Chastain – We Bleed AgainSunday, 8th November 2015
Pulling no punches about her love of metal (post-interview talk included admiration for Dio’s Lock Up the Wolves and Angry Machines – not the obvious choices), Leather Leone of Chastain is very thankful for her second chance to add to her already legendary discography and live performances. Surrender to No One was the vocalist’s first record with the band in 23 years, and the fans welcome her golden pipes and gritty delivery back as if time stood still. This year the follow up We Bleed Metal sees the band settle in with prime time shredding spots, stellar mystical/magical power riffing, and Leather rising to the challenge to continue her elite status as a vocalist – rivaling the legends from Halford to Dickinson, Tate to Arch and the aforementioned Dio. All the while adding a couple of darker, modern touches so as to not seem too resistant to metal’s changing tides.
An early week Skype session with Miss Leather (David’s nickname, not mine) took place, and her infectious laughter and great personality makes this conversation go by very easy. Beyond new album talk you’ll get her thoughts on the new generation of females who have been inspired by those early Chastain records, how she’s adapted to the changing models of recording and promotion, and even honest critiques of certain tracks in her back catalog. Prepare to see more of Leather on the road in 2016 as well, as she’s out to prove her undying love for the genre we hold near and dear to our hearts.
Dead Rhetoric: What has surprised you the most since returning to the heavy metal world a few years back regarding your status and abilities as a singer and performer?
Leather Leone: The thing that surprised me the most is that honestly anybody even cared about me any longer. That anyone knew who I was, that they wanted to hear what I sounded like and what I had to say. I have a friend out here in Los Angeles, his name is Danny Shipman who has a reality television show called Reality Check TV online, this cute little thing online. So I go to a lot of shows with him, as a result I saw The Agonist, Kobra + The Lotus, and Savage Master- these young bands that are on major labels recording, and they all knew who I was. These are kids that are 27, 28 and Chastain had an influence on them. That is what blows my mind. The metal community has hung on to these respectfully goofy records that we made. It’s incredible to me that we had some type of inspiration to these people, it blows my mind still.
Dead Rhetoric: That is one of the interesting things, there are a lot of female musicians out there in the scene now in comparison to when you were coming up with Chastain…but you have singers that are belting it out like you always have.
Leone: They really are. There are some female singers that are just kicking ass in this aggressive manner. I want to correct you, the whole gender thing pisses me off- who cares? Back in the 80’s females were everywhere, it’s just that no one was talking about them. When I was on the road there was always a female bass player, or a rhythm guitar player, they were always there.
Dead Rhetoric: We Bleed Metal is the newest Chastain album – and in our previous conversation you mentioned having a solid selection of songs to choose from with David for the last record. Are any of these nine songs leftovers from those previous sessions – or are these fresh tracks? Also, what was the game plan going into this particular record, did you have any worries about a let down from Surrender to No One?
Leone: Absolutely not! There are still some of those tracks that I really want to put out, but Leviathan didn’t agree. He said to me that he would revise them, David’s a writing machine. I’ve noticed through a lot of interviews lately that it’s come to my attention people ask me what the difference is (between albums). We Bleed Metal is superior to Surrender to No One to me, and I think a big difference is Chastain wrote this record. I did the lyrics to “Secrets”, the last track on the record – the Chastain sound is what comes from his mind. For Surrender to No One I collaborated basically on everything, and I think there was a real difference. He just sent me these songs and asked me what I thought and what I wanted to change, and it was absolutely nothing. I didn’t even demo any of them, I flew out to Georgia and recorded the songs.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you think David got back into knowing what works best for your voice and maybe this record is a little bit stronger as a result?
Leone: That is exactly why! The first time I was throwing out a lot of cobwebs and he wasn’t really shredding, it was something we were feeling out. Now the second time it just went back to our connection and he knows me in and out musically – what I want to say, and how I want to say it. Like back in the early days, we got back into that rhythm that we used to have.
Dead Rhetoric: There are hints of modern, darker tones in songs like “Secrets” and “Evolution of Terror”, but you never forsake a lot of the classic elements that have been Chastain trademarks. Is it a difficult process to appease yourselves as musicians while being respectful to your fan base?
Leone: No, not at all. I don’t think we sit around and worry about what anyone’s going to think. People that truly follow David Chastain or myself, they will listen to whatever we do. It’s not a method, or plan- you do songs, you create songs and you pick the best ones. It’s never really an issue with us about that- of course we are never going to come out with a thrash record, or a pop rock record. We have this certain wave that we hit when we write and perform together.
Dead Rhetoric: Recording in the modern world has moved to more of a home environment with trading files through the internet to get things pieced together appropriately instead of the older, bigger analog studio model where acts recorded together. Is there a particular preference you subscribe to, or are you adapting to the changing climate?
Leone: I adapt because I have to, but I miss those big old studio days where we would drag the bass player out of bed or get somebody away from their lunch. I really mix the camaraderie, the camping out. I don’t like this Wav file bullshit, but of course you adapt to it. I don’t do anything like that, I need feedback, I need production, I go with David in the studio. I would like to go back the old ways.
Dead Rhetoric: I’d like to run through some select songs of your past and just get some thoughts, memories, or possible recollections you may have- first up is “One Day to Live” off Ruler of the Wasteland?
Leone: I don’t know. I can remember just being so happy to be in the studio doing a second record. I was still struggling at that point at finding my own voice. I was still really green, I hadn’t played out – the studio for me is not a really pleasant place, I get claustrophobic because you have to stand in one place. Me just finding my way, that’s what I think about when I hear that song.
Dead Rhetoric: Next off The 7th of Never – “The Wicked Are Restless”…
Leone: Ah! “The Wicked Are Restless” is a great memory. That is one of the first times I presented Chastain with lyrics, him putting it to music that I really liked. I think it was one of the first songs I had written with him that didn’t get dropped, because songs were always better than that one. Dark, robotic, a really, really happy time for me and it was something that other people really, really liked.
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