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Published: 2013/03/10
by Glenn H Roth

John Leccese: Sun Shot for a Groovechild

Photo by Christina Lilly

The Seacoast region of New Hampshire covers 18 miles of coastline and millions of musical notes.

John Leccese, who was a freshman at the University of New Hampshire in the early 1990s, was engulfed by the region’s music scene.

The New Jersey native’s musical journey began there with a five year-run as Groovechild’s bassist. Groovechild along with bands like True Gravity, Fly Spinach Fly, Heavens to Murgatroid had fans and critics comparing Seacoast to Seattle.

“There were a lot of bands up there and a lot of places to play,” Leccese said “and a lot of people coming out to watch. It was a great time.”

Jambands.com spoke to Leccese by phone to discuss Seacoast, Groovechild, Percy Hill, Moon Boot Lover and of course Assembly of Dust, where he has been an original member since 2002.

AOD, who just released its third studio alum, is rounded out by vocalist Reid Genauer, guitarist Adam Terrell, keyboardist Jason Crosby and drummer Dave Diamond.

For people who didn’t experience the New Hampshire music scene, what was it like?

It was an amazingly exciting time for a 17-year-old kid from New Jersey to travel up there for college and all of a sudden there are 20 great bands and 20 great venues to play in. There was the Stone Church which for me, is the place where I cut my teeth and University of New Hampshire was thriving. The crowds were there. You could play on a Tuesday night in Durham, NH. Seacoast was a real happening scene and people were even calling it the Seattle of the East Coast.

Some music critics have referred to Groovechild as one of the “best kept secrets.” Can you comment on that?

We were on the verge of something and certain things got in our way. If they hadn’t got in the way, I think you would have heard a lot more from Groovechild. We were on the verge of signing a major deal but certain forces took over and certain people in the band caused it to implode at the time and that’s what caused my departure from the band.

What was it like reuniting with your Groovechild bandmates for a series of shows in 2012?

It was great to see everybody and the musicianship was still there. Brian Killough, the guitarist is a mad genius. Nobody comes close to this guy’s playing. And Jeff Bibbo is one of the great singers of that time and area. The shows sold out, surprisingly the fan base for Groovechild is still there. It was a really humbling to know people were just as affected by the music 20 years later.

In your career, you joined two bands – Groovechild and Percy Hill – that existed prior to your arrival. How were you able to successfully join bands that had a history and then add to the band’s history as well?

With Groovechild, I came into the band during its early inception – maybe a year or two in. They hadn’t really established themselves yet. There were songs and I learned the baselines and then, we had to get into writing more music, so I helped write the rest of the music. With Percy Hill, they had already established themselves for four to five years. They had a repertoire, although when I joined the band, they also had Aaron Katz join the band and the sound of the band took a 180. We still played a lot of the earlier repertoire mostly because we had to fill time, but there were some great compositions that Nate Wilson and Joe Farrell had written. And then Aaron came into the band and brought his stable of great songs as well, so that helped out the new sound of Percy Hill, which you hear on Colour in Bloom.*

When you reflect back to your time with Percy Hill, what thoughts come to mind?

It was another instance, where we all met each other at the right time. We were in alignment as far as what was influencing us and what type of music we wanted to play, and the result of that was Colour In Bloom. We were in a good headspace, we were all getting along really well, and we had just come back from a national tour playing 200 nights a year and we were really honed our chops. Then, we went right to the studio with an album’s worth of material and that’s when we recorded Colour In Bloom. It was a fertile time in that band’s history.

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