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GRTR!'s featured artist in September 2010, Leaf Hound started out in the early seventies, released a debut album 'Growers of Mushroom' that now commands £3000-plus on vinyl, and reconstituted in 2004.  Here Pete French, the band's founder and frontman, gives us an update...

Pete French, photo by Noel Buckley

Could you tell us what are you currently up to?

We are headlining at the Camden Underworld with Tigers of Pang Tang Fri Sept 17th, and headlining at the Eel Pie Club with my sons group Open Eyes Weds Sept 29th.

We have a live recording of the band in action which I would dearly like to get released as it's really sounding hot. At present I would like to find a decent agent, or agency to represent the band.

How did the band land a spot at the Hawkfest? How easy/hard is it to get slots at festivals and to get a decent run of gigs together?

We were kindly invited to appear by Hawkwinds representatives, and played at their I.O.W. festival on the Sunday, it was a nice thought that we played on the original famous Isle of Wight site where Hendrix and Cactus and where many other brilliant acts had performed so long ago.

Expense wise it has become more and more difficult for smaller bands to get a decent run at festivals.

You've been a member of Atomic Rooster and Cactus. Have you ever been approached by other bands to front them?

When my new Leaf Hound appeared at the Sweden Rock festival the organisers were insisting that they wanted me to front the new Cactus band as well, Cactus had re formed and were due to play the following day, but for my own personal reasons I refused. I have been offered to front a few cover bands but to me it's a bit like acting or doing stars in your eyes.

Pete French, photo by Noel Buckley

Has there been anymore news on the planned live DVD? Are there any plans to re-release the 70's material with added material etc given that expanded re-releases are proving popular of late for other bands.

There are a few live clips of Leaf Hound on You Tube, and as for releasing some of the earlier tracks we recorded as I said previously a combination of old and new tracks are on our Leaf Hound live recording, which when given the opportunity we have ready to go.

Pete French, photo by Noel Buckley

What have been the most memorable live shows for the band and why?

Leaf Hound performing at the Sweden Rock festival in Malmo, great atmosphere and a terrific reception. The Kactus festival in Sweden.

The Roadburn festival in Holland, and the Melloboat festival Sweden / Finland, and the Orange factory in Belgium all of these were great gigs with terrific audiences and not forgetting of course Camden Underworld and The Eel Pie club gigs which both have repeatedly have given us great receptions.

How does it feel to be quoted a musical influence by newer bands like Wolfmother? Who were the big influences on yourself when you started out?

It's a very big compliment indeed. My musical influences were Cream, Hendrix, The original Jeff Beck Group, and the Who and Zeppelin.

The band have been back now since 2004. What have been the highlights and how does fronting the band now compare with the 70's version?

Sweden Rock was probably the best Highlight for the band; I think you only have to look at the terrific reviews that the recently recorded Leaf Hound Unleashed album received to see that Leaf Hound hasn't missed a beat.

Has the internet helped get your music out there or in some ways e.g. illegal downloads has it made matters worse? Does MySpace work well in gaining new fans or is it now just lots of bands gaining other bands as friends?

The Internet is a two sided blade on one side it helps advertise the bands and on the other it allows thieves to take the musicians royalties by illegal downloads, the profession has suffered in my opinion terribly financially, no one wants to put any money into it anymore as the profits have disappeared, sadly there's only one record retailer now and that's HMV, all the others have had to close down.

Why finance and release an album of songs when people will only download the most popular track, it's just not financially viable, and most musicians I know are purely doing their music just for the love of it. Unfortunately My Space has now become yesterday everyone has completely smothered it with crappy ads etc.

Who are your main musical influences and in an ideal world who would you have loved to tour with?

I guess I would have liked to have toured with Van Halen, or Aerosmith.

And believe it or not I was suggested to have been the lead vocalist with Jeff Beck Carmine Appice and Tim Bogart when they were getting it together when they ended Cactus, but instead it ended up with me writing two songs with them on the B.B.A Album, titled Lady and Lose Myself With You.

Message for your fans...

I sincerely thank all you classic rock fans for your constant support, it truly means a lot and when the going gets tough as its you guys that makes it all worth while…Keep Rock Alive…

Interview by Jason Ritchie, September 2010
Photos by Noel Buckley/GRTR!
All rights reserved.

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