In the second part of what I have now dubbed a series called “The Lost Tapes Interviews” I am happy and proud to present my conversation with drummer Dean Roberts of criminally underrated band LEATHERWOLF. We spoke by phone in the early part of 2014 and like my Kurdt Vanderhoof one, I thought this recording was beyond recovery. And as I said a short time ago, this is only the second in a bunch of ’em. But for now, I give you Dean Roberts:
Amps: The production on Unchained Live is really something. Is this the first record with Roy Z at the helm? He seems to really capture the sound, and it’s like you’re in the room with the band!
Dean: Yeah, this is the first one we actually got to do with him. I think the sound is killer, better than the World Asylum stuff. It was good, having good people working on the project and coming up with great sound for us. Roy’s a whiz at making things sound killer.
Amps: Yeah, especially the drums. When he did HALFORD’S Resurrection album in 2000, Bobby Jarzombek’s drums just about knocked me out of my chair and I’m a huge fan of his work on records ever since.
Dean: And Bobby’s a shredder, himself! He’s phenomenal, on a whole different planet.
Amps: The thing is, it sounds like you’re RIGHT THERE in the audience. Is that what you were going for, or did that just happen?
Dean: We were just mainly concerned with the performance, you know? And we just wanted to make sure that the five of us were all together, because we have a couple of new guys now. At the end of the day the sound guys doing an amazing job of making us sound as good as they did is the icing on the cake for us.
Amps: Like I said in my review, you guys weren’t fuckin’ around, man. And then to record “Black Knight” like that, and make it better, in my opinion was just aces.
Dean: Yeah, you know? Looking back the original recording just didn’t sound metal enough for us. Too much reverb, so we figured if we do it, let’s make it sound killer.
Amps: I bought Street Ready at the start of an eight-hour shift delivering pizzas and just played it over and over.
Dean: That seems to be the most popular record. I don’t know why, maybe the commercial aspect of it. It’s a simpler record, and people just liked it. I’ll send you all the old stuff remastered, dude. It sounds so much more ballsy, it’s killer.
Amps: Really? That’s awesome! Because yeah, as much as I love getting promos and downloads in my inbox, you know there’s NOTHING like getting that physical copy in your hands to pore over and read every liner note, right?
Dean: That’s it, man! You sit there in the car, you spark up a cigar, grab a bottle of Jack, and you start reading the CD, looking at the pictures, who recorded and produced it, who wrote what, and what the hell…it’s all part of the experience.
Amps: My crew and I used to argue about who was a better producer in the 80’s. Who argues about that???
Dean: (Laughing) yeah, no doubt!
Amps: Only nine live tracks. Was the plan to keep it short and leave ’em wanting more?
Dean: Well, we actually recorded “Derailed” and we recorded “Gypsies and Thieves” and then we did a studio track called “Tools of Discipline” We’re gonna hopefully do a DVD and put those three bonus tracks on it. As long as we get some shows and people show up, we’ll get some video footage.
Amps: Are we gonna see you in the Southwest on tour in 2014? Because I missed the last Dallas show.
Dean: Dude, we wanna play wherever they’ll have us. It’s hard to get shows, you know? We’re looking for shows, it’s just tough pickins’, man. It would be killer, though.
Amps: Are there any newer young drummers out there who do it for you?
Dean: There’s a bunch of good guys out there, but it’s really a different style. In metal, a lot of them are all Speed Racer on the bass drum pedals, you know? Dude, I’m still stuck on IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, LED ZEPPELIN, DEEP PURPLE, BLACK SABBATH. I’m still stuck on that kinda shit, man.
Amps: Silly question but what is your go-to CD if you’re stuck on an island somewhere?
Dean: It’s always gonna be either PRIEST Hell Bent For Leather or DEEP PURPLE Burn.
Amps: Is there gonna be a new studio record after all this awesome LEATHERWOLF brouhaha?
Dean: We’re trying. We’re working on stuff but it’s different writing without Geoff (Gayer, original guitarist who left in 2007). He was a main songwriter, and it’s a different feel when you have different guitar players. We’re doin’ it, but we all have day jobs and we’d love to be able to put some more time into this thing. To make a record you really need months of doing nothing but just that, making that record. Waking up and just going, you know?
Amps: Well for someone like me, who got this live album out of the blue, and I think you guys sound better than ever, my mentality is now, “Well, now I wanna see what they can do next with a new studio album!”, you know?
Dean: Oh, on a performance level we’re definitely better than we used to be. Songwriting’s a different gig, but you know, World Asylum was a gnarly-assed frickin’ metal record. Hopefully this live album will do something and we’ll be able to put some more time into the LEATHERWOLF experience.
Amps: You mentioned other guitarists. How are Rob Math and Greg Erba doing now that it’s been three years in the band?
Dean: Oh they’re totally cool. They’re fun, and it’s cool to hang out with them. Plus they can sing well live and they definitely make the songs better.
Amps: What would you like to say to LEATHERWOLF fans old, new, and in-between?
Dean: I’m just glad they’re still around. And there’s a lot of kids out there that are lovin’ the ‘WOLF, and there’s a lot of older people lovin’ the ‘WOLF, and there’s a lot of people worldwide that are still picking up CDs; it’s just way cool, you know? Keepin’ the ‘WOLF alive!
I was really happy that I got to do this interview with Dean Roberts. And a few days later a package with a killer t-shirt and ALL the LEATHERWOLF CDs signed for Mini-Amps arrived. How cool is that? If for some reason you haven’t already picked up Unchained Live then what the hell, man?!? Get to it!!