Interview by Tony Cannella
Leather Leone is the genuine article. She first came on the metal radar in the 80’s with the seminal band Chastain. She went on to record an often over looked and extremely underrated solo record called “Shock Waves”. After an all too long hiatus she returned to metal scene, returning to Chastain on the album “Surrender to No One”. Now, Chastain is back with the ferocious and appropriately titled “We Bleed Metal” – and it just may be the best Chastain record yet (and that’s saying something). After speaking to Leather it is obvious how passionate she is about her craft and how much she loves, respects and appreciates her fans. I hope that comes through in this interview. If not, you’ll have to take my word for it. So here now, is my interview with a true survivor and metal icon… Leather Leone.
Hi Leather. Thank you for talking to Femme Metal.
Oh god. Thank you for taking the time. I always kind of look around and see all these female publications and I never feel like I’m part of the so thanks for talking to me.
It’s really our pleasure. You’ve just released the new Chastain album, “We Bleed Metal”. It really is awesome and it sounds like a classic Chastain record. In your words, what can fans expect when they buy it?
I think there is a sense of energy on this one. The material just fell together so quickly. This is the second go round for Chastain after a few years. I think we just hit a stride. I was just so excited to do it. It just really flowed.
Do you have any songs that are personal favorites of yours on the record?
I really appreciate “Against All the Gods”, which David T.Chastain wrote about religion, which is weird with what is going on in the world today – how anyone can call themselves religious or believing being and then go out and kill and maim in the name of it. I just really like that song. Not necessarily because of the lyrics, but the melody, I just fell in love with it.
For “Surrender to No One”, you recruited drummer Stian Kristoffersen from Pagan’s Mind and Firewind – two bands I really love and he returns for “We Bleed Metal“. How did you get him into the band?
Tony, Stian has been writing with Chastain for years. He’s been around for a while – they write music together, so when “Surrender to No One” came around he was just on these tracks. So like I said he has a relationship with Chastain and I just thought that he brought so much fire to this record and I as a vocalist – I am sure that there are others that do – but I really feed off the drummer, so when I heard him I got so excited with his speed, his aggression and his rhythms. When I was recording both of these records, I made sure that his tracks were really loud in my head because he’s just a driving force of nature for sure.
How do you feel that “We Bleed Metal” has been received by the fans and the media?
It’s been received very, very well, overwhelmingly so. I just felt it. People were just picking it up and really liking it. Chastain is shredding on it, I deliver and people are very much liking it. It’s been very positive.
The album is called “We Bleed Metal” – which is an awesome title, by the way. Why did you choose that for the name of your record?
Well, it really had nothing to do with me. Chastain and I were emailing one day about something as we always do and something came across him in his life where he was saying to me, we bleed metal, it’s got to be a song or it’s got to be a record, it’s got to be something and “Do you like it?”, I said, “I do really like it”. It’s kind of funny because that song is the last one that we added to the record. Chastain just heard that and thought it was a great title – and it is.
Absolutely and it’s a great way to start the record too. I can’t think of a better way to announce your presence then with you screaming “We Bleed Metal” at the very opening.
I know, isn’t that sick? I didn’t know that Leviathan was going to do that, so I just heard a few versions of the supposed final cut – you know, you get all these versions. They weren’t quite sure if they were going to open it with “All Hail the King” or “We Bleed Metal”. Before how I heard he had produced it with that line in there, I’m like, “well, you know they’re both strong songs”, but when I got that copy, I was like, “yeah, this how to do it, for sure”.
Another song I really loved on the record was “The Evolution of Terror”. In light of the recent Paris attacks, this song is pretty topical, lyrically.
It fits in with what’s happening right now. It’s about believing in stuff that doesn’t matter and we’re just evolving into what we’re evolving to. Again, Chastain wrote that just about the evolution of people and how we treat each other crappy and war and believing in things that don’t matter. It certainly seems to fit in today.
The fact that part of the attacks took place at a rock show, is that something you are going to think about when you are playing shows?
No. It just makes me want to go out and play more shows – screw those people. I will think about that always but not in a way that stops me in anyway. A lot of people have been asking me that because of my blessings come from that I can go back-and-forth to Brazil and play as Leather. I will not stop me from doing anything – we should live our lives strongly and proudly. Again, I will do it in their honor, I will not stop at all.
Any plans to tour with Chastain for this record?
Chastain is now a recording project. Chastain does not want to hit the road any longer. I – as Leather Leone – am trying to get out there. I did Brazil in ’14, and they’re going to bring me back in 2016 – I have a band down there which is pretty incredible. As far as the states go, I just grabbed David Harbour and guitarist Jim Dofka and we got this show in Chicago, the Metal Apocalypse Show. I am going to try to move forward as Leather Leone.
Didn’t David Harbour play on your “Shock Waves” album?
He did, yeah, and he’s done a lot of stuff with Chastain and I’m in touch with him. I dropped the bomb on him and he was, “whenever you need me, I’m there”.We’ll see what happens, I’m hope that will be my band and I can push forward. We’ll see.
When you do play live as Leather Leone, do you play a set that encompasses your whole career?
Yeah. With Chastain we have great stuff. I grab a couple of songs off every record, I play a couple songs off “Shock Waves” and I’m sure that I’ll grab a couple of songs off the new record. Even though Chastain has obviously never really exceeded from cult level, you know “Voice of the Cult”, “7th of Never” and “Ruler of the Wasteland”, people really know that material, so it’s such a pleasure to do it. It’s wonderful.
Do you have a favorite Chastain record?
Probably the one we just did, which is unusual because – and this is boring, because I say the same thing all the time – I usually make a record and then I don’t listen to it. I just tend to nitpick, I should have done that differently and I don’t like that melody, but this one has really stuck with me – It’s still in my car. I don’t think I’ve been as excited about a Chastain record since my first one with him, “Mystery of Illusion”, I was so stoked with that one. I’m just so proud of this one, I think people are really going to like it.
Going back to the 80’s, you were one of the few female metal singers – along with Doro and a few others. That scene has really exploded today. What is your opinion of all of these female fronted bands?
You know I think it’s incredible, because when I was on the road in the 80’s and early 90’s, they were everywhere but nobody was paying any attention to them. I think it’s incredible and I kind of don’t look at things in a gender issue, but oh my god, they’re out there kicking ass and representing. I just actually spent time with Kobra and the Lotus, I mean I had met Kobra she’s incredible. The Agonist is great. Benedictum, Veronica’s my good friend. I think it kicks ass.
You mentioned Veronica Freeman. You appeared on her last solo record. How did that collaboration come about?
It came about because I hooked up with her in 2011 or 2012. Somebody gave me her phone number – and I got to tell you, I’d been partying, I had been at a wedding and I was buzzed – so I came home one night and called her house, her husband answered who is a huge metal and Chastain fan so he did not believe it was me. Anyway, I got to talking to her through that period of time and that was around when Benedictum were working on “Obey” and she had asked me to do something with her on that record but I didn’t think I was ready, I had been gone so long and I was really rusty. Through that I just became friends with her and we stayed in touch and when this song came about for “Now or Never” I just went and did it with her. She’s a very good friend, we played shows together. We hope to do that again. We have a really good time together.
I actually had the pleasure of meeting you and Veronica briefly at the Doro 30th anniversary show in New York City. That was a fun night. What is your best memory about that show?
Wow. The best memory of it… I think of how wonderful Doro is. I hadn’t seen her in a hundred years. How hard she’s worked and the people around her. It was just a great night for her. It was really an honor to be celebrating her, besides the fact that I love the stage, so I’m sure you saw they had to pull me off when I did the song with Veronica. It was a really good night. I love New York, I loved all the people there, I love Bobby from Overkill. I wish it was a whole tour and we were still doing it. It was definitely worth my while to fly out there and do it.
Thank for taking the time to do this Leather. It has been a huge honor for me to talk to you. I have one final question. To wrap this up, is there anything you would like to say to your fans who might be reading this?
Absolutely and I hate to say that they’re my fans, they’re my friends, we’re all in this together. Thank you so much for hanging out and accepting me back into the circle, for the support, I’m glad that you appreciate the music and I freaking love you guys. I will keep doing this as long as you allow me to do it. A huge love and DIO to everybody.