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NIGHT DEMON - Interview with Jarvis Leatherby
By Wojtek Gabriel,
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Nigh Demon US heavy metal
I spoke to Jarvis not long ago, after their last studio album "The Darkness Remains" was out, but when you get a chance to chat to one of the most hardworking dudes in the metal underground, you just take it. His traditional metal trio Night Demon have released a live album in the meantime, have played some weird gigs and are launching their own beer soon, which were some of the subjects we've covered in this short talk. Currently on the road with Sacred Reich, the guys will be working on a new album once this tour is completed, so keep your eyes and ears open.
You have toured with some non-traditional metal bands before and now again you're touring with a thrash metal act. So, how has it been going so far?
Pretty good. We've been exposed to a lot of people that actually didn't have any idea who we are, which is cool. That's the goal when you do tours like this. First of all, you know, since we travel so much, the goal is to tour with a band that you like and guys that are cool. And we've known the Sacred Reich guys for a while, we're sharing a bus together, so it's like a big family out there. The goal when you support a band is I guess to get exposed to other people and be able to play your music in front of people that you wouldn't normally reach. So far, so good. There's been a good number of Night Demon fans turning up to the gigs too and that's been really positive.
You've been touring on the last album for like two and a half years now. It looks like you keep getting offers and promoters don't let you take a break?
Yeah, it's funny, this year we didn't plan on touring at all, we planned on writing a record. And when we didn't announce any tours, we started just getting all these one-offs. So, it seems like every other weekend we're flying somewhere. We didn't think that that would happen for years, you know? But you know, we generally make our album cycles pretty long. We've never wanted to be a band that had 20 albums, quality over quantity has been always our thing. And again, going back to your first question, when we're playing in front of new audiences that have no idea who we are, we don't wanna be a band with a huge discography, so somebody's like, "Hey, how did I miss this? It must not be that good if I've missed six albums," right? We release music when we feel it's right and it's good enough and so far we've gotten such great reviews and so much positivity from all the music that we've done. I mean, there's definitely some pressure there, but we don't need to put something out just to do it.
You've released a live album and the tracklist consists of almost all of your songs...
We wanted to make like a full 90 minutes show, it's only one concert, we didn't record it over multiple shows. We did it in Cleveland, Ohio, which we have a large fan base there, we wanted to do it in America. It's very easy to do it and Germany or something, you know, I mean we're very grateful for the European audiences, but it's very easy to do it. And there's been a big misconception that heavy metal's dead in the USA and it's not. And we wanted to capture that and prove that and I think we did a good job doing that. And it's 19 short songs. We're not like most metal bands that have an average of five and a half minutes, our average's three, you know? And we don't take breaks during the set, so we had the time to do it and we just recorded the full show and it came out well, and so we just said, "Let's just put it all on there." And the speed that the songs are played at live is like, that's the intention to do it. I don't even listen to the studio albums anymore, if I listen to us I listen to the live record.
And why Cleveland?
We have a strong fan base there and we got on the radio a long time ago. There's a radio show on Friday nights on WJCU, it's been running for over 35 years, it's a metal show and they latched onto us and they've been playing us for years. And the first time we went there on our first tour with Raven, there were all these fans for us and we were like, "What the hell is going on here?" Apparently they were playing our EP for like a year, you know, and then that just kept going. They do a listeners' poll of the album of the year and "Curse of the Damned" got album of the year in 2015 and "Darkness Remains" got album of the year in 2017. So we thought, "Let's go there and honour those fans and do the live album there and have that be a good representation of what heavy metal looks like in America."
You covered a Midnight song on the live album, which is quite an unusual choice to be honest...
They're one of my favourite bands. I actually manage that band, I didn't at that time though. But me and the singer have been good friends and we just thought it was really cool. When I would listen to Midnight's music, I would always think like, "How would this sound with clean vocals, or a vocal melody?" you know? So I thought, "Let's do this." So, we started playing the song on our own and then I thought, "Well, we're in his hometown, let's have him join us," you know?
You're playing music that's been around for over 40 years. So, what do you do to make your stuff stand out and not just be a copy of what's already been done?
Yeah, I mean, it's like a lot of people listen to our music and everybody has a different take on it. Everybody's like, "Hey, it sounds like Iron Maiden, it sounds like Judas Priest, it sounds like early Metallica, it sounds like Misfits..." Dude, somebody the other day said we reminded him a little bit of The Offspring, I don't know how, ha-ha, but hey, whatever! That's what they take from it. We've never directly copied any riffs from anybody but it's just in our DNA. It's the music we like and we just naturally play that. But the thing is that we've grown up over the last 40 years so we've seen a lot of different musical scenes and we've seen things change. And so that stuff also has an influence on us. So it's a little bit of everything.
Most of your lyrics are typical cliché heavy metal lyrics. And what do you think about bands like Sacred Reich who put their political views out there?
That's not for me. For me that alienates the listener and you're speaking to a direct group of people. And for me music is a universal language and the song should be up into interpretation for people. Now, I have nothing against bands that do that, but I'm not a hypocrite. I'm not out there in the streets protesting or fighting against the system about things that I think are unjust. I'm just a guy in a band so it wouldn't be authentic for me to start in my lyrics telling people what they need to think and what's right and what's wrong when I'm not the one that's out there actually living that life. I mean, music for me is a way to escape from all of that harsh reality, because we see it around us all day long.
You will be releasing the "Darkness Remains" IPA. Which brewery are you teaming up with and will the beer be available in Europe?
We hope to import it, it's Goldhorn Brewery, they're also out of Cleveland, which is cool. They were just fans and they started to do a beer on draught and we didn't even know about it. Fans were sending us pictures, "Hey, your beer's awesome!" and we're like, "What are you talking about?" So, I hit them up and I said, "Guys, what's happening here?" and they said, "Oh, we've only made one batch, we're just fans," and I said, "Well, you know, you should approach us about that first," and I said, "Look, everything is fine, let's take it one step further, let's can the beer, let's fucking do this." So, we're going to be releasing that April 3rd in Philadelphia in the United States, we're playing the Beer and Metal festival, so we're going to be releasing it then. And I think we're in Europe so much that there's no way that we are not going to find a way to bring it over here. Even if I gotta bring it in my suitcases, ha-ha! It's a 7.2% black IPA and I hear it tastes good.
You played a gaming convention a couple months back. How did it come about?
Yeah, it's interesting, we got the offer to do that, it was in Cologne, Germany, it was Gamescom and they wouldn't let us advertise it, they wouldn't let us have a guest list, they wouldn't let us sell merchandise... We got paid quite well to just entertain the people at the convention. It was the most interesting gig, the backline was perfect, everything was top-notch. But people just were like, "What's happening?" you know, I felt like a zoo animal, ha-ha! Some of our fans did find out about it and somehow snuck in and that was cool, but you're talking three to five people. So there's three thousand other people kind of just walking in front of you and looking at you like, "What's happening?" A guy put a cell phone right in my face, he came right up to the stage, kind of like six inches from my face while I'm singing and I'm like, "Get out of here!" you know? But it was an interesting experience. Just when you think you've seen it all, something new comes your way. And we used that as an opportunity to play a couple of other one-offs in Germany. We did a show in Mannheim and then we headlined a festival in Berlin, so it worked out, it was a cool little weekend trip. That's like how this year's been, all these one-offs.
You have built Night Demon and Cirith Ungol headquarters. Can you tell me more about it? Is it like a studio or rehearsal rooms?
Have you seen any videos of Metallica HQ? That's like the place where they record their albums and they have all this storage, all their backline, their offices there. It's kind of like that. So, it's a really big warehouse, we have a big rehearsal room for Cirith Ungol, we have a rehearsal room for Night Demon, I have a management office upstairs, we got bathrooms, showers, we got a little kitchen, we got like a lounge that we're working on right now. All the band's archives are stored there, all the master tapes, every piece of merchandise that has ever been made, all the first pressings of the records, both for Cirith Ungol and Night Demon. And then next door to that our guitar player Arman has a recording studio, so it's all in-house. It's a factory of dreams, that's what I call it.
You are performing at Keep It True festival with Cirith Ungol next year, headlining both nights. Looking forward to it?
Yeah, it should be good. We are hoping to have a new record out by then. We've just finished recording the new Cirith Ungol, first album in 30 years. So, we're very happy to be playing some of that. We also have Flint, the original bass player, he's coming out and going to play some songs with us, so that's a really special thing. He hasn't played in the band since 1988, so 31 years, kinda crazy. But that's something that hasn't been done, no bands played both nights there. We have two completely unique and different sets to do and it'll be very interesting.
When this tour is over you'll surely be working on a new album. What can we expect?
It's definitely an evolution. Even if you listen to "Curse of the Damned" and "The Darkness Remains" there's still a progression there, you know? Lyrically, I'm no Shakespeare but I'm digging a little bit deeper. We don't want to repeat ourselves, I don't need to write "Heavy Metal Heat" again. So, there's definitely a lot of growth that we're doing. We will release it when we know it's the right thing.
Interview by Wojtek Gabriel

Official Night Demon website: www.nightdemon.net
Night Demon on facebook: facebook.com/nightdemonband
Tags: Night Demon, heavy metal, Jarvis Leatherby, Darkness Remains, NWoTHM
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© 1997-2020 Wojtek Gabriel. All rights reserved.
Unauthorised use of any works published on this website is prohibited.
Materials may not be reproduced in whole or in part by persons, organisations
or corporations without the prior written permission.