Leather Leone

Leather Leone

It's always a treat to be able to interview some really influential people in Heavy Metal…people who have stood…and although some may have been a bit forgotten but their impact is still there. In the early 80's, you had the creation of a number of female fronted Metal bands. You had a sonic boom of bands that came out like THE PLASMATICS, VIXEN, GIRLSCHOOL, BITCH and another very important band called RUDE GIRL. All these bands laid the foundation to the uprising of women in the genre. Metal Temple writer Jean-Francois Poulin recently had the pleasure to interview the one and only LEATHER LEONE.
By Jean-Francois Poulin
April 7, 2018
Leather Leone interview
You are a New York native but moved to the West Coast in the early 80's, what drove you to move to California to start out in music?

I had stayed in touch with a friend. We had worked with horses together. She was In Berkeley and gave me a call one day and suggested I come visit. When I arrived, I immediately became immersed in the Metal culture of the time. Needless to say…I never left.

You released a solo album in 1989 called ''Shock Waves'' then you disappeared from the scene for over twenty years, what triggered the longer than usual break?

The label did nothing with "Shockwaves," Tt was quite disappointing. It was simply a ploy to get Chastain to record "For those who Dare" on their label..I also believe Chastain had run its course.  David and I had different ideas of the direction of the band. He never enjoying being on the road.  Our level of club touring had become more and more difficult…There was no growth. I went back to California for a while…as I looked around for my next move, I found the opportunities I was offered nothing I wanted to pursue . So I walked away.

How was that last tour in 1991 before leaving the Heavy Metal Scene? Did you have some great memories nonetheless?

Nothing specifically, it's always hard work and deep satisfaction when a show is done well….it was and is always an incredible adventure to be on the  road.  I still feel completely at home living out if a suitcase.

I gotta talk about CHASTAIN, a band that emerged in the early 80's and that made a mark of the scene and is still really highly regarded, how did you join the band back in '84?

During the "Rude Girl" days, I had become friends with a Mike Varney from Shrapnel Records. When the band fell apart he introduced me to Chastain.
I recorded demos for "Black Knight", "Mystery of Illusion " and "Winds of Change"…We were recording the first record within 3 months.

And on the same front, you came back in 2013 with the same band, how did that happen persay?

I had done a project in LA called Sledge Leather. During that time I had been more in touch with Chastain regarding business…through those conversations he mentioned he had some material he wanted me to check out.  We started doing demos and "Surrender to No one" came to be.

How does it feel to be back after all those years away, how has the scene changed since then?

It feels right. It feels outrageous….the time is right….the doors are open. To me it's the same as before.  Hard work, patience, trust….trying to create what goes on in your head…with the new band, I am at home.

According to some articles I have read, you are working with a band in Brazil for an upcoming release, how is that going?

Yes, my boys from Brazil…The work came quite naturally with them. They are young, bold, non opinionated, smart , creative. They only want to play music. We fit together very well.

You came back to the forefront of Metal with the SLEDGE/LEATHER PROJECT with your old bandmate and very underrated drummer, Sandy Sledge. Did he reach out when you came back to do a project?

I got back into the scene due to the loss of Ronnie Dio. The Sledge Leather conversation started during the time of his funeral when I was in LA. I had to express myself somehow. It was a bad time. So I did it the only way I knew…through music.

How was the early 80's with RUDE GIRL? It seemed like a whirlwind of bands that came about with really empowering women and showing that it didn't matter if your a man or a woman, if you have talent, that talent speaks in masses!

I agree with you. I still believe it's your true talents that move you forward. What you portray is what you create. The 80's were wild free time. Everyone just expressing, writing and trying to make the crowds go in-sane.  So much great energy, true camaraderie…clubs to play on every corner, such a deep buzz of music.  It was an important training ground.

Before moving to the West Coast, what was your musical upbringing and the artists you looked up to?

I was raised on arena rock. Fleetwood Mac, Heart, Styx, Zeppelin, Elton John - Of course when came to California, it all changed.

So what's in store for LEATHER LEONE in 2018?

The future for me is my new band. LLB, the Leather Leone Band Touring, recording…all things music. Stay tuned…

Love and Dio

Thank you so much, it's been a real honor to interview you for the Metal Temple and I wish you continued success!
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