When we asked him for the backstory, Skillet’s John Cooper confessed he actually hated his own band’s name. We are Leo frontman David Duffield doesn’t have the same reservations when it comes to his band. They chose the name to symbolise the boldness and courage they want to live out.
‘I think the idea for me is, with the world that we live in, there’s a lot of opportunities in life where you can either choose faith, or you can choose fear or doubt. And for me, being lion-hearted and having that mindset, is about a community and a group of people who are choosing faith. And it is a choice. It is what I believe in, and it’s what I’m going for, and I just want to reflect the beauty and the strength of God.’
When Alex mentioned John Cooper to David, she had no idea that he and David actually live just two blocks apart. Cooper has helped out the band by giving them support slots, and introducing them to the guy who set up their first record deal.
But David also sees him as a personal mentor. ‘Loads of times we went out for coffee, and I just said “Dude, tell me how to do this. I need help.” He always had time for me. Even if he didn’t have an answer, I could tell that he cared. And he’s a great example of someone who—from marriage to money to walk with God—really lives it.’
David and the band are trying to walk courageously in a practical way, committing to write and release 12 songs in 12 months, starting in July last year. David admitted they were finding the process super challenging. ‘It’s right on the edge of possibility,’ he said. ‘Some days it feels like I’m so excited, and we’ve got this. And then other days, I’m like oh my gosh, we can’t do this.’
we’re just relying on Him, and leaning into Him for rest and inspiration
When we caught up with David, the band were struggling to keep up with the pace, but pushing themselves has also led to some of their best material, including Vision180 favourite Your Voice, Eyes on U, featuring Ryan Ellis, and an upcoming collab with Elizabeth Grace. ‘It puts us in a place where we’re super dependent on God, and we’re just relying on Him, and leaning into Him for rest and inspiration.’
As if they weren’t busy enough already, We are Leo have also visited more than 150 schools in the last two years. They’ve been working with a faith-based non-profit helping teenagers struggling with their mental health. For David, it has been an eye-opening experience. ‘My life is so good, and I have had a lot of struggles for sure, but in the last couple of years, God has just really blessed me. And so it’s kind of like remembering what it was like to be in high school.’
The chance to uplift people through music has really impacted the band. But David has been moved personally by the one-on-one connections he’s made. ‘Most times after we play, people will just come up to us, and hug us, and they’ll just cry. I won’t even say anything. I’ll just hold them, and be like “Hey God, let me be a conduit to your love.”’
Especially for teenagers, self-doubt, judgment and confusion can get super overwhelming as we’re growing into ourselves. Inspired by John Chapter 10, Your Voice is a powerful reminder that there’s a Good Shepherd who wants to lead us through our hardships.
‘All these other wolves are just noise,’ David sings. ‘Jesus talks about wolves all the time. Things are trying to get us distracted or off focus. And he was super real about that. Hey, there’s wolves out to get you, but I’m your Shepherd. I’m going to lead you to where you need to go. So it’s just my reminder to keep listening to the Voice I know, and to not pay attention to the other stuff.’
We reckon that listening for God’s voice is one of the reasons We are Leo are kicking so many goals right now. They’ve still got a couple months left in their year-long songwriting challenge. Stay tuned to Vision180 to hear their new tunes as they come.
Listen to their new collab with Elizabeth Grace below