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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: VOCALIST JARVIS LEATHERBY OF NEW METAL SENSATION NIGHT DEMON

interview  by Michael McCarthy

It was only around twenty seconds into Night Demon’s debut full-length, Curse of the Damned, when I fell in love with it and knew it was going to be one of the very best metal albums I’d heard in a long time.  The guitars were in the vein of Metallica’s “Whiplash” and Jarvis’ voice fell somewhere in between Bruce Dickinson, Judas Priest and Glenn Danzig.  It was an old school style of metal that peaked in the ’80’s, not something you’d expect a young band today to be doing.  And for that reason alone, it was refreshing.  More than that, it was exciting, finally being able to hear a new album by a new band doing that style of metal I’d loved so much growing up.  Suffice to say I immediately started composing questions in my head that I would like to ask the band if I was able to get an interview.  And, as you can see below, I was.  So, crank up the video below and rock the fuck out as you read this interview with today’s hottest retro metal, albeit with a nice contemporary edge.

I really like the name of your band. It’s new, but it also feels a bit nostalgic, being very much in the vein of the names of the bands you’ve been influenced by. Was there ever another Night Demon in the past or were you the first band to ever come up with that name?

Finding a good band name these days is a challenge. Most of the good ones have already been taken. You don’t wanna end up in a situation where you start playing under a certain name, then have to change it later. It’s always good to research the name before hand, which is something we definitely did. There has been no record of another band with our name, as far as we have found. I think there was some occult range novel called Night Demon. Haha!

When and how was your band formed? For example, were you all friends before starting the band?

Yes we were. None of us strangely had ever done a band together, despite having more in common musically than we have with all our previous band mates in other bands. I was a roadie for Brent’s band “The Fucking Wrath” prior to Night Demon forming. It got to a point where we got sick of talking about and listening to music that we lived without even jamming together. At that point we just had to make the commitment to just get together and see what happens. The rest is history, and we have never looked back.

To my ears, you music sounds a lot like Metallica’s original Garage Days Re:Visited EP from the ’80’s as well as some of their B-sides like “Breadfan.” Are you die-hard Metallica fans who grew up listening to that stuff?

Awesome! Metallica and Iron Maiden were the gateways for us to find all the great music of the past. Through these bands we discovered all of the bands who influenced them, and became to influence us.

I’ve read that some of your other influences are Saxon, Diamond Head and The Misfits, and I can hear all of those in your sound. That said, you also sound very fresh and contemporary. Stylistically, is there anything you’ve done to deliberately differ your sound from that of your influences?

No, not really. For the longest time I thought of myself as totally unoriginal. It wasn’t until recent years when I discovered that I really did find my own sound. It is still a mix of all the things you mentioned, but it has become my own. There are also things vocally that I do that have become sort of signature for me.

How does your taste in music differ from your bandmates’?

Brent listens to a lot of classic metal, as well as old school punk, Dustin has always been more of a hair metal guy, and I listen to everything from metal to punk to soul. The common denominator is we all love the NWOBHM sound. That’s what brings us together.

Aside from other artists, what else influences your music? Listening to “Satan” and “The Howling Man,” it’s easy to imagine your songs being used in horror movies…

Horror movies and occult themes are definitely big ones for us. Also old horror novels and comic books. H.P. Lovecraft is lyrical gold!

I really like the intro to “Save Me Now.” What exactly are we hearing there? Synthesizers?

Yes! We actually have the synth organ playing through the entire song on the demo version, but decided to just keep the intro for the album recording, as we do not have a keyboard player in the band, and we don’t want to rely on any backing tracks for the live performance of the song.

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How did the writing process for Curse of the Damned go? Was it approached differently than your earlier material?

Actually yes. We usually come in with a riff, and write the lyrics when the music is complete. On this record we came up with the lyrical themes first and wrote the music around that to fit the content in the best way possible.

Who produced Curse of the Damned? (The bio I read didn’t say.)

It was mainly produced by the band with some input from our engineers Roger Camero and Armand Tambouris. We already see the three of us in the band as producers already, so we try not to have too much outside influence when it comes to production.

Do you generally prefer making music in the studio or performing live?

In the past, the live performances were always preferable, but since we recorded this record mostly live, it was really a fun process. We really wanted to capture the live sound of the band and not waste time in the studio perfecting small parts and making everything sound robotic. I guess that’s why we recorded the album in three days!

What are your tour plans to promote the album?

We are currently on tour in the U.S. for the month of January. We will spend February, March, and the first half of April touring in Europe, and a three month summer tour in the states.

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In terms of your fan base, I know you’ve got a following here in the States as well as in Europe. Are you more popular here or there?

At the moment I would say we are more popular in Europe, but with all the recent promo from Century Media, and two national tours under our belt, we are picking up steam quickly in the states.

You’ve opened for Diamond Head and Samhain. Was that intimidating, being that you’re influenced by these bands? How did the audiences respond to your music?

It was more of a dream situation for us. These events were too exciting for us to be intimidated. We were prepared for the shows and we delivered the goods. We still get fans from both of those runs coming out to shows and buying records. Total success in our book.

I know you’re on Century Media here, but I understand you’re on SPV/Steamhammer outside of North America. Is it difficult dealing with two different labels at the same time? Are there conflicts? For example, what happens if both labels want you touring their territory at the same time?

There have been some minor conflicts in the past, mainly just due to lack of communication in small areas. We have made some adjustments and both parties are now working together to further the success of the band and the labels. For the most part it has been a really good thing. Both labels have strong points in different areas, and are really working hard to get the band out there. As far as touring, we are a band who always tours, so it’s only a short period of time that we always return to said continent to hit the road.

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You’re from Ventura, which is roughly an hour from Los Angeles. Are you very involved in the L.A. music scene? How does the scene in Ventura differ from the scene in L.A., if there is a difference?

I am very involved in the L.A. Metal scene. In Ventura I am involved in the music scene as a whole. Ventura is a much smaller town, but it is still progressive. There is a strong local music scene, and many nationals come through. There are so many things going on in Los Angeles, that to really be involved in the music scene, you need to gravitate towards a certain genre or scene to make an impact.

Who are some of your favorite up and coming bands from California right now?

Blade Killer, Exmortus, Livin Alive, Massenger, Stop Breathing

As someone who lived in Glendale for a few years, I’m curious – where are your favorite places to hang out in the greater Los Angeles area? Any favorite restaurants?

The Brite Spot in Echo Park is a really cool late night diner, also close to there is a bar called The Shirt Stop owned by Greg Duly of Afghan Whigs. Great spot for a cheap cocktail. Toi on Sunset is my favorite for Thai food.

I understand there are a few versions of your original, self-titled EP kicking around. What’s the most recent one and what does it have that the original version didn’t? Is it still available for people to buy today?

The most recent is the expanded edition 12″vinyl from High Roller Records. It has the original 4 songs, along with 4 bonus tracks on the Bside that consist of some studio recorded cover songs, as well as a couple live tracks from our first ever show. The actual vinyl looks cool as it is a blend of half black/half white. To my knowledge there are still some copies available, but I’m sure not for long.

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Now, some questions from our random questions bank…

Have you ever gone on an acting audition or been an extra in a film?

Never been in an audition, but I was an extra in Power Rangers, 90210, and my buddies new film Betting on Baker.

Would you ever write songs for other artists?

Absolutely. I was just approached yesterday by a Japanese band looking for some songs. I’m totally open to doing it. Especially if I’m not writing Night Demon type songs for other artists. I will save those for us.

What are your favorite movies and TV shows?

Fright Night, Back To The Future, Twilight Zone, Tales From The Darkside

Who do you think is the most revolutionary person, dead or alive?

Thomas Jefferson. This guy was the man! Although he died bankrupt, he did everything he needed to do. It doesn’t matter what material things you accumulate in your life, but the impact you made and the legacy you leave.

Tell us about a dare you’ve done.

Sing She Drives Me Crazy by the Fine Young Cannibals at a karaoke bar with serious competition where professional singers go to be discovered. It was definitely interesting.

Much thanks for taking the time to do this interview! Wishing you the best of luck with the album!

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Written by

Paris365

An entertainment journalist for 20 years, Michael McCarthy was a columnist and contributing editor for the magazines Lollipop and LiveWire. He co-created and wrote for Cinezine, one of the '90's most popular movie E-zines. The only time he's not listening to music is when he's watching television shows and movies or reading, usually music magazines.

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