The year is 2008 and emerging band, The Cab, just hit No. 1 on Billboard‘s Heatseekers Albums chart, making them No. 108 on the US Billboard 200. The band toured nonstop with artists such as Panic! at the Disco, Dashboard Confessional and Simple Plan… just to name a few.
Although they were making a name for themselves, things weren’t always perfect behind the scenes. Lineup changes and record deals were falling in and out of place, and soon enough the members needed some time on their own. Alex DeLeon, the band’s frontman, took some time for himself to figure out who he really was and what he wanted in life.
After Alex took some time off doing things he enjoyed, like traveling the world, for example, Bohnes was born. Bohnes is DeLeon’s solo project, and we recently got to chat with him about everything from The Cab to his highly anticipated upcoming album. Check out the interview HERE:
So for starters, where did you come up with the name Bohnes? Is there a reason why you’re not using your real name for this project?
You know, when The Cab was ending and I was figuring out what I wanted to do next, at the time I didn’t know if it was going to be music or if it was going to be outside of music, so I was trying to figure it out and what I realized was that The Cab wasn’t ending because, you know, of anybody in the band… it was nothing like that. It just had ran it’s course. We’d been together, as a group, for about 12 years almost.
Yeah, a long time!
Yeah! Tastes changed, music tastes changed, your dreams change a little bit. So for me, it was like, I still wanna do music but I just wanted to do a different project that kind of spoke from a different place and I didn’t want it to be about me. It wasn’t about me, it was about the songs and what I wanted to say. So I felt like coming up with a new project name would be more appropriate.
Speaking of The Cab, you were in the band for a very long time. Is there anything you miss about performing in a band with others, rather than performing by yourself? Is it easier to just be your own person now?
I mean, I think the thing I miss the most is the guys. You know, those were some of my best friends and they became brothers of mine. I miss those guys everyday and I wish them the best. I think about them all of the time and I still keep in touch with most of them, but it was just time for me to figure out who I was on my own. You almost forget who you are. You’re more of like a piece of a puzzle or one gear in a chain and you’re kind of like, ‘Who am I without this? Who am I when I’m not on stage with these guys? As a person, as an artist, as a performer.’
For me, it’s been both a challenge and an experiment on just figuring it out. Musically, it’s nice because there’s no compromise and that’s both good and bad because, you know, when you’re in a band, it isn’t easily one person with an idea… it’s multiple people with an idea! You get to bounce things off of each other. Maybe one day your idea sucks and someone else has a great idea, or maybe one day your idea’s great and the others are kind of having writer’s block. So there are definitely pros and cons, but I do love the fact that I get to see my ideas 100% through. There’s never any sort of block. If I want to do something then I just do it! There are no layers I have to peel back of approval… you know what I mean?
Yeah, that totally makes sense.
That’s been it. It’s been really fun for me. It’s easier to go down the rabbit hole when you’re a solo artist.
Is there anything you learned from being in The Cab that you brought over to your solo career?
I learned everything from being in The Cab. That was my college. I didn’t go to college, you know, I graduated high school and two weeks later I was in the band. So everything I know about the music industry I learned in The Cab. Now, as far as everything I learned about life and being a human, that kind of came post-Cab. I was lost and had to figure out who I was. I traveled the world for a few years and I think that’s kind of when I came together as a person and grew up. It felt like I kind of became a man from a boy.
You know, being in The Cab was… record labels, we got dropped from record labels, we got screwed over by record labels, we had lineup changes and number changes and management changes. So I kind of got put through the ringer. That was the best learning experience as possible because now that I’m doing it as a solo act, I’ve dealt with every possible situation you could deal with in the music industry, and I know I’ve kind of grown up, made mistakes, learned from them. It’s given me an opportunity to just build and just to grow from there.
You recently released your second single, “My Friends.” It seems like the song is a bit of a coming of age song as you come to terms with a lot and start accepting yourself. How was the writing process for this one?
Yeah, when I was writing “My Friends,” to be honest, I was kind of miserable and I was kind of realizing all of the bad things about myself and all of the things that I didn’t like. My mind would go to some dark places and I’d get pissed off at myself for allowing my mind to go to those places. When you spend a lot of time alone, you realize the things you like about yourself and the things you don’t. You realize the things that you let get the best of you and you realize the things that you get the best of.
“My Friends” is kind of tackling the things that maybe aren’t the best parts of you and coming to terms with them and being like, ‘You know, these make me who I am and without these things, I wouldn’t be where I am, wouldn’t be who I am and I wouldn’t have the experiences that I’ve had on my belt.’ I think it’s important to come to terms with both the good and bad parts of yourself, and the good and bad experiences, and most importantly, the mistakes, because without the mistakes – one, you’re going to be very boring, and two, you’re not gonna learn or grow! That’s kind of what “My Friends” is about.
It was a bit of a therapeutic experience for you.
Definitely, yeah. Music in general is therapy.
So your last two singles, “My Friends” and “Six Feet Under” both were also released acoustically. You recently tweeted that it was important for you to release acoustic versions with just your voice and a guitar. What is it about acoustic songs that drags you in?
For me, there are two parts of songs. Half of the fun is coming up with the production, and when I write a song I always think about it in a movie scene. ‘What does this scene look like? Is it raining? Is it in LA on a beach? Is it in a dark alley way in East London?’ I always try to paint a picture. So, for me, the production side of music is fun because it kind of gets you to add the color in. The melody and the lyrics are kind of the black lines, the outlines of the pictures, the actual shapes and images.
I like to do both, I like to have original versions of songs where you do get the full color and you do get to feel all kinds of things and layer and design. It’s almost like interior design. If you were designing a house or a building, producing it is kind of decorating the interior. To me, acoustic is kind of the architecture of the building itself – it’s the beams, it’s the foundations. I like telling the story with the guitar because you know, to me, if you can’t pick up a guitar and sing a song with just a guitar, and if it’s not a good song acoustic, it’s probably not a good song!
I totally agree!
Yeah, so it’s just more personal. It’s fun to do both versions. It’s a challenge and it’s an easy way for me to tell my story.
What’s one thing you want listeners to take away from your music?
You know… music is so personal to the listener. I remember growing up and listening to my favorite artists and the things I took away from songs might not have been what they were writing about, but it meant so much. I think interpretation is such a beautiful part of music. Listening to a song and maybe the chords make you feel something or bring you back to a certain place or a memory, or maybe there’s one line in a song that you really relate to. That’s the fun part of music for me. It may mean one thing to me, but it can mean something completely different to someone else… and then a third person could listen and it would mean something completely different for them than it did for me and the first listener. I just want people to feel something, and whatever they feel is completely up to them.
That’s a good takeaway! What’s up next for you? When can we expect a full album?
The album’s going to come early next year! The album’s been finished. We’ve just been releasing single by single. The hope is to also release, afterwards, an acoustic album or an acoustic EP.
That would be great!
Yeah, I think it would be cool! Some of the songs on the album are acoustic already, so I won’t release an acoustic version of an already acoustic song, but I’ll probably pick a few of the more produced songs and strip them down and then also include a few covers. Bohnes isn’t a singles project. I’m releasing singles just to kind of show people what I’m about and the sound as an introduction.
To fully understand the project, you have to hear the album because there really is a universe and a story. It’s close enough to a concept album as you can get without it being a concept album. There’s underlying themes and songs weaved together, as they share ideas and lyrics with each other. Every song is really different from the next. It’s really hard for me to pick singles because all of the songs are so different, that it’s hard to describe the sound with one song. You kind of have to hear the whole album and be like ‘AH! Okay! That’s Bohnes! That’s the world he’s going to build. That’s what he was feeling.’ It’s a journey. It’s kind of documenting the past five years of my life and not only the past five years of my life event-wise but just thought-wise. You know, mental space. That’s kind of what the album is.
I definitely think the singles so far are giving people a great introduction to the project and getting to know you more in just a little way so far.
Yeah, of course. The first song, “Six Feet Under,” is more pop and is a good segue between The Cab and Bohnes. “My Friends” was a little grittier, lyrically more what the project is all about. The third single will kind of just dive deeper and just keep going. And then the album will come out!
Do you plan on touring in the near future? You’re always traveling worldwide so it would be awesome to see Bohnes live!
I would love to tour! I think the thing I miss the most-obviously I miss being on stage-but I just miss the fans. I miss meeting people and hearing their stories and just being able to thank people in person for the support and for allowing me to live my dream. I would be nowhere without the people who supported The Cab. I would be nowhere without the people who are supporting Bohnes now. The best feeling in the world is going on stage and having people singing the words back to you. That’s definitely something I want to do in the future. Hopefully next year once the album comes out, if enough people want me to tour, then I’ll definitely tour!
I’m sure a lot of people want you to tour! Is there anything else you’d like to add for the readers?
Honestly, just thank you. It’s been a hard few years trying to figure shit out but there are definitely some good days and some bad days. Some days I wake up super confident and then there are other days where I wonder what the hell I’m doing! I wonder if people care anymore, ya know? So I really appreciate the people who’ve stuck by me and everyone who has listened to the songs and who’ve watched the videos and offered words of encouragement. This is why I’m doing it. Those people are exactly why I do what I do. Just thank you.