Rockford Rocked Interview: Catching up with Minimal

By Todd Houston
Exclusive to TRRT

Rockford Rocked Interview: Tell us who the members in Minimal are and how you got together.

Minimal: Leanne Leonard: Guitar, vocals and bass; Zach DeCarlo: drums, vocals; Gregg DeCarlo: guitars, vocals, bass, bass pedals, and keys.

Zach: We actually all met at an open mic contest, hosted by Tom Minninhan, at Tad’s on the Rock. My dad and I had just heard Leanne perform “Landslide” by Stevie Nicks, we kind of looked at each other with the same expression. We were all practicing as a band about two days later.

RRI: You guys play an interesting blend of classic and contemporary music that most folks wouldn’t expect to hear. Who decides on which songs you are going to cover?

Leanne: We all have such broad musical interests and sometimes it can be a little frustrating trying to select songs that we feel are appropriate for us, and that we actually all enjoy. I think what makes us what we are is that we all try to connect with and play the songs we choose with passion. That being said, it’s become a pure democracy, it really just comes down to a 2 out of 3 vote between us. It’s still not a perfect system, but I feel like we strike a nice balance between variety and appeal that way. Or sometimes we just settle with arm wrestling, which I usually win, so I wind up picking the majority of our songs.

RRI: Last year Minimal won a well-deserved Rockford Area Music Industry award for best new act, were you guys expecting that or did it take you by surprise?

Gregg: Completely by surprise! Admittedly, we didn’t even attend the award ceremony. Not out of lack of respect at all, we all just had work that night, and to be honest, we didn’t really expect to win that night at all. There’s so much talent in this town right now. It was definitely one of the proudest moments of our lives, besides the first time we performed together as a band.

RRI: I have to tell you, your cover of “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin blew me away! Which one of you is the biggest Zeppelin head in the band?

Zach: Thank you so much! We’ve actually gone through about four or five iterations of that song before we found a version that we really liked. Actually, I was tired of beating on my Cajon (the percussion boxes that we all sit on) through that song because my hands felt like they had just been beaten with hammers. That song is actually the reason that we bought the electronic drum that I currently play at our shows; it sounds so much better now, and it’s much less painful. I’d say we’re all pretty big Zeppelin freaks, and I feel like that’s evident considering we do more Zeppelin covers than any other band in our set list.

RRI: Gregg, you have been in some very popular local hard rock bands over the years including Rockford’s favorite bad boys RIPT. Does it ever feel strange to you playing guitar in such a different band situation?

Gregg: No, I always loved mixing it up. I played with Johnny Spence (a popular Elvis impersonator) and several techno groups throughout the ’80s. I also played with the local country band, Brianna Sky and the popular Rockford band X51 for about 10 years. Minimal is a natural extension for me.

RRI: Zach, tell us the best and worst part about being in a band with your dad?

Zach: I would have to say being in a band with my dad, and being in a band with my dad! You should ask Leanne this question; she’s the one who feels the pain (laughs)!

RRI: Have you guys ever entertained the notion of adding a bass player, plugging in and going electric? Imagine the possibilities!

Zach: Our name is actually derived from what we wanted to do conceptually as a group. Originally, we started playing with three or four guitars and just our Cajon’s. The vision was to perform the music that we liked, regardless of what genre it was, as simplistically as possible. I would say that we threw that idea right out of the window within the first four months. Fast forward to now, and we have my Dad playing a variety of synthesizers on a keytar, no less, as well as the mandolin. He has also acquired a few bass guitars and has become a great bass player. To answer your question, anything is possible I suppose.

RRI: Leanne there are a couple of songs that you take the lead vocal on during your set. What’s your favorite one to do live?

Leanne: “Landslide” would be the favorite. I think that song just really touches people. I really love singing harmony but I am a guitar player not a singer.

RRI: What is next for Minimal and where can we go to find more information on the band?

Minimal: Your guess is as good as ours. It is constantly evolving day to day week to week! You can always see what’s up on our Facebook page Minimal!

2 thoughts on “Rockford Rocked Interview: Catching up with Minimal

  • Nov 4, 2015 at 7:42 am

    The first time I saw Minimal they were performing at Legends. I had just left Rockford Speedway where I was helping with the Cheap Trick Hall of Fame petition. Minimal was supposed to be a quick pitstop before I headed across town to see another band. I walked in and they were between sets. I told Greg I was only going to be able to stay for a song or two and hoped they could play a song they would like me to catch on video. Once I heard them play that first song I ended up staying there until the end of their sets. I had other places I was supposed to be but I couldn’t tear myself away. They played a varied collection of classic and current rock and pop and I was hooked.

  • Nov 4, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Well Mr. Houston. You’ve done it again. Another great interview with a group that I think is really, really good. They’ve got to be the brightest light on the Rockford music scene these days. I happen to see a video of them performing a song (can’t remember which song it was, and I’m thinking that it was one of the tunes that Marie Barcelona filmed and posted), and I was captured immediately. It’s a unique combination of instruments, and there are some great vocals and harmonies and you know how I love those things in a group. It’s also interesting to note that Gregg once played in the infamous RIPT, and it’s great to see that he’s carrying on with his music albeit a departure from the things he used to play. I really hope this group gets some exposure, because they sure deserve it. Thanks again Todd.

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