Leeno Dee has been plugging his heavy-sounding bass into the Australian rock n roll scene for sometime now and is a true survivor. From his earliest days with Vandal, Wizard and Roxx…to the notorious Candy Harlots…then Jerk, Ink and now with Melody Black – his life of loud rock n roll has been a fascinating journey with no signs of slowing down….time for a Rockbrat Chat ! (interview conducted 2-Aug-2010)
Rockbrat: How did Leeno Dee get into rock n roll ?
Leeno Dee: First tune that I remember being fascinated by was The Sweet’s ‘Wig Wam Bam’- obviously I’d heard stuff before – my parents had old Rolling Stones records etc – but Sweet just floored me – and when I saw what they looked like that was it ! It’s like they were from outer-space or something!
RB: What was the first record you bought ?
LD: That would be ‘Wig Wam Bam’.
RB: What was the first concert you attended ?
LD: First real concert was Thin Lizzy on the Sydney Opera House steps…that was free and all ages…
RB: Who were your bass playing heroes ?
LD: Once I saw Gene Simmons on the cover of ‘Kiss Alive!’ I was hooked…then came Geezer Butler and Tom Petersson…
RB: I know you’re a Kiss nut…were you at the Sydney Showground in November of 1980 ?
LD: November 21st to be exact…on Gene’s side…got there 9am!
RB: Is it true that you were at one time a member of mid-80’s Sydney outfits Roxx and Wizard (also featuring Campbell from Mortal Sin) – can you tell me about these bands ? Were there demo’s recorded ?
LD: Yes. Wizard featured myself and Wayne plus Sean Bosco on vox (later of Who’s Guilty) and Sean Williams and Keith Krstin on guitars. I am still in touch with Bosco and Wayne. That band was kinda Iron Maiden-y. No demos were recorded. Roxx grew out of a band I started called Vandal and was more like Ratt/Dokken – that kinda thing. My involvement was minimal but yes, some demos were recorded and the guitarists in that band were awesome: Jon Ford (now with Black Label) and Shane Grovak (now with BB Steal). The style wasn’t quite right for me. But it was good fun and good people.
RB: Your first show with the Candy Harlots was at Bankstown – correct ?
LD: Yep, Bankstown RSL with the Radiators – it was a Wednesday night
RB: Had you witnessed the Candy Harlots live before auditioning for the bass position ?
LD: Sure had…saw them at the Caringbah Inn supporting Boss…EVERYONE said they were shit! That whole crowd didn’t get them and though they were pretty rough they had that something special and since I’d been a fan of the Pistols and New York Dolls, Stooges and the whole early 70s glitter scene – I thought they were cool. But I remember thinking “I should be the bassplayer!”
RB: I can recall one of your earliest shows – at the Sydney Cove Tavern – where the set was kicked off with Easton using his cigarette to systematically pop the balloons a bikini clad babe was ‘wearing’. In retrospect the band had some innovative ideas…lollipops, roses – David Rose’s ‘The Stripper’ as an intro etc. I also remember a time in 1988 when the band would kick off with ‘Kiss Kiss’ with just you and Tony, then Ron and DeHugar would plug in…with Easton making a grand entrance in time to sing the first lyrics. Very impressive and great entertainment. Whose ideas were all these ?
LD: I have to say, especially early on Mark Easton was a goldmine of great ideas. We may have all pitched in but Mark was always thinking ahead to the next ‘wow’ moment.
RB: My favourite Candy Harlots tunes were ‘The Calling’, ‘Can’t We Just Sleep Together’ and ‘I’m A Lover’….yours ?
LD: Shit. So many…’Open Your Eyes’, Fantasies’, Take Me Or Leave Me’, ‘She’s Got It’, ‘I’m a Lover’ definitely.
RB: What are your memories of the much-missed Ron Barrett ? Any fond stories to share ?
LD: Ah Ron…when I first met Ron I didn’t take to him immediately. He was real brash. Really smart guy. We ended up pretty close and started sharing rooms on the road. I remember the last tour before he passed away we were in QLD on the Gold Coast about 10 floors up sharing some beers and him saying how much he wanted to achieve and how happy he was with the line-up after Phil Bowley joined on guitar. Shortly after we did our first sold out show at the General Bourke and around 4am he called out to me ‘see ya next week Leens – good show!’. That was the last time I saw him. He died about a day later. We really miss him.
RB: Where does 2010 find drummer Tony Cardinal ? Is he still performing ?
LD: Tony is doing fine. He’s a good guy. He was really happy to do the recent reunion shows. Not sure if he’s playing right now though.
RB: You’ve had an extensive musical career – can you name some of your highlights ?
LD: Hopefully the best is still to come. JERK was definitely something I was and still am proud to have done. We made a great album, and I guess doing shows with Insane Clown Posse, Killing Joke and Marilyn Manson are highlights. Being guests at Ozzfest was a highlight and also doing the red carpet at the ARIAs. Lots of great moments. The chemistry was great Lamar Louder was a brilliant musician/producer/ writer, Johnathan Devoy the best singer/frontman you could hope for and Charles not only a fantastic player but also an awesome guitar builder!
RB: You’ve performed at many Sydney venues over the years – many long gone – what are your favourites ?
LD: Sydney Entertainment Centre…now THAT was a buzz! Kardomah obviously. Bar Broadway was a good one. Give me a room with a PA and a stage!
RB: Tell me about your current outfit Melody Black ?
LD: Melody Black is something I’m proud and excited about. With Johnathan (ex Jerk)on vox, my old Harlots guitar bud Phil Bowley and my longtime fave drummer Tubby Wadsworth it’s the cream…we’re like the Jerky Harlots! Melodic glam punk pop metal for 2010.We’re doing the debut album in the next month and are locking in shows with the first one at the Sando in Newtown on Friday August 20th
RB: What excites you musically these days ? Who have you been listening to ?
LD: Really digging A7X, AFI, AMEN, plus lots of other stuff.
RB: Name your five ‘Desert Island Discs’ ?
LD: Kiss Alive !, Slade’s Greatest Hits, Sweet’s Greatest Hits, A7X ‘City Of Evil’, Monty Python’s Holy Grail soundtrack