"It's a James Bond reference." The name of the band was taken from Goldfinger to be more precise. The band is Champagne Leader, grown from the suburbs surrounding Los Angeles. Azusa, the place where Eddie Van Halen bought his guitars and Whittier, Eazy-E's gravesite. So a hometown is a hometown and there's not much to tell from the 'burbs. Don't underestimate this 4-piece's upbringing. With sounds similar but not restricted to St. Vincent, Wilco, Pavement, The Killers, Weezer, Midlake, Dr. Dog and The Walkmen, this Southern California band shows great promise for new music. The band's passion is making harmony-heavy anthems that you can dance to, usually ending in a building hook that you can't seem to get out of your brain. But don't think that every song is the same. You will move and sway at different speeds to words that don't speak of the usual love and woes. Lyrical themes consist of defying age, not regretting mistakes and self-loathing. With an EP on the way and a tour on their belt the band is helmed by singer/songwriter Vincent Munoz on piano, synth, acoustic guitar and lead vocals but really the band is a solid unit. Along with drums, bass, and electric guitar this is the kind of band where you'll want to watch and hear what every member is doing live. Although Champagne Leader dons a modern and exceedingly fresh sound, their true fervor lies in the past.
"The sounds of the 60s and 70s are what brings us together." says Munoz recalling the band's mutual affinity for classic icons such as Electric Light Orchestra, Queen, The Zombies, The Kinks, Fleetwood Mac, Bowie, Wings and many more. These are lifelong influences for all the members. The band's creations are indeed mint; influenced by the greats yet showing no wear whatsoever. "When I'm writing I can really connect with piano, acoustic guitar, synth, strings. I need a strong moving bass line and drums that aren't boring though, or the energy decreases and the song becomes bland to me. And of course electric guitar that punches your face in!" That's where Shea Brahnam comes in, lead guitarist and the most recent addition to a band that almost didn't happen.
Munoz had been playing with drummer Daniel Morales since high school. After years of searching , they found the right sound and the right players, a labored and typically fortuitous task. After completing a line-up that seemed impossible to complete, a band with no name was finally asssembled and everything seemed to be in place. Songs manifested and local shows surfaced. And after it all finally made sense a bassist made the decision to opt out of the band. At such a low time the one comfort was that the name Champagne Leader was born thanks to Morales. And after an arduous search the burgeoning yet talented Kasey Sullivan was added to the group. Sullivan had always played bass but Champagne Leader is his first band. So finally the group had a name and everything was perfect. And yet, school got in the way and now a guitarist had to leave to make something of himself in the real world. Feeling abandoned once more, Munoz mulled thoughts of playing alone or maybe not playing at all. It didn't last too long. Brahnam, the always-positive and highly skilled guitarist had just lost a band he was in days before Munoz contacted him and he was enthusiastic about trying something new. He joined and the line-up was solidified.
In early 2012 Champagne Leader began performing locally. After a few short months, with a slew of youtube videos, a handful of recordings and a slot at the Make Music Pasadena Festival the band was happy, but they tired of the suburbs. So they went on tour. In a Dodge Caravan with instruments, clothes and a suitcase full of home recordings the band toured five states on the West Coast. Four of which none of the band members had been to. August Southern California heat followed them to Portland, Seattle, Boise, Salt Lake and multiple stops along the way for a two week tour. "Here Comes The Dumptruck" a local Boise blog would describe them as "damn good fun" but they also listed the band's harmonies as "tart" which could mean a number of things.
Now the band is home and ready to release an EP starting with 2 single tracks and a live recording. The rest is on its way. "Middle Fight" sings of the absence of choosing an opinion in a world filled with open-ended conviction. The romping "Blackout Kid" explores ideals, childhood regrets and death. A live recording of "Shores" sans video is a perfect example of the energy and skill Champagne Leader brings to a performance. These recordings are merely a taste of more to come from Champagne Leader, a band that did, does, and will happen.