Leepers were a great Mod band from Southend, who formed around Spring
1979. They comprised Gary Simpson on Vocals, Pete Helmer on Lead Guitar,
Paul Helmer on Bass and Sav on Drums. For the year or so they were together
they made a big impact on the local scene, although it would be in a couple
of years time that they would make an even bigger splash, as Le Mat, but
more of that at a future juncture.
A feature on the band in the Evening Echo in 1979 saw Gary saying that
they were wary of being labeled though: "Singer Gary fights shy of
the Mod-tag. He says the bands music is '60's influenced pop. The Leepers
supported Back to Zero at the opening of a new suspiciously Mod-ish venue
called Shades in London. In the three months or so they have been going,
the band have gathered quite a following and their supporters can be spotted
sporting Leepers badges around Southend.'Some of them are old friends.
but others have latched on after seeing us. They're great' said Gary."
key gig at the Lindisfarne Centre, headlined by The Leepers, and also
featuring Speedball and The Cards, was reviewed in Strange Stores Fanzine
and confirmed The Leepers live worth, summed up by the reviewer who described
them as having 'Catchy tunes with a powerful Drummmer'. They started playing
a series of residences at Crocs in Rayleigh, where, speaking to the Evening
Echo, DJ Barry Elsen said that "It's the Southend band and their
battalion of fans that have saved Wednesdays at Crocs. We've handed over
most of the organisation for the gigs to the band and they are really
bringing the people in. We are getting four times as many as we would
for Rock nights before. The Wednesday sessions could have been scrapped
altogether if it wasn't for The Leepers who have a big Mod following."
As well as a repertoire of
great songs, the band would throw in the odd cover in the set or for the
encore, and these might include 'The Spiderman' theme, 'Heatwave' and
'In the Midnight Hour.' The year 1979 was the key one for the band though,
and despite the series of fantastic gigs and even the nationwide tour
that they undertook, they felt the wind of change and wanted to explore
other musical avenues, and so it was, with a slight change of form, that
in 1981 Le Mat came into being.