Dean Roberts Interview
23rd September 2022
Photo by William Hames
The last time I saw Dean was in 1989. I was the Guitar Tech and Stage Manager for Vow Wow and Leatherwolf were the support band. Time to catch up then!
Q: We’ll get to the new album in just a moment but I just want to let Japan have a quick catch up. The last time I saw Leatherwolf was on the UK Vow Wow tour in 1989…
DR: That Vow Wow tour was our first time touring over there and right after that, everything kind of went south for the band.
Q: I’ll come back to that but for now, Leatherwolf aside, what have you personally been doing for the last 30 + years?
DR: I have a roofing company but I recently fell off a roof and so we had to cancel some shows. I broke my wrist and have a little bar in it now so I can’t move it. I also play a lot of water polo.
Q: There was a lot of good words said and written about Leatherwolf back then. You were signed to Island Records, had just released Street Ready to great reviews but then suddenly you were gone and then the band broke up in 1992. What happened?
DR: Well, we were young and I kind of think that with that second record with Island we just started thinking about our future and everyone was wondering what we should do. Should we start writing music differently, do stuff differently and in the midst of all that, Mike Oliveri just didn’t want to play with me and Paul (Carmen) anymore. He wanted to go in a different direction to what Leatherwolf was. I was doing some other stuff and then suddenly, I was out! They never really explained it and they tried to use the name Leatherwolf but I just had my lawyer say ‘I don’t think so guys’. You know, at the end of the day, I like Leatherwolf. There was never anything I didn’t like but I wasn’t to go and sell my soul to play music; I just play from the heart man. When all that happened, I was about 28 or 29 years old and I just thought ‘I don’t know about this music thing…’ because if your best friend is going to can you after all those years together…. Then they became Hail Mary but I guess that didn’t really pan out. I don’t know as I never really talk to those guys about it but Leatherwolf was a really good Metal band. With Street Ready, it was pretty much Geoff Gayor who wrote all those songs but with everything, the guys not taking it so seriously and everything. It’s still baffling Glenn. We could have got a lot better so why break up the band or play different music. It never made sense too me but whatever.
Q: The split lasted seven years from 1992 – 1999, who and what prompted the reunion?
DR: I got a phone call from Carey (Howe). Me and Geoff and Carey started the band and then a year or two later, Mike came in, just to play guitar but we could never really get a singer so Mike just turned into the singer. Those were the fun times when we’d just sit and play in Geoff’s garage and go to parties all the time. So, after the break-up, I get a call from Carey to go and play a show at the Troubadour for Jennifer Perry. After the show, there was some talk and Jennifer asked us if we wanted to go on tour with Ozzy but no one seemed to be into it. From there we decided to play some local shows and then we got some opportunities to go and play in Europe and we started doing that and from that, I recorded a live record. It was going ok but then the true colours show up. Me and Geoff wanted to write a record and at the very beginning, Paul Mike and Carey were in but when it came to do the work, they were nowhere to be found so me and Geoff got stuck doing that. It took a bit of time and I thought it was a pretty good album but the label didn’t do much with it.
Q: Let’s come up to date. You are about to release your first new album for fifteen years (since New World Asylum in 2007). It’s called Kill The Hunted, what can you tell us about it?
DR: When this started out, this particular go-around, we had just got back from Hard Rock and Nuclear Blast wanted to sign us but Mike didn’t want to write with me. He wanted to write with two kids that were on tour with us. I started thinking about it and thinking ‘Why would you want to do that? I just have to play your stuff’ Now since 1999, I’m the guy paying for everything, paid for the record, kept the name out there, everything. So, Carey was here, he brought Geoff in and Mike was still going to be part of it but only because Carey wanted it but I was done with Mike. He didn’t want to be a Metal singer, he wanted to be a Blues guy. When we started, he sang a couple of songs and I wasn’t impressed at all but what I was impressed with was Geoff’s writing. He’s a high-level writer and player and you don’t meet guys like that often. Now, even I don’t want to play him again because of all our history, he is good. Paul was a part of it but he just never showed up and as I said, Carey was a part of it but just disappeared. He got a caught by the Fraud Squad for ripping off some people for forty-five million dollars.
DR: Yeah, he got convicted. He took the money away to Costa Rica where he could hide it. I’m in the middle of making a record with this guy, he’s supposed to be paying for half of it and all of a sudden, he disappears. I still haven’t heard from him; that was three years ago. Once I found that out, I didn’t want to be around with those guys. Back in 2012, he ripped off all our social media and that’s when I got trademarked to protect my investment. You know, with friends like that, who needs enemies?
Q: That’s shocking to say the least. Let’s get back to the current line-up.
DR: Ok. So, I had finished the drums, finished the bass with Barry Sparks. Barry is one of the best bass players on the planet, blew my mind and made me sound so much better (laughs). Then me and Geoff had some issues so I couldn’t work with him anymore but I had already spent the money in for the record so I decided to finish it. Me and Rob Math had to sit in my garage and work out all that guitar stuff which took a bit of time and it was the first time I got to sit with a guitar player and come up with all the off-the-cuff stuff, the harmonies and secondary guitar lines. It’s an interesting aspect and I got to do a lot of that, adding some keyboard parts as well.
Q: It is a different sounding Leatherwolf obviously but I think it’s more acceptable musically for this generation of music fans.
DR: When you’re a musician, you don’t think about that stuff. Those guys did the best they could back then but I don’t think they could play at this level. Rob is great at this level and he’s also really good at telling a little story with his lead so you don’t get bored with it.
Q: It’s the first with your new singer Keith Adamiak. Where did you find him?
DR: After Mike told me he didn’t want to write with me, we were supposed to do a Street Ready tour playing 15 shows and me and Carey were going to fund it. Mike basically said ‘I want you to pay me this amount of money and give me the trademark’. So, I said ‘Dude, you haven’t spent a dime yet. Me and Carey are the ones who are going to lose money on this’. I didn’t need this crap so I asked my friend Jake if he knew any good lead singers and he gave me two names. I called Keith who was playing in a band called Ninja Ghandi and he was really nice! At this point, Mike had run through Only The Wicked and Kill The Hunted but I didn’t like it so me and Rob re-wrote the song and vocal vocal lines. Keith came over a few days later and sang it and I was just sold! We did a four song demo with him and he was good; he wrote the words for The Henchman. I had written some but his were way better than mine.
Q: There’s some guests on the album as well.
DR: Yeah we had George Lynch and Joel Hoekstra and a couple of other guys but some of those songs didn’t make the cut. The Japanese edition of the album has a bonus track which is Thunder with Joel playing lead and he’s just killer! There’s also a bunch of other stuff I recorded around this that I’m going to release next year with George, Joel and Rob playing an instrumental triple lead.
Q: That sounds good! You’ve got Wayne Findlay on there as well.
DR: Yeah! Wayne is a friend of Barry Sparks through Michael Schenker. I’ve always had this thing about keyboards and if we are going to play the old Leatherwolf stuff, you need keyboards and a third guitarist and Wayne can sing as well. Plus he’s a nice guy too!
Q: So when you go out on the road you’ll be going out as a six-piece, with Wayne?
DR: Yeah. He’s part of the band. We’re doing a video shoot soon as a six-piece.
Q: Dean, great to catch up with you after all this time. Hope to see you live again someday.
DR: Cool man! Let me know anything you need and thanks a lot Glenn.