It was a privilege to converse recently with original music artists Eric Krueger and Marty Paschke from the Appleton-rooted rock band Leading the Blind (LTB). These inspiring local musicians shared a few things with SCENE about their passion for music making and the local community for which mutual love, respect, and appreciation abounds. The two close friends are in sync both artistically and beyond, exuding cohesive energy that’s undeniably contagious. Here’s a peek into their world:
Jean: You’re both busy family guys. How do you carve out time for creating music?
Eric & Marty: Having full time jobs, families, and multiple other bands and musical projects only allows time for an hour of practice a week, which makes writing challenging, but extremely rewarding due to the sense of urgency and focus that is laid out when we are in a room together writing and performing.
Jean: What are your primary goals for the future where music is concerned?
Eric & Marty: To write, record, play as often as possible. And repeat.
Jean: What are your thoughts about the local music scene and community support received over the years?
Eric & Marty: The impact of Mile of Music has been inspiring, there is so much local talent in the area. Seeing that mixed in with touring musicians coming through is very special, and we hope that energy continues to spread throughout the area, through the year. The void left from the closure of the Maritime Tavern and the passing of our dear pal Jon Weiss is immeasurable. We can only hope that more bars and coffee houses can take a page out of his playbook by hosting and supporting original music from near and far.
As far as exposure is concerned, our pal Kent Waush and his internet radio platform known as The Great Unknown Radio, along with Home Brewed on WAPL and the Local Edge on the Razor are absolutely wonderful, as they provide a vehicle for original music to be heard, which is a great thing… Hopefully it creates a vortex and demand for even more live music venues in the Fox Valley and beyond.
Jean: Talk about your new album in the works.
Eric & Marty: The new album reflects the growth and cohesiveness of the current line-up, which has been intact for over 2 years now. There are elements of classic BLIND mixed with more progressive song structures, intricate rhythms and dynamic low end holding things together. Having worked with Marc Golde at Rock Garden Studio multiple times has also added a distinct flavor to the album. His ideas along with a beautiful room and a vintage board have truly left their impact on this batch of songs.
Jean: Any funny or especially memorable fan stories you’re willing to share?
Eric: Marty tells the story of running into a “crazy” fan at a show back in the day that asked for permission to record a BLIND show. Caught off guard, he declined due to the fact he was never asked such a thing before and was a young, relatively new performer. Years later, as fate would allow through multiple circumstances and mutual friends, they became close friends. This “crazy” fan is known as “Crazy” Todd Van Hammond — renowned local music enthusiast, audio recorder and videographer… and also now handles management duties for LTB.
LEADING THE BLIND
MARTY PASCHKE ::: VOCALS/GUITAR
ERIC KRUEGER ::: GUITAR/VOCALS
DAVID KILEY ::: BASS
MIKE ST. CLAIR ::: DRUMS
Genre: Alternative Rock/Hard Rock
BIO: The beginnings of LEADING THE BLIND can be traced back to the early 1990s, with Marty Paschke honing his playing and songwriting skills while cutting his teeth in Northeast Wisconsin’s Fox River Valley with the Crocodile Nasty’s. After the sudden end of TCN, Marty then gave birth to the band BLIND in 1999, gigging across the region and recording a couple of albums to glowing reviews with Keif Shaw on drums and Jim Van Hout on bass.
After the demise of BLIND in 2001, Marty continued writing songs, waiting for the right time and lineup to present itself… and present itself it did in 2008. Recruiting his former Blind bass player Top Jimmy and drummer Patrick Wydeven (Pawnshop Lifters, A-Town Unplugged), LEADING THE BLIND was born — reworking old Blind material while working on new ideas.
Enter 2010, and the addition of Eric Krueger (Sunday Flood, Hallorann, Old Nails) on guitar and backing vocal duties.
The writing process continued, and the band entered Rock Garden Studios to begin work on the debut album INTO THE MODERN WASTELAND, with David Kiley (Sunday Flood, Old Nails) taking over bass duties during the recording process. ITMW was released on Record Store Day 2013 with a release show at the infamous Maritime Tavern in Appleton. Shortly after, drummer Mike St. Clair (Scarlet Escape) came into the fold, and a renewed focus took shape.
Fast forward to 2015 — after numerous regional performances including 3 years in a row at Mile of Music, as well as Octoberfest in Appleton, the band is putting the final touches on the new album IN THROUGH THE RED DOOR (again with Marc Golde at Rock Garden Studio) with an October release to follow. More to come…