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David Levesque’s band puts Gainesville on the national indie map

Photo: Daniel Dorsa, License: N/A

Daniel Dorsa

Sounding off: (from left) Amy Douglas, Tristan Whitehill, J.P. Wright, Gerald Perez, David Levesque and Alex Crook (off camera) practice in Crook's garage in Gainesville.

In recording Look a Little Closer, Levek had a real commercial studio to work with in Gainesville's Medusa Productions. This asset was key to the ambitions of an exacting soundscaper like Levesque. "I would say the composition, all that stuff, was heavily influenced by those old '70s compositions," he says of his sound. "I feel like back in those days they just had the best equipment around. ... We keep on moving onto getting higher quality and everything, y'know, HD recording and all this stuff, but there's just something about those 2-inch tape recordings that I'm real into that those guys were using. As far as compositionally, I felt like I already kind of had a similar mindset. And then when I discovered them, I was just, like, this is what I do."

But back to that album title. Although planted deep enough that unwitting listeners would cobble together little more than a vague emotional impression, Look a Little Closer is a concept album. "It wasn't supposed to be," Levesque says. "I wrote the first two songs and realized they were both about somebody I hold very dear struggling with mental illness. And I was just like, I have to write this for her. So the whole album and everything is about her journey." The lyrics and curious musical turns on the record suddenly take on new meaning and gravity.

"It's very much based around how things can so quickly change," he says. "And you can be attached to one thing one day and then be completely on another plane the other day. It's very rapid, that's just how it works ... up and down, up and down, you know? As far as bipolar goes, that's kind of how it works. I was also trying to reflect the instrumentation and the whole overall concept of the album. Bipolar is that concept."

That odyssey unfolds and wends through the fiber and course of the album. "It's about her incline into society and how she interacts with people and stuff like that," says Levesque. And by the closing song – a cinematic, gold-bleached '60s French breeze – he says, "It's a flashback back to before she was diagnosed with bipolar, when we were younger. It was a memory of when we were younger. It kind of comes full circle, I guess."

Levek may be Levesque's project, but he's the first to point out that the act's success relies on collaboration – not only of the musicians in the band, but also of the local community that he credits with supporting the band. For instance, he names groups like the Milagros Art Collective and Gainesville's Church of Holy Colors gallery, who did the album's artwork, when he talks about the support and collaboration so important to his work. "The community that I've experienced, that's kind of what I wanted to bring to the table," he says. "Just bringing in a lot of friends from Florida to be involved in the artwork for the album, as well as everything else involved with it."

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