LEATHER LEONE [Chastain] Returns – 2014 Interview

Leather (Chastain)

In case you haven’t heard, the band CHASTAIN is back and has recorded a new album with Leather Leone on vocal duties. If you’ve been hell-bent for “Leather” all these years then your going to be jumping-for-joy when your hear their latest effort entitled “Surrender to No One [Leviathan Records].” The music is great and Leather is in fine form.

All of the hallmarks of the classic “CHASTAIN” sound are present: catchy song writing, soaring vocals, powerful/melodic riffs and of course—blistering guitar leads from none other than founder David T. Chastain. I listened to the album in one sitting and there isn’t a dud in the entire batch of new songs.

These guys have always been an underground best kept secret or a “cult classic” band I suppose as they call it these days. It’s a shame that they never achieved more widespread critical acclaim through the years as they are one of the finest out there in the Power Metal genre. That is the Power Metal style as defined from the late 80’s as opposed to the more recent Euro sound that is often tagged PM by the younger Metal lads. I wanted to clear that up before moving forward as we have a broad selection of readers from every country and age group.

Here is a “readers digest” review of some of the standouts on the album and summation of my thoughts while listening to the new material from our Midwest favorites.

It’s hard to select a favorite as they all rock with conviction and the prowess of a seasoned band. “Deep Down in the Darkness” is a standout favorite… imagine a female-fronted METAL CHURCH perhaps (David Wayne R.I.P.). It’s an excellent balance of melody and power. I also noticed a slightly more “progressive” style update in the drum department thanks to the addition of Stian Kristoffersen (Pagan’s Mind, Firewind). I prefer mid-paced double bass drum rhythm parts and not the blast beat onslaught that is polluting most modern Metal. There are plenty of mid-paced grooves and punchy drums parts throughout if you are into that.

“Call of the Wild” is an up-tempo stomper equipped with a standout guitar solo and I especially like the rhythm guitar part(s) here.

“Rise Up” kicks it up a notch and has that old school vibe with (what might’ve been labeled “speed metal” back when perhaps, albeit more melodic and HEAVY and not Thrash-like) intro. Then it breaks into slower, chugging riffs. “Fear My Wrath” is really cool with more Sabbath style boogie with some heavy shuffle-type riffage and a solid performance in the vocal department from Leather.

“Stand and Fight” has a really catchy sing along chorus that will no doubt have fists in the air when played live. There are even more shredder-type solo/leads on this one as well. Fans of classic bands such as: Maiden, Priest or [second-wave of metal] bands such as Helloween, Helstar, Obsession, Armored Saint etc. should eat this up!

Other tracks such as “I Am Sin” are a bit slower but banging and groovy, almost Sabbethesque riffage with some unique chords which are perfect placed. Another scorching solo from David T. is included. Also returning to the band is original bassist Mike Skimmerhorn. Mike always delivers interesting bass lines and grooves deep and loud. Needless to say, I highly recommend that you buy this release asap. Please support talent bands like this that have persevered for decades and continue to release quality music independently.

 

Read on as Kinger has a chat with Leather about all things Metal and her return to the forefront of the music world.

 

Chastain Band pic

CHASTAIN 2014

What got you guys back together after such a long absence from the “metal scene”?

Leather: Chastain and I had continued to be in touch over the years. I believe creative minds eventually come back together! Chastain was the beginning of my metal recording and touring career. We have a connection that many of you wonderful Metal heads wanted more of! It was all timing. He had been a mentor through my Sledge Leather project. Our music just fell into place again.

 

Regardless of album sales or notoriety, many hold you near in their hearts and you are very much alive for thousands all over the world.

I thank you for all your kind words. It isn’t necessary to sell a lot of records. It is truly a connection with people who Chastain has been blessed with!

 

chastain (New)The new album is excellent and we really appreciate your return to the music business! Tell us more about this project please.

I’m glad you like the new music. The return to the music business is a vague term. I have never had the music industry machine behind me, so yes, I am blessed to have the opportunity to create music again. It is sincerely for all of you. You have held on to Chastain, it is remarkable! I have been gone a long time. Although I must say, after getting back in the studio with Chastain…it doesn’t seem that long!

 

You had a side project a while back – how does this differ from the CHASTAIN material and how did the solo release do? I don’t think Roadrunner really got behind “Shockwaves” perhaps.Leather - Shockwaves

I agree with you about “Shock waves”. Roadrunner wasn’t behind that CD. They were more interested in “For those who dare“, which wasn’t a bad thing. I wasn’t so wise then. But I have no regrets, I love that CD! Whenever I can record music, it’s all good!!

 

You guys opened for Alice Cooper and Kiss for some arena dates back in the day, why do you think you were never able to get over that hump and or get “larger” if-you-will?

Those concerts were flukes in that we were in the right place at the right time. I have no answer for the band not moving forward in the music world. Chastain himself was never big on touring. I think you need to be extremely hungry for the road, and I’m not sure Chastain [the band] was ever perceived that way. Again, I wasn’t that wise or involved with business back then. I assumed everyone was on the same page.

 

I thought you would breakout when MTV was playing the “For those Who Dare” video. It was cool to see you guys release that video clip. Care to elaborate on that project and or time frame etc…

Making the video was wild. It was a natural progression. It felt right. I thought it would lift us to new heights for sure! I always think back the night that MTV Headbanger’s Ball premiered the video! We were all in a hotel room somewhere, it was a special time. Miss it, loved it, glad it happened!

 

 

The music “scene” is quite different vs in the late 80’s or early 90’s. What are your thoughts on that?

To me the only change in the business is doing music and not having to be in the same room, which bothers me!

I miss the tribal feel, to be able to feed off everyone’s energy!

Other than that, you still need to be good at your craft.  Probably more so, because everyone can make music!

 

I think your somewhat iconic being such a great female voice with a unique power metal sound and one of the best front women out thereperiod. I’ve been a fan since day one. I prefer the albums with you and Dave over the more solo “shredder” material he produces! Those are great too, but I like the song-based arrangements.

Thanks! It is good to hear things like that.

 

The Euro scene seems to be thriving – have you thought about going over there to tour? There are lots of festivals and perhaps gigs to be had there and I am sure they would love to see you guys. I think everyone knows about the band in the greater Midwest area.

Yes I think, and talk to European promoters often. I will let you know when something comes to be. I had the privilege of playing the KIT fest with Sledge Leather! It was quite the show! My goal is to get back there ASAP!

 

Stian live!

Stian live!

The new drummer has injected some new energy in the band and I like the overall sound. Did the band work remotely [online] and or get into the studio together to work on the songs.

Yes Stian added a hip Metal modern sound. No we were not in the studio together. It was all done online, I can only imagine how inspirational it will be when I finally meet him. He brought my vocals to a level I can’t even explain. I am happy to share the new Chastain experience of David and Mike with him!

 

How is Dave to work with? He seems to be relentless and or really tuned into his material and or approach to quality. I respect him for that. He always has top-notch players on his releases and record label LEVIATHAN.

Working with David has always been intense. I am a crazy vocalist who needs to be contained to focus! He has always had a calming effect on me. He expects the best from me, and we stay until we get it. I have stated many times I am not an easy recording vocalist; he deserves a lot of credit. I can be impossible.

 

Is it true that Mike Varney (from Shrapnel Records) originally introduced you to David T. Chastain?

Yes, it was Mike Varney from Shrapnel that hooked us up. He had become a friend to me in my San Francisco band called “Rude Girl.” Chastain had Shrapnel’s attention due to his guitar prowess! For some reason Chastain had wanted a female front. He sent some demos and here we are.

 

Leather Leone - Demolish PicI’ve seen the word “modern” used in describing the new music, can you explain what parts you are referring to and or feel is bringing this newer sound/style to the table?

That’s a good question, what does modern mean?  Mostly to me it means the production. The eighties were so full of effects and that tunnel sound. Straight drums, blistering speedy guitar! Modern is having more thought behind melody and building instead of full on craziness all the time. We’ve grown and changed, just living baby!

 

What did you do in your time off or away from touring and recording albums?

On my time off I just think about touring and recording! I actually started working with animals.

 

Did you do a special tribute to Ronnie James DIO?

All the music I do is a tribute to Ronnie. The words he spoke and the example he showed will stay with me forever.  Every time I have a chance to create music I do a song for him. On “Surrender To No One” my thoughts were for him and on “Bleed through me.” He is missed! I am thankful for the catalogs of music he left for us all!

 

“All the music I do is a tribute to Ronnie James Dio. The words he spoke and the example he showed will stay with me forever.” ~LL

 

There weren’t that many female metal singers in the 80’s. A few come to mind like: Doro/Warlock, Lee Aaron from Canada, Ann from Hellion, Betsy “Bitch” and maybe some Lita Ford tracks. A favorite of mine was the late Dawn Crosby (Détente, Fear of God)! What was it like back then to be in the minority?

Dawn was an acquaintance of mine also! I adored her. As I always say, I didn’t think of myself as a minority. I knew I could sing with the best of them, I was vocalist not a female vocalist! And I still feel that way, you can sing or you can’t! Gender is not an issue

 

There are definitely a lot more female fronted bands putting material out in the decade. Have any of those singers reached out to you and or acknowledged you as a possible influence?

I have had some female fronted bands that never knew of me, but because of the new Chastain, having a conversation with me. It’s great. Any time you have inspired someone to create, you have accomplished life.

 

I think the key to your sound is the melody mixed with the power. How do you see yourself or define your sound?

I simply see myself as a metal singer. I don’t spend much time thinking about myself truly. I just do what comes naturally for me. It is my truest form of expression.

 

Do you consider the band a traditional “metal” band? The term power metal means something totally different today than it did in the 80’s. For me, power metal = Metal Church, Savatage, Helloween, Manowar, Fates Warning etc.

I’m not sure what the term is! I actually had someone recently say “Surrender To No One” was a rock CD. So whatever you want to call it, just buy and enjoy! Labels not needed.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

LIVE BOGARTS. All Pics by Chris Metz ©Demolish Mag.

 

What are your plans now that this album is out and about (Tell Dave that everyone wants to see the band live again [laughs])?

My plans are to promote this CD like a crazy person.  Everything is based on how well it is received! I tell David daily about the fans wanting to see us live!

 

I got to see you several times at Bogart’s in Ohio way back when. Remember those days/gigs? Tell us about a funny or unique Midwest story | nugget from the past that our readers may not know about.

Only that I enjoyed Bogart’s. It was my first show with Chastain. In front of 1,000 crazy metal people! I had sung the incorrect lyrics to a song, the people in the front row starting singing the correct song! It was incredible! Thank you for that!

 

Leviathan Records logo

 

Didn’t LEVIATHAN re-master the albums that you were on?

I do believe” For those who dare” is a re-master.

I also know that Shrapnel re-mastered “Mystery of illusion” and “Ruler of the wasteland. 

 

What is your favorite song and favorite album that you’ve fronted? BTW I still like the song “The More I Get.” I have the demo of that even.

I enjoy moments on all the CDs I have done, while still wanting to redo most of them! But certainly one of my favorite songs is “Something in this life” off my solo CD “Shockwaves.” It was one of those rare moments where the ideas just flowed out of me and it has deep meaning! That was written after I had first met Dio. I had asked him how he created his music, where his power and depth came from. I will never forget the way he connected with me, and then he said: it’s called your piece of mind!

 

What are some newer bands [any style] that you like these days?

[In this moment] I am liking :

  • Otep
  • White Chapel
  • and my new friend Veronica Freeman from Benedictum

But I seriously listen to Dio, Sabbath most of the time!

 

I like the flow and track list of the entire album. It seems many of the fans just buy singles or a track or two from the album in .mp3 form, thanks for putting out product that you can listen to all the way through. I miss full CD’s or albums.

I to miss the full CD. Today, I think our attention spans have been reduced! Mine certainly has. It takes a special artist to keep me interested. Thank you for that.

 

There’s a sizable vinyl “resurgence” – are there plans to release “Surrender To No One” on vinyl? I wasn’t really aware of it but the younger generation are actually discovering and buying albums again at places like Best Buy and Coconuts Music etc.

At this time there are no plans for vinyl, but last year there were no plans for new Chastain, so go figure!

 

Thank you so much for your time and best of luck with the new album. Is there anything else you would like to add or say to the fans?

Thank you for all your interest and belief in Chastain.  Go to www.Chastainmetal.com for all things relating to the band. Email, call all your Metal stations to play the new music. I so appreciate all you, hope to see you soon!


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