After rocking everyone’s faces off with 2013’s Surrender to No One the mighty CHASTAIN is back with new record We Bleed Metal. Released late last year the album is full of vintage metal anthems that are guaranteed to get fists pumping and horns raised high. I chatted with vocalist Leather Leone about all things CHASTAIN recently as well as what else she has going on. Take a look:
Amps: Let’s start with the guitar tone on this record. What exactly is David doing? I’ve never heard anything like it!
Leather: (Laughing) oh, and he won’t tell any of us, either! He always plays Kramers and it’s interesting that you say that because when I was in Brazil last year there were a couple of songs from Surrender to No One that we wanted to do, so they were trying to get the tuning from him. He said, “I can’t, it’s a Chastainian thing.” I believe that’s what he called it. I know he has all these really weird tunings and he doesn’t pass them along. It’s a secret. I’m not sure exactly what he does, but it sounds pretty cool.
Amps: This album We Bleed Metal is the ONE thing that prevented me from Hulking out in road rage on my way home from NYC to Philly after seeing JUDAS PRIEST last week, so thank you for that. The mighty CHASTAIN kept me sane!
Leather: (Laughs) good! Good! I still play it often in my car, which is unusual for me after a record is done. I just e-mailed David the other day telling him how excited I STILL am about it. I love how Leviathan Records did the flow of the songs, and there’s so much energy. We really hit a groove on this record, I think.
Amps: It’s all about the album as a whole. Hills and valleys and how the end of one song lends itself to the beginning of the next. Who picked the song order, the band or the label?
Leather: Chastain does it. He has this knack for it. He’ll ask for my opinion but he really is the master behind that. I think that’s a true talent because as a vocalist I’ve never realized how important that journey is across an album. He spent so much time on this record, producing it and putting it together. He did a great job, for sure.
Amps: The whole album rocks but “Evolution of Terror” was my runaway favorite.
Leather: You like that one, huh? It’s funny because when he first sent it to me I remember giving him some shit about it and going, “Ehhh, I don’t know if this one’s gonna work.” Then of course I get into the studio and we rip it! A lot of people like that song and it’s a little different.
He put a LOT of ear candy on it. I still notice it myself. On the choruses I’m like, “Where the fuck did that come from??”
Amps: It really sounds like the band is having a great time on We Bleed Metal. Is that fair to say? And was there anything different in the process this time as opposed to how you did Surrender to No One?
Leather: I think the songs just excited me from the beginning. For me personally, I had a lot of cobwebs to work out for the last record. I had more of an input on that one. We were doing a lot of back and forth and changing things. On this one Chastain took a lot of stuff we had written during the Surrender to No One sessions and he wanted to redo everything. I was on board and then 7-10 days later he sent me this record, with the exception of “Secrets”. I put the melody and vocals on that one. But it was incredible, and I didn’t want to change a thing! The material just really got me excited. And again, the flow was there of me working with David. We just went in and ripped it out. You can sense the energy, I think. I was SO into these songs.
Amps: I think that you really hit a stride this second time around.
Leather: Exactly. It’s the songs. As I always tell everyone, Chastain is just a really educated perfectionist type of musician and I do everything by ear. So after being gone for awhile it can be really frustrating, but that wasn’t the case here. It just flew and I loved it. “Against All the Gods” remains one of my favorites, especially with everything going on in the world today. People claim to follow something, then they kill and die for it. It’s beyond our realm of thinking sometimes. And the solo on that one is insane! “Search Time For You” is special to me, too. When he sent that to me…he just knows me, and he writes with me in mind all the time.
Amps: The closer of a record is very important to me. And I love the way “Secrets” employs a misdirection in that you think it’s going one way then it totally changes. Talk about that.
Leather: It really turned out well, didn’t it? I’m one of those artists that is very insecure and whiny and sometimes I think, “Ahhh, don’t put that out!” but I really like this one. The tremendous love and support we got on Surrender to No One definitely enabled this record to happen.
Amps: David Chastain doesn’t like to tour. Will that change, or no?
Leather: Oh my God, no!! When we had our meeting before recording the last album he told me he’s not gonna tour. He said, “I just wanna record, and I feel bad about it.” And I told him not to feel bad, I respect that. I was also thinking in the back of my mind that he’d get so into it that he’d jump on the idea, but no. Let me tell you, we’ve been getting so many offers that I’d die to be on, but I got off his back about that. He does say that if the right one comes along it’s possible but I’m not worried about it. We are a recording project and through these last two records I am blessed to get the opportunity to go out as myself once in awhile.
Amps: Are you still involved in Pit Bull rescue?
Leather: Oh God, I never stop. I don’t have one right now because I’ve been working so much on the CHASTAIN record, and it’s just not fair to them. I’m also into animal medicine. I’m a Vet Tech.
Amps: What’s on the horizon for you solo-wise? Will there be a record?
Leather: I just got the Ragnarokk Metal Apocalypse show in Chicago next May. I grabbed some incredible musicians to play with and I also think I’ll be able to go back down to Brazil for some shows in 2016. Whatever I can grab, I do. As far as a record goes, I don’t know. It keeps coming up…I just don’t know. I’m very lazy by nature (laughs) so unless I have a team of people behind me I can’t get anything done! I would want it to be completely separate from CHASTAIN if I did it, though. Who knows?
Amps: What are you listening to these days?
Leather: I don’t listen to anything new. I have SiriusXM radio in my car, but I’m pretty much always DIO, Dickinson, and Tate. I have The Number of the Beast and Angry Machines in my CD player right now. I like new music when I hear it on the radio, but as far as going to purchase it I don’t really do it. I just met Kobra Paige from KOBRA AND THE LOTUS and it blows my mind that she knew who I was. I also hung out with THE AGONIST and I’m like, “How the Hell do you people know who I am? You’re what, 20?” It’s really, really cool that bands like that in the world of metal bring back that basic sound. I’m an old-timer but I love NEVERMORE, and what TRIVIUM does. KILLSWITCH ENGAGE is a great band, too. I also love WHITECHAPEL and CANNIBAL CORPSE.
Amps: On a personal level, how is Leather Leone doing these days? You happy and feeling good?
Leather: I am really happy. A lot of people have been saying to me lately, “Goddamn, you’re always smiling!” That’s because there’s nothing for me not to smile about. I’m extremely happy. A little impatient about the whole touring thing but I’m in a really good place. Life is good, man. I just put out a really great record, I have two passions in life: animals and music. I get to do them both, so I’m doing really well.
Amps: What do you want to say to all the CHASTAIN and Leather Leone fans out there?
Leather: Jesus, what can I say to all my metal friends? I want to thank everyone for all the support, the belief, and the waiting, and for spreading the word. It’s because of these metal friends that I’m able to make music, so just a huge THANK YOU. Listen to it and just go for it, because we all believe in it, baby!
Leather Leone is one of those people that when you talk to her you just can’t stop smiling. Her energy and enthusiasm is infectious, and I really hope I get to see her in person in Chicago this year. In the meantime make sure you check out CHASTAIN’S new album We Bleed Metal. It’s tailor-made for all you classic metalheads!
Great interview. I really enjoyed it.