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Sacred Leather

Dat de oude tijden volop herleven is geen geheim. En elke nieuwe old-school stroming brengt nieuwe bands met zich mee die zich storten op de oude glorie. Dat daar veel troep tussen zit is (helaas) ook een gegeven, maar er zijn ook bands die dat uit pure liefde en passie doen. Het Amerikaanse Sacred Leather is zo’n band. Deze band heeft – naar eigen zeggen – maar één missie en dat is de ware essentie van heavy metal terugbrengen. Met hun debuut ‘Ultimate Force’ willen ze regelrecht terug naar de prille jaren 80 en de hardrock en heavy metal zoals die in die tijd werd gespeeld, en ze zijn daarin absoluut geslaagd. Daar ondergetekende die liefde en passie met de mannen deelt, gingen wij een gesprek aan met bassist Magnus Legrand om hem in gelegenheid te stellen om de bands aan ons te introduceren.

Door: Nima | Archiveer onder heavy / power metal

First of all hails and congratulations on your debut album, ‘Ultimate Force’. But before we get more into that, Sacred Leather is a rather new force in the metal world, so please take the time to introduce the band a bit to our readers.
Cheers! Sacred Leather is a heavy metal outfit hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana. As a band, we have been active for roughly four years. Sacred Leather was created out of the necessity for real rock n’ roll rooted heavy metal, an art-form that isn’t as prominent here in the states as it is across the pond. Each member of this band genuinely loves and lives this shit, so it made perfect sense that we would all find each other and create something special.

The band has been around for a few years now and before the album you have released a couple of digital and highly limited edition demos and singles. Most bands nowadays release their debut album pretty soon, but you guys took the time for your debut and the result is great. Were you waiting for the right label and the right opportunity to release the album, and did you want to improve yourselves as a band or were there other reasons to wait a few years before releasing the album?
Yeah, we’ve released several demos, singles, and live cassettes in the past. The real reason it has taken us this long to release a full-length record is because we operate on our own terms. It was very important for the first record to be a genuine ass-beater. Thus, we made moves at the pace which allowed for the best product. Throughout the process of getting to ‘Ultimate Force’, we had to trim some fat to ensure that we were building this band with the correct pieces. This is now the case. Our current line-up is comprised of the heaviest hitters the circle city has to offer. Flash-forward, Cruz Del Sur Music was a great fit for this record. We had demoed out some material to shop around. They were digging the tunes, and we admired a label that doesn’t dabble in false metal. It was a match made in hell.

The album is yet to be released but the reactions from the press are quiet positive in general. Are you satisfied with the feedback so far and are you excited about the fans’ reactions?
Absolutely! The Legion of Leather has really shown out for us. We have never created music for anyone else, however we love that people dig the songs and have rallied behind Sacred Leather. We’ve seen a lot of reviews come through and they are largely positive. This gives us faith in the state of heavy metal. Occasionally we will see a publication chime in with something obnoxious like for example knocking the record’s power ballad ‘Dream Searcher’ or whatever, but it’s alright, ‘Ultimate Force’ covers a dynamic range of heavy metal’s sonic spectrum within it. There should be something for everyone if you give it a spin. At the end of the day, we are all very proud of what we created. ‘Ultimate Force’ is our first record and ya’ll haven’t heard the heat we are packing for record number two!

’Ultimate Force’ is a pure chunk of hardrock/heavy metal nostalgia and if I hadn’t known I could have easily thought that Sacred Leather was a band straight from the eighties. You bio also states that this band’s goal is to bring back the true essence of heavy metal; something I cherish and admire. What can you tell us more about that and what you consider the true essence of heavy metal?
Our heavy metal forefathers created a formula that is not to be fucked with. This included an emphasis on aesthetic, which isn’t as present today as it once was. Likewise, heavy metal has the ability to create worlds for the listener/viewer which provide an experience that far surpasses the sands of reality. Sacred Leather values the utility in this. It was also a true progression of rock n’ roll. Give me a good riff and some wailing vocals any day of the week over some nob jerking his guitar off to the backdrop of someone singing some Shakespeare-sounding shit. Heavy metal is slick and sexy. It’s for the bad boys and girls. Sacred Leather aim to serve as a reminder to that.

Listening to your music you are obviously influences by the NWOBHM as well as 80s US and German heavy/power metal. Can you name a few bands that had the most impact on you that also basically developed the decision and the desire to for Sacred Leather?
We get the question of “who are your biggest influences?” pretty often. Some of our daily spins are: Deep Purple, KISS, Rainbow, UFO, B.O.C., the list goes on. As far as NWOBHM bands go, we feel that each of those bands were evolving their sounds very quickly. In the 80’s, it was a race to the top with that shit. Who is going to change the game with their next release? This allowed your Priests and Maidens to progress the genre of heavy metal in a great way, but it also didn’t let these bands sit very long on the sounds of their best records. Sacred Leather wants to revisit and expound upon these sweet spots. We strive to do this with our own flavor. Sure, you can pick out some of the influences in our material, however we don’t rip anybody off because we fire these songs straight from the hip.

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What can you tell us about the recording process and the sound you went for? I mean, the album's sound and production also seems to be straight from the eighties! A lot of new old-school bands do use modern technology to create a contemporary sound, but ‘Ultimate Force’ sounds like an analogue recording…
The album was recorded at Earth Analog studios in Tolono, Illinois. We did all of this recording ourselves. Our guitarist Carloff Blitz recorded and engineered everything. Our other guitarist JJ Highway arranged and produced the entire record. I did the artwork. The result is an untampered capture of the band’s material which is presented in the exact way we intended. There was little to no conversation about making this sound throwback or whatever, rather we just used gear and techniques that serviced the material. It would be a grave breakdown in communication, on our part, had we delivered these songs with a modern production. Not to mention we think those kinds of recordings suck. The album sounds very similar to what you can expect from us in a live setting.

In continuance to the previous questions: fortunately in the last couple of years a lot of new bands are falling back to the eighties sound and are embracing the old spirit of heavy metal. And with Sacred Leather it is audible that the love for this type of music is genuine. Unfortunately there are also bands that “jump on the bandwagon” just benefit from the genre’s popularity. How do you look at the “new old-school scene” of nowadays in general?
Man, we can’t really speak to other band’s motivations. We do genuinely love heavy metal and we are glad that our passion is coming through in the music. There will always be false bands trying to ride the waves, like Poison for example, but when everything runs its course it becomes clear which of those lacked substance and which were in it to win it. Sacred Leather aren’t trying to ride a wave, we are trying to write and perform badass music to be proud of. The motivations stop there.

And again in continuance of the previous question, where do you see Sacred Leather in that picture? I mean, I think it’s obvious that there is a lot of competition out there, so in what way do you think Sacred Leather stands out?
Once again, we don’t care what other bands are doing in relation to us. We are five dudes who love heavy metal and want to execute it at the highest level. Sacred Leather is non-reactionary. We will continue to do our thing, release it, and if people dig it then that’s fucking awesome. What more can you ask for?

Something that has been bothering me a lot lately is that fact that some bands that start their career with the old-school sound and style and build a name, reputation, recognition and success with that, suddenly change after one or few albums and take a more modern and progressive turn. Please share your thoughts and opinion on this matter.
I would need to take that case by case and evaluate from there, however it is perhaps a testament to their motivations. I wouldn’t knock a band who saw a window to cash in and now they are getting loaded and laid all day with music as their career. Much better option than working the third shift at a warehouse or something… Sacred Leather would never take that route. Hell, none of us would even know how to write shit like that because we have no frame of reference for modern metal.

As far as I could see you haven’t got many gigs planned yet to support the album? Are there any plans to take the band on the road, and maybe even across Europe?
Would love to come to Europe. From what we understand, Europe is filled with the craziest heavy metal maniacs on the globe. As far as upcoming gigs go, check-in with us on social media for any live show announcements.

Speaking of gigs, nowadays it is not that easy to get a decent gig, let alone planning a decent tour for up and coming bands. How is the situation regarding shows for a band like Sacred Leather so far? Both on national and international level.
When we play shows, it is a true production. We try to incorporate all of the larger than life components that one would expect to see at a great heavy metal show. Finding venues to execute this in can sometimes pose a challenge. That being said, we are hoping that the momentum from ‘Ultimate Force’ will assist in eliminating some of these hurdles.

So, now that the first album is a fact, what’s the next step for Sacred Leather? I mean, most of you guys are involved in other bands as well. Is Sacred Leather more of a side-project or a force to be reckoned with in the future?
Sacred Leather is absolutely not a side project. We have a ton of material already chambered for the next record and beyond. We are going to continue do our thing and see what opportunities it leads to. We see ourselves playing with more of the legacy bands who have influenced us and hope to have our hands ready to clasp the torch once it is passed.

Well then, I guess we can call it a day for now. Unless of course there is something left that you’d like to mention…
Check out our videos, follow us on social media, share our shit, and grow the Legion of Leather. The community of heavy metal is what keeps it alive!

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