Proudly waving the flag of traditional heavy metal, Night Demon's Jarvis Leatherby is a self-described student of cinema, with a longstanding desire to take fans on an immersive and cinematic journey.
"The last two albums, I want to say Curse of the Damned and Darkness Remains, they both started out as concept albums, but they veered off the tracks. It's a tough thing to do," Leatherby shared in a sit-down with Metal Injection.
Now, fresh off a series of successful singles and compilation album Year of the Demon, Leatherby and fellow Night Demon cornerstones guitarist Armand John Anthony and drummer Dusty Squires have successfully completed that long sought-after concept album, Outsider (available March 17th through Century Media Records).
"We started writing songs that were going all kinds of places, and we're like 'these are not going to be good singles. Let's toy with the idea of a concept record again,' then the storyline started to come into play and all this stuff and we're like nahh, this is definitely it. This is definitely what we're doing," Leatherby explains, reaffirming his love of storytelling with the nine track effort.
"It's so hard because I wrote the original story as a screenplay. So it's a movie script, and then I had that into a short form story, which we have in the liner notes of the record … And it's funny because I've tried to come up with a log line or a slug line because it is a script and I have failed at it so miserably," he adds with a laugh, breaking down Outsider's wild concept in detail.
"The story is about a guy who grows up in an insular environment in a very small town that nobody has ever left and nobody has ever come into. And they kind of have a sustaining way of life and things move on. He grows up in a family business working in a graveyard. And the town is surrounded by this kind of green mist, like this supernatural thing, kind of like the Northern Lights. Nobody really knows what it is.
"One day he just decides fuck it, I'm going to go. And he takes off on this road outside of town and he ends up getting caught up in this, like, swirling green mist. He survives it. He ends up back in the same place that he's from, and he feels kind of defeated by it and curious as to why this happened. How could he go one direction and end up in the same place?
"What he realizes, though, is that he's in an alternate dimension where everything is the same. He knows all the same people, but everybody is completely different. And he discovers another version of himself, actually, and that comes to a head where they meet up and he's got to make some decisions. And basically the other version of himself is not a very good person and they have to have a little battle royale to the death. And this guy basically assumes the identity of himself, has to blend in, while the whole time trying to find his way back to his realm."
An avid lover of science-fiction and horror, and with an ever-growing desire to branch into filmmaking, Outsider is far and away the most ambitious, expansive and surreal effort for the Ventura, California three-piece.
"It's got Lovecraft and King undertones, but I would best describe it as Back to the Future meets It's A Wonderful Life. Because here's this guy leaving his existence because the grass is always greener, right? But when he gets to where he thinks he wants to be, all he's trying to do is go back to what he took for granted and what he had. And there's a lot of tragedy that happens along the way in this story. It's some irreversible stuff."
As for that pie-in-the-sky goal of crafting a feature film, we'll just throw those positive vibes out into the universe. Outsider the movie, anyone?
"I mean, my goal has been to make a film, forever. It's my biggest passion outside of music. I'm a big student of filmmaking and of screenwriting and cinema in general. So it's just a lot of money. It's a lot of time, a lot of experience I don't have. I mean, it would take hooking up with some of the right people that can help that along. But I'm going to keep writing too. It's definitely on the horizon at some point."
Catch Night Demon on tour throughout North America with Satan and Haunt!
3/17 – West Hollywood, CA @ Whisky A Go Go
3/18 – Oakland, CA @ Eli's Mile High Club
3/19 – Las Vegas, NV @ Dive Bar
3/21 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Aces High Saloon
3/22 – Denver, CO @ HQ
3/24 – Austin, TX @ Come And Take It Live
3/25 – Houston, TX @ White Oak (Hell's Heroes)
3/26 – Dallas, TX @ Amplified Live
3/27 – Wichita, KS – @ Barleycorns
3/29 – St Paul, MN @ Turf Club
3/30 – Chicago, IL @ Reggies
3/31 – Des Moines, IA @ Lefty's Live Music
4/1 – Tulsa, OK @ Cain's Ballroom (2 Minutes To Tulsa)
4/4 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
4/5 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
4/6 – Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups
4/7 – Mechanicsburg, PA @ Lovedraft's
4/8 – Cambridge, MA @ Sonia
4/9 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
4/11 – Clifton, NJ @ Dingbatz
4/13 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Foundry (Decibel Metal & Beer Fest pre-party)