Mike Luno (Vocals, Guitars) was born in Armstrong, BC, where he suffered through piano lessons from an early age until taking up the guitar and saxophone in Junior High School. Drawing inspiration from Kiss, Cheap Trick, Boston, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Yes and Rush, Mike logged countless hours with growing enthusiasm on his $75 guitar. He formed a band with high school buddies (first called 'Enigma', then 'Stratus') and rarely let the instrument out of his hands through most of his high school years. He moved to Victoria after graduating from High School, in order to study music at the University of Victoria. He studied classical saxophone(!) and music education, in addition to core theory, music history, and ensemble performance. The harmonic analysis of works by Bach and Chopin fascinated and inspired the 'closet' guitarist. He formed bands with UVic School of Music colleagues, and led the de facto house band for campus parties. Some years later, he became a Strings and Band teacher in the Victoria School District, and expanded his musical horizons by taking up the violin and teaching music from grades 4 through 12.
Mike's current influences run the gamut from Jeff Buckley to Gyorgi Ligeti, Alan Holdsworth to Crowded House, J.S. Bach to Bela Fleck.
Curtis Leippi (Drums), though born on the Canadian prairies, spent his formative years in Victoria, BC. With his voracious, inquiring mind, an anti-authority streak and no shortage of energy, Leippi found the drums to be a natural choice for his musical explorations. By the age of thirteen, the young firebrand had connected with a drum instructor worthy of respect, and Leippi applied his focus and discipline to building his skills and broadening his musical horizons. Early influences such as Rush, Deep Purple, Yes and Led Zeppelin soon gave way to other-worldly players such as Dennis Chambers, Dave Weckl and Buddy Rich. After graduating from High School, Curtis moved to Vancouver and was soon touring with popular circuit bands such as the Bratz. The frequent performance and touring life provided great opportunity to build musical skills in diverse styles - from rap to dance, metal to country - but also awoke the drummer to the limited possibilities for professional cover bands and less-than-original originals bands. Feeling the onset of touring fatigue, Leippi returned to Victoria in order to take a day job and practice his music without the musical constraints of a touring band. When he was approached by a local bassist about the possibility of joining a band that chose cover tunes purely on the basis of how fun the music was to play, he was intrigued - and later, the longtime musical collaborator with Mike Luno. He has since been described as an awe-inspiring drum-style-amalgam of Dave Weckl, Carter Beauford (of the Dave Matthews Band) and the Una-bomber. Leippi can also be seen performing locally with Full Moon Band.
You could say the Mike Luno Band has virtually no history...or you could say they have a long history - depending on where you draw the lines of start and finish.
First - the 'No History' History:
Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Mike Luno musically collaborates with drummer Curtis Leippi beginning in the Summer of 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. They invite bassist Trevor Andres to join them onstage for their first local gig at the Railway Club. Performing as a lean, mean 3-piece machine- with many years' gigging and recording already under their collective belts - their combination of take-no-prisoners intensity, hand-in-glove musical interplay, and infectious, groove & hook-laden material wins them a very friendly reception from the audience and a sense that there is a healthy appetite for their brand of performance and material. They complete a recording of over two dozen songs and set out to reach the world with their music. After a year, Andres departs in order to focus on his other musical pursuits, and MLB has the pleasure of working with bassists Scott Tucker and Kirby Green.
Next - the Unexpurgated History
Flash back to the Fall of 1996. In Victoria, British Columbia, Mike Luno forms a band with his musical collaborator and bassist David Augustine, and two new acquaintances of David's: vocalist Jeff Starzenski and drummer Curtis Leippi. Calling themselves Victoria Secret (with hulking front man Starzenski about as far from a Victoria Secret lingerie model that one could imagine), they gig frequently over the next year, playing Luno's originals and a grab-bag of cover tunes ranging from Paul Simon to the Screaming Headless Torsos. Following many frank discussions as to what musical direction the band should take, Starzenski and Augustine leave the band by mid- '98. Mike takes over lead vocal duties and recruits local Band teacher George Koenig as bassist.
Augmented by saxophonist Wendell Clanton and keyboardist Chris van Sickle, the 5-piece band takes on the name Devil You Don't in 2001, and records a CD of Luno's originals, 'Better the Devil You Know'... in 2003.
The CD garners a warm local reception and nomination for best production/engineering in the annual Island Music Awards of Vancouver Island. For the next few years, Devil You Don't gigs locally - with Clanton and van Sickle available to perform with decreasing frequency. In 2004, Leippi, Koenig, van Sickle and Luno begin recording what will become a 25-song project. Submitting those songs that are near completion, they are nominated for and play at the ceremonies of the Island Music Awards several years in a row. Nominated for Best Song, Best Songwriter, and winning Best Male Vocalist, the band enjoys some small local notoriety - but Victoria is proving a difficult town to find work for original musicians, or to gain a following. Koenig and van Sickle fade away from the Band as the recording process continues, leaving bass duties to Luno for about a quarter of the pieces. Congist Corey Linklater graciously offers his skills to three pieces on the day before he moves to Morocco. Coincidentally, this happens days after Curtis Leippi moves across the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver.
While Luno plows on with completing the recording, Leippi quickly endears himself to the hot local musicians of Vancouver and finds himself gigging almost more frequently than he can handle. Still attached to the dream of their original music seeing the light of day, Leippi encourages Luno to pull up stakes and move over to Vancouver as well. Although immersed in a job he loves (teaching Strings and Band in the Victoria School District), he is intrigued by the possibilities of continued collaboration with Leippi and the Vancouver music scene, which compare to Victoria as, say, Los Angeles to Fresno. From this point - refer to the 'No History' History.