Leather & David T. interview for Fireworks Magazine.
David T. Chastain- Guitar
Leather Leone- Vocals
Mike Skimmerhorn- Bass
Stian Kristoffersen- Drums
The band is based in the US. Stian lives in Norway.
Tell me a little about your history and how you started up playing guitar?
David T: It seems I have been playing my whole life. Why did I start? I believe because I always found that the guitar solo was the most exciting part of the song. I had friends who were already playing so I just followed in their paths. Once I became serious, I practiced 6 to 8 hours a day. Once I started touring obviously that practice schedule went out the window. Now days I hope to play an hour a day.
What has been your highlights and low points during your musical adventures?
David T: I try to take everything with the same overview whether it is playing in a huge arena for 15,000 people or a small bar with 20 people. They each bring their own rewards. As far as critical acclaim, John Wooden said it best: "You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."
Tell me about the new album?
David T: I always have a ton of recorded music that is available that just needs vocals. I originally was offering to record a solo Cd for Leather. She told me that everyone she contacted about SLP would say, "Let us know when you and David record a new Cd." So to avoid going to all of the trouble of recording a solo Cd and still hearing "Let us know when you and David record a new Cd" we opted to record a new Chastain Cd. We demoed over 20 tracks and chose these 11 because they fit the best together as a whole.
Who produced it and where?
David T: Other than when I first started releasing Cds, I have always produced my own music. Everything was recorded at Leviathan Studios in Atlanta, Georgia except for the drums, which were recorded in Norway. The Cd was mixed in Germany and Mastered in the US.
How long did the process take?
David T: The real recording process probably took a couple of months. We spent 6 months writing and demoing the tracks beforehand. Most of the material on this Cd I had written previously but 3 or 4 of the songs I wrote the music in 2013. It was just getting the vocals to fit with the music. Almost all lyrics/melodies were reworked or written in 2013.
How did Leather come back into the fold and why did Leather leave all those years ago?
David T: Leather and I have always been in touch since "For Those Who Dare." She was never fired or quit the band. We just both became burned out on the situation. We had recorded 8 Cds and numerous tours over a hard 6 years. We kept in touch and when she came out with her SLP release I tried to help in some business matters. After SLP didn't pan out as well as she hoped we discussed the idea of doing something again. I sent her 3 Cds worth of material and we worked up and released 'Surrender To No One.' Another Cd of material just needs the final vocals. That Cd may or may not come out in later 2014.
You started up Leviathain records, how is the label doing and what can you recommend from your current roster?
David T: Leviathan Records has been a blessing and a curse. It has always been profitable but spending so much time on the business end has reduced the amount of time I can spend on the creation of music. The Firewind Cd 'Burning Earth' has probably been the biggest seller in our catalog over the last 10 years. Of course we hope that the new Chastain Cd 'Surrender To No One' will take that honor.
Will there be another Southern Gentleman record?
David T: Actually we have just finished recording a new solo Cd from the vocalist of band. It will be released under the name Eric William Johns and the title of the Cd will be 'Smoke In The Sky.' Very much in the Southern Gentlemen style but more focused on the Eric. I feel Eric is one of the best in the hard rock genre. That Cd should come out in March 2014.
What's next for the band?
David T: We have had numerous offers from festivals as well as tours in the last few months. We will see if any make financial sense. As you know Leviathan Records Worldwide has released the new Cd so there really isn't a European label to help directly with the logistics of a European jaunt. Be we are positive something will happen at some point. In the US touring will be easier if we decide to go that route.
Are you pleased with what you have done as an artist and with all the material you have released?
David T: Every release could have been better if more time and money were available. However I would say I am pleased with nearly every release other than a handful. Most of those I have tried to recall from the marketplace. I definitely could have chosen a different path and would be more "famous" today but I always went my own way. In saying that, I am still making music and the fans seem to still enjoy it, so I guess that is the bottom line. If I kicked the bucket tomorrow there is a pretty reputable catalog I would live behind.
Tell me a little about your history?
Leather: I was born and raised in upstate New York. I have always enjoyed being the one in the room to sing. I was encouraged as a child and I sang in the church choir, developing a strong love of music. Sang in musicals all through high school. In college I began to sing in cover bands, singing everything from Pat Benatar to AC/DC. I moved to California in 1982 and began my metal career. Sang for a while in a band called Rude Girl then Mike Varney introduced me to David T Chastain and the rest is history.
What has been your highlights and low points during your musical adventures?
Leather: I have had no low points. I have always had opportunities to create music, which is a good thing. The high points I would say were in the late 80's when we opened for Kiss and Alice Cooper.
Tell me about the new album with David, how does it differ from your previous earlier albums?
Leather: I would say the only real difference is that we have grown as artists. I think we still express ourselves along the same lines as before. It's our style of writing. When you hear a Chastain song no one is going to say it sounds like another band.
How do you keep your vocals in check?
Leather: I keep my vocals in check by running, sleeping, water and lots of practice. It took me a few months to get back in shape when I returned but I feel as strong today as ever.
Why did you leave the band all those years and ago and what made you decide to come back for the new album?
Leather: Back in the day, I just believe we had run our course. The level of interest in the band had stopped growing. It was time for a break. The reason for deciding to create again, probably due to David and I having a lot more musical communication. It seemed a logical step.
What have you been up to over the years?
Leather: I have been dealing with pitbull rescue and living the California life style.
Will there be another album with you guys?
Leather: At this time there are no definite plans for future recordings however we have another Cd 90% ready to go if there is a demand for it.
A lot of bands that get back together and re-record older material, have you had any thoughts about this?
Leather: Whatever works for people. I personally have no interest in rehashing old material. We move forward or not all. That is one reason David doesn't want to tour without a new set of songs. We don't want to be an "oldies" act.
If you were to sell the new album to someone who reads this magazine who has never heard of you, what would you say to convince them?
Leather: If you enjoy metal, enjoy being taken on a journey, want to hear something very different than what's happening today, check out 'Surrender To No One.' You will not be disappointed. Recommended for those who drive fast!!
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