Shred Lords: Steven Lesko of Assets
Hailing from Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, 21 year old guitarist Steven Lesko is likely the next big thing to come out of the Wisconsin heavy metal community. But, how did Lesko first discover his signature instrument and set out about a path of a shred lord?
At an early age Lesko discovered an interest in heavy metal and guitar by playing the Guitar Hero video game. When he was 13 he beat the game on expert and was prompted by the end credits to put down the controller and pick up a real guitar. Then, after begging his parents for a real guitar, his wish was granted on his 14th birthday.
“My dad was so hesitant. He didn’t think I was going to play the thing,” recalls Lesko. “I was so excited once I got my own guitar. I can’t put it down, honestly.”
The story of Lesko’s discovery sounds funny to most over thirty-five, but his story is all too true for younger players. And though most don’t stick with the instrument after an initial interest driven by the game, it’s been seven years since Lesko picked up his first guitar and he hasn’t looked back.
“I basically started out learning songs. The first song I learned was Raining Blood by Slayer. It took me forever to get it down because I didn’t have any coordination whatsoever. But, I just slowly built it up with tabs and stuff. I then just kept learning songs for the first two years.”
In the years that followed first learning to by the Slayer classic, Lesko has steadily built up his skills and has taken on a Djent-meets-Metalcore style, but like most serious players he doesn’t like to stick to just one or two styles.
“It’s kind of mix and match. I just do what the song is calling for,” says Lesko. “I feel that you should always push yourself and not get in a rut.”
After about two years of playing, Lesko began writing his own original music. He soon started a band with some high school friends, but admits that he didn’t start to shine until that band dissolved and he started a new one.
“From day one I wanted to play stuff people weren’t playing….in high school everyone wanted to play Metallica, so I was the only one playing heavier music,” says Lesko. “I just try to do what I think sounds good and I don’t try to copy at all.”
Inspired by the works of Yngwie Malmstein, Bullet for my Valentine, Bill House, Brock Betz and Andy Timmons, and even the vocals of Brenden Urie of Panic! At the Disco, Lesko has continuously crafted his style.
“I like aggressive vibrato, like Yngwie’s playing, but I like the feel of Andy Timmons playing, where he makes some noise to add some character to the notes he’s playing. I try to be real dynamic with everything. I just try to make my guitar sing,” says Lesko. “I just love to be able to inspire people or impact people with my music. For them to hear my music and it changes their day or gets them to pick up the guitar…that would be the most rewarding thing.”
Dedicated to honing his skill and constantly evolving his style, so to stay ahead of the times, Lesko has made powerful friends in the Wisconsin guitar scene such as Bill House of Conniption, and Brock Betz of the Brock Betz Band. This friendship has led to a private Facebook chat entitled ‘Shredders United’ in which the three guitarists talk shop and share ideas. This has had a great influence on the writing of Lesko’s solo project, Assets, which has a six song EP entitled Recovery in the works, but no release date just yet.
Originally written with a full band, Assets had dissolved six months prior, but Lesko was unwilling to let all of his hard work go to waste. So, rather than throw everything out, he’s dedicated the last six months to rework everything from the ground up.
“I’m just really trying to make sure the songs are exactly as I’m envisioning it. I had to toss out one of the songs. It just didn’t seem like how I wanted the whole EP to be.”
Though he’s considering reestablishing Assets as a full band, Lesko isn’t entirely concerned with recruitment right now. Instead, he’s focused on finishing up the EP, which has just two songs left to finish, and playing shows as a one man band. As of this writing, he has one show lined up and that’s Metal at the Gates’ inaugural Shred Fest at the Metal Grill in Cudahy, Wisconsin. Playing alongside of Eternal Voyager, Circleswitch, Archiver, and Brock Betz Band, Lesko is ready to show live audiences what he’s been preparing these last seven years.