FEBRUARY 15th 2017

Atlanta based musician Don de Leaumont recently issued a covers E.P. with a twist; de Leaumont recorded the metal classis in ‘folk’ arrangements. We had to get him on the site to talk about his appropriately titled ‘Metal As Folk: A Folk Tribute to Metal.’ The album culls hard rock and metal classics from Motorhead, Ratt, [Iron] Maiden, Alice Cooper, Rainbow, and [Black]Sabbath. If you’re looking for something a little left of center and outside of the traditional take on rock and metal classics please check out the ‘Metal As Folk.’  

MetalTitans: What inspired the E.P. aside from your love of metal?

Don de Leaumont: Honestly, this is something I have wanted to do for a long time.  I grew up a metalhead and I’m still one tried and true but I’ve been playing folk music for over 20 years.  My best friend James and I always talked about how much fun and how challenging it would be to take some of my favorite hard rock/metal songs and strip them out of their environment and translate them into folk tunes.  It’s harder than you’d think so I kept putting it off.  Finally I just knew it needed to be done so it was just time to shit or get off the pot.  In the end it was so much fun and I loved doing it.

MetalTitans: Great work on reinventing Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.” You didn't do the obvious and base the song around the riff and is slowed down a lot. Motorhead's is on speed where yours is on Benzos.

Don de Leaumont: [Laughs] Thanks, Ruben.  Yeah, “Ace of Spades” is just one of those songs that I always thought was pretty much a dark ass folk/country song on crank.  I just opted to go more for the downer approach as opposed to the hopped up approach.  I had been covering it in my solo sets for a while and it always got a great reaction so I wanted to capture it.  

MetalTitans: “I’m Eighteen” is pretty faithful to the original Alice Cooper band’s version; though in acoustic form.

Yeah. That song was really funny because it was one of those that I just really didn’t feel like I could change up too much because it’s already pretty much a dark, almost southern sounding kinda song.  Also, to change it too much I was afraid would make it lose its essence.  I was actually pretty surprised that I didn’t feel the need to do much with that one at all. 

MetalTitans:“Heaven and Hell” is really heavy even in an acoustic setting. How’d you select that one and what does that song mean to you?

Don de Leaumont: “Heaven and Hell” is a very important song to me because it was the first song I heard as an 11 year old metalhead in 1984 from Dio era Sabbath.  At that point, I didn’t even know that Dio was in Sabbath but the song was on the K-Tel compilation’ White Hot.’ [laughs]  I almost went with another less obvious choice but it’s such a great song and an important one to me that I just couldn’t pass it up. 

MetalTitans: “In the Temple of the King” is great classic Rainbow track. Was your version at all inspired by Ritchie Blackmore’s renaissance phase?  

Don de Leaumont: That’s kind of funny that you mention that.  I’m actually a huge fan of Blackmore’s Night but even in the early Deep Purple/Rainbow days you could hear his folk/renaissance era influence in his playing and writing.  As a matter of fact, some of the most epic metal songs can be stripped down to sound like the most epic ren faire songs ever. [laughs]  When I decided to do this one, it was exactly what I had in mind; a guy roaming a ren faire in tights singing “Temple of the King!” [laughs]

MetalTitans: Did you always have the concept of recording these songs as a single musician vs. a band?

Don de Leaumont: Absolutely.  I have zero interest in ever doing these songs with a full band.  I have a full band of my own that does all original folk/rock material but this project was a very personal one and a venture that I needed (and still need) to take alone.  As fun as it is, it’s a very introspective thing for me in so many ways.  

MetalTitans: Are you familiar with bands Steve N’ Seagulls and Hayseed Dixie? Do you think they harm the genre? It’s disingenuous, no?

Don de Leaumont: Honestly, I’m kind of on the fence in situations like this but as for these two bands, I personally think that it’s nothing more than a cash in kind of ‘shtick.’  I do question a band’s sincerity and their overall motives for doing what they do.  Hayseed Dixie did do it long before Steve N’ Seagulls but as a metalhead I do kind of find it to be poking a bit of fun.  Then again, I may be wrong and people may think that about me! [laughs]

MetalTitans: A few years back VH-1 Classic [now defunct] issued their ‘Stripped' series where they featured acoustic versions of some of our favorite 80s hard rock hits and anthems. I'm going to throw two songs from the album and you tell us which is ‘better' and why?

From Metal Mania ‘Stripped Vol. 2’  

Stephen Pearcy “Round and Round” vs. Dokken “Into the Fire”

Don de Leaumont: Ok, so first off, I have never heard these albums.  I knew that they existed but I avoided them like the plague.  I wasn’t a fan of the Pearcy cover at all but man, the Dokken song translated really well acoustically.  I was pleasantly surprised by that one. 

MetalTitans: From Metal Mania ‘Stripped Vol. 3’

Udo Dirkschneider “Balls to the Wall” vs. Autograph  “Turn Up the Radio”

Don de Leaumont: Right off the bat, just looking at the choices you can probably imagine which one I picked but trust me, it’s because not only was the Udo song a much better song and better done song, Autograph has always sucked! [laughs]  I always hated that fucking band.  I loved that Udo did “Balls to the Wall” with piano accompaniment.  It was so not literal and really outside of the box.  He’s not the best singer for this style of music but it worked so awesomely.  

Metal Titans: From Metal Mania ‘Stripped Vol. 3’

Ratt “Way Cool Jr.” vs. Dokken “In  My Dreams”

Don de Leaumont: I’m gonna have to go with the Ratt one on this one. “Way Cool Jr.” is such a badass song and hearing it done like this is just bad to the fucking bone. Is this the version from MTV Unplugged where Michael Schenker had replaced Robin Crosby? It sounds like it but either way, this version was so awesome. No contest. The Dokken tune was good but man; this had to be forever ago since Don hasn’t sung this good in 20 years or so.