American rock & roll. It's a genre that's thrived for more than 50 years, fueled by a long line of true believers — from Buddy Holly to Tom Petty to Bruce Springsteen — with electric guitars in their hands and stages beneath their feet. Andrew Leahey & the Homestead are part of that loud, lively tradition.
Led by singer, songwriter, and lead guitarist Andrew Leahey, the band makes modern music for roots-rockers and pop fans alike, mixing super-sized hooks with ringing guitar chords, Hammond organ, and stacked vocal harmonies. It's music that nods to the past while still pushing forward, finding new life in a sound that's been blasting out of car stereos ever since the invention of FM radio. Rolling Stone calls Leahey's sound "heartland rock." Billboard calls it "southern-fried rock/soul." The songwriter himself just calls it rock & roll.
On Skyline in Central Time, Leahey sings about life and love in the American South. Produced by Wilco co-founder Ken Coomer (who also plays drums on all 11 songs), the album was largely written in the aftermath of an emergency brain operation that left Leahey in recovery for months. "We had just spent the entire summer touring across the country, then I got home and couldn't hear anything in my right ear," remembers Leahey, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor shortly after returning to his Nashville home. "I was passing out in parking lots. I was suffering from migraines every day. The neurosurgeon gave me the diagnosis and explained that if I didn't have brain surgery, I would lose my hearing, my balance, the ability to control my face, and potentially my life."
Leahey's surgery took 12 hours. Recovery took much, much longer. Unable to tour for several months, he picked up the guitar and wrote a new batch of songs about what it felt like to be alive. These were rock & roll anthems, rooted in melodies that were built for the highway and the heartland. As soon as he recovered, that's exactly where Leahey took them, hitting the road with new tunes, new scars, and a renewed drive to make the most of his time here. New fans took notice — including Grammy-winning producer Ken Coomer, who had played drums for Uncle Tupelo and Wilco before rebranding himself as a studio head. In less than two weeks, the pair recorded Skyline in Central Time at Coomer's studio in East Nashville, reaching out to friends like Jill Andrews (who contributes harmony vocals to "When the Hinges Give," a standout song about maintaining a marriage through a near-death experience) for help.
"I wanted this record to be raw and real," says Leahey, a multi-instrumentalist who, in addition to handling lead vocals, also plays guitar and piano on Skyline in Central Time. "I wrote the songs myself. I recorded them with my own band. I could've hired a group of Nashville sideman to come record with me instead, and it would've sounded good — but it wouldn't have sounded like the Homestead. This is a real snapshot of what I went through, and who I went through it with."
A fiercely independent artist who spent a half-decade booking his own shows, managing his own band and promoting his own music, Skyline in Central Time marks Andrew Leahey & the Homestead's first release in partnership with Thirty Tigers, the Nashville-based company responsible for award-winning albums by Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Lucinda Williams and the Avett Brothers.