Exclusive Interview: Last Chance to Reason’s Michael Lessard is Now Officially The Contortionist’s Full-Time Vocalist
Now is a good time to be Michael Lessard.
Yesterday afternoon, the band for which Lessard has primarily been known up until now, Last Chance to Reason, announced that they’ll release their third album, Level 3, on August 6 via Prosthetic Records. (The first single is due later today.) But as if that wasn’t enough, MetalSucks can now exclusively reveal that Lessard has joined The Contortionist as their new full-time vocalist. While this may not exactly be surprising news, given that Lessard has been touring with The Contortionist since their original frontman, Jonathan Carpenter, left the band in March, it is really great news — for both fans of Lessard and The Contortionist. This is an all around win-win situation.
Yesterday, just hours before the Level 3 release announcement, I spoke to Lessard about how he came to join The Contortionist, and what the future holds for that band and Last Chance to Reason. Read our entire chat below.
First of all, congratulations. You’re the new vocalist for The Contortionist. How did that come about?
Let’s see. A few months ago they called me up and asked if I could fill in for them on a week’s notice before they had two months of touring. So I dropped everything, learned the set in a week, and went out on the road. It was only supposed to be a temporary fill-in spot. Then they did some vocal auditions. I was home at the time. Everything kind of fell into place to where I was actually able to take the spot. They left that option available for me. Once I realized I could do it, they were more than happy to let me join.
Did you know those guys before?
Yeah, Last Chance to Reason did a tour with them in 2011 in Canada. We had toured with those guys for about a month and have always stayed in touch after that. Anytime we toured through Indiana, we stayed with them. We have the same manager. We have a pretty close-knit relationship with those guys.
What does this mean Last Chance to Reason?
Last Chance to Reason will just be a secondary priority for me. I’m focusing on The Contortionist for now. The [other] members of Last Chance have other things that are keeping them busy at the moment. Evan [Sammons, drums] has an awesome job opportunities for himself and Chris [Corey, bass] has another child on the way this September. It gives us room to do Last Chance as kind of a “whenever we have free time” type of thing.
There’s a Last Chance to Reason album ready to go, isn’t there?
Yeah, we actually release it on August 6th. We’ve actually had that done since January.
Yeah, we’ve been sitting on it for a while. We’re really happy with it. It’s my favorite piece of work I’ve ever been a part of to date. Really excited about that.
You did that at Audio Hammer Studios, is that right?
Yeah, we did it with Eyal Levi. We went down for a couple of months and knocked it out the Audio Hammer way and it came out amazing.
Have you spoken to The Contortionist about writing new material with them?
Yeah, we’re already in the process of going over ideas. Basic themes for the concept of the next album. Lyrically, harmonically. We’re just starting to get the ball rolling.
Do you find a big difference in working with those dudes versus the Last Chance to Reason dudes?
Yeah, it’s a different batch of personalities who have different ways of doing things. But I’ve been in a few bands and through so many different writing processes that I can adapt pretty quickly. It all works out pretty well. It’s cool to have a different perspective on writing music.
How have The Contortionist fans received you as their new singer? Has there been any cries of “Where’s Jonathan?!?!”
Everyone is really positive. I’m sure there were some people that weren’t too pleased that Jonathan left. But he had to reassess his priorities and do what he had to do. Honestly, I don’t think anyone was too negative, just because I was stepping up to try and help out people in need at the time. Everyone seems very positive and I just tried to do my best. Even if they are negative, whatever.
That’s a good attitude. Is it weird singing someone else’s lyrics?
Yeah, it’s kind of weird. It’s weird doing that and it’s weird when it’s a fill-in position, because I still had to… [pause] It was natural once I learned the songs. But to a certain degree you’re trying to fill a void. And you’re trying to sell a band. There were people coming out to those shows that had never seen The Contortionist before. Some of them were coming for the other bands. I started putting on a performance. I had to make sure I hit all the parts. In that aspect it was really weird. But, towards the end it became very natural, which is why when the option was available for me to join, it was something I heavily considered. It did feel natural at that point. Really, they’re one of the few metal bands out right now that I feel actually intrigue me.
You’re from Maine, they’re from Indiana. But I take it in this day and age that the geographical differences aren’t an issue?
Yeah, plus I have the Last Chance tour this summer. Then I have a couple of weeks off until The Contortionist starts the Between the Buried and Me tour with The Faceless. I’ll be staying with The Contortionist after the Last Chance tour, because Robby [Baca] from The Contortionist is actually filling in on guitar for Last Chance. So I’ll probably fly back with him. We’ll probably write a little bit while I’m out there, rehearse for that tour, then we do the tour for about a month and a half. Then I’m probably going to stay out there and write in the live setting for a while. I’m sure I’ll come back to Maine and we’re going to be sending emails and doing stuff that way. But I want to be in the jam room with those guys, writing in the live setting [as much as possible].
The Last Chance tour is with Evan Brewer?
Yeah. It’ll be an interesting shred fest, for sure.
When does that kick off?
I believe July 26. That will go until August 16.
And then you’re off with BTBAM?
Yeah, that starts Sept 15, 16. I get a month off in-between, which really isn’t a month off, because I’ll be rehearsing with The Contortionist.
You have to be stoked to tour with BTBAM.
Oh yeah, they’re the premiere prog-metal band right now. And The Faceless, The Safety Fire. One of my favorite parts of playing progressive music is you’re constantly touring with bands that inspire you and push you to be better. It’s cool to be a part of tours like that. All these people are top-notch musicians.
And now it’ll be two tours with Evan Brewer.
Yeah, two tours right in a row. We did the Animals as Leaders tour with him before. I see a lot of Evan.
I hope you guys get along.
Yeah Evan is a super awesome guy. Great guy.
Awesome. Well, congratulations again! We’ll see you out on tour real soon.
Stay tuned to MetalSucks for news of Last Chance to Reason’s new single and their upcoming tour dates with Evan Brewer. You can get the completely itinerary for Between the Buried and Me’s tour with The Faceless, The Contortionist, and The Safety Fire here.