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Leeway (band)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Also known as
  • The Unruled
  • Leeway NYC
OriginAstoria, New York, U.S.
Years active
  • 1984–1996
  • 2006
LabelsProfile Records
Past members
  • Eddie Sutton
  • A.J. Novello
  • Michael Gibbons
  • Pokey Mo
  • Jimmy Xanthos
  • Gordon Ancis
  • Jose Ochoa
  • Eddie Cohen
  • Howie "Zowie" Ackerman
  • Saso Motroni
  • Mackie Jayson
  • Tony Fontao

Leeway was an American crossover thrash band formed in Astoria, New York in 1984 by guitarist A.J. Novello and vocalist Eddie Sutton under the name The Unruled. To date, the band has released four studio albums – Born to Expire (1989), Desperate Measures (1991), Adult Crash (1994) and Open Mouth Kiss (1995) – and broken up and reformed several times over the years. Despite never achieving notable commercial success, Leeway is considered to be an integral part of the 1980s NYHC and crossover thrash scenes.[1]



Leeway gained notoriety in the mid-to-late 1980s by playing alongside groups such as Crumbsuckers, Prong, Ludichrist, Bad Brains, and Sick of It All at the predominantly hardcore punk-oriented CBGB venue,[2] and had metal influences from the start. Guitarist and songwriter A.J. Novello said of their career "We might have helped open up a can of worms by bringing suburban metalheads to shows. Years later, it kind of ruined things in the scene, but I can't say I have any regrets."[3]

Leeway subsequently signed to Profile Records, which released the band's first two albums, Born to Expire (1989) and Desperate Measures (1991); Leeway toured in support of them.[citation needed] However, sharing the stage with their NYHC peers as well as other bands like Bad Brains, Exodus, Overkill, Suicidal Tendencies, Sepultura, Flotsam and Jetsam, Sacred Reich, Morbid Angel and Gwar,[2] and their video for "Kingpin" getting airplay on MTV's Headbangers Ball,[4] did nothing to improve record sales and the band's reputation, and by 1992, they had severed ties with Profile.[1] In a 2014 interview with No Echo, guitarist Michael Gibbons recalled of the band's tenure with the label:

The label did no promotion. They also had no proper, accessible distribution of the album. Not to mention they didn't give us tour support and they had really low recording budgets. It was just a horrible record label, unless you were Run-DMC or Rob Base. It was a rap label that experimented with signing three hardcore bands (Cro-Mags, Murphy's Law and Leeway) and a metal band called Wargasm, then did nothing for any of us. So, how in the world were their artists supposed to generate income for the company, let alone themselves?[1]

Following their split with Profile, Leeway released two more albums on Bulletproof Records – Adult Crash (1994) and Open Mouth Kiss (1995) – before disbanding in 1996. There was a short lived reunion in 2006 which saw the band playing again, most notably with the Bad Brains, at CBGB and a European Festival tour, which was the last time the band performed live for another ten years.[5] Leeway once again reformed in 2016, and they have since continued performing live sporadically.[6]

Their song "Enforcer" was featured on the playlist of the radio show "L.C.H.C." in the game Grand Theft Auto IV in 2008.

Former guitarist Michael Gibbons died on December 27, 2023.[7] Frontman Eddie Sutton died after a battle with lung cancer on April 19, 2024, at the age of 59.[8]


  • Eddie Sutton – lead vocals (1983–1996, 2006; died 2024)
  • A.J. Novello – guitars (1983–1996, 2006)
  • Jimmy Xanthos – bass (1989–1996, 2006)
  • Pokey Mo – drums (1988–1996, 2006)
  • Gordon Ancis – guitars (1986–1987)
  • Michael Gibbons – guitars (1987–1992; died 2023)
  • Jose Ochoa – bass (1983–1986)
  • Eddie Cohen – bass (1988)
  • Howie "Zowie" Ackerman – bass (1987–1988)
  • Saso Motroni – drums (1983–1985)
  • Mackie Jayson – drums (1985–1987)
  • Tony Fontao – drums (1987–1988)


Release date Title Label
1989 Born to Expire Profile Records/Rock Hotel
1991 Desperate Measures Profile Records/Rock Hotel
1994 Adult Crash Bulletproof Records
1995 Open Mouth Kiss Bulletproof Records
1996 Born to Expire/Desperate Measures Another Planet – split reissue


  1. ^ a b c 2014 interview with Michael Gibbons on NoEcho.net
  2. ^ a b "Leeway Tour Dates". metallipromo.com. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  3. ^ Eric Wielander's liner notes in the 1996 Another Planet Born to Expire/Desperate Measures re-issue
  4. ^ "Headbangers Ball- The Unofficial Tribute Site – Episode Database". headbangersballunofficialtributesite.com. Retrieved November 21, 2020.
  5. ^ "Brooklynvegan: Leeway & Bad Brains (Cro-Brains) played CBGB". Archived from the original on December 2, 2008. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  6. ^ "Leeway Announce U.S. Winter Tour". Ultimate-Guitar.com. January 10, 2018. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  7. ^ "Michael Gibbons Jr., Early Lead Guitarist for New York Hardcore Band Leeway, Has Died". Ghost Cult. December 28, 2023. Retrieved December 29, 2023.
  8. ^ "Leeway's Eddie Sutton has passed away". lambgoat.com. April 20, 2024. Retrieved April 20, 2024.