“On the train headed home, sitting there all alone, with the piece of your pride you couldn’t swallow.” The title track of Boxcar, the short EP written between Gabe Leeds and Uriah Killinger, begins with an unapologetically blunt few lines about loneliness, heartbreak, and pride: themes that come up throughout the short album. “So, tell me one more time, how you feel so bad, and if I promise to make you mine, would you still feel sad?”
Gabe Leeds, a junior at SLA, is a prominent performer in the local Philadelphia “DIY” music scene. Among music known for ‘rugged’ surf-inspired guitar, Gabe’s music stands out as simple yet catchy and listenable with deep, emotional undertones. Punchy guitar riffs stand out over his jazz-inspired chords.
Gabe started playing guitar at the age of seven, “In the way that parents will sit their kid down in front of an instructor and throw money at them until they’re talented.” He didn’t really have a passion for it; it was something he felt he had to do. However, when introduced to the Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby, he found meaning in songwriting, and went on to write and perform songs with the bands Skyline(2014-2015) and Thanks, Mom(2015).
In freshman year, he was introduced to fellow guitarist/songwriter Alexei Mannino and joined Alexei’s band, Wasted America, which had run for a few years. They played shows fairly regularly and recorded many songs, such as Sharp Like Safety Scissors.
However, Boxcar was the beginning of the end for Wasted America. The EP was released under the band’s name despite only half of the band playing on it. It became much more successful than anything the band had released prior, even landing Gabe and Uriah spots in Wyoming, a much larger musical project. Soon following the release, tensions between members of the band rose, and ultimately the band dissolved in early 2017.
For the most part, Gabe’s music has met little negative feedback. “[Boxcar] energizes me,” says Matt Yemola, a fan and friend of Gabe’s. “It flows nicely. It’s loud and aggressive, but it touches me on a personal level. I can listen to it and not feel like I’m going to die alone.”
Gabe does have critics, however. “I didn’t know Tiny Tim was still playing music,” said Pablo Salvatierra, another friend, though maybe not a fan. “I didn’t know he was into that punk scene. Dropped the ukulele and picked up that electric guitar.”
Gabe’s music has touched, and continues to touch, many people. There is no question that, as time goes on, no matter who he works with, he will continue to write great, inspiring music.