Brooklyn has a thriving music scene, but after living and piloting his band Stars Like Fleas out of the arts hub for a decade, musician Shannon Fields needed to get out. At his wife’s behest the couple moved to upstate New York and started a horse farm (her passion) where he now tends animals and makes music for Leverage Models.
The new band, which released its self-titled full-length debut in October, plays Snug Harbor’s Shiprocked! Thursday.
“Not working a regular 9 to 5 or having to pay New York rent or hustle to exist, definitely helps being able to spend time making music,” he says.
The music Fields was known for in Stars Like Fleas was “electronic/acoustic, folky and strange,” which is why Leverage Models took him and his label, Portland’s Hometapes, by surprise. If your Sirius/XM satellite radio dial is stuck on First Wave, you’ll likely dig it.
“I never had an interest in making anything pop or conventional. Stars Like Fleas were pretty good at keeping audiences at arm’s distances. People connected with this band in a strange way, but it was really exhausting emotionally,” he says. When Stars Like Fleas collapsed, he wanted to make music quickly without overanalyzing it.
In contrast Leverage Models is danceable and theatrical, dark synth-pop.
“It’s coming out of this intuitive process where I’m trying not to overthink what I do. Buried in that is the music from when I was young and starting to get excited about music on a deeper level,” Fields says.
“I want this music to be immediate and fun, but the lyrics aren’t that at all,” he says. “That’s something I appreciate when I find it in other people’s music.”
After seeing many Brooklyn bands cop a 1980s sound, he’s cautious about the retro tag.
“With Stars Like Fleas we were trying to be ahistorical, get rid of the baggage and not sound like anything that came before, and it ended up feeling like an academic exercise by the end of it. At the same time there are a ton of bands that are really savvy at guessing what the next era is that’s going to be appropriated and sound like 1983 or 1998,” he explains. “It’s playing with fire (and) opening me up to that criticism that it’s very retro, but it’s almost inescapable.”
“These sounds are my roots rock. It wasn’t the Beatles and Stones for me. It was bands like ABC. I’m almost going back to basics.”