A Conversation with Dylan LeBlanc

Words by Pete Escobar

I recently had the pleasure of having a conversation with Louisiana singer-songwriter, Dylan LeBlanc. Dylan released his fifth studio album Coyote on October 20, 2023. Coyote is his first self-produced release. This concept album takes the listener on a thought-provoking journey of the album’s character, Coyote. 

In this question and answer conversation, I found Dylan to be unassuming and easy to talk to. He provides insight into his inspiration of two of my favorite songs on the album and he also talks about his appreciation of family, friends and having a sense of humor.

Pete: So, Dylan, when I first met you, it was July of 2019 at the Larimer Lounge in Denver. The thing that I remember from that night is that I walked into the venue and I was waiting around because I got there early when the doors opened so I could get a good spot to shoot the show. You walked right past me, and I said, "Hey, Dylan, how you doing?" And I remember you pretended that you weren't you. 

Dylan: Yeah.

Pete: You asked me, "Which Dylan are you looking for?" Anyway, we had that conversation for a bit and then you obviously let me know that you were you. If you remember, we hung out for a little bit backstage before the show. 

Dylan: I do remember that. Yes. 

Pete: Yeah. So, that was a great introduction to you. I got the impression that you like to joke around and maybe play pranks. Is that your style? Do you like to pull pranks when you're on tour with your band or was that just special for me? 

Dylan: Oh, I mean, I obviously think everything's better with sense of humor and I just, I don't know. I like to, to mess with people, and just be funny because it breaks the tension if there is any. You know what I’m saying? Yeah, I like to play pranks on people. 

Pete: Right on. Well, you know, you can kind of see it with you and Clay. When you first walked into the venue the other night, the Magic Rat in Fort Collins, you can kind of just see, just the eyes, you know, looking at each other a certain way and then the body language. I don't know if it was just the venue or something else that was going on, but I think you welcomed a beverage that he brought you right at the beginning of the show. 

Dylan: Oh, yea. 
Yeah, we are always… the thing is that sometimes on certain nights I’ll try to make the band laugh during a song. And if I do that, I feel like I’ve really achieved something great. So, I was trying to make them laugh. Yeah. 

Pete: Well, I think you did that a few times the other night. 

Dylan: Oh yeah.

Pete: Well, if you can get a musician who's trying to concentrate on pulling off the best they can do, to make them laugh in the middle of that, I'm sure that's a big deal. 

Dylan: Yeah, that's always fun. Just to mess with people. I love messing with Clay especially because he thinks everything's funny anyway.
 So, it always makes me happy to see him laugh.

Pete: That's awesome. Yeah, everything that I’ve ever heard Clay on, like a podcast or whatever, he's always kind of joking around. So, he seems like the type.

Dylan: Absolutely

Pete: It fits well with your personality as well. 

Clay is one of my favorite people on the planet. He is one of my best friends and I love him so much. I love playing music with him, I really do, and I love the band. The band is so good and everybody in the band I have a special relationship with. So, we're close and I love working with them. He's the happiest dude I’ve ever met in my life, and I don't know anyone who likes to play live music more.

Pete: Well, that says a lot, especially the schedule that you guys keep. Staying sane and managing to put on great shows. I'm sure that attitude helps.

Dylan: For sure. Yeah.

Pete: So, speaking of your band better known as: The Steel Vaqueros, I mean you've got them stacked, right? You got Clay Houle, Dave Givan and Ian Klin. Not to mention, of course, you have that guy on the bass (James LeBlanc) that you happen to know pretty well.

Dylan: Yeah.

Pete: You know, I feel like that's got to be a dream come true. It would be for me on the other end, you know, being a dad of two boys. What is it like to be able to not only play with your dad every night but to be on this tour together?

Dylan: It's great. You know, it's not something that we've gotten to do. He's a full-time staff, songwriter. Um, and so he has a job of his own. 

He's an incredible musician, and incredible songwriter, incredible artist in his own right. So, for him to dedicate the time to do these dates with me, and to do the campaign on this record has been special for me and I've been absolutely in heaven playing with him every night. It's been just awesome, and he is such a killer musician. He can play any instrument well. He's my favorite bass player on planet Earth. He's incredible. 

So, I asked him if he wanted to do it, and I didn't think he was going to say "yes," but he said, "Hell yeah." And I couldn't believe it. I was just so happy to have him. So, it's been, it's been amazing. 

Great sense of humor. He's really funny. So, the energy is always good, and I mean, he's my friend, man. You know, he's like a friend. I know, he's my dad, but he's also my friend, so I feel very lucky to have him with me. 

Pete: That's so cool. I know that we're not on video here, but if you could see me, I’m like, smiling ear to ear. It warms my heart to hear that. And I mean, that sincerely. It would mean a lot to me to be able to do something like that as well. 

Dylan: I feel the same about my daughter, if she ever wanted me to play music with her, I’d go with her in a heartbeat. You know, if that's what she decided to do. I would do it in the heartbeat. 

Pete: You come off as a guy who definitely would want to participate in your daughters’ aspirations. 
You know, that was something I was going to bring up next. Congratulations on being a dad! The last time we talked was 2019 and now you've got a daughter soon to be three-years-old, I think this year, is that right?

Dylan: Yep, she'll be three, in June. And it goes by so fast. 

Pete: Yes, it sure does. It's cliche isn't it? It's like blinking. One day she is 3 and the next day she is getting married or moving out or whatever it might be.

Dylan: But the cliches are true. I mean, cliches are cliches for a reason. Most of the time, it's because they are the truth. 

Pete: Yeah. It's amazing, how I get older and I’m quoting what my grandmother and grandfather used to say, and it rings so true. 

Dylan: Absolutely, yeah.

Pete: How has it changed you now that you have a daughter of almost three years?

Dylan: Well, it certainly gets your priorities in order and makes you more focused. It makes me do things with more of a direct intent, like, you know, to climb the ladder is more of a goal now than it ever has been. Just so that I can provide more for my family. To be more successful for more of a reason than just my own ego or my own, whatever. It's more about being able to take care of my family, you know? So, it's more of a selfless drive which is always a good thing. I think for anybody's lives that they could find anything that takes them out of themselves and sort of play into that and to direct their attention toward that. It feels like that's never a bad thing. So, for me, that's been very good and healthy for me and to set more strong goals for myself and my career. And it definitely makes you play more for keeps and so yeah, it's been good for me. Especially the selfless part thinking about what I can do in my life every single day that's going to benefit my kid and my family and so those are more serious goals in my life, you know? 

Pete: Yeah, absolutely. That all makes sense to me, and I can certainly understand what you're saying there. It's a different drive once you have someone that's relying on you.

Dylan: Absolutely.

Pete: That's great, man. I’m going to go backwards a little bit here, if that's alright? I am thinking about the way I grew up in a large family. I had many lessons and experiences from that time that have helped me through the years. 

Do you have experiences that have helped you through life, you know, as you have gotten older?

Dylan: I think growing up where I did and growing up with the people around me, a good work ethic was very important. We didn't have a lot of money. So, it was like, if anything was going to happen, you're going to have to work hard for it. And, uh, just trying to work as much as possible, and you believe in what you're doing. You know, staying true to you, you're going to get the best product out of what you're doing. If you don't believe in it, nobody else will, you know, just those principles that most kids need to learn, you know?

Developing that work ethic and writing and playing my guitar all the time, then also being around the music industry and understanding that there was a possibility that people could make a living doing it, you know? And whether it's a great living or just… You know, medium living, whatever. 

You're still doing what you love to do and that's great. You know anytime you can get the opportunity to do that, making the most of opportunities you know, I carry that into my career.  
Being willing to leave and I also understanding the lack of security. 

In this business, you know, there's no guarantees; it's a high risk, high reward type of thing. It's definitely that. So, to learn how to understand to live with that
 are very important concepts that I’ve had to re-introduce into my psyche over and over. 

Pete: Yeah, I think that's a great point that you make there Dylan; Even though you know something, it doesn't necessarily mean you don't have to remind yourself of it time and time again. 

Dylan: Of course.

Pete: Thank you for that. I want to talk to about this album Coyote that you have out now, it is a fantastic album.

Dylan: Thank you. 

Pete: I really enjoy it and I’m pretty sure you have some new fans in the friends that joined us for the show last Saturday.

Dylan: Oh man, I hope so. I love doing it. I really do. 

Pete: It really does show and that's what comes out in your music. I want to ask you a couple things. First, the song "Coyote," the title track, I'm just wondering where that inspiration came from for that song. Can you give us a little bit of understanding where you came up with the idea for that story? 

Dylan: Well, you know, I have always loved gangster shit, like TV. And I love reading books about organized crime, and I just think characters like that are interesting people. What drives someone to become that, and how much work and energy in the loss and sacrifice that they become kind of reminds me of the music business in a lot of ways. You lose people, you know, new people come in and you watch old friends go and people give up. It's not quite as intense obviously as that life. 

The concept for that came from where I grew up as well, in Shreveport. I don't know if you know anything about that town, but it's a pretty rough place. I grew up with a lot of people in poverty that felt they needed to turn to those methods to make quick money to take care of their families. So, I saw a lot of that growing up. I saw a lot of gang violence in school and in the street. I got a brother who has been in and out of jail. Involved in some of that. So, you know it would have been easy for me to also do that. But I love music and I feel like that definitely saved me and gave me an outlet to be something more than just that. I wanted it really bad. So that character is all of it sort of combined into those concepts. That’s where I got the idea for it. 

Pete: Gotcha. Wow. Awesome. Thank you for sharing that, it sounds like you understand what someone who lives the life of Coyote would go through from experience. It makes it a great story that you tell very well. Thank you. 

Dylan: Yeah of course I love telling stories.

Pete: Another song on Coyote that I can't seem to stop listening to is "Stranger Things." Where did the inspiration come from for this song? And what is the message?

Dylan: I just think it's a message of hope, which is good, and I think we need more of that. We need more of reminding people that there's always a better way. And so, in that record, that's where things start to turn for the main character and I thought it was important to express that in the record because "Stranger Things" can happen for people who are born into extreme circumstances. 

So, that concept has come into my life through sheer luck and through sheer whatever's out there looking out for anybody, if there is anything, I don't know. That's above my pay grade, but I do know that if you directly ask the universe for help, that a lot of times, not all the time, independent of what kind of person you are or direction you want to go... What you are really asking for is the strength within yourself to do it. I’m not a Christian and I’m not religious, but I do believe in the power of prayer and things like that because I believe it strengthens people internally. 

It gives them something to hang on to. And I do think that that's powerful. No matter where it comes from. So that, that part of the record is one of my favorite parts and I really believe in that concept. 

I am not sure that answered your question.

Pete: Yeah, absolutely I’m still sitting back absorbing everything that you said there. Makes a lot of sense to me and I would agree 100%. Whether it's through religion, whether it's through reading something, whether it's listening to music, I think there's that opportunity to see the good things and to see that there's an opportunity to make things better. So, thank you for that. That was great. 

Dylan: Absolutely. 

Pete: Yeah. Lastly, I don’t want to take too much of your time on your day off. I know you're trying to rest up a little bit, but 
I just wanted to say thank you on behalf of your fans for your time and appreciation for them. How is it on your side, receiving the attention that you get from the fans and them wanting to take a picture with you or get your autograph?

Dylan: Oh, it's an honor. It's what you work hard to do to connect with the people and I think as an artist, it's important to let people know how much you appreciate their money and their time and their energy because that's what it takes when you go to a show; It requires your money to buy the ticket, your time to come out to the show a
nd the energy that it requires. So, you know, everything in life is those three things, pretty much, right? Time, money, and energy and so those things are valuable, especially to people like me. So, I appreciate that, and I want to let people know it. I really do. And that's not just some contrived answer. It really means the world to me, and I’ve built my career one fan at a time, over 14 years. So I feel like I earned everybody in the room, whoever they are, and that means a lot to me because I feel like the people who are there are there to see me and that's not because it's the cool hip thing to do or spot to be because they genuinely enjoy the music and they're there to hear it. And that, that's amazing man, on whatever level, whatever scale. If it's 5,000, if it's 500, if it's 150 people in the room, which it was in Denver the other night, that means the world to me. It's what allows me to keep going, and without those people, I couldn't. So, they are everything and I really appreciate them. So of course, I’ll stand out there and shake their hand and say thank you. It’s the least I can do. 

Pete: That's great. It shows that you care about your fans and that it is a big deal to you when they come out to see you. I just wanted to make sure that I could say that to you. 
So, again, thank you, Dylan.

Dylan: Thank you. 

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