US musician Jarvis aiming for heavy metal festival in Derry in 2022

Musician Jarvis Leatherby is looking to swap the sunny shores of in Southern California for Derry and hopes to organise a major global festival here based on his other passion - heavy metal music.

Jarvis in Brooke Park.
Jarvis in Brooke Park.

Jarvis, who has spent much of his life touring the world in various bands, has made Derry his base of operations during the most recent lockdown.

While he initially arrived in Derry because his partner hails from the city, Jarvis has fallen in love with the city itself and wants to move here permanently. As a U.S. citizen, Jarvis gets to stay in the UK for up to 180 days on a tourist visa, which means for him, a lot of ‘pond-hopping’ back and forth across the Atlantic.

Before Covid-19, Jarvis has been coming to Ireland as a performer for many years. Some of his band’s last gigs, just before lockdown set in, took place here in the Limelight in Belfast and in Dublin.

As he is no stranger to these shores, and with a relationship to maintain, Jarvis hopes in the long-term to make Derry his permanent home. And the musician finds much inspiration in the maiden city itself, including St. Eugene’s Cathedral’s gothic style of architecture. Jarvis also likes to walk or jog through Brooke Park where he can drink in a beautiful view of much of the city,. He said: “It really is amazing. Sometimes it’s good just to stop, to stop everything, all the noise in the world, and just relax and take a look and enjoy the beauty of it all.”

For Jarvis, one blessing that has resulted from lockdown, has been the freedom to walk along Derry’s Walls in solitude, giving him the space to collect his thoughts and appreciate his adopted city.

For as long as he can remember, Jarvis has always been interested in music. His parents tell him that since he could talk, he was singing, and by the sounds of it, a career in music always lay ahead for him. His father played in a band with Michael Anthony, who played bass for Van Halen and Young Jarvis was also eager to follow a similar path. He has been in numerous bands during his career, including the band Cirith Ungol. If you are a fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the name may ring a bell as the band gives a nod to Tolkien’s epic fantasy novel Jarvis manages and plays bass for the group.

Whilst Cirith Ungol have been on the heavy metal scene for decades, Jarvis’ latest musical endeavour involves heading up the classic metal outfit: ‘Night Demon.’ “I started that band when I was 30 years old, an age when a lot of my peers were quitting music and I felt like I was at the point where I felt that I wasn’t done. Up until that point I’d been in 36 bands over the course of my life and I just wanted to play the heavy metal that I like. In Southern California there was little traction for the British style of heavy metal but that’s kinda when Night Demon exploded on the internet and got a lot of interest from around the world, especially in Europe. That’s when we quit our jobs and began touring as much as we could. From 2016 until 2020, we played 600 shows in those four years. We’ve been getting around the world and it’s been the love of my life. Ten years into it now, I’m glad we made those sacrifices for it.

Night Demon performing live.

“There’s no touring with the pandemic so I’m able to be here in Derry for an extended amount of time and it’s been a great home for me out here.”

Not content with just playing in a band, Jarvis also manages and runs heavy metal festivals that promote the genre. Every year his band Night Demon put on the ‘Frost & Fire’ music festival in his home town of Ventura. London has also played host to the festival. Jarvis’ next ambition is to bring ‘Frost & Fire’ to Derry in summer 2022.

“I’ve got meetings with venues in Derry, and the goal is to put Derry on the heavy metal map. I see a lot of kids who play but there’s really no outlet because of the pandemic. We’re gonna make Derry basically, the only Irish show to get people to come here.

“This city is so beautiful and it’s so built for heavy metal, you have cannons on the Walls, you’ve got these beautiful cathedral spires and all this history. I’m looking to bring a lot of tourism to the town and visitors are going to be able to experience Derry. That’s my mission and it’s something that I really have my sights set on. I have to constantly leave to come back but I definitely feel connected here, I feel at home. I would love to be a permanent resident,” he said.

Jarvis on the City Walls.

Jarvis’ band Night Demon are currently finishing their latest album, due for release next April 2022. You can find out more about the band atg

Jarvis at An Grianan.