No matter how much rock and metal change, no matter how it grows in new directions or outgrows old ones, there are certain eras or elements that will always resonate with fans if the music is good. One of those is the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) that birthed bands like Iron Maiden, Saxon, and Raven. This era of metal helped spark the speed and thrash metal movements that created bands like Metallica. In recent years, there have been a number of bands attempting to recapture the NWOBHM sound, but few have feel and authenticity that L.A.’s Night Demon. Perhaps that is because the trio, fronted by bassist/vocalist Jarvis Leatherby created the project for themselves with no intent to record or tour. Leatherby, who recently chatted with Metalholic, is the first to tell you, “I couldn’t get shot playing that material. Nobody cared at all.” Despite the seeming death of his beloved subgenre, Leatherby never lost his passion for it. So despite his skepticism, when friends pushed he and guitarist Brent Woodward to record some of their songs, they wisely did so.
Leatherby grew up a long way and a decade out of sync with the music he loved:
“All roads for me lead from Iron Maiden, Metallica, and Black Sabbath. Those were the accessible bands, pre-internet, growing up in white suburban California. Those were the things that changed my life. From that point I started to discover other bands through those bands. I mean I wanted to know about the bands that influenced them and the bands that those guys liked. So I was hanging out at record stores all the time. I would do tape trading and I would order copies of Sounds Magazine through these stores, and I’d get all these UK mags and start reading about this stuff. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal compilation that Lars and Metal Blade put out, that thing changed my life. I knew bands, I knew what they looked like but I never knew what a lot of them sounded like. It’s a crazy thing. It’s hard to imagine that, cause now we can just listen to anything. So when I started building that collection up, and starting my first band, I was way into classic metal. This was in the 90s. It was just one of those born too late scenarios.”
Not surprisingly Night Demon‘s music originally broke through back over in Europe when Leatherby sent the band’s demo to a website in Germany. He admits he initially pawned it off as an undiscovered British band from the 80s. The response he received came immediately and enthusiastically. They asked to stream the music, which quickly led to offers to perform at the Keep it True Festival, and three record label offers. Leatherby could not believe the response.
“I was like, what the fuck? This is crazy. People actually care about this stuff? I was never involved in the internet sub-culture of heavy metal. It didn’t even apply to me. I still went to the record store and bought my records, and read the major publications, but those days were over for me. I thought I had my collection, and then I went online and started discovering all these amazing bands. So now we’re fully immersed in it. Flash forward four years: Okay, it’s time to live the childhood fantasy right now.”
In 2015, Night Demon released it’s full-length debut album, Curse of the Damned to fantastic reviews and several year-end “best of” lists. The trio, which also features drummer Dustin Squires, and new guitarist Armand Anthony, are currently over in Europe finishing up the tour cycle for the first record. As Leatherby shared, the sophomore album is already recorded and should be released in January 2017. Leatherby stated that Woodward, who recently stepped down from the band, still co-wrote much of the record, but Jarvis underscored the importance of Anthony’s impact:
“With Armand, the cool thing is we didn’t pull some guy in off the street. I’ve known him for 20 years. We’ve played in various projects together. He produced the EP and the full-length. He helped write a lot of the guitar solo parts too. So he has been with the band since day one. We actually asked him to be the drummer when we started, and he actually did play drums for us for one show before we got Dustin. So it’s a natural progression for us. He’s an amazing guitar player. He has a lot of stage presence, and he sings the backing vocals which helps me out a lot. It’s just one of those things where the timing was right. It was kind of meant to be for Night Demon. And he is on the new record. Armand stepped right in and he added a ton of input and had a lot of ideas, and he shreds over the entire thing. It’s a really great album.”
You can check out the full interview with Jarvis Leatherby below as he talks at length about the band’s massive tour with Raven last year, his thoughts on Curse of the Damned, as well as sharing the three albums that were game changers for him. You can also listen to “Screams in the Night” and “Heavy Metal Heat”, as well as the band’s heavy-as-balls cover of “Radar Love”.