An Interview with Leather Leone of Rude Girl & Chastain

All images courtesy of Leather Leone

By Andrew Daly
andrew@vinylwriter.com

All images courtesy of Leather Leone

Recently, I caught up with heavy metal firestorm, Leather Leone. Among other things, we touch on how Leather is kicking off 2022, the formation of Rude Girl, joining Chastain, her twenty-year musical hiatus, stepping back into the limelight, and a whole lot more.

If you would like to learn more about Leather Leone, and her upcoming record, the link to her webpage is here. Once you’ve checked that out, dig into this interview with Leather. Cheers.

Andrew:
Leather, thank you for taking the time. As you were coming of age, what first gravitated you toward the limelight?

Leather:
Well, I always remember being drawn to vocal melodies, and guitar sounds. They always just touched me for whatever reason. I imagine we are born with it, and it possibly comes from another life, a past life, so to speak. I always had the inherent need to try to duplicate it, and then I’d love to watch how it affected people. I still do.

Andrew:
Who were some of your early influences which first influenced your style?

Leather:
I got turned on to Heart and Led Zeppelin at a very young age. I was blown away by what they were doing, and their voices. I thought to myself, “I have to be that. I have to figure out how to give someone the feeling they’re giving me.” For me, it was pure magic, and it was something that I wanted to be part of.

Andrew:
What were some of your early gigs where you first cut your teeth?

Leather:
When I was a sophomore in high school, I would travel with the church choir doing musical theater. I remember that I was terrified to sing in front of people, but at the same time, I could hear the call of the future. I could see that this was the beginning of my journey, and it was captivating.

All images courtesy of Leather Leone

Andrew:
Take me through the formation of the early 80s, all-girl Metal outfit, Rude Girl. How did you and Sandy Sledge first meet?

Leather:
I met her by auditioning for Rude Girl. At that point, I had been in California a very short time, and someone brought it to my attention, and said, “Hey, you should audition for this band,” and that band was what would become Rude Girl. So, I hopped on a bus and went to the audition. I nailed it, and Rude Girl was born. The journey began from there.

Andrew:
Early on, Rude Girl shared the stage with Exodus and Megadeth. What were those experiences like? Do you recall Rude Girl’s first show?

Leather:
I do. It was at a club called The Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco. We knew nothing, but we had so much conviction. We were Metalheads. I had no fear, and I wanted to let everyone know I was here. Opening for the big boys was an incredible training ground for me. It taught me my strength and that I had a spot in the insane metal landscape of that time.

Andrew:
Walk me through the transition from Rude Girl to Malibu Barbi. Ultimately, you ended up with Chastain. How did you end up getting the gig?

Leather:
A lot of people think that Rude Girl became Malibu Barbi, but that’s not how it happened at all. Some members just moved on, and I was never part of the band. I just did a demo for them which became the EP. After Rude Girl ended, Mike Varney introduced me to Chastain. He felt I would be a good fit. He always had bigger ideas for me.

All images courtesy of Leather Leone

Andrew:
What do you recall regarding your debut solo effort, Shock Waves? What led to the decision to go solo?

Leather:
It was part of the package for Roadracer to get Chastain to sign with them for the record, For Those Who Dare. They never really had any interest in me, to be honest. As for the album, I went through the Chastain catalog, took pieces of songs, and chose what to work on. I wasn’t aware enough to know how to actually do a solo record, and I certainly had restrictions now that I look back. Still, I am very proud of the vocals on that record.

Andrew:
After the release of Shock Waves, Chastain folded, and you seemingly went into seclusion for around twenty years. What led to your withdrawal from music?

Leather:
I was personally dissatisfied with the direction of the band, and my heart wasn’t in it. It wasn’t heavy enough for me. With Chastain, we put out For Those Who Dare, and then things went quiet. I guess it was an unsaid break. I can tell you that at the time, it certainly wasn’t the plan to take all that time off. I looked into fronting heavier bands, but nothing came to fruition for me, so I stayed silent. And by the time the dust settled, I had stopped music, got into animal medicine, and met my first Pit. At that point, it was over for me. I had found a new reason and purpose. 

Andrew:
In 2010, you resurfaced with the Sledge/Leather Project, and soon, Chastain reformed as well. What sparked the fire again, Leather?

Leather:
My return came from our collective loss of Ronnie James Dio. After he passed, I attended his services and realized I needed to use my talent for him. Ronnie had always been upfront with me about how he felt that I should be making more music. I felt I owed it to him. I needed to shine for him. Returning to the studio with Chastain had no adjustments. It was where we left off. We have a metal synergy that elapses all time and space. It’s always been very easy to make music together.

All images courtesy of Leather Leone

Andrew:
What made Divebomb Records the right home for the release of your second solo album, Leather II?
What was the recording process like in the modern age?

Leather:
I signed a licensing deal with a few labels. It was what worked the best for me at the time. Matt from Divebomb has been a friend of mine for a while. We wrote songs by sending ideas back and forth on our computers. Then we went into to studio and blew it out. Leather II was done fast.

Andrew:
Many artists from your era have seen their voices fail them, but this isn’t the case for you. How do you keep your voice in such fantastic shape?

Leather:
In all fairness…I let my voice rest for many years. [Laughs]. That aside, I continue to drink massive amounts of water and get good sleep, which is very hard for me. I also always do extremely light vocal workouts. The voice is like any other muscle, it needs love and support, and I believe it is a gift from the gods.

Andrew:
Last one. You’ve got a new record on the horizon. What’s next?

Leather:
Yes, I am doing a new record now, which is being recorded at Hertz Studios in Poland. The title is We are the Chosen. I had much more time to spend on We are the Chosen than on my last album. Vinne Tex and I wrote everything from start to finish. The time off made me realize my strengths as a songwriter, and the new record will show this transformation to everyone. I am so stoked. It will be out this year in a very big way. Stay tuned, metal friends 

Image credit: Rockin’ Ryan

Interested in learning more about Leather Leone? Hit the link below:

Video credit: Ricardo Marques

Be sure to check out the full catalog of VWMusic Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: