Yet another Ypsilantian, a member of the band Manhole, has pulled up stakes and left Ypsilanti for the mythical paradise of Portland, where, according to legend, “young people go to retire.” Here’s my interview with the tall, quiet man we all knew as Leggz.
MARK: What’s your name? I mean, I know you as Leggz, but I suspect that your family knows you as something else, right?
LEGGZ: Correct. My full name is Christopher Leggz Pierce.
MARK: Is that a family name, or is there some other story behind it? I’m aware, for instance, that there’s a Leggz Dance School in Kissimmee, Florida. Did your parents maybe meet there, as instructors?
LEGGZ: Well, they didn’t meet there, but they share a mutual love for the school, even to this day. It must have been inspiration enough at the time of my birth.
MARK: When did you move to Ypsilanti, and what were the circumstances behind your coming here?
LEGGZ: I moved to Ypsi in the fall of 2001 in order to attend EMU.
MARK: Where did you come from?
LEGGZ: North Muskegon, Michigan.
MARK: And what made you choose EMU? Was it distance from home, affordability, specific programs that were offered, the community surrounding the University, friends that were going there, etc?
LEGGZ: I don’t remember exactly. It was probably a bit of all those things. Mainly location and affordability, I suppose.
MARK: What did you study at EMU? And did you graduate?
LEGGZ: I did the BFA, focusing on printmaking and painting.
MARK: A lot of people who attend school here don’t ever make to the other side of Cross Street. What was your first impression of the city, and what was behind your transition from student to townie?
LEGGZ: I imagine my first impression was that the city was surprisingly multifaceted for its size, and I remember a sense of realness that wasn’t as apparent initially in neighboring Ann Arbor. I would say the transition you speak of came naturally and was seamless. It probably began that first summer off from school.
MARK: From what I hear, you just left Ypsi for Portland. I’m guessing that you moved, at least in part, to be closer to Hollis and play in the newly reformed Manhole, but I suspect there were other considerations as well. Can you share a little of what it was that motivated you to uproot from Michigan and move west?
LEGGZ: I had been interested, for some time, in moving to a larger area and avoiding winters similar to Michigan’s. I had never had my eye on Portland, Oregon specifically, but it quickly seemed to make the most sense after considering other areas and exploring the American west. And Hollis is here, and we seem to get along.
MARK: I love Portland, but, from what I understand, the job market isn’t so good… In part, I’m sure, because people keep moving there… What are you doing career-wise? Or, what do you hope to be doing?
LEGGZ: Perhaps I was lucky, but I found work that suited my resume soon after my initial job search.
MARK: If you don’t mind my asking, what are you doing? And what were you doing here in Michigan?
LEGGZ: I was working at an assisted living program for people with mental illness, and working at a screen printing shop. Now, I am screen printing and care giving at a facility for people with developmental disabilities.
MARK: So, what’s up with Manhole? Are things good?
LEGGZ: Manhole has always been a continuously evolving thing. Right now, we’re playing here as a 4-piece. Its neato for this lineup to bounce off of previous incarnations.
MARK: Who’s in the band these days?
LEGGZ: Sam has been playing bass. He’s in another band with Steve, called Inkblot. (+ Hollis, me = 4).
MARK: Are there other people you’re trying to recruit away from Michigan?
LEGGZ: Not the recruiting type.
MARK: You didn’t leave alone, though, as I understand it.
LEGGZ: I get the feeling that we are not alone.
MARK: That’s not what Tiffany told me….
MARK: I can’t remember his exact quote, but, when I talked with Hollis about why he was moving, he said that talented people waste their lives in Ypsi, or something along those lines. Do you agree with that? Do you think it’s impossible for someone with artistic aspirations to find a larger audience if they’re operating out of Ypsilanti?
LEGGZ: To me, it seems to be mattering less and less where you physically are. You know about the internet, and planes, right?
MARK: What to you miss the most, and the least, about Ypsilanti? Feel free to speak openly and honestly?
LEGGZ: Of course, I’ll miss many people between visits. I certainly wouldn’t change anything about my experiences there. I just hope it continues to be rad in everyone’s minds; past, present, and future.
MARK: Do you ever wake up, walk outside, expecting to be in Ypsilanti, and start to cry when you realize that you’re thousands of miles away?
LEGGZ: Anything’s possible.
MARK: Are you really tall, or are you just a skinny guy with short friends, which gives you the appearance of being taller than you actually are?
LEGGZ: I can’t answer that.
MARK: Has the climate in Portland led you to change your facial hair? If so, how has it evolved?
LEGGZ: I’m not entirely sure. There aren’t any mirrors in Portland.
MARK: Is there anything that you’d like for the people of Ypsilanti to know? Is there a parting message that you’d like to leave with people?
LEGGZ: “Frank, NO!”
MARK: Who is this Frank, and do you feel guilty for laving him behind?
LEGGZ: Oh, Frank Blunt? I’m sure he doesn’t care.
MARK: I know you haven’t been there long, but are you happy in Portland?
LEGGZ: Yes, so far so good.
MARK: Isn’t mass transit in Portland great?
LEGGZ: Sure. That, and the terrific bicycle accommodations.
MARK: You always struck me as the Derek Smalls of Manhole. Is that an image you purposefully tried to cultivate?
LEGGZ: Not in the slightest, but taking up the bass isn’t a bad idea.
[note: All of our previous Exit Interviews can be found here.]