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Perspectives from the Scene: Chad Lehr

August 17, 2010

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to chat with Indy scene denizen, Chad Lehr.

Lehr engaging in some pre-show DIY

You may know him from the band, This Is Me. They played Suck Fest a couple weeks ago, and he starred in that event’s promotional video (see below). I met up with Lehr at ES Jungle before he went on stage. This Is Me was one of four bands scheduled to open for Rookie of the Year that night. Below you’ll find our conversation, as well as a couple photos from This Is Me’s performance.

Tell me who you are.

Chad or Chandler Lehr, and I play guitar and sing in This is Me.

Why are you here tonight?

I’m here because of our good friends, Tyler and Chris, from Love Can’t Be Baht, a really great organization. [They] are putting on a show featuring some awesome bands, and they asked us to be apart of that.

Can you tell me a little bit about Love Can’t Be Baht?

It was started by Tyler [Yentes] while he was in high school. He saw a documentary about human trafficking and the different places where that’s a huge issue. He decided to get together with some people to make a few shirts, get rid of them, and [put] that money…into this organization he already knew of to stop human trafficking. Then …he decided to put [it] all together on his own, under Love Can’t Be Baht. The way baht is spelled–it’s actually the currency of [Thailand] which is one of the major problem areas. Then suddenly [Love Can’t Be Baht] started taking off, and now they’re doing festivals and putting on shows to raise money. Their ultimate goal, from what I understand, is…not only to stop human trafficking, but also to bring the musical scene here in Indianapolis together.

How would you describe the music scene in Indianapolis?

Some people would say it sucks. I think it’s a really great community of friends and family. A friend of mine sent me a really nice Facebook message once that said the reason she is friends with all of us…is because she went to one show of a band I used to be in…We weren’t friends until that show and that’s why we’re all friends [now]. It’s not just me and the band members I play with that are friends. We’re all friends. All the people watching us–we all hang out afterward. It’s a great community. When you get something like that, it becomes family. There’s a lot of great bands, a lot of talented bands on the rise. A lot of those bands are leaving the community and becoming national acts. But what’s even more awesome is just when it is a tight knit family. And that’s really what our community of music is.

This Is Me getting crazy on stage

Where do you see the scene headed in 5 years?

I think there’s always going to be a group of guys and gals in high school meeting each other at lunch tables to talk about shirt designs and the songs they wrote at 4 in the morning, when they thought their parents were asleep…As long as there’s that, and the motivation to take it from just the songs you played on your Macbook…to getting in front of 50 to 250 people on a night and playing with your best friends on stage; as long as there’s someone out there willing to make that transition, I think the music scene is always going to strive. I really love Indianapolis so much and I love the people here. I don’t think [the scene] is nearly as bad as people make it out to be. As long as there’s people that support [it], I think we’re always going to be striving for something more.

How did you come to be involved in the scene? Did you start off at the lunchroom table, talking about songs?

Yeah…I met people associated with my religious organizations, and I met people that liked the same kind of music I did, who introduced me to other kinds of music. I started playing guitar and drums. And I [thought,] I really want to be in a band like this. And my friends said, yeah, that’s awesome, let’s be in a band like that. And then all of a sudden, you start doing New Found Glory and Weezer and Blink 182 covers. You go from writing your own songs that sound like [those bands] to developing your own sound. The next thing you know, you’re not 16-18 years old anymore–you’re 21 playing with all these people who’ve played for 5, 6 years, and now your sound is being harnessed. That’s where I came in–as a lover of music that wanted to create something of my own.

I saw you were in the Suck Fest promo video. What was your role in Suck Fest?

I actually came up with the idea for the Suck Fest promo. Chris Bauchle from Same As Sunday alongside some friends of ours, like Kelby Hicks, came up with the idea of having Suck Fest. Then [Chris] approached me about it and wanted me to get on board right away because it’s a well-known fact that I’m kinda like the personality of things. I’m the jokester. People know me from bands I’ve been in before, bands I’m in now. And he said–What can we do to help promote [Suck Fest]? I called him…and said– I’ve got a great idea for a promo. Let’s do “lessons from the scene” and teach people the funny things about our scene. Cause the funny thing is, yeah, we all wear cut-off jeans and we all slick our hair to the side and we all put our foot on something [during breakdowns], and there’s light boxes and heavy metal guitars and we all dance during a breakdown–so let’s make fun of that!

I story boarded it out with everybody. Then Evan Roberts from My Indy Underground, who is a huge supporter of…bands…got on board [to do] the video and put it up on YouTube. And then it started getting tons of hits. We [filmed] it all in my bedroom in a 2.5 hour span. We got some key players from awesome bands that were at Suck Fest. At one point two of us are holding desk lamps on either side of Josh Cox from Ironsides and he’s on top of this trunk…acting all “rock and roll.” And we’re in my baby blue bedroom. So that’s kinda funny.

What do you think is the most challenging part of being an unsigned band in Indianapolis?

I think the thing that’s most difficult is getting people to care. You can hop on a show—it’s not easy, but you can do it—you can get in contact with the right people and if you impress those people, they will let you play again. But I think what’s most difficult is getting people to realize what you’re trying to say and that they want to be a part of it. Like, the songs that we write in [This Is Me] are all life experiences. Maybe [those experiences] don’t happen to everybody, but if it did happen to you… you can stand behind it. And that’s why people like music anyway: it reminds them of a simpler time, a harder time, a more romantic time, a more somber time. It propels them to a place where they feel safe. To get people to care to a point where they want to go to that place– that’s really difficult.

How do you think bands have succeeded in getting people to want to care?

I think the #1 thing is: Bands succeed by putting themselves out there, by being vulnerable. Not just on stage, but off stage. There are a million bands that will talk to people afterward so they’ll go buy merch…But…even… just [being] genuinely appreciative of that person [who has] the courage and the gusto to come up to you and say “Hey, you did a great job!” You may think you played like absolute crap, you may think you were the worst band on the show that night. But that 1 or 2… or 20 people that come up to you and say what a good job you did–that warms your heart. And that’s why you do it. Because those 20 people that came up to talk to you get it. And those people that get it will come back and get it… at another show.

I do want to thank you for your time. I was wondering if you had any other thoughts on the scene or if there were any questions you wish I had asked?

If I could send a message out to people who like music—Support the people you love, listen to bands, and think outside the box, so to speak. Just because you like power pop doesn’t mean you’re not going to like alt country. Or just because you like hardcore doesn’t mean you’re not going to like power pop. Just give everybody a shot and support the people that you love, because they just want to be supported. If we can all do that, then I think we can raise the bar.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 17, 2010 10:48 pm

    Cool post & interview! I like the Suck Fest vid 🙂

  2. August 17, 2010 11:06 pm

    Thanks! The video still makes me chuckle.

  3. August 23, 2010 6:34 pm

    Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained!

    – Josh

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