Interview: Cleo's Kaleb LaFountain discusses Jazzy's RumbleBy Alistair Hume

The third band of the Jazzy’s Rumble final four contestants is Cleo, a group with deep roots and strong bonds. Cleo is composed of veterans of the St. George music scene and has a cohesive progressive jam sound throughout. The group is made of up of Kaleb LaFountain (vocals, guitar), Jade Cantrell (guitar), Eli Sabaitis (drums), and Ryan Ruggario (bass guitar).

Alistair Hume: What is the origins of Cleo? What’s the story that brought the four of you together?

Kaleb LaFountain: Well, I was actually added to the band later. Eli, Jade, and Ryan had been jamming for a while after House of Sons (their former band) broke up. I think House of Sons, even though we’re so far away from the genre they played back then, was really where the building blocks of Cleo came about. That’s when Eli and Jade really learned how to write songs together, and even though it was a little rough for Ryan, he really gained a solid understanding of composing parts, and Cleo really relies on that from him as a bass player. They wrote a couple little tunes and tried a few singers out, but none of them really vibed until I came along. When they asked me to join, I was still singing for my old band, Landlocked, and at first I was a little bit skeptical about leaving one for the other or doing both, but after the first few songs, I knew where the hits were. On the day of my audition, I brought a book full of lyrics and was just throwing them out there, seeing if they’d catch on anything. It honestly was a bit rough at first. They didn’t want me to play guitar originally. They just wanted vocals, but I assured them that I’m a much better singer when I can hide behind my guitar, and they agreed, and that’s when everything took off. We wrote around 12–14 songs within a few months time, and now here we are, still killing the game.

AH: That’s awesome. You guys really are killing it. And I’m glad you’re still on guitar, because when you and Jade harmonize on those things, it’s pure ecstasy. So did Landlocked just end from there after Cleo became a thing?

KL: Hey, thanks man! And yeah, pretty much. Landlocked was an awesome, fun project that I got to show a lot of myself through, but in the end, it was really just me and the drummer jamming in the basement for fun, not really being serious. What I like about Cleo is that everything is very well thought out. We’re not rushing anything, we’re not scrambling to get our demo out there or play an overload of shows. We put time and effort into all of our songs, and that’s why Cleo is so damn fun to be a part of, because I’m actually super proud of everything we’ve put together so far. But that being said, we are about to start the process of getting in the studio right after battle of the bands, so be prepared for some slick jams!

AH: Dude, that’s one of the things I’ve been hoping to hear. I’ve been to every show you guys have put on, and it just keeps getting better and better. It’s definitely something to be proud of. Speaking of the rumble, What is your opinion on everything regarding this year’s battle of the bands?

KL: That’s definitely been our goal, so I’m stoked you could watch that from an outside perspective! And there’s some heavy hitters this year for sure. I think it’s rad that it’s legitimately four different bands and not the same six people as four different bands. Nevermind is really coming in clutch out of nowhere, and obviously Sleep Dealer and Telestial hold their ranks in the scene. I’m definitely feeling like we’re poking out like a sore thumb, because we don’t really do the whole post-emo/math-rock thing, and that’s definitely what’s popping in the scene right now, but who knows if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, we’ll have to find out on the fourth.

AH: Yeah, for sure. I think it’s really cool as well that you guys are kind of the black sheep in the situation. Everything else is super cool, and I love it, but you Cleo dudes provide that variety that we need to keep it interesting. And hopefully, you’ll inspire more different flavors to come out of the roots as well. But anyway, would you say Cleo has any surprises or rad tricks up your sleeves for your final rumble set?

KL: Funny you say that. We do actually have a couple new bangers that no one has heard that I think will really show the diversity of Cleo and that we can definitely step out of the box. It’s definitely going to be a fun show for us.

AH: Hell yeah. You guys have a lot of flavors, and I’m super pumped for it. Continually, what are Cleo’s future plans? You kind of answered it, but you got anything else going down?

KL: Well, besides recording, we want to get some out-of-town shows popping, maybe a few weekend warriors while we plan a real full-blown tour. Nothing’s really set in stone yet since we want to finish the demo before we really start grinding on it, but that’s the plan at least! And Cleo ‘s always writing, it seems like, so even while we get all this stuff going, we’re still always working on something fresh, which is nice!

AH: That’s awesome. I wish you guys hella luck with all that. Last question: If you could pick any band that really inspires you or that you just really dig in general, who would you go on tour with?

KL: To be honest, we’ve kind of had our eyes set on Quiet Oaks since we played that show with them back in September. They did their Audiotree, and it inspired the fuck out of me, and they’re just rad dudes in general, so it seems like such a good fit!

AH: Definitely, Quiet Oaks is awesome!

Catch Cleo March 4 at the Jazzy’s Rumble where they’ll be the third band taking the stage. Cleo can be found online on Facebook.

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