Interview with Edward Bornt of Legend, by Liam Sweeny
Written by Staff on December 29, 2022
Tribute bands, good ones, are like spiritual mediums. They get us to hold hands, and with some chanting (and a few tasty riffs) they get us in touch with bands by which we are separated by both time and distance. A good tribute band is a resurrectionist.
Legend is, perhaps a resurrectionist….though we’re not categorically unearthing the dead. But if you love Journey or others in that musical stable, you would be well served to seek out the services of this band.
I sit with Legend guitarist Ed Bornt and we discuss flames on guitar bodies.
RRX: Your band started as a tribute to classic bands like Journey, Foreigner, Styx, REO Speedwagon and Bon Jovi before focusing on “The Ultimate Journey Tribute”. This is a musical “center” that, for my age, was extremely formative. I had all this music in the house growing up, and one of my first self-bought tapes was “Journey Title.” Why this musical period?
Ed) The bands, the look, the sound, the shows…..all larger than life! Music of this era is ageless and always in style. It crosses boundries of age and musical preference to unite us with melodies and lyrics we can all identify with. Most of the Journey tunes we play, everyone is singing along as they know all the words…truly, “Classic Rock”
RRX: I’m no stranger to tribute bands, or interviewing tribute bands. I just interviewed five Grateful Dead tribute bands. In a row. But from what I’m seeing and hearing of you, you’re sort of a “next level” tribute show. How does a band go from being a tribute of a band they love to being at the level where they can play casinos?
Ed) Let’s get the obvious out of the way…first and foremost, HARD WORK! Then you need to take it beyond dedication to your art form, beyond replicating the original artist as closely as you can. Now, you really need to turn into an entertainer. When people are paying for a seat to see the show, they are expecting rockstars, not the guy next door. There is continuous pressure to improve one’s self.
RRX: Latching on to the last question, Legend plays casinos, big venues and corporate events. This seems like it would be a much different level of performance than playing at a club with a fire occupancy of a couple hundred people. I’m thinking that there’s a lot more of the logistics of music involve. Can you describe a show an hour before it starts?
RRX: Yes…..an hour before the show, everything better be ready!!
If our show starts at 8PM, our crew has been there since noon to set up and get everything working. We will do our sound check around 4PM or so. This gives us plenty of time to assure that all equipment is operating smoothly, and we are ready to deliver the show everyone is expecting.
An hour before we are warming up on our instruments, making sure we are mentally prepared to go out on stage.
RRX: You have players in this band that have been in a whole host of great bands. So everyone in this band has a certain amount of weight. Was the acquisition of the current lineup targeted, like football recruitment and the draft and whatnot, or was it more “we met in a bar one night?”
Ed) At the start, we all knew or had heard of one another as seasoned and talented musicians. CJ had the concept of an arena rock tribute, and started the process of contacting and assembling the players. From the beginning, Legend was focused on designing a show to play bigger stages and venues.
The amount of personal investment, (time, money, practice) involved in a project like this had an effect on who stayed with it, and who decided to move on before we ended up with the present trusted lineup of myself, Mike Ledesma on vocals, CJ on Bass, Reggie on Keys, and Richie on the drums.
The biggest test of any band is to stay together. The pressures and trials we faced together has formed the tight knit group Legend is now.
RRX: I’m more centered on creating originals as a musician, but I suspect it’s because I don’t have the discipline to cover anything. But you all cover songs that are very difficult to cover musically. Journey and Foreigner were no joke. So when you have the amazing players you have, is there room for improvisation with this material or is it straight?
Ed) As a tribute to Journey, we always strive to honor the integrity of the music paying homage to the original artists.
Given that, Journey themselves improvise a bit on their shows live and we do the same. Legend’s musical personality and skills show themselves on endings, stringing songs together, or arranging pieces to include audience involvement.
RRX: You were nominated for a 2022 Listen Up award, the flagship award of Radioradiox and Xperience. All fans doing the work here; we picked nothing. Do you have any words for the fans who came out and wrote your name on the line?
Ed) to our fans:
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!
We exist because of you, and we are forever grateful. You, and only you decide if a band is successful or not. Your support has opened up the opportunities we have now, and bigger ones in the future. We appreciate you so very much!
Our focus is and will always be… to continually strive to improve our show, and bring you the best Journey tribute we can possibly be.