A family affair
Left Standing proves it still has What It Takes after all these years
Thu, May 28, 2009 (midnight)
Photo: Aaron Thompson
An hour before doors open at Wasted Space inside the Hard Rock Hotel, the venue’s lounge is subdued and mostly empty despite the Friday-night fervor shaping up on the casino floor. The five members of Left Standing are gathered in a booth with their poisons of choice and a reporter wondering how, after more than 10 years of plugging away, this Las Vegas-born and -bred rock band still has the energy to go on.
Left Standing is celebrating the forthcoming release of its Tom Kat Records debut, What It Takes. The 12-song disc is a largely inspirational affair, with uplifting and rallying songs such as “Revolution,” “Brand New Day” and “Fire in My Veins.” However, the lead single chosen by Tom Kat is a somber number called “Jeremy,” an emotional ballad written seven years ago, after lead singer Danny Pino’s best friend, Jeremy Clifton, died prematurely of liver cirrhosis. Despite multiple attempts over the years, this is the first time the band’s been able to put “Jeremy” on record.
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“It was never good enough until now,” Danny says. “To put it on disc was to put away a lot of pain.”
Tom Kat is putting a lot of faith into Left Standing. The label, which is distributed via its parent company, online music portal DSN Music, sought out the band and signed it to a multi-album deal following an acoustic showcase at the House of Blues last fall. “They’ve been great,” Danny says of working with Tom Kat/DSN. “We’re really excited to be a part of the family.”
Family is at the core of Left Standing. Beyond the sibling-dominated lineup of the band (lead guitarist Jesse and bassist Chris also bear the Pino name), the guys refer not only to themselves as family, but also to peripheral personalities such as Jason Alles, Chris’ best friend and the band’s manager, and Matt Breunig, who has worked on Left Standing’s previous recordings and—despite scheduling conflicts that included engineering sound for The Killers’ latest tour—mixed and engineered What It Takes to radio-ready perfection.
“Matt’s like the sixth member of the band,” says Danny. “He never lets us down.”
Never letting people down seems to be Left Standing’s mantra. From the first buzzing guitar lines of “Revolution,” the band takes hold of the packed-to-the-rafters Wasted Space crowd—well warmed-up by the always mesmerizing and intense Slow to Surface—and refuses to let them go. The sheer exuberance and joy evident in each note played by the quintet is contagious. Every song features a shout-along chorus, and not even the down-tempo numbers such as “Jeremy” and “Disconnect” reduce the energy on the stage or in the room.
What It Takes officially drops on June 16. Locked into day jobs and other responsibilities, the boys of Left Standing will wait to see what response the DSN Music machine drums up for the album; in the meantime, they’ll continue their four-night-a-week rehearsal schedule and regular acoustic gigs around town.
“We want to play our music and be heard,” Danny says. “That’s all we want to do.”