In May 2009, indie-rock/hip-hop duo Inspired Flight traveled north to play an after-party at a friend’s house in the Hollywood Hills. As Mira Mesa resident Eric Poline stood at the turntable and Gabe Lehner of Encinitas sang and played guitar, two men came up and asked them to turn up the volume. They did. The men grabbed microphones and started rapping over Inspired Flight’s beats. One of the men introduced himself as Rugged Monk, an MC from Wu-Tang Clan’s West Coast affiliate Black Knights.
“Rugged Monk held it down for an hour. He got in a pretty gnarly [rap] battle with a guy from the East Coast named Propane. It was awesome to watch,” writes Lehner.
Later in ’09, as Lehner and Poline recorded their debut album in Lehner’s home studio, the duo decided to ask rappers to contribute vocals to the mix. A few months later, Rugged Monk agreed to lay down rhymes.
Lehner and Poline drove up to Rugged Monk’s home in L.A., picked up the rapper, and drove him back down to Encinitas to record tracks for their debut We All Want to Fly, a mashup of hip-hop, indie-rock, folk, and jazz.
“We recorded him, treated him to a nice lunch and dinner out, and took him back to Los Angeles all in the same day,” recalls Lehner.
Pinpoint Music’s 25 Favorite Albums of 2010 includes Inspired Flight in their Top 11, along with other locals The Soft Pack and New Mexico (formerly known as Apes of Wrath).
In November 2012, Lehner released a solo album, The Swift Death of Dysfunction, made available online as a name-your-price offering. “For me this album has been therapy, it's been release, it's been inspiring, it's been challenging, it's been uplifting, it's been depressing...it's been a hundred things. Now it is done.”
Lehner debuted a new project, 9 Theory, in Autumn 2013.