Describing exactly where King Leg’s music falls within the myriad of genres from which it takes inspiration is almost impossible.
Bryan Joyce, the musician who performs behind the name, somehow managed to leave his native state of a Nebraska with a voice like Roy Orbison’s, but a sound that harkens back to the British Invasion (the Beatles, the Rolling Stones) of the 1960s. Roots rock, country and R&B are all found within the songs that make up his 2017 debut album, “Meet King Leg,” and have carried over onto the stages he is sharing this summer while on tour with a trio of the most talented performers found within the ranks of Americana.
For a newcomer to the music business, one would be hard pressed to find three veterans to better learn the ropes from than Lucinda Williams (“Car Wheels on a Gravel Road”), Steve Earle (“Copperhead Road”), and Dwight Yoakam (“Streets of Bakersfield”). All three — sharing the stage Aug. 10 at Red Hat Amphitheater in downtown Raleigh on their LSD Tour — have seen peaks and valleys at different points along the path of their careers, yet remain constant draws on the road, long after commercial radio stopped paying attention.
Leg already has two champions in his corner, in the forms of the Yoakam (a producer on Leg’s album), and Chairman of Sire Records Seymour Stein. Upon signing Leg to his contract with Sire, Stein released a statement in which he said, “(Leg) may be young, but musically he is fully mature.”
That maturity carried over to our interview with Leg. Speaking during a break in the tour this week, we were able to touch on what he has learned from working with LSD, and where that name came from exactly.
Q: What led to the decision to perform under the name King Leg, and not just Bryan Joyce?
A: I felt that my regular name was kind of boring. The (idea of going under the name) King Leg is that it allows an avenue for me to be (myself), while doing all the fun and goofy things I like to do as a musician, without having to actually be just Bryan the whole time. It’s freeing.
Q: Where did the name King Leg come from?
A: It came from a roach that was living under my couch. My wife had named him King Leg.
Q: The roach was around long enough for her to name it?
A: Well, it was hanging out in the house for at least that one day. She called me that morning to let me know that there was a roach under the couch, and if I would kindly meet him when I finally got home at the end of the day. Sure enough, I moved the couch when I got home, and he was still there strutting his stuff.
Q: This has to rank near the top of the list of tours with the most talent from top to bottom out on the road at the moment. Has there been anything you’ve learned as a performer during the tour so far, just from watching these three onstage every night?
A: All three of them, they put on a spectacular show every night that they walk out there. You never see them only putting half of their energy into a show, and that’s something that I am hoping sticks with me (after the tour is over).
Q: Your name has been closely associated with Dwight Yoakam’s for the past couple of years, with the title of protege being bandied about. What have you learned from working with him in the studio?
A: That same attention to being excellent at everything you are doing, down to the smallest detail, because it all adds up in the end. When it comes to songwriting and recording, or just having your gear tuned correctly onstage so that it sounds as close to the recording as possible, its all about letting the audience experience live what was produced in the studio.
Q: Has there been a particular moment this summer that made you realize what a special tour you’re taking part in?
A: We were touring up north, and we were walking off the bus in front of (New York City’s) Beacon Theatre. I mean, it still surprises me to see the name King Leg written down anywhere, even on a sticker, let alone on an album cover, that this little idea has actually blossomed into this thing. To see the “King Leg” name on the marquee at the Beacon…it really hit me.
Q: You’ve received praise from such outlets as Paste and Rolling Stone. Do you ever notice a change in the audience after one of those write-ups occurs, where you may see a few more members are familiar with your music?
A: Oh yeah, absolutely. Just being exposed in that way, I think it helps us while we’re still in this growing phase. Being on this tour helps with the exposure, and I will see faces in the audience that are clearly curious about what we are. Folks have walked up to me at the merchandise booth between sets on this tour, when I’m handing out stickers and buttons, and they have told me that they discovered me through those media outlets. It still works.
Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle & the Dukes and Dwight Yoakam with King Leg
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 10
Where: Red Hat Amphitheater, 500 South McDowell St., Raleigh
Cost: $29.50; $49.50; $69.50; $95