Soul Patrol to Release Album Recorded on LSA Rooftop

On September 15, one of Denton’s oldest, funkiest blues/rock bands, Soul Patrol, will be performing at Andy’s for the release of their second album. Unique to the energetic and tight-knit group of performers, the album is a live recording from their July performance on the rooftop of LSA. Having seen their live performances at several different venues in town, you can rest assured the upcoming album release show is a unique experience you won't want to miss. 

Photo by Courts Griner

Speaking with The Dentonite, the four current band members — Will Kniffen (vocals, guitar), Kabeer Leekha (lead guitar), Joe Schillage (bass), and Bree Hill (drums) — recounted the origins of the band.

Schillage said, “The initial line up was me, Bree, and [keyboardist] Adam Williams. And we had this other guy who showed up and didn’t play in the right keys.” After a chance meeting with Leekha, Schillage invited him over to practice with the band. To the chagrin of the other band members during practice, the previous guitarist continued the trend of playing off-key. 

“Then Kabeer starts playing and then he looks to me and I’m like, ‘Oh, he’s calling for a solo,’ right? So we finished playing and then we go and take a break and my girlfriend at the time, she goes, ‘He’s pretty good’ — I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah,’ [and] she’s like, ‘That other guy is not gonna come back, is he?’ and I’m like, ‘Nope,’ and he did not,” Schillage explained. 

Shortly after Leekha joined the group, vocalist and guitar player Will Kniffen auditioned to be part of the growing project. 

“To summarize, we met at UNT, in a choral ensemble. We all discovered we like rock 'n' roll music, and blues and funk and hard rock. Things like that. UNT brought us together. Denton brought us together. We’re a Denton band,” Leekha said. 

Soul Patrol has played a number of Denton venues over the years and have even showcased their talents at Oaktopia. Having also performed all over the rest of Texas at various events, Soul Patrol has more than a few fond memories of performing in front of the crowd while getting a bit rowdy. 

Leekha recalls: “One of the most memorable [gigs] for me was Kabeer Fest. 2013 was my twenty-sixth birthday, and we played at this bar in Austin, Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar [now defunct]. I thought it would be a really great idea to play with three bands that I played with at one point or another in my life. So I was on stage the whole night. I was drinking. I was getting fucked up. And I didn’t even get a chance to hang out with anyone. I was just playing all night."

Hill added, “His mom had a huge banner printed out. It was above the stage. There was a huge banner with Kabeer’s face and it said ‘Kabeer Fest’ on it.” 

Even during Denton gigs, the self-described funky blues rock 'n' roll four-piece found themselves in interesting situations while performing. 

“We were playing at Cool Beans back when they had a patio on the top. There was this super-drunken woman who really liked us. She was right in front of us the whole time we were playing,” Hill said. “She had to leave before we were done so she’s trying to tell us bye and hug us while we’re playing. She came up to me: I’m setting at the set actively playing and she tries to sit in my lap while I’m playing. It was so weird.”

During the interview the band also described how their various backgrounds in blues, rock, reggae, metal, and funk changed the process of their songwriting. Originally, Leekha started off writing mainly rock and blues tunes for the band. Over time though, the tone of their music became more uptempo and tongue-in-cheek.

“Our songwriting process has really changed. Whereas before, it was the songs were pretty much done. Kabeer would be like, 'Here’s the whole song,'" Schillage described. “Now it’s more we’ll start with a few parts. Even if the song is put together, we’ll rearrange it, like, 'Hey, what if we did this, what if we did that?' It’s a very fluid process.”

On talking about inspiration for subject matter, Kniffen said, “We talk about women a lot. We talk about fun nights out partying. We talk about the regrets of those parties. The more we write songs, the more our songs kind of change.” 

Rooted in the firm belief of being genuine in their art, the band strives to write songs that have some personal experience that their listeners can attach meaning to. Even if it's just a fun song loosely based on the actor Patrick Swayze combined with truck-driving. 

With regard to being genuine, for Soul Patrol it simply made sense to record their second full-length album live, reflecting upon the energy of their live performances. 

“I think we really shine as a band live. That’s kind of where we show who we are and what we do best, because we’re all people who listen when we play. So we’re all with there with each other and sometimes we improvise stuff live. You can’t really do that in a studio,” Hill said. “There’s not those knowing looks between two band members who just pulled off something cool. It’s all too planned out. It’s too synthetic to me. The music needs to breathe. And live, that just happens for this band.” 

Following the album release, the band revealed that their long-term goal is to be playing at larger venues, including House of Blues and Winstar. As they balance day jobs, partners, and families, the four-piece group continues to grow with experience and determination. 

“Our main goal is to make more music and play in front of as many different people as we can,” Kniffen said.

Soul Patrol, along with Strong Work and Puddin Taine, will be playing at 9:00 p.m. on September 15 at Andy’s. For more information, visit the Facebook event page. 

Photo by Courts Griner
Header image layout designed by Holden Foster