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The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Q&A: Songwriting duo Leon III talks first ACL performance, new album

Courtesy of Emily Ginsberg

Leon III (Leon the Third), a Texas songwriting duo made up of Andy Stepanian and Mason Brent, played ACL for the first time Sunday on the T-Mobile stage. After wrapping up their performance, the pair from Richmond, Virginia talked with The Daily Texan about their festival appearance, brand-new album and another creative venture — a local apparel company. 

The Daily Texan: What was it like to perform today? 

Andy Stepanian: It’s such a big setting and has so much pageantry involved, that you are of course excited. It’s not just like any other show, it feels like a bigger deal. 

DT: You’ve been playing together for almost a lifetime. What’s it like to go from playing together in middle school to one of the biggest stages in the world?

Mason Brent: Gosh, it makes me feel old! We’ve been compiling cool experiences along the way, and this is as good as they get. 

AS: The mics didn’t work at first, so that was disconcerting. Those are the things over the years you learn to just take in stride. 

DT: You released your third album as Leon III, Something Is Trying To Change My Mind, this week. What’s it all about? 

AS: It’s stylistically a little bit more like 60s British rock. It also has some modern elements like drum loops, and it’s a little less jammy than our last album. There’s songs on this album where I was thinking about Richmond. I live in Texas now, but I miss home all the time. 

DT: What does your songwriting process look like? 

AS: I tend to write a lot of the songs. I always equate it to a Christmas tree. We’ll put the tree up, and it’s probably leaning a little bit. But then I go, ‘Hey, everybody, come look at my Christmas tree.’ Then Mason comes in, and puts ornaments on it. …It’s a building process. Sometimes you put a bunch of stuff on it and take it off or change the ornaments or put a different topper on it. Sometimes, you take it outside and light it on fire. But it all starts with an initial tree. 

DT: What is it like to perform in Austin? 

MB: It’s definitely like a second home, particularly Austin, but I go to Houston a lot where Andy lives too. Doing ACL Fest this way, performing, is a comfortable way to do it. 

DT: You also run a clothing business, Howler Bros., based in Austin. How did this come about? 

AS: We’ve hammered away at (Howler Bros.) for 10 or 12 years now. It’s another creative endeavor we have, and what we’re most interested in is doing creative things with friends. This helps us do the music in a different way, and pays for us to move around. We’ve got day jobs. 

DT: What can people expect from you next? 

AS: We have some shows, but we don’t have any bigger touring happening until January. It’s more like tactical missions instead of  big long tours. We’ve got a number of videos coming out around this album. 

MB: We have some new songs already in the proverbial pan. That would stack up to an EP, which would probably be the next milestone we’re looking at.

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About the Contributor
Logan Dubel, Senior Life & Arts Reporter
Logan is a journalism freshman serving as a senior life and arts reporter. He joined the Texan in Fall 2022 as a general life and arts reporter and comes to UT from Reisterstown, Maryland. While not writing his latest feature, he loves collecting vinyl, going to concerts and being Stevie Nicks' biggest fan.