The Five L’s: lively, lusty, loud and loquacious lads
In the basement of a small brick house near downtown Greensboro the seven members of The Five L’s meet for practice. A bucket of empty beer cans and bottles sits inside the door. Large amplifiers press against the walls and a drum set glittering with countless cymbals stretches across a large corner of the room. Further back in the room some of the band members lounge on a couch and a few chairs. Drummer Stacey Taylor edits tracks on a computer near the back wall as singer Brian Baldwin looks on with approval. Two pit bulls, Ling-Ling and Shooter, trot back and forth across the floor greeting everyone as they come in. They’re anxious to give me kisses as I take a seat on the floor.
The Five L’s got their name from a tomato packaging company called Six L’s and decided to called themselves The Five L’s when they booked a gig and needed a band name.
‘“We’re all about nutrition,’” says Baldwin, who goes by ‘Cheebo.’ The guys lounging about look at each other and chuckle. Cheebo goes on to say they try to get their daily allowance of beer and tobacco.
Cheebo, a stocky fellow with dreadlocks halfway down his back and tattoos covering his arms and chest, looks the part for the type of music the band plays. He can even look a little intimidating at first, but his smile gives him away. In fact all of the members are very inviting. This band of hard rockers has put egos aside; nobody is sitting in the corner trying to impress me with fancy licks and nobody has an attitude. They don’t need to try to impress me. Their music speaks for itself.
They describe their music as ‘“funk-groove,’” ‘“rip-hop,’” ‘“funk-core-groove,’” ‘“heavy funk-metal,’” and ‘“dirty funk.’”
Everyone chats about the band and makes small talk. They are humble about their achievements; they let their barriers down. I am relieved to meet a group like this.
Don’t let their smiles and friendliness fool you, though. When these guys pick up their instruments it’s like they’re picking up weapons ‘— they’ll blow you away. Not only can these guys play their instruments, they can play them well. It’s immediately obvious that each member has devoted a lot of time and effort to learning his craft and they have been able to meld with each other like many bands, and often good musicians, are unable to. The communication between members can be felt in the room even when they’re not looking at each other. Their timing is impeccable; fancy licks are well placed and done in good taste; time and rhythm
changes flow like those of an accomplished symphony. No musician tries to outdo another; instead each complements the other well.
Another thing this band has is dynamics. Cheebo’s melodic vocals soar over the raw, growling guitars, and double-bass drum licks fly between synchronized tom fills. The next minute all is quiet and the bass pumps the rhythm along while the drums cool down to carry the background. Tim Westmoreland lays down a syncopated rap and DJ Armstrong places in scratches and samples. Then the music builds and BAM, another full force cannon takes a blow at me.
All of the songs they play in this cramped, little basement are performed as well as the first. They flow from metal to funk to hip hop, playing each style with skill and professionalism.
The Five L’s have shared the stage with such nationally known acts as Slipknot, Slayer and Killswitch and have been sponsored by Jagermeister, Red Bull, JNCO, and Everly
Jagermeister marketing and band coordinator Adam Grayer spoke highly of the The Five L’s in an email, saying the band has done an incredible job of bringing a party atmosphere to the clubs they play, helping sell and promote the product well.
‘“We have been proud to work with Cheebo and the guys and as a thanks for all their great work. We even gave them an opportunity of a lifetime as we included them as an opener of our Atlanta, Ga. stop on the Fall 2004 Jagermeister Music Tour last November with Slayer, Killswitch Engage and Mastodon,’” wrote Grayer.
Their latest album, Breathe Deep, produced by Thomas Johnson of Porno for Pyros, has been aired on radio stations throughout the nation and their song ‘“I Am the Matador’” is featured on a compilation album put out by Skratch magazine of Orange County, Calif.
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