Julian Leal came of age in the tragically romantic Romeoville, an unremarkable outer ring of the Chicago suburban orbit. Like Shakespeare's doomed Montague before him, this swoon-ful Italian nearly threw it all away for music, his first love. Leal- technically a professional musician as a teen thanks to a few surprisingly good-paying gigs with his cover band Mixed Emotions-found it well nigh impossible to maintain focus during classes at Joliet Junior College. Spending 1977 through 1979 with Eclipse, a talented cover band featuring guitarist Gary Scofield and bassist Mike Mathy, Leal entertained Joliet's VFW and Americans Legion patrons. When eclipse passed on, Scofield and Mathy regrouped as Eyz, teaming up with veteran suburban performer Tom Orsi, who'd recently put his accomplished progressive rock act Pentwater to bed. As the decade flipped over, Leal dropped JJC for an opportunity to tour with show band Southern Comfort, performing a mixed setlist of Top 40 and country rock. The money was decent and stage experience valuable, but the rut of doing rote renditions of popular songs frustrated Leal's creative sensibilities. By 1984, he was done with "bands" altogether, choosing instead to promote himself as songwriter and solo act.