I’ve seen the name of the band mentioned more than once over the past few months, but as my schedule has been heavy, I’ve not had time to check out the music of NIGHT DEMON until recently. When I first started listening to the trio’s EP, I had a hard time putting it away, as I often have with these new bands’ enthusiastic and intense take on the NWOBHM-sound. After recovering from the first impression I hooked up with two thirds of the band in form of singer/bass player Jarvis Leatherby as well as guitarist Brent Woodward, and deciced to surprise everybody (!) by asking the guys to give the readers of Metal Squadron a brief insight into the story of NIGHT DEMON.
JL: – NIGHT DEMON was formed in spring 2011 by myself and Brent. I was a roadie
for The Fucking Wrath (Brent’s other band). We were driving to Hollywood for a show they were playing with other friends, Fireball Ministry and Night Horse. Brent and I were sitting in the back discussing our mutual love for the NWOBHM sound. Going back and forth about the great bands of that era and how much better we thought the songs were compared to a lot of modern metal. We had briefly talked in the past of starting a NWOBHM influenced project just for kicks, but nothing ever came of it. This time, we committed to getting together and trying it out. And that’s exactly what we did. We joined up with our friend Pat Bailey, who was the only other guy we knew who even knew what NWOBHM means. We shared a love for the music together. We got together four times and wrote the four songs you hear on the EP. We went literally next door to our buddies studio and recorded that in five hours. That was only the fifth time we all had ever played together. It has that feel to it. The rawness of a new hungry band.
BW: – Seventies hard rock, heavy metal and NWOBHM are my favorite types of music. I’ve wanted to be in a heavy metal band since I was kid. So starting a band
like this was natural.
According to Metal Archives, which is by no means the most accurate source in the world, the drummer John Crerar and Brent also play together in a band called The Fucking Wrath. I checked out a couple of songs, and it’s quite different from NIGHT DEMON. What’s the key to doing two such different bands convincingly? And what about Jarvis, is NIGHT DEMON his first band? I really like his vocals, clear and almost laidback, which suit this kind of music very well. Is he self-taught?
BW: – The Fucking Wrath is quite different. The key to writing anything is heart, good taste and a good ear. I’m into a lot of heavy music. So I’ll listen to some Sabbath or Trouble and get inspired to come up with The Fucking Wrath riffs or some Motörhead or Quartz and get inspired to come up with some NIGHT DEMON riffs. It just depends on how I’m feeling and what I want to listen to. NIGHT DEMON is actually Jarvis’ first band. He is self taught. I know he’s spent a lot of time listening and singing along to Diamond Head and Dark Star records when he was growing up, so starting this band with him was a no brainer. His voice fits this style perfectly.
Like many bands at the moment, you have decided to make an EP your first release. Why does this format suit you best at the moment? What were the intentions when you started writing the material for the EP? To secure a deal straight away, or to test the waters?
JL: – We knew four songs was a minimum for an EP and we just wanted to record right when we started playing together. So as soon as we had four songs, we went and recorded. No other reason than that. Our only goal when we started was to record the best old-school heavy-metal hard rock possible. We feel we accomplished that right away. If it ended today I would be very proud of this band.
Some bands that start in this manner, go on to release a full length next which often includes the songs from the EP (sometimes rerecorded or remastered) and a handful of new songs. Are you thinking along these lines, or will the full length consist of only brand new material?
JL: – That’s exactly our plan! We will be re-recording all of these for a full-length later in the year. Just to have them with bigger production would be something we would want for ourselves just to have even if it doesn’t make it on the record.
On a very cool EP, “The Chalice” is, in my opinion, the song that sticks out the most, as it adds a bit more heaviness and also is slower than the rest of the tracks. It’s quite easy that albums in this genre become one-dimensional with most of the songs sounding the same. How will you approach a full length release with this in mind? Is there for more heavier stuff or even ballads in NIGHT DEMON?
JL: – I think what makes this sound so good is its ability to be diverse. There are a lot of great NWOBHM hits of yesteryear that at first listen you would never say it sounded “metal”. Just good hard rock that’s all that matters at the end of the day. People want good melody as well as brutality! The NIGHT DEMON debut full-length will be a complete journey through all that is hard rock and metal from the softer sides to the heavier sites.
The other day, the band made a music video for the song “Night Demon”. Check it out here:
I guess you can say most heavy metal is influenced by NWOBHM in a way, but why do you think so many young musicians nowadays are influenced by this movement? What bands are the main inspirations behind what we hear in NIGHT DEMON?
JL:- Wow, I didn’t know a lot of young people are into this music these days. I’ve been into this since I was very young. I think I had two friends that listened to it as well. No one else liked it then! I would say some of our influences range from UFO and Tygers of Pan Tang to Diamond Head. Truth be told the reason so many people nowadays are into this kind of music, is because of other bands. I mean let’s be honest let’s give credit where credit is due. If it wasn’t for bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Judas Priest to break through the mainstream and tell us about these bands, noon would know these great, NWOBHM-acts that put out maybe one demo or EP or even a single never to be heard from again. We would never know about these band if not for the bigger bands supporting that movement and citing them as influences. At least before the Internet.
I also hear traces of early eighties American metal in your sound. Are there any particular bands from your own country that have influenced you?
JL – Riot!
BW: – ZZ Top
You have been performing live quite a lot lately. I guess all songs from
the EP are present in your live set, but what else do you play? A mix of
own compositions and covers maybe? How do you feel that the trio format
works for you in a live setting?
JL: – We have a handful of newer songs that we do play live. We do throw in some covers, one of them is “Radar Love”. It’s great old rock songs occasionally. The power trio is really something cool. You do have to keep in mind that you must play a lot better, there’s no one extra backing you up. It’s very raw when it’s just three guys playing music up there. But we like that we can do so much with just three people. We see it as a strength rather than a weakness.
Your lyrics seem to dwell around what many would call clichés, well used subject matters in heavy metal. How important is lyrics in the sound of NIGHT DEMON? Do you have a wider spectrum of subject matters than what you show on the EP?
JL: – I don’t take my lyrics very personally at all, as well as I don’t like to get into any political issues. Not that I don’t care about that stuff, it just doesn’t belong anywhere in NIGHT DEMONs music. We are here to show darker side of life, fantasy and everything that heavy metal is about.
I guess originality is not the main priority for you either, but nearly all bands want to add a bit of their own identity to the material. What does your identity consists of?
JL: – Our identity definitely can be seen in the logo, art work, as well as our stage look. We’re a three headed beast!
Your EP will be released on four different formats (digital, vinyl, cassette and CD) by three different labels. Did you want to cooperate with different labels to establish some contacts and get to know the whole business a bit better, or do we talk about plain coincidence where you only planned to release it digitally to begin with and the whole thing took off from there?
JL: – NIGHT DEMON has been approached by many, many, many labels in the last six
months. We decided to license or music to labels according to their strengths in the industry. We independently wrote produced and recorded this EP. We were not interested in just giving up our rights on it just because somebody wantedto press it on a record. We are smart about our business and want to keep doing business with a lot of people who are doing good things. I will say that I have met many owners of smaller metal record labels in the recent past and I will say that most all of them are super fucking cool guys and most all of them just want to put out a good product for their audience. I highly respect that!
Not only did you get your release out in every format imaginable, you also have had some interest from Europe already, and I wouldn’t really be surprised if you will be one of the early bands on at next year’s Keep It True. Have you ever felt that things are going a little bit too easy for NIGHT DEMON at the moment? I am asking cause it’s widely acknowledged that at band creates the best material when they’re really hungry…
JL: – Well I heard the Keep It True lineup will be announced April 19. We’ll just have o wait and see…I wouldn’t say things are going easy for us, but I will say things are good for NIGHT DEMON. I’ve been wanting to be in the band like this my whole life. It took years to become an overnight success I guess you could say.