Being a huge fan of the local/live music scene, I was lucky enough to sit down at The Cup with the members of Leisure Hour, one of Muncie’s favorite local bands. During our early afternoon conversation, we managed to cover topics including the Indiana’s music scene, emotional accessibility within songs, and cocktail metaphors. Leisure Hour was dreamt up in July of 2019, and consists of members Raegan Gordon (who joined in August of 2021), Grace Dudas, and Isaiah Neal. Since then, the trio has played for audiences all over Indiana, released a full length album, and acquired thousands of streams from their 200+ monthly Spotify listeners. In terms of genre, they described their music as emo rock and cited artists like The 1975, Paramore, and The Front Bottoms as inspiration. Early 2000s power pop and electronic 80s music also made the list as their muses for sound. However, they stood by the claim that their music is for everybody (more specifically “the girls and the gays”, declared confidently with a friendly laugh by bassist/vocalist Grace Dudas). Isaiah mentioned that their music had been previously compared to the feeling of dancing under a midwest town street light; there is a certain emphasis placed on concepts of youth and rejuvenation.
Grace: “It feels like I’m in high school again, which is a good thing…like how music felt when I was first discovering this scene…it’s refreshing I hope.”
Isaiah: “I think we’re a pretty accessible band…especially people dealing with mental health would be a specific target audience ‘cause that’s what we sing about a lot…love and mental health…it’s bright music about dark thoughts.” Raegan: “I would hope that you could play a Leisure Hour song for your grandma and she would say “that’s a cool song.” When writing and creating music, you can find Leisure Hour at the crossroads of intimacy, honesty, and relatability.
Isaiah: “As lyricists sometimes when you write the most direct thing that you’ve gone through, that’s when everybody says oh I relate to that!’”
Grace: “I sometimes struggle with songwriting because as a songwriter I want it to be relatable but I want it to be honest…I have a tendency to be more intimate.”
Raegan: “You can write a song with a stupid amount of metaphors that are intimate and tell a story that to an average person might sound like a normal song, but when you dive deep into the lyrics and take a second to examine the material you can find that there’s a deeper meaning.”
They went on to mention “Driver’s License” by Olivia Rodrigo, and singer/songwriters Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift, as monumental examples of simplifying complex stories and making them accessible to a larger audience. Their creative process differs from song to song. Isaiah mentioned that sometimes it’s stopping every 30 seconds to lay things out, and others they just “let it ride.”
Isaiah: “We’re either very free…or very not.”
After it’s written, a Leisure Hour song tumbles down the production assembly line to be rehearsed and later performed. They described their rehearsals as mostly serious endeavors, and that they are usually treated as though they are a real show. Long time drummer and performer, Raegan Gordon mentioned that “being authentic calms the nerves” and allows room for “serenity” for the band and audience as well. After learning about their creative and professional processes, we were able to talk about what is probably the most exciting part of music for creators and fans: live shows. In case you haven’t noticed, the local music scene is once again on fire and possibly at the best place it has been in since the pandemic, according to Raegen.
Grace: “It’s intimidating, but it’s exciting…it’s also very male dominated which is extra scary…but every single time we have a performance we get great feedback so I have a lot of confidence for us in the stage that we’re at and the age that we’re at.” They mentioned Fort Wayne bands Namen Namen and Man of the Flood as a sort of inspiration for their presence on stage, to which Grace and Isaiah agreed. They all admire their ability to bring something new to the scene and come out to every show giving the audience something they’ve never seen before. Their group dynamic is also a huge part of what makes them so enjoyable.
Raegan: You can tell they practice a lot…when I look for a local band that sticks out to me I’m thinking ‘What are they bringing to the table that I’ve never seen before?’…they all have their own individual personalities but you can tell that they’re all 110% in which lets them shine individually and cohesively as a band”. Grace: “They look like they’re all having fun and being best friends…it makes me want to be their friend. I would love for us to have that same vibe.”
For themselves, Leisure Hour compares their dynamic to that of a cocktail: Isaiah is the alcohol, Raegan is the mixer, and Grace is the berries on top. More than anything, they made a special note to be thankful for being a part of such an inviting and supportive community. Want to be a part of it? It’s as easy as listening to local artists and attending their shows!
Isaiah: “It’s SO cool being a part of the scene, it’s like the coolest thing in the world…it’s like the community aspect of high school organizations where you see people everyday, make friends and do events for the community, and now we’re still doing that but we’re in charge of it. That creative responsibility and the opportunities that come with this scene have been so awesome and we’re very grateful for it.” Leisure Hour has plenty of shows lined up through the end of the school year before they dive off into their self-made tour across Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio with Man of the Flood starting at the end of May. A new EP was teased as well that will feature what the two bands have created together. They’ll also be moving to Columbus soon with hopes to bring what they’ve learned here and expand on it there in terms of creating music and creating a community. The unification created through this scene is a huge part of what makes it so special for artists and audiences; there is so much potential in expanding relationships through music.
Raegan: “It’s important for me to do as much as I can for the scene before we leave to continue its success. Not only is this scene something I’ve been a part of for as long as I can remember, but I’m from Muncie–this is my home. Showing up is a huge chunk of being genuine and encouraging what’s happening because it’s special and has the potential to grow.” You can see Leisure Hour at The Litterbox in Muncie at 8pm on April 23rd alongside Boston Counterpart (West Lafayette) and another band who remains TBA. Be sure to keep yourself updated with all sorts of exciting content through their social media pages!
Facebook: Leisure Hour
Youtube: Leisure Hour
Spotify: Leisure Hour
Apple Music: Leisure Hour
Interview by Jaymee Gallagher