Revolver has teamed with Light the Torch for an exclusive white vinyl variant of their new album You Will Be the Death of Me. It's limited to 300 — grab yours now before they're gone!
Howard Jones characterizes Light the Torch's new record, You Will Be the Death of Me, as having a "darker tone" than its predecessor, 2018's admittedly pretty dark Revival. But there's reasons for that.
"Since [guitarist] Fran [Francesco Artusato], [bassist] Ryan [Wombacher] and I started working together on this one, we encountered quite a bit of turmoil," he says. "Every band goes through that stuff, but with us there just always seems to be difficulties and struggles and crazy stories. So that all played into it."
To be sure, Light the Torch's history boasts its share of turbulent moments, chief among them the band's changing its moniker from Devil You Know due to legal issues following original drummer John Sankey's departure a few years back. This time out, the challenges were more life-focused, including the serious car accident that left Artusato unable to pick up a guitar, Jones' own personal battles ("That's something I don't really talk much about …") and, oh yeah, a worldwide pandemic. But per usual, the band triumphed, with the result being their fiercest, most concentrated and also most varied (check the awesome cover of Terence Trent D'Arby's 1987 soul-funk classic, "Sign Your Name") effort to date.
Revolver recently caught up with Jones to discuss the struggles behind You Will Be the Death of Me, how a little bit of camping goes a long way and, yes, his love for Christian metal bumblebees Stryper.
YOU WILL BE THE DEATH OF ME IS A PRETTY INTENSE ALBUM, TO SAY THE LEAST.
HOWARD JONES It is. And when we finally just sat down and started talking about where we want to go, do we have any ideas floating around, and Fran started to write demos, everything just seemed to have a little bit of a darker tone to it. I think the title track may have been the first song that I wrote, and that just kind of set the tone for the whole album.
DURING THE LEAD-UP TO THE RECORD, FRAN WAS RECOVERING FROM INJURIES SUSTAINED IN A CAR ACCIDENT. HOW DID THAT AFFECT THE WRITING AND RECORDING PROCESS?
I definitely think it shaped some of the music he was writing and gave it the darker tone. In between multiple doctor visits and trips to physical therapy, he was writing and demoing and rewriting, and he did every bit of the artwork too. Watching him go through all of that and still trying to put everything into the album when he couldn't even lift a guitar … you know, he could hold it, but actually bending down to pick it up, he just couldn't do it. But him pushing through all of that I think had a lot to do with how the album evolved.
DID THAT EXPERIENCE IMPACT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ONE ANOTHER AS FRIENDS AND BANDMATES?
It did bring us together, because there were times when we didn't know what was next. I mean, it was hard to say if he was going to be able to continue. And then I was going through my own personal stuff as well, which, everything together just kind of makes a big ol' stew of nonsense. [Laughs] But during the writing and recording I ended up staying with Fran and his wife and it made things easier. We were around each other the whole time and it was just like, "Let's do this."
IN THE EARLY DAYS OF THE BAND THERE WAS AN AIR OF THAT "SUPERGROUP" TYPE OF THING, WHERE PEOPLE TEND TO THINK THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE MEMBERS IS GOING TO BE PURELY MUSICAL, RATHER THAN PERSONAL. BUT THAT SEEMS TO HAVE CHANGED.
We're pretty invested in each other as friends at this point. And that developed over time, through all the good stuff that happened and the bad stuff that happened. I mean, there were a lot of times when we were drifting and we didn't know what was going on and it was just us. So we just kind of clung together. And then I think the fact that we've gotten into doing things like camping and just hanging out, just being outdoors a lot together, it changed the nature of our relationship.
ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS ON YOU WILL BE THE DEATH OF ME IS YOUR COVER OF TERENCE TRENT D'ARBY'S "SIGN YOUR NAME." CLEARLY THERE'S A LOT TO INTERPRET MUSICALLY WHEN YOU TAKE ON A SONG SO FAR OUTSIDE OF YOUR GENRE. BUT HOW DO YOU APPROACH IT AS A VOCALIST? I MEAN, TERENCE TRENT D'ARBY IS A SERIOUS SINGER …
Yeah. Well I try not to think too much about it and just sing it! [Laughs] I try not to compare myself to who it is that I'm singing, because there's times that doing that can make you feel pretty insignificant. So I just do my thing. But what happened with that one is that Fran and I both really like the song, and one time he was making dinner for us and it was on a playlist of music. And he was like, "Man, I love this song. Do you know it?" Of course, I know it. But Fran, you know, he's from Italy. So he heard different music growing up. He didn't hear all the stuff that we heard growing up in the U.S. He heard some, but not everything. But he knew "Sign Your Name" and he said, "This would be great to cover." And I was like, "Yeah, we could …" And then it wasn't too much later that he goes, "Hey, I've got music for this! And it's like, "Oh, you were really serious about this!"
IN ADDITION TO THE NEW LIGHT THE TORCH ALBUM, YOU RECENTLY RELEASED A COLLABORATIVE PROJECT, SION, WITH YOUTUBE SHREDDER JARED DINES. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT WHOLE ONLINE GUITAR UNIVERSE?
I think it's great. But it's also something I wasn't really familiar with. I met Jared during the Trivium tour that Light the Torch was on. He had come and filled in with them, and I watched him, and he can play, you know? So we started chatting a little bit and I was just like, "I like this guy!" And I thought at some point we should do something. From that tour on we kept in touch, and then once the pandemic started and all touring was canceled, I took a little bit of time to get my bearings. Then I said, "Maybe we should start doing some stuff." And we just started writing. And for me, no matter who I'm writing for, it's not that different. I get that whole obsessive thing where I'm getting music, I'm writing, I'm having trouble sleeping because the music's invading my dreams, all that stuff. So the obsession hit and it gave me something to focus on during a lot of the crazy. We just started going and it just turned into an album.
OBVIOUSLY THERE'S A BIG YOUTUBE WORLD FOR METAL GUITAR. BUT THERE'S ALSO ONE FOR METAL VOCALS. DO YOU EVER WATCH ANY OF THOSE "IN THE STYLE OF" VIDEOS? SOMETIMES YOU CAN FIND DUDES SINGING IN THE STYLE OF, WELL, YOU.
I've been shown that that stuff is there, but, yeah … that makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable. [Laughs] It's appreciated, it really is, but, oh man, that is an uncomfortable feeling. So, no. Hard pass!
YOU MENTIONED EARLIER THAT THE LIGHT THE TORCH GUYS GO CAMPING TOGETHER. I KNOW YOU'RE AN AVID FISHERMAN, BUT I HAVE TO ASK, WHAT IS A LIGHT THE TORCH CAMPING ADVENTURE LIKE?
It'll usually involve some hiking, some fishing, some grilling. And just a lot of us being silly and laughing. It's just us hanging out. Especially when we can do it on days off in a tour, it feels different from a normal tour day. It really is a reset. So we started really getting into it, hunting for new places and things to do. It just works for us.
I ASSUMED YOU MEANT IT WAS SOMETHING YOU STARTED DOING DURING THE PANDEMIC. BUT YOU GUYS ACTUALLY BUILD CAMPING TRIPS INTO YOUR TOURING SCHEDULE?
Oh, absolutely. That's something we got into some years back and it's just stuck. So when we get ready for tour, there's always camping gear being packed. We're looking forward to that part. We're looking forward to the shows, too, but it's always fun because we know that on those days off we're going to have our time and we're going to enjoy it.
SINCE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT TOURING AND PLAYING LIVE, LET'S SAY THE PANDEMIC ENDS TOMORROW AND EVERYTHING OPENS BACK UP. WHO'S THE FIRST BAND YOU'RE GOING TO SEE?
Hmm. I hadn't really thought about that. But since I kind of made the promise already, I'll say that Richard Christy, Chris Jericho and I are going to go see Stryper. So I'll say Stryper.
I HAVE TO ADMIT, EVERYTHING ABOUT THAT ANSWER IS SOMETHING I WOULD NOT HAVE EXPECTED YOU TO SAY.
[Laughs] Probably not! But it's happened in the past. Those two guys were kind of instrumental in me getting out a little bit, because I can be very antisocial. But about five years ago we did a podcast together and then we went and we watched Stryper in New Jersey. And it was a good time. So the three of us have this weird group text thing that's been going on, and the majority of it is about Stryper. So it's something we've been waiting to do again. It's on the list, for sure.