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Small Leaks Don’t Sink

Small Leaks Sink Ships


Small Leaks Sink Ships — Glass Hypnotist.
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Small Leaks Sink Ships bass player Jim Mandel Jr.
Phoenix Band Perseveres Through Illness, Injury And Other Misfortunes To Re-Emerge With An Evolved Sound And Still Loyal Fans

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By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine

Sept. 23, 2012 — When some bands perform, it’s visibly obvious that they really love playing together, and Small Leaks Sink Ships is one of those bands.

The Tempe based quintet though all individually talented “you can’t fill in a role in our band, we switch instruments and we have the utmost respect for each other, and the music is to emotional,” according to drummer London Van Rooy.

When some bands say that they play for each other it seams like promotional lip service, when SLSS says it it’s coming from a place of experience, passion and genuine love for their band mates.    

The most challenging experience of many bands careers is trying to stick together while fighting over groupies or trying to get the band on the right radio station. Small Leaks has stuck together for over six years through life threatening injury and illness.

SLSS was picking up steam in 2006 when they released an album called Until The World Is Happy; Wake Up You Sleepy Head Sun. They also opened for Dredge and Russian circles to large audiences, as well as playing at the 2006 Vans Warped Tour.

The first blow to the up and coming experimental rock band came just two days before Christmas 2007 when Pianist Ryan Garner was involved in near fatal motorcycle accident.  Garner was thrown from his bike, shattered three vertebrate, broke all of his ribs, bruised his heart, punctured his lung and shattered his front tooth.

“We got to the hospital and they wheeled Ryan out to get a scan done and he just looked half dead,” said Van Rooy. “Ryan was swollen and bloated, he didn’t look like the same person. We were in shock.”
   
The band decided replacing Garner was impossible and spent the entirety of Garner’s more than six-month recovery in hiatus.

“We would hang out together and meditate together, and go to the hospital together and pray for Ryan together,” said bass player Jim Mandel Jr.
    
“With Ryan, they just said he’s going to die. Then a couple weeks later it was he’s not going to die but walking isn’t going to happen,” said lead singer and guitarist Judd Hancock.  “It was one of the worst times of my life as a musician. I felt completely disconnected from my instrument.”
   
After spending three months unable to play, wearing what he described as a turtle shell Garner whom thought he would be healed and ready to play face-melting rock again was told he’d have to wear a halo for another three months.

“It was metal screwed into my head and sheep skin,” said Garner.
   
Elated to be able to move more and play again, Garner began playing shows wearing the halo. Including a memorable set in a speakeasy called The Upstairs just days after being put in the halo.

“It was a formal get together, like suits and ties, and we got Ryan a blazer to wear over his halo,” Van Rooy.

Today Garner is still feeling the effects of the injury suffering from drop foot, which is a permanently tight Achilles which forces him to walk with a cane, as well as having two metal rods and 24 screws in his back, and reconstructed spine with scar to match.
   
With Garner back, SLSS was prepared to conquer the world, with mind bending melodies mixed with hard guitars, and rock and roll cello. But the return to prominence was short lived as the band entered what Van Rooy called “dark, dark, dark times,” with the realization that singer, guitarist and cellist Judd Hancock had contracted cancer.
   
The ordeal started almost comically.

“I just pulled my pants up high one day and it felt like some hit me in the nuts, hard,” said Hancock.

“He wanted to go to the Walgreens doctor, I even called them for him,” said Mandel.  
   
At first, the doctors thought Hancock’s testicle irritation was minor, but the testicle got consistently worse and became “easily the size of two golf balls,” according to Hancock. But this did not deter him and Small Leaks from playing shows.
  
The swelling turned out to be a non-seminoma testicular tumor, which according to Hancock’s doctor would not spread, if removed. Hancock had the surgery and before being fully heeled hit the Northwest with Small Leaks
   
Upon arriving back in Arizona, the band began preparing for a tour of the Midwest. After locking down two solid weeks of shows the future looked bright, before finding out the really bad news. Hancock’s tumor, which according to the doctor shouldn’t have spread, had spread to the lymph nodes surrounding his kidneys.
   
“I probably just walked around with a sore nut too long,” said Hancock.
   
At first, the doctors told Judd it would be three rounds and chemo, “with me the doctors said I could die, I probably wouldn’t, but I could,” said Hancock.
   
Once again Small Leaks Sink Ships was in hiatus, awaiting another ailing member to be able to retake the stage and tear it up in front of their fans.
   
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