It’s been 16 long years since the last album by Huntington Beach, California’s Leatherwolf, but finally, Kill The Hunted was released this month by Rock Of Angels Records. If you are an old school metal fan (like me or Lee) then you probably know their first three albums by heart and treasure the LPs in your collection. We woke up drummer and only original member Dean Roberts in 8.30 AM to talk about it and celebrate some new music.
Hello Dean! It’s great that I finally have the chance to talk to you for the first time. Congratulations for the new album Kill The Hunted but why did it take 16 years to put it out?
-Oh, it was really hard to put it together, because even though Geoff Gayer has always been the main songwriter, it was hard to put the original guys to do anything. This time, it started off with some of the original guys but it became a headache so I decided to finish it myself. Everybody else was not interested in getting the stuff done, because everyone is having a day job and it was really hard. But this record, me and Robbie (Rob Math, guitar player since 2011) committed to it, we spent three years doing it.
Everybody who has been a fan of the band in the Eighties, is probably wondering who are the members of the band now – are these the same guys that played in the classic albums. So, obviously, now you are the only original member left in the band. Did you try to get some of the old guys back on board?
-OK, wait for one second…. how am I saying this…. In 2019 the guys in Nuclear Blast offered us to make a record. Me and Mike started playing and then he wanted to work with these two new players, instead of the old guys. And at the same time, I am the guy who pays for the records and the one who pays for everything and then I decided I don’t want to play with him anymore. I wanted to try doing it with the original members even though the guys who played on Street Ready hadn’t written anything together since 1988. The World Asylum record was written by Geoff and I alone.
I want to ask you about another band member in the new line-up, who is a legendary name in himself – Barry Sparks (ex-Roland Grapow, Michael Schenker Group, ex-Dokken, ex-Marty Friedman, ex-Tony MacAlpine, ex-Vinnie Moore, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen, ex-Ted Nugent, ex-UFO). How did he end up in Leatherwolf?
-I was parting ways with Patrick Guyton, because we didn’t really get along. The album started off with me, Geoff, Carey Howe and we were going to go back to Paul Carman and Michael was still questionable. So the whole thing started. So as time went on, Carey left, because he got some problems and got sued, Paul just didn’t show any interest and it was then me, Geoff and Rob Math and then there were problems between Geoff and Rob and one had to leave. So it was down to me and Rob. So Rob knew Barry Sparks, he used to play shows with him back in high school and our manager Chris knew him as well. We called him and he just loved the music – he said “I’m doing it”. He is definitely a higher level bass player and I think these songs benefitted a lot from his playing.
Dean, the new album Kill The Hunted definitely carries the spirit of classic Leatherwolf but it also sounds a bit different and updated. So did the new members contribute to composing the new songs?
-Geoff was the main songwriter on eight of the songs, coming up with the guitar riffs and arrangements. Then I wrote stuff, Rob wrote stuff and then Keith Adamiak sang on top of it. Geoff Gayer wrote the guitar melodies and the arrangements, but when it came to recording, doing second guitar, multiple guitars, harmonies and everything else, it was me, Rob, Keith and Barry who did it in the studio.
There is a song in the new album which sounded to me like it’s a typo, called Lights Out Agan, but it turned out it was not. Can you tell us something about that title?
-That song was written back in like 2000. The singer that was part of the band then, Chris Adams (R.I.P. 2011), he wrote different words and eventually he committed suicide. When I saw what he was writing about, it was pretty much suicidal stuff and I started looking deep into that, into why people kill themselves. And in my opinion, it has something to do with deep buried issues regarding their mothers and this serves as some sort of act of independence. And so, this word “agan” means a childless mother, a barren woman and the song Light Out Agan is my opinion and view on what happened with Chris. When we got together in 1999, again, the other original guys were not interested and me and Geoff started working with other people. That’s one of the songs that was written 22 years ago.
This takes us to my next question. The press release for the new album states that some of the songs have been created back in the day and back in the Eighties even. Which other songs are old ones?
-Well, The Henchman, for example, is a super old song. I think it was created in 1981 or 1982, but it was never worked upon to appear on a record. Geoff and I worked on the song initially for the World Asylum sessions but again didn’t finish it. I’ve always liked it though.
Dean, I want to ask you something about the first three Leatherwolf albums. They have a cult status but are hard to find nowadays. Do you think there’s a change for these albums to be re-released?
-Well, I got the rights for the first record, so we will re-release that sooner than later. We don’t have the rights to the Island Records albums. I think they’ve released the rights for Japan, but I am not sure about that stuff because it’s out of my hands.
Do you think those first three albums got the attention they deserved back in the day?
-Maybe you can go back and say “maybe if we did this and maybe if we did that…things might have been different”. But at the end of the day, it is what it is, you know? I wish there were some things we did different but I don’t think they would’ve made a difference. We didn’t want to make money in the first place but play music and be successful.
Do you plan to bring the band over to Europe for a tour or a few shows at least?
-I just had surgery a week ago on my wrist, to make it fixed. It’s all part of the plan – to go play shows, but it’s all gonna be up to finances and if we’re gonna be offered to do that.
I really hope so, because you have a cult following in Europe. I want to thank you for bringing Leatherwolf back to us, the fans, and with a great album, that carries the spirit of the band and has credibility. Thank you.
-Well, that was the hard part for me, because I’m just the drummer. The original Leatherwolf guys created the whole guitar vibe and I was just trying to do my best. Me and Rob Math are trying to keep it at that level, which is tricky when you don’t have the original guys.
You can buy Kill The Hunted from HERE