DANIEL LEIGH OF NEW DEVICE SPEAKS TO MetalTalk's SEAN CAMERON
On 20th July 2009 a debut album was released by a band called New Device. The previous month they had supported Bon Jovi at the 02 Arena.
To celebrate five years since 'Takin' Over' hit the shelves, the lads are playing an anniversary gig at the Borderline in London on 26th July.
Feeling that front man Daniel Leigh probably needed a break from all the rehearsals, song writing and generally living the rock life, I felt that an in depth interview for MetalTalk was in order. I was going to do a question and answer article, but, after experiencing various "Smash Hits" style flash backs from my youth, I rapidly changed my mind. Daniel is far too deep for that anyway.
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On the subject of the upcoming gig he tempts us with this promise: "We wanted to give something back so we've got very low ticket prices on the door, less than Borderline usually charges as its our night. We're only charging £5 a ticket. You know - 5 years so 5 pounds. Come down and have a great time with us. We want as many New Device fans to come down to be part of this - people who have been a part of what we've done - people who have come and supported us from the beginning - people who have found us only recently and have had such good things to say about us. So we really do want to have a great celebration."
A relief then, to speak to a man in the music business, to whom money isn't everything. The album didn't come easy though. "It was a really significant milestone in my life." says Daniel. "The 'Takin' Over' album was written by three of us. Me, Phil Kinman and Rob Wybrow, with some serious blood, sweat, tears and arguments. When I think about writing that album I think about all the things that I had to let go to get it done. So when we get such great feedback, and people sing the songs back to us, you can't imagine what a joy that is."
New Device with Dennis Stratton
The following year saw guitarist Phil Kinman and Rob Wybrow leave the band - not an easy time for New Device. They went through various members until the line up that saw the release of their second album, 'Here We Stand', four and a half years later. Some thought it would never happen, though Daniel never stopped believing or writing.
"I'd come too far to let it go and then we lost everyone except myself and Ros (the drummer). I remember staring at myself in my bathroom mirror while I was on the phone to him. I said, do you want to carry on with this? Do you want to see if we can work this out? And he said, 'well yeah, what we got to lose'. I said there's still a record deal on the table, and I think there is a lot to be salvaged even if there's just the two of us."
But the constant change of members had made Daniel wary of people coming in and trying to change what he knew to be right.
"I said, I'm cool with going ahead, but let's not bring anyone else in until we have 8 songs. Then no-one can misjudge what we're about.
"I would bring musical ideas to Ros my drummer when it was just the two of us left in the band, and I'd jam stuff out with him, and we would discuss parts, and I'd go away to write. I take the piss out of him all the time because he can't play a pitched instrument, but actually it does work because he really has a lot of ideas about grooves and how to deliver songs."
When they had the songs written they set about rebuilding the band around them. Daniel was very enthusiastic with the line up. "Matt, what a guitarist. And you've got guys like Nick Hughes on bass and he's got such a wide palette of musical understanding. Nick Jones, a fantastic guitarist."
Then on 14th May this year New Device announced that Nick Jones was leaving the band. Daniel says that there is no animosity between them. "He's really a great guy and we wish him all the success in the world. Nick left primarily because he wanted to do other things. He came fresh out of guitar tech. He's a fantastic guitarist and a great guitar teacher, but he gets married next year and his life is going in a different direction."
At this point Daniel pauses... "A bit of advice to any young musicians out there who really think they want to do this. Really think about this. If you don't think you can be away from home and everything you love for long periods of time, if you don't feel you can cancel anniversaries, wedding dates, holidays, valentines day, peoples birthdays or girlfriends birthdays don't get involved in original bands. Nick knew what he was committing to and he committed to us 100 percent so this has got nothing to do with him, but he knew what we needed and he wasn't that guy."
Looking to the future, a replacement has been found, James Arter, whose band Monarchy were touring around when Daniel was in a band called Days in December. They played several shows together. "It is great now having him on stage with me and the rest of the boys. He comes from the same school as I did, which was you just had to go out and get it".
Recently New Device have released a Rockumentary about the making of the 'Here We Stand' album. However, Daniel says it was just the tip of the iceberg. Every piece of equipment in his studio tells a painstaking story. "I think we wanted people to have an understanding of what we were about, to get a glimpse of the work that went into what we do".
He is clearly upset about people not valuing musicians. "I didn't know how many people have illegally downloaded us, having it as a throwaway kind of thing to accumulate. Maybe if people see what kind of work we put into it, they might respect the work we do more." As I said, a man with something serious to say. One of the songs from the album, 'On Your Knees', is an angry response to the way that the banks caused the last economic crash.
In his words: "My complete contempt for the state of the world and its financial sector and the monkeys who have put us in such dire straits without a thought for anyone else other than themselves." Not a guy to hold back. "I don't think I can change the world with one song, but every now and then you a have to express yourself in the sense that you want to raise your middle finger. I think it's fucking terrible."
I couldn't leave Daniel without asking about his large biceps. I was hoping that he would say that he works out at least five hours a day, every day. But sadly not. "I don't work out as much as people think. People think I live in the gym. I wish I had the time. What I do is I watch my diet and what I eat. I believe in if I'm going to be a performer and in a touring band I need to be fit enough for it. My voice has to be working at least 75 percent optimum ability at any given time and my body has to be in good physical shape, and I'm the front man so that's my job."
So there we are guys, you've either got it or you ain't, and I know where I stand. I will, however, be taking photos for MetalTalk at the Borderline on the 26th July when New Device will be Takin' Over.