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Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, July 27, 2000

Members of Lefty, from left, are Larry Giovani,
Dennis Hill, Kenny Livingston and Scott Somers.

Timing’s right
for Lefty

By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin


Lefty's new "4 3 2 1" album cover shows a rocket at the moment of lift-off. It's an apt representation of where Lefty is these days.

The Orange County rock band -- Hill, Kenny Livingston (drums), Scott Somers (bass) and Lorenzo Giovani (guitar) -- will be in Hawaii to open for the Foo Fighters at Worlds' on Monday.

"The Foo Fighters are definitely my favorite contemporary band," said Lefty's singer-guitarist Dennis Hill, "so it's like having your record release party in Hawaii playing with your idol."

The group had a day or two at home from touring, so Hill was doing phone interviews while Livingston continued entering the names of "10,000 to 20,000" fans into the band's data base to help get the word out that "4 3 2 1" is available.

The band has long encouraged fans to write their names and addresses on sheets of paper at concerts and autograph sessions, "But I had no idea there were so many 'doctors' (with illegible writing) in this country," Hill said.

Lefty will have a laptop computer in Hawaii to spare Livingston or another member of the band future decoding sessions.
The Foo Fighters headline Monday's show at Worlds'.

By the time Lefty leaves, Hill will have fulfilled two dreams: surfing in Hawaii and sharing a show with Dave Grohl. Hill says the leader of the Foo Fighters is one of his favorite performers. Iggy Pop, Kurt Cobain and Neil Diamond are three others.

That's right, Neil Diamond.

"My mom's a big Neil Diamond fan and when she took me (as a kid) to the San Diego Sports Arena to see him, it was the first time I went, 'Gosh, I want to play music.'

"The guy is the best performer and when he points at you, you think he's singing directly to you. I saw that and I thought 'That's really cool. I want to do that.' "

Almost 40 years after Diamond first charted, Hill says the singer's "great two-minute songs" still are intriguing and ready for reworking. "It could be the next big thing -- right in the middle of 'I Am, I Said' you go into a five-minute Allman Brothers guitar solo!"

Diamond isn't mentioned in the group's bio of favorite artists, but with Cheap Trick, the Pretenders, Elvis Costello, Green Day, Nirvana and the Replacements as inspirations, there's no question that Lefty's original songs are well rooted in modern rock. Hill and the others bring it all together without sounding derivative.

It's been a quick trip to national touring for Lefty since Hill and Somers founded the band in late 1997. The group officially debuted in January 1998, releasing its self-produced, self-titled indie debut album a year later. Lefty signed with Interscope last fall.

Lefty starts a tour with Interscope labelmates Unwritten Law next weekend. Hill expects Lefty to tour with one band or another for the next "year-and-a-half to two years." When time permits they return home to their Orange County warehouse headquarters to work on new material.

"What we're doing now is recording a book of new songs so that if we do get to do another record, it won't take a year to do it. I don't remember in my whole life writing so many songs. I've probably wrote three or four in the last three weeks so if the flow is going (I) get it at that time. It might be like a water fountain and just shut off."

The conversation leaves no doubt that Hill is serious musician who is focused on both the business and creative aspects of rock. A lighter side appears when he's asked about the band's name.

"My mom's left-handed. Al Pacino's character in some movie was Lefty. Or, there was a Lefty in an episode of 'The Twilight Zone' that I liked. Do you remember that episode? Or there's a lot of great left-handers like Jimi Hendrix. Or we were gonna call it 'Righty' but it just didn't sound right. It's either that or it's a phallic reference, I don't know."

On stage

Bullet Who: The Foo Fighters and Lefty
Bullet When: 7 p.m. Monday
Bullet Where: Worlds' at 1130 N. Nimitz
Bullet Tickets: $25 plus service charges at Radio Free Music Center, Tower Records Kahala and Pearl Kai, Tower Video Kapiolani, Hungry Ear Kailua, Tempo Music, Jelly's Puck's Alley and Pearl Kai and University of Hawaii Campus Center
Bullet Call: Worlds' at 599-4450
Bullet Also: At Maui Arts & Cultural Center, 7 p.m. Tuesday; $30. Call 808-242-SHOW

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