The Ozzfest Meets Knotfest 2017 Interviews – Jarvis Leatherby of Night Demon
If any band in the world could kick off Ozzfest Meets Knotfest 2017 in nothing short of an epic way, it would be the one and only Night Demon! After local opener Thrown Into Exile performed on an opposite side stage, the three musicians of Night Demon arrived and proceeded to devastate the early arrivals with a massive set of heavy metal anthems.
We caught up with front man and bassist Jarvis Leatherby in the press area right after their explosive Ozzfest Meets Knotfest performance to discuss their just unveiled Darkness Remains magnum opus on Century Media Records, performing a set so early in the afternoon, touring with the legendary Raven, participating in the return of Cirith Ungol, and other topics of intrigue. Read on…
What’s the experience like playing Ozzfest and did you get to meet Ozzy or any of his family members?
[laughs] No, I did not. Not yet, its early. It would be great. It’s funny, I grew up going to see Ozzy. I went to the first two installations of this festival over 20 years ago. So that in itself to be a part of it is great. Just being on the same poster is awesome. It’s one of those bucket list things. I would love to meet him, I’m sure everyone would here. if I don’t, I understand. It’s weird, I’ve never met Ozzy. I’ve never met any of the guys in Sabbath. I’ve just never have. I’ve met most of my heroes, or a lot of them, but no – never met the man. We’ll see what happens today. Maybe I’ll pull an old-school Ozzy moment and I’ll get wasted and end up in his dressing room, peeing on the floor or something. [laughs]
What was the best and the worst part about playing so early in the day?
The best part is it’s over. Worst part, I mean, it sucks man. Obviously you don’t have as large of a crowd there. Our diehards were there, that’s fine, they’re always there. We’d rather play a headlining show for them with the lights and the smoke and our whole thing. Night Demon has always had a big production and it’s only getting bigger. You can’t do that always on a festival, especially in the morning. But also, vocally it’s very hard to sing in the morning. You know when you wake up and your voice is kind of a little hoarse anyway, just from sleeping? It’s the same thing. I actually did very well today, though. We’ve played some German festivals where we’ve played very early, but massive festivals where people do come early. Also, you’ve got those big catwalks that run around on you, you’re losing your breath. I actually did pretty well today, I was actually pretty satisfied with it. I got up pretty early so I had 6-7 hours where I was already awake. Usually on tours when we do big festivals like this and have to play early, I’ve played the night before, a headline 90-minute set and then had some drinks and didn’t sleep much, so that adds to it, but today was good. The main drawbacks are that you don’t get the whole crowd and it’s just fucking early, man! You don’t want to do anything early, right?
How does the new album, Darkness Remains, compares to the previous Night Demon releases?
Well, our new guitar player is on it, Armand John Anthony. He produced the first two as well, so he’s been involved with the band the whole time. His skill level is off the charts and writing-wise, it’s very good to have him in the band. The production value is higher on this one than the previous ones but it’s also more stripped down than the previous ones where we have no rhythm guitar tracks underneath. It’s just a three piece band throughout. It was done live, no click tracks, everyone in the same room, done quickly. It’s a good record, it’s a better representation of what you see on stage than the other records.
The new guitar player is like keeping it in the family.
Absolutely. We were thinking about it, if it wasn’t him, we might not have continued on. As much as we are on the road, you have to find someone, not just musically compatible, but someone you can live with 24/7.
Who did the cover art, and how much input did you have on it?
Complete input. Donny Phillips, he’s our cover artist. He did The Curse of the Damned as well. He does all of that stuff. He’s an art director for Warners, he’s an old friend of mine. The cover is actually a recreation of Ventura City Hall, where we live. The statue on the front is obviously our mascot, Rocky. But originally if you were to go there right now there is a statue there now of Father Junipero Serra, which is under a lot of heat these days because they’re trying to make him a saint at that Vatican and he’s really – he’s a Columbus story. He’s responsible for the genocide of Native Americans. We kind of took a spin on it, the darkness about the city we live in. We’re rock guys, there’s a lot of conservative things where we live – it’s a nice area where the ocean meets the mountains, the weather is perfect. But we know the drug dealers. We know the homeless people in that part, and that’s the cover – a representation of that kind of thing.
What has the experience been like joining Cirith Ungol?
It’s been one of the greatest accomplishments of my life to be honest with you. Nobody ever thought that band would play again. Really, the band came together because of Night Demon. I fill a good role for the band, I manage the band as well. It’s one of those things I never thought would happen, especially when we go to Europe. People are like, I can’t believe this is happening. The joy everybody else gets from it has been worth the headache for me.
Do you think there will be new music from Cirith Ungol?
Yeah, there’s a song coming out on a movie soundtrack next year and we’re working on another full length. So, there’s a lot of material from back in the day that nobody has ever heard. I’m trying to unearth some of that and rework it, much like a Van Halen kind of thing, how they did it on the previous record. So we’ll see.
What was it like touring with Raven?
It’s crazy, man. They took us on our first tour ever. Much like they took Metallica on their first tour. There’s a lot of similarities there. We did 50 shows in the states. It was crazy, at the time, they had no representation so myself and John Gallagher were actually booking the shows together. We booked the tour together, man. It was just – the wild west, man. One day we’d have 400 people there and a great guarantee from the club and then the next day we’d be playing in a basement to seven kids for pizza. But it was great. We became very close with those guys and we’ve played all over the world together. We just had them out for our festival. We flew them out to do Frost and Fire. It was funny, though – it’s one thing to meet your heroes and then it’s another thing to be close with your heroes. Then it’s another thing to do business with your heroes.
It was just funny, I remember the first time John Gallagher from Raven called me. I was with the guys and was like, oh dude John Gallagher is calling me! “Hey Mate, you wanna do a tour together?” – Yeah. Let’s do it. You’re three weeks into the tour and it’s like, guys, John’s calling – do I answer? We’re great friends, but there was just a lot of issues when you’re out there on your own. It was interesting, but it couldn’t have been a better first tour for the band and it really got our feet wet. It really exposed us to an older generation of fans that, they have no idea that there is a new scene for this kind of music. They just don’t know. So it’s good for us to be a part of that. We’ve picked up fans on that tour that are still with us today that are more hardcore than anybody. It was – you don’t think about that – do something that cool on your first tour. Great times. I’ll never forget about that.
What are you looking forward to the most about your upcoming tour with Accept?
Really, I’m looking forward to seeing our European fans come out and represent us. From what I’ve been seeing on social media and stuff, that’s the general consensus from our fans. That Accept is this added bonus to seeing Night Demon, which blows me away because we just saw them a few weeks ago and they were amazing. Our goal is to push them harder as a band, if it’s possible. But I think you get a great one-two punch with both bands. It’s just the two bands, there’s no local openers. There’s no other support bands on the tour, I definitely think people are going to get their money’s worth. I’m looking forward to getting to know them a little bit better than we already do and having some fun out there. But they mean business, they’re a very serious band. I hope we can match them on that level or at least learn something from them about that. We’re very professional but we like to let loose, that’s for sure. [laughs] so we’ll see, hopefully they will be accepting of us, [laughs].
Any other tours or events coming up next year?
Wacken is confirmed, stoked about that. I’m stoked that we got confirmed now because we’re on a legit spot on the poster [laughs]. I’m sure when it gets down to it we’ll be down there at the bottom, [laughs] once they confirm all the other great bands. We’re going to the UK on Monday. Believe it or not it’s Night Demon’s first shows ever in the UK. So the fans are really looking forward to that. We’re going to Scotland and Ireland for the first time. We’re doing Monheim, Germany – like an exclusive German show. We’re gonna do Darkness Remains from front to back, so a lot of Germans are traveling to that. Accept tour January / February. We will be touring in The States for March and April. It’s either going to be a headliner or a support tour, but I think it’s gonna be a support tour. Our agent is here and we’ve been talking about something, but I can’t say. Then we’ll be going back to Europe in May to do the Rock Hard Festival and more club shows. We’ll be going to Europe 3-4 times in 2018. And then hopefully do another fall run in The States to close it out and then new record 2019. Ya gotta plan ahead these days…
Night Demon is Jarvis Leatherby, Dusty Squires, Armand John Anthony
(Interview and Candid Photo by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Jack Lue)
Night Demon on FACEBOOK