NIGHT DEMON - "We Don't Want To Crossover To The Mainstream"

April 27, 2016, 2 years ago

Mark Gromen

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One of the exciting new guns, old school ethos and music to match, the Ventura, CA based trio have crisscrossed North America for the last two years, flogging their fantastic Curse Of The Damned full-length in virtually any dingy bar that will host them. It's not a glamorous life, but bassist/singer/mainman Jarvis Leatherby has been overseas a couple of times already and plans to be part of the summer festival circuit in 2016. "This train's not stopping. You're either all in, or you're not. I dropped out of high school, to tour, in the ‘90s. You have to be willing to be homeless, for this band," he says of the touring grind, which sees them on the road (apart from the ten day stretch), for the next four months, including stints with Anvil and another, with Carcass. "We've been going after a band like that, to tour with, for a long time. Those guys came to see us in Chicago and bought a shitload of merch. That's how we want to crossover. We don't want to crossover to the mainstream. If the mainstream comes to us, I'm all about it. We're not going to change what we do, but if old school death metal pioneers like what we do, I'm all about it! Crowbar and Ghoul are also on the bill. It's a mix, very European, in that way. America needs more of that." 

The current trek stopped by Kung Fu Necktie, where Night Demon performed the aforementioned debut, in its entirety. "We open with a few older songs (from the 4-song EP, to start and finish the night), then get into the (album) stuff. It's in order, but backwards. We actually have an encore, after the (full) album. It works really well live, sort of climaxing that way. This is the first tour where we've had the same set every night. I didn't think I'd like it, that I'd get bored, but I do. When you have a stage show, it's good to have some consistency. This is the last touring cycle on this record. We're doing the same thing in Europe."  

Tonight, Jarvis is a little under the weather. His voice is scratchy, and he spent the best part of the day sleeping in the van, trying to shake the tour flu. No matter. Onstage, he's dripping sweat, thrashing like a maniac, even though the crowd is sparse. Might be a low budget tour, but Night Demon bring their own lights, fog, album artwork backdrop (with illuminated eyes), cross embossed scrims and mascot guest appearance. A reported 11:15 curfew means Leatherby keeps the conversation to a minimum. New guitarist Armand John Anthony is quite animated, offering up more rock star poses than his laid-back predecessor, Brent Woodward. "I've known Armand for over 20 years," says Leatherby. "He's Dustin's brother in-law. He produced the album. Brent and I asked him to be the original drummer, when we first started out, but he didn't think it was going anywhere! He helped Brent with guitar parts on the (first) album and writing stuff, so he's been here the whole time. We didn't just pull someone off the street. He's been in the organization since before we were a band."

"Ritual" kicks things off, plenty of red and blue lights, with the occasional green and purple. "Full Speed Ahead" is an accurate description, complimented by fog and flashing strobes. Not much room onstage, but Leatherby and Anthony get together, center stage, a couple of times, right in front of former Pocono, PA resident/drummer Dustin Squires. "Screams In The Night" is perpetual, wall-to-wall strobes. "The Chalice" sees Andrew, the lighting tech, don the Rocky mascot costume (skull mask, skeleton gloves and hooded black robe) brandishing the titular drinking vessel. Earlier in the day, Night Demon's Rocky met the statue of Philly's fictitious boxing hero, Rocky Balboa, atop the Art Museum steps triumphantly traversed in the original movie. Rocky shares a bit of the red liquid with a fan, as well as drizzling it into Anthony's mouth, head thrown backwards, while he plays. They end with the rousing eponymous signature track.

A ten song, new disc is expected in January, 2017. Squires calls it more aggressive, perhaps because he's been more involved in its creation. "I keep hearing him say that," the bassist not completely comfortable with his drummer's assessment. "Brent wrote the album with us, Armand did the tracks. From the musicianship standpoint, it's a step forward." That's the Night Demon way, ascending the ladder, one rung at a time. Come join the climb to new heights.

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