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Las Vegas-based Southern rocker Lennon Roach moves from the military to music

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Lennon Roach
Adam Lerner / Courtesy

Lennon Roach joined the military with every intention of dedicating 20 years of his life to it. He had no way of knowing it would help him become a full-blown rock musician.

The Alabama native, who inherited his father’s love for drumming, went into the Air Force at 19, with his first assignments taking him to Korea and to England.

“That really kick-started my singing,” says Roach, who served for eight years. “I was a drummer, but I didn’t have a drum set in my tiny barracks room. So I was like, ‘All right, you don’t get to beat the sh*t out of things anymore. You have to actually tell people how you feel.’”

Roach downsized to an acoustic guitar and became known in his unit as the Southern gentleman who could actually sing. “I had a lot of friends in the service who would be like ‘What the hell are you doing? Why are you doing this job with us? You should be trying to be a musician.’ I always shrugged it off,” he says.

That all changed in 2018, when Roach was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base. After getting deployed and seeing several countries, he began to wonder if it might be time to end his military career. A deep dive into the local music scene—which saw Roach playing open mics, then graduating to shows at Downtown venue Horse Trailer Hideout—confirmed that hunch.

“I started meeting more people that wanted to build a band with me. That’s when I was like ‘Holy sh*t. This is something that could actually happen,’” he says. “I’d never lived in an area … [with] so much music talent.”

Roach forged friendships with well-known locals including Paige Overton, former frontwoman of The Clydesdale, and The Rhyolite Sound’s Jake Shepard and Larry Reha, the latter of whom, he says, was especially instrumental to his success.

“[Larry’s] been a pretty big mentor for me in figuring out where I belong in this Vegas music scene,” Roach says. “I wouldn’t be doing anything if it wasn’t for Larry.”

The Life I Stole, the debut EP Roach recorded at Reha’s Sonic Rodeo and at Blvckbox Studios, is slated for a spring release. Roach and Overton have a duet on it called “Out West,” which piggybacks off his September single, “Honey Bee”—a breakup track about searching for someone better.

“Honey Bee” highlights Roach’s Southern growl and bluesy twang. Being from Alabama, “I like to take country influence and apply it into more of an easier digestible rock ’n’ roll sound, with a sprinkle of country,” he says.

He regards country star Chris Stapleton as a hero, loves Lynyrd Skynyrd and credits Colter Wall as a “country artist that really helped me get through my deployment. “

The Life I Stole is Roach’s personal reflection on militarylife and the frustrations that followed. “It’s really a collective piece on different things I was not happy about in my life that I decided to either kill or change,” he explains.

Stomping rocker “Dying Eyes” embodies that concept. “I’m killing an old version of myself in that track, and that’s the big picture of what the record is: If you’re not happy with where you’re at, you have so many options,” he says.

Lennon Roach linktr.ee/lennonroach Upcoming shows: December 4, Sand Dollar Downtown; December 22, Sand Dollar Lounge

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Amber Sampson

Amber Sampson is a Staff Writer for Las Vegas Weekly. She got her start in journalism as an intern at ...

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