LEATHER “The Chosen One”
By Theron Moore
Like a lot of metal fans I discovered Leather Leone via the records she made with David Chastain – “Mystery Of Illusion”, “Ruler Of The Wasteland”, “The 7th Of Never”, “The Voice Of The Cult” and “For Those Who Dare”. His guitar and her voice were a match made in steel and then their collaboration ended. There was no ill will between the two, Chastain didn’t live and breathe metal like Leather did.
Eventually she disappeared from music but has since resurfaced in the 2000’s to spread the gospel of loud rock n roll, as well as Ronnie James Dio. Her newest solo LP, “We Are The Chosen”, is available now. It’s a phenomenal record which truly waves the flag for and celebrates the true spirit of heavy metal. So let’s hear what this classic metal voice has to say.
WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: First of all, it’s a pleasure to finally speak with you. I’m curious, do you remember how old you were when did you discover rock N roll? Was it a song on the radio heard, maybe someone you saw performing on a TV show?
LEATHER LEONE: My parents bought me my first radio and record player in 4th grade. I was immediately taken by the way a voice entered my soul. Th effect it had on me would and still does last a lifetime
WC: Along the lines of the last question, was there a particular band that convinced you that hard / heavy rock was the musical path you wanted to pursue as a singer? What year was that?
LL: It was when I first heard Ronnie Dio in the early 80s. I had been singing in cover bands, but his vocals and approach to melody mesmerized me. I knew at that moment Metal was my path.
WC: I know you’ve said in the past that you have a hard time being labeled a female singer... that is, you want your work to speak for itself, but I have to ask this question: did any female singers or all girl groups influence you at an early age, especially say, THE RUNAWAYS or FANNY? Did either play a role with an early band you were in, RUDE GIRL?
LL: Not really. HEART blew my mind as a young person, but I have always been drawn to the male voice…
WC: Who or what ultimately convinced you to take the gig with David T. Chastain...was it Mike Varney or Chastain himself?
LL: I moved to CA in the early 80s, then hooked up with Chastain. I was introduced to Chastain through Varney. I’m sure they both played a part in our decision to work together. It was a huge situation for me, and the way Chastain wrote was different at that time. We just connected musically.
WC: I’ve always been curious though, why didn’t the collaboration between you two last decades and decades instead of stopping when it did?
LL: I’m not sure. There was no big meeting or announcement, it happened organically. It was just time to move on.
WC: And then you kind of disappeared for a while beginning in the early 90’s. Why the choice to step away from music as long as you did, if this is what happened?
LL: It was never the plan..I thought I would go back home to CA, then get into a more aggressive band. Obviously that didn’t happen. Then I moved on to Pit Bulls.
WC: What pulled you back into music after such a long absence from it?
LL: The loss of Ronnie Dio slapped me in the face. I wasn’t using the gift I had gotten from the gods. I did it as a tribute, a thank you for all he meant to me.
WC: Your new album, “We Are The Chosen”, is metal perfection! I really dug your second LP “Leather II “and “We Are The Chosen” feels like a continuation of that music with more intensity and fury. The song “We Take Back Control” sets the tone for this record, it’s definitely a statement of intent. Is this message of “We Take Back Control” aimed at anyone or anything in particular or is it simply that metal is alive and well and we, the fans, and bands, have control of it.
LL: Aimed at myself for not taking responsibility for my own musical future. Live and learn… no matter when.
WC: If I’m not mistaken, this album features the new band you’ve dubbed, “The Boys From Brazil.” As the story goes you found these guys through David T. Chastain, is that correct? Regardless, the band is tight and heavy as hell.
LL: The record consists of me and Vinnie Tex. Vinnie did all the guitars. We used the drummer from “II” and Douglas Pinella on orchestration. We are the band; I hire touring bands as needed. Thank you for your kind words
WC: How long does it take you to write a record, specifically referencing your new album, “We Are The Chosen”? It sounds like metal – lyrics and music – just flow out of you naturally. Is it a quick process where you find yourself constantly writing or is it something much more measured slower?
LL: Due to the pandemic “We are the Chosen” took 2 years…We will see about the next one…
WC: Are you already looking ahead at the future in terms of touring – will you be touring in 2023? Anything you can talk about here?
LL: I have no definite plans at this time…lots of conversations are going on, though. Stay tuned.
WC: If you had your choice of bands active right now, who would you like to tour with and why?
LL: My solo music of course. I have discovered myself as a songwriter and I’m not stopping.
WC: What do you think about the current metal scene...are you a fan of a lot of modern day metal bands or do you find yourself going back to the 80’s and 90’s in terms of what you like and listen to?
LL: Always Dio, Dickinson, and Tate….but I am extremely into the aggressive Metal scene…LAMB OF GOD, ARCH ENEMY, JINJER, SPIRIT BOX!
WC: I want to circle back to the 80’s quickly before this interview ends and ask you about your friendship with Dio. Tell me about meeting him the first time... were you starstruck as a longtime fan or was it the opposite, a seasoned pro talking to another seasoned pro?
LL: My first meeting I was of course spellbound, but very soon we became colleagues. We had intense conversations about music. He was a messenger. He made me believe in myself and rainbows.
WC: Both you and Dio became very good friends. Did either one of you ever talk about collaborating together on lyrics or music, maybe touring together?
LL: We never did.
WC: Prior to Ronnie unfortunately passing away, did you know he was sick, did he talk to you about that?
LL: I had lost touch. Unfortunately I found out in the end.
WC: Final question. And before we sign off here, it’s truly been an honor speaking with you as a fan of your work going back to the Chastain days of the 80’s. What do you want to leave your fans with, what do you want them to know, especially regarding your new record, “We Are The Chosen”.
LL: My love and appreciation for all of you has no words. You give me the privilege of making Metal music. I am working hard to get to all of you very soon.