Night Demon – Metal Ambassadors Part IThursday, 13th April 2017
Dead Rhetoric: What can you let us on regarding the instrumental “Flight of the Manticore” and the ominous ballad title track closer? Would you say these tracks showcases more sides to the Night Demon output and outlook?
Leatherby: Yeah, I think so. I always wanted to do an instrumental- I always liked the Metallica instrumentals back in the day. It is hard to make an instrumental, as it’s hard to make a song that’s interesting from the beginning start to finish that’s musically interesting, especially as a three-piece band. With this song, it was thought through that when I heard the guitar melodies, I didn’t see any reason to put any vocal melodies over it at all. When we added the middle section to it, it brought the whole thing together and it worked. I was really stoked about that.
The title track, the last song “Darkness Remains”. There is a trilogy on the record – “Welcome to the Night”, “Life on the Run”, and “Darkness Remains”. It’s a story that I wrote that we adapted into those three songs. The first video is for “Welcome to the Night”, and the other two videos will follow which will complete that story. I can’t really explain it now, the videos will come out to tell the story. I directed that first video, and it was a huge challenge – that’s just not my world. I have the vision for it, it’s so difficult to tell a story with no dialogue and very limited time. I really tried to not have the band involved at all as far as performance shots, but it came down to a thing with the producer, the cinematographer, and the record label where they said we need to showcase the band in this. We tried to do that in a creative way that fit in, where it wasn’t ‘hey look at these guys playing’. I really wanted to get this story across.
Dead Rhetoric: How did you choose the digital bonus cover songs for Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and Black Sabbath’s “Turn Up the Night”? Personal favorites or group consensus?
Leatherby: Yeah, it was group consensus- and it was kind of funny. I am not a fan of bonus tracks at all- as a fan I like to hear them. We don’t really write any throwaway songs, so there’s never anything that we write that doesn’t make the album. If it starts to become a song that’s not good, we just don’t even go there. In our record contracts, we have to supply bonus tracks – and when we made our deal we told them, we’ll give you demos, live recordings, different versions of songs, and cover songs. And we love recording covers- and most of the stuff that we would do would be more obscure NWOBHM songs that we like. You don’t really need to go out and record some hit song that everybody already knows, because it’s hard to live up to that and people just know those songs so well. However on this, I started to look at this, we are doing a Queen song and a Black Sabbath song, those are pretty much exactly what we are not trying to do (laughs).
“Turn Up the Night”, we love that song, we love Dio-era Sabbath, especially the Mob Rules album, and we knew Armand could handle this. We went for it with that. And for the Queen song, we do the fast rock version from the Live Killers album. When the band started, we used to play “We Will Rock You” live, and never recorded it. We were so under the gun to finish this record- we were only in the studio for a week and we had to go back out on tour, so we threw it down to see how it goes and it actually turned out pretty cool. To my surprise, there are so many people that don’t even know that version. A lot of journalists had not heard this, and they are thinking of the original version. The original version would have been lame to do live- imagine us stomping our feet, you know?
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve mentioned before that you had a long-term five year plus plan with Night Demon. Do you believe you’ve achieved most if not all of where you set out to be, and what steps need to occur in support of this record to take the band even higher on a national/global scale?
Leatherby: I do. We are constantly adjusting that. It’s amazing to see from the first draft where we’ve surpassed where we wanted to be. We started out with very minimal, menial goals. It was just things like ‘hey, we want to play with Angel Witch’- we did that in 2014 and we are going to play three more shows with them coming up. The festival we have was originally an idea- we’ve just spent so much time on the road and it’s a full-time thing for us. We make a lot of adjustments and that plan has definitely extended into 2020. Obviously we have more records on our contract so that’s something for us to think about, and the touring cycles. We are starting to plan for 2018 already, it’s something important for us. Without it- I’ve been in bands before and I’ve seen bands that put everything they have into one thing like a tour and then it’s like ‘what now’. We always wanted to project where we wanted to be, and most likely where we would be. Things are going well, it’s funny to look back on it because when you are in the middle of it, it doesn’t really occur to you what is happening and what has happened. And that’s a really good thing, because anything that happens overnight is usually a bad thing. You are setting yourselves up for a pretty hard fall. I just think consistency with the things you do and taking baby steps every day, you keep lifting your head up after a few years – so far, it’s been great, and if it ended today I would definitely call it a success.
You are always going to want more, and we do- but our goal is not to be famous, it’s not about showcasing our personal talents or personalities- it’s more about the collective vision of the band and the story telling of the band, the mythos of the band. We want to be the band that we want to see- we look at every other band and say this is what’s cool about them, and this is what we wish they would do. These are the things we try to implement and these are the things that we create that we want to see in the world. It’s been a hell of a ride so far- very enjoyable. There are ups and downs- looking at it now, the worst of it is over. It’s still not the easiest thing in the world to do, but we are definitely doing it. We are satisfied and keeping moving forward with it.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you have any special takeaways from the festival and touring action that you’ve done over the past few years? Are there specific things you learn by hanging out and talking to legends like Raven, Anvil, Carcass, and the old NWOBHM bands?
Leatherby: Most definitely. The one thing, I was out in England last year and I was singing for Jaguar, which is a dream come true for me. If it wasn’t for Night Demon, that would never have happened- they heard our cover of “Axe Crazy” and they were looking for a vocalist, pursued me for a couple of years and I could finally do that. One thing I learned from all those guys, hanging out with the NWOBHM guys- these guys have become my peers and my friends, we are doing business together all the time. We are hanging out in all different parts of the world, they have a lot of respect for my band and what we are doing, that’s a complete honor to me. Back in the days, you think of the NWOBHM scene as this big community of bands- in all reality, I’ve seen some of these bands meet each other for the first time so many years later. There wasn’t like bands going into other regions and playing together. I think it was more driven by the press and the bigger bands that made it out like Iron Maiden, Saxon, and Def Leppard.
It’s an eye-opening thing, I look at our scene today and we are classified as New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal or American Metal, whatever people want to call it. I’m more proud of what we have today, on a global scale we have that camaraderie. All the bands know each other, the German bands, the Swedish bands, the American bands, whether you are from LA, Chicago, New York, or Austin. We all know each other and there’s definitely a fraternity there. There is a scene that is wide spread but tight knit. Everybody has had the opportunity to tour together and to play together. That’s one of the biggest differences that I can see- and for us being somewhat ambassadors of that scene, it’s a real prideful thing for us. This is something that will be talked about years from now.
Part II of Matt Coe’s chat with Jarvis Leatherby will post Friday night, April 14th.
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