 in Cleveland, but Eddy moved the project to St. Louis three years ago. Chad Szeliga of Breaking Benjamin was once a member of the project.

Even before Eddy found solace in music while in high school, he says it always surrounded him.

“My mom and my dad were both singer/songwriters,” he says. “My mom was coming from more of a folk-rock kind of sound, like John Denver and Carly Simon, and my dad was always into rock, like Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. Just being a kid, there was always music on in the house. The TV was almost never on, and the stereo was always on.”

As Eddy got older, he began to discover music on his own. The first album he bought was Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Later, he became of fan of ’80s pop/metal, and later he discovered grunge and Jeff Buckley.

“I’ve always just liked popular music,” he says. “When I got to high school, I actually found out that I could sing pretty well, and that not all other people can. I just assumed that everybody could do it because it came so easily to me. When I started working with music in high school, it made everybody like me. I was like ‘Wow, people actually like me because I can sing, and people can actually have a good career doing it.’ I thought, ‘That’s what I need to do.’ I didn’t like school, and I didn’t think I could succeed at college, so when I found music, and saw that it made people happy, I knew it was what I wanted to do. It was a no-brainer to me.”

Some of Leo’s current influences include Queens of the Stone Age and Tool. Songs on the band’s debut CD include “Horizon,” “Mourning” and “Chemical Cell.” Eddy says most of the tunes are very personal.

“Relationships have inspired me to write,” he says. “There are two songs on the record about a girl who tried to kill herself, and both were inspired by a girlfriend that I had. There are other songs about relationships, too — not to say that’s the only thing I write about — but that particular album had a lot to do with that aspect of my life.”

Eddy says he and the band is now working on new material and that the songwriting, at least lyrically, is now heading into new directions. He says that even when he’s not playing with Leo, he’s still working on music.

“It’s kind of like my addiction,” he says. “I continue to always pursue it. I produce other artists, I make hip-hop beats, I write R&B songs, I just wrote a country song, and I’ve gotten into writing jingles and commercials. If Leo isn’t doing anything, I’m still doing music. I’m just working in a different genre and having fun.”

Considering the Fabbri/Szeliga Breaking Benjamin connection, it’s no surprise Leo has begun to play some shows in the Wilkes-Barre area. Eddy says he and the band are glad to be here.

“I know that’s where Freddie got Breaking Benjamin started,” he says. “I think with the success he had with them, he probably figures it’s a good place for us, too. He has connections there, he knows people, Breaking Benjamin still lives there. … so he just feels really comfortable. He got us on the Breaking Benjamin/Three Days Grace show in Scranton, and we played in front of 17,000 people. He knows, from when we toured with Breaking Benjamin, that our sound is a sound Breaking Benjamin fans really dig.”

w

go:

Who: Leo

* Thursday, Jan. 24 at Liam’s,

Wilkes-Barre, 10 p.m.

* Friday, Jan. 25 at Wayne’s World,

Dallas, 7-9 p.m.

* Friday, Jan. 25 at Club Energy,

Wilkes-Barre, w/ OurAfter, Panacea,

all ages, 7 p.m.

* Saturday, Jan. 26 at Liam’s, 10 p.m.

* Info: www.myspace.com/leotheband

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