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Living The Dream: An Exclusive Interview With JARVIS LEATHERBY Of NIGHT DEMON

By Rob McNees, Vinyl Aficionado
Tuesday, March 8, 2022 @ 8:11 AM

"KNAC was a big deal for me, especially when I was really young"

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Band Photo Credit: Peter Beste

Do you think sometimes that youíre so busy that itís hard to get everything that you need to do finished? Try this on for size: Vocalist for NWOBHM icons JAGUAR. Manager of Power Metallers VISIGOTH. Manager & bass player for 80ís titans CIRITH UNGOL. Manager for dark lords MIDNIGHT. Vocalist/songwriter/Bass player for the mighty NIGHT DEMON. Manager for NWOBHM Legends SATAN. Festival promoter. Record label Honcho. And Iím sure Iíve missed something. So kick back and meet the hardest working man in show business, Jarvis Leatherby as we discuss time management, NIGHT DEMON, growing up with the mighty KNAC and so much more. Enjoy!

KNAC.COM: Let's start with your earliest musician memories. What was the first music you heard that made an impact on you?

LEATHERBY: I grew up with VAN HALEN, DEEP PURPLE, and BLACK SABBATH in my household. It was pretty much the soundtrack of my youth. The first time I heard a real band play, and someone play electric guitar, I was immediately hooked, and knew that's what I wanted to do. It's been the same path my entire life.

KNAC.COM: Tell me the one moment that made you think to yourself that you wanted music to become your full time occupation.

LEATHERBY: It's hard to say the exact moment because I feel like it's something that's been in me since birth, but I do fondly remember having the Freedom Rock compilation at a young age. I know it sounds cliche, but "Smoke On The Water" from DEEP PURPLE was one of the songs on that tape, and when my parents would leave me home alone, I would grab a pair of drum sticks, crank the fuck outta that song and pretend I was Ian Paice. That song obviously has a classic riff, but the whole buildup of the intro is just so amazing, and I always pictured myself on stage when that would play. From there I started going to shows and seeing what bands were doing, and know that it's exactly what I wanted to do.

KNAC.COM: Your music career didn't start in Heavy Music. In fact, you had made a name for yourself in a different form of music. What set you on that path, and what made you decide to pursue a career in Heavy Metal instead?

LEATHERBY: That's actually not entirely true. I did start in heavy metal. The first band I was in was called BLACK OPAL. We started when I was in the eighth grade and played all the way up through high school. And then I just was doing a lot of heavy metal promotion and promoting a ton of metal shows. Some of them were pretty big. But what happened was, metal for me just got way too aggro, and the musicianship got taken out of it with the whole new metal thing and guitar solos weren't cool anymore. And so everything that was happening in metal at the time, was just not to my liking and I hated the direction that it was going in. So I started to do some other styles of music, early rock and roll, and really get back to the roots of rock and roll. And when I ended up starting NIGHT DEMON years later that actually made me a way better metal musician.

KNAC.COM: Since this is an interview for KNAC.COM and you lived right down the road in Ventura, tell me some of your memories of listening to KNAC the radio station when it was rockin' the West Coast.

LEATHERBY: KNAC was a big deal for me, especially when I was really young. There were some guys that worked for the woman who ran the daycare that I was at, actually, I used to have to go to this daycare after school because my mom worked a lot and they were listening to KNAC all the time. And so at this time, I think you know, the Ozzy No More Tears record had come out. And then everything from that to MOTORHEAD to METALLICA, they were just introducing me to all these bands and I would always listen to KNAC. There was also another station called Pirate Radio that was on the air out there in Southern California that kind of did a lot of the same kind of metal and actually I believe when KNAC got yanked off the air, Pirate Radio played a full day of old KNAC broadcasts in kind of like a tribute to them if I'm not mistaken. I remember that being something that was really cool and really stood out in my memory.

KNAC.COM: And on that note, what was growing up as a teenager in So Cal like?

LEATHERBY: Growing up in Southern California when I did pretty much sucked. It was the height of suburban culture, going to the mall. I lived an hour away from Los Angeles. I didn't have a car. There was no internet, not to mention the LA metal scene was totally dead at that point. Even the hair metal thing was gone! So I was really isolated from everything that was underground. It wasn't until I started going to punk rock shows that I started to get a little bit of a taste of underground culture. I was really into heavy metal so I pretty much stood by myself in that crowd although I did make a ton of friends. I did have a few Metal Head friends and we congregated together all the time, but there wasn't much of a metal scene at all. And so there really wasn't a lot for us to do. We would hang out at record stores a lot and get the record store owners to import records and magazines from the UK and that's pretty much how we learned about bands, the mainstream bands like METALLICA, IRON MAIDEN, MEGADETH and SLAYER, through learning more about them. We really got introduced to their influences like DIAMOND HEAD, VENOM and all the New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands. So that set us on our own path. But again, we had no internet. It didn't exist then. Or at least it wasn't popular enough where everybody had it. And we just had no way to discover these bands and it just took a really long time for us to find this stuff.

KNAC.COM: So let's chat briefly about NIGHT DEMON and how the band got started. You guys have a successful Podcast that has delved deeply into the origins of the band, all the pieces of the puzzle and how they all fell into place with the current incarnation of the band, but give us an abridged version for those who don't know.

LEATHERBY: NIGHT DEMON got started in the middle of 2011. Basically it was just three guys that love the New Wave of British Heavy Metal sound. And we just came together to kind of write I guess some modern classics in our mind, just write songs in the style of New Wave of British Heavy Metal that we loved. And really just do it for ourselves. We didn't think anybody really cared about what was going on. We had no idea of the subculture that was what was happening in Europe. We just thought you know where we were from. We were totally isolated from this kind of music and so we really thought nothing of it. It was a really innocent thing and our first four rehearsals we wrote a song at each rehearsal and on our fifth rehearsal we recorded what became the Night Demon EP. Yeah, our podcast, I mean, we, we do a total deep dive on the band. You know, it runs every Friday. And for the diehard fan, it's amazing. We're up to 83 episodes now. And everybody that's involved in the story of the band is on the podcast talking about stuff, we take a much more journalistic approach. And it's not just a bunch of guys sitting around talking. We don't really do any live interviews or anything like that. It's put together as a way to document the band's history and, you know, for people that aren't even into the band. I think there's a lot that you can learn about what it takes to be a real heavy metal band these days and I think it's educational if anything.

KNAC.COM: So let's get to the last year or two. While the pandemic halted all touring and most social activity and left alot of bands lost or trying to survive, NIGHT DEMON actually thrived, releasing new music and keeping your name on the minds of music starved fans. How did you guys pull that off?

LEATHERBY: Well, before the pandemic had happened we had already planned on releasing seven inch singles that year. And our idea was that every five weeks we would drop a new single without any pre-order or pre-announcement or anything like that. And then we would just insert that song in the set when we were on the road. But the pandemic did happen as we all know, and we were already set to release the singles so it was somewhat of a blessing in disguise that the pandemic didn't leave the band totally lifeless and dormant. We had starting April 3 of 2020 drop the first single "Empires Fall" and every five weeks for the next four months, a single followed. And then when the last single hit, we started the podcast so really, you know we've been giving out content as a band consistently since the pandemic started and that still hasn't let up at all.

KNAC.COM: For an avowed Vinyl junkie like myself, the 'Pandemic Series' of singles I like to call it was just a revelation. I couldn't have been happier. Whose idea was that and what was the thought process that led to it?

LEATHERBY: Haha, that's so funny, the 'Pandemic Series', I like that, we should start dubbing it that as well. I think that the idea for doing the singles was my idea to start but what happened was we naturally just started writing songs that were a lot different from each other. So they didn't really feel cohesive enough to put on an album together to begin with, and we just felt like every song had its own direction and they told their own story. They also deserve their own piece of artwork. So putting the songs out as singles made total sense to me, especially with the way that the world is working now with everybody streaming music and not listening to full records all the time, just listening to individual tracks. It really worked out for that but we also kept the old school tradition alive and released everything on vinyl.

KNAC.COM: That leads us right into the new album, Year Of The Demon. When does it officially drop? And for those fans who couldn't get ahold of those ultra limited singles, what can they expect from the band musically as maybe they hadn't heard all of the releases?

LEATHERBY: Year of The Demon officially comes out on March 25, 2022. And basically it's just a compilation of the 2020 singles, the original seven inch releases. All featured a B-side that was a cover song. Those songs were only available on the seven inch vinyl. So now it's great. We have a whole collection of songs, all 10 tracks that were released in 2020 will be together on a single vinyl LP, a CD, a cassette and also available for digital streaming. I mean what more can you want? It basically just captures that time in history and documents it. Those seven inch singles sold out so quickly many fans were not able to get them. And so this is a way that we can compile all this stuff in the annals of NIGHT DEMON history.

KNAC.COM: Since you're one of the busiest cats I know, how did you decide to wear so many hats? And how do you fit in all the things you have to do in a 24 hour period?

LEATHERBY: I think that time is the most cruel joke ever. And I really struggle a lot to fit everything in a day. But I've learned that consistency is the key. If you spend a little bit of time each day on each project, that adds up to a lot over time. So it's better to just give everything a little bit of attention every day, versus this week I'm doing this or that, next month I'm doing that, it just doesn't work that easy. Although I do feel that life happening in seasons, much like a sports team, works really well. You have a preseason, you have a regular season, you have playoffs and you have an offseason for rest. I would love to live life like that. Unfortunately, I'm a motherfucking hustler, and hustlers can't live their lives like that. So maybe sometime in the future I'll be able to but for right now, it's all metal all the time. In 2022 NIGHT DEMON has a whole lot going on.

KNAC.COM: So let's talk 2022. What other music does NIGHT DEMON have coming down the pipe?

LEATHERBY: I mentioned before we have the release of the Year of The Demon compilation. We're going to hit the road with MIDNIGHT for a co-headlining tour of Europe this spring and summer. We've got a ton of festival dates coming up. We're putting on our festival Frost And Fire in Derry, Northern Ireland this summer. We've got a bunch of stuff going on with CIRITH UNGOL. We've got a U.S. tour coming up in the fall. We are going back to Europe as well in the fall for a handful of dates. We've got a single coming out on the Decibel Flexi-series in the summer. We've got a new studio record coming out November 4, and we'll be doing some release shows around that. So it's a very busy year for NIGHT DEMON. It's time to make up for some lost time. I think we have over 100 gigs booked this year. You know, we would have loved to do stuff earlier in the year but some stuff got cancelled again because this pandemic got extended but being able to play 100 gigs is still a blessing and we'll be traveling to many, many countries.

KNAC.COM: Speaking of tours, you put on a successful run of Fests in your hometown of Ventura called Frost & Fire. Tell me about how that all started and a little history of it and what's in store for 2022.

LEATHERBY: Frost And Fire started basically as a tribute to the band CIRITH UNGOL who is from our hometown of Ventura, California. And really it was just because we had been playing so many festivals around the world and the West Coast had nothing like it. So we decided man, this is a state with 30 million people in it and we're in Southern California, so close to LA, it's just a travesty that nobody has done a fest like this or nothing's going on. So we just kind of took it upon ourselves to do it. Since then we've done an edition in London and as I mentioned, we have one in Ireland. And we've got something else big coming up next year for the UK that we will be announcing hopefully this summer. So you know we will bring it back to the States eventually, too. But again, it's just we do whatever we can to support this scene of heavy metal. So wherever we can fit in with that we will keep doing that.

KNAC.COM: The last question is all for you. If I missed anything or if there's something you want to say to all the Demons & Demonettes out there here's your last chance.

LEATHERBY: In closing, I would just like to give some words of encouragement to anybody out there with a dream and that is, no matter what your dream is, it's your dream and it's nobody else's and nobody else is gonna do it for you. It's up to you. Be very careful about the people you surround yourself with. Now, even your own family and friends may try and discourage you along the way to your dream. It's not their intention to put you down, but most people don't pursue their dreams so they see everything as unrealistic. I'm here to tell you that nothing is unrealistic. You've just got to go out and do it. Life is short. I know that's a cliche, but really, it's fucking short. You've got to go do it if you're alive walking on this Earth. You have no excuse. Make it happen. You owe it to yourself.

KNAC.COM: Thank you Jarvis. Continued success with not only NIGHT DEMON, but CIRIOTH UNGOL, MIDNIGHT, SATAN, JAGUAR & VISIGOTH as well. See 'ya in Ireland!

LEATHERBY: Thanks! Cheers!

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