They Called Me ROCK!
If you’ve spent much time in downtown Bangor in recent years, you’ve likely stumbled across flyers with the cryptic words “They Called Me Legion” scrawled across them.
Spoiler alert: They Called Me Legion (TCML) is a band. It might even be two, depending on the day.
Band members Zach Thompson (songwriter/vocals/guitar), Richie Russell (drums) and James Lagueux (bass) have been staples in Bangor’s original music scene for a number of years now. Zach, who also works for Launchpad’s Central Gallery on Central Street in Bangor as the event manager, is credited with the genesis of the band about eight years ago.
“In high school I started this bedroom recording project,” he said. “I basically just used GarageBand on my dad’s work computer and wrote these really, really bad acoustic songs. I tried playing shows, like solo acoustic stuff, but I hated it so I scrapped it for a while.”
A few years later, Thompson and Russell were introduced. Russell was aware that Thompson had been writing his own songs, and the two teamed up to take a stab at fleshing them out. Each had been burned by prior band members. In the beginning, it was intentionally just Russell and Thompson in the group.
“When we started They Called Me Legion, we were both fed up with having to deal with anyone but ourselves,” said Russell. “We didn’t want to deal with even a third person. Our idea was, we’d write a full band album with the bass tracks and then we would teach the bass parts to a bunch of people so that we would never have to rely on any one person.”
As it turned out, even this attempt was met with some hurdles, as only two people stuck it out long enough to play with them regularly. One lived in New Hampshire, making gigs and practices difficult. The other became a staple of the band for a time, but was recently replaced by full-time bassist James Lagueux, who joined the band during the summer of 2016.
They Called Me Legion draws influence from 80s and 90s melodic alt-rock legends like Husker Du, Nirvana, The Pixies and early-career Goo Goo Dolls, with a distinct modern bent. They take elements and inspiration from a wide gamut of music—the easy label is “indie rock,” and it’s certainly one that fits. When asked to describe it in more depth, even the band members seem hesitant to pigeonhole it. “People always ask this. I have two answers,” said Thompson. “The most recent is ‘punk-influenced rock’ music; or my grandfather told me once that we play ‘modified jazz.’”
“Heavily modified,” added Russell. “We don’t know what to call it. It’s rock.”
Thompson and Russell are also in a second band with another musician, Teddy Hallett, who perform under the name Ratleg. While Thompson still plays guitar in this band, Russell moves from behind the drum kit to sing and play bass, while Hallett mans the drums. Ratleg’s music, for its part, lands squarely in the realm of punk.
“It started off as just having fun at TCML practice and I wanted to take it and actually do it,” said Russell. (“You wanted to play bass too,” added Thompson). “I’ve always wanted to do a punk think and I’ve always wanted to play bass and sing. I was trying to rip The Misfits off as much as I could. The whole idea was to be a liberal, political, straight edge thing, but not take itself too seriously at the same time,” Russell said.
For the future, the members are hopeful of a record deal materializing and are looking at touring. For now, though, they’re content to continue playing as much as possible right here in greater Bangor.
For more about Ratleg, you’re on your own—in punk fashion, they keep a low profile. A Ratleg sighting is often a chance encounter. Follow the Central Gallery Facebook page for updates on performances.