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Light The Torch: Capturing a vivid picture of life for ‘Death’

Los Angeles melodic metal/metalcore crew Light The Torch is driven by the all-star collective of Howard Jones (ex-Killswitch Engage, Blood Has Been Shed, vocals), Francesco Artusato (ex-All Shall Perish, guitars) and Ryan Wombacher (Bleeding Through, bass). The trio has recently enlisted Whitechapel’s Alex Rudinger on drums (who Jones describes as “phenomenal, a heck of a player” and a “great guy”), only further boosting the unit’s considerable potency.

Jones left Killswitch Engage in 2012 due to health issues, and has battled manic depression and bipolar disorder. He later co-founded Devil You Know. The group has since re-branded itself as Light The Torch, after legal disputes with Australian drummer John Sankey; a topic Jones doesn’t really elaborate on when BLUNT references it. “It’s part of the past, it’s unfortunate the way it had to go, but it was for the best,” the singer says. Regardless, Light The Torch will release their hook-laden second full-length album, You Will Be The Death of Me via Nuclear Blast on June 25. Jones gives us the lowdown.

A serious car accident left Francesco unable to pick up a guitar at one point, and there seems to be a darker outlook on this album overall. Was it the members’ collective experiences that led to this LP having that feel?

Yeah. Everything that Fran was going through, and the music he was writing, and I was going through my own stuff. So, life was happening to us while we were writing this. I’m going through everything I’m going through, and I’m watching Fran go through physical therapy, appointments and all that. It was just a dark time, and so it came out in the music and the lyrics. If I’m writing and there’s some personal stuff in it, it’s just like a snapshot. It really is just a very vivid picture of what life was like, and life wasn’t great then!

Was there any new territory that you covered lyrically on You Will Be The Death of Me?

There’s a lot of personal stuff in it. I always try to do something a little different with an album. It gets very easy to sound the same, especially if your voice is recognisable. And that’s half the fun – really just trying to pull something out that’s different.

Devil You Know covered Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’, but what led to the decision to record a version of Terence Trent D’Arby’s ‘Sign Your Name’ for the new Light The Torch album?

It was on a playlist. I stayed with Fran at his place, he was making his wife and I dinner, and we were listening to a playlist. And I just went, “I love that song”, and he said, “So do I.” I grew up listening to it, and it was on the radio and MTV all the time, so [it was like], “We should cover that.” A few days later he put music in my hands, and I went, “Wow, that was fast.” I just tried to map it out in my head a bit, and gave it a shot. It’s just something different, it was really was a different song. That guy is super talented, and it fit for an emotionally heavy album like this one.

You’ve described yourself as kind of a loner, but it also seems that the band’s core membership is a tight unit, both musically and personally. Is that the case?

Yeah, it’s definitely the case. I consider them family. Fran is one of my best friends, Ryan’s one of my best friends, and we’re way more than bandmates. We went through so much in a relatively short period of time. The amount of stuff we went through together…And the fact we actually enjoy each other’s company. All of that, it just shaped it into what it is.

And I think just getting older, I know I’ve gotten a little better with opening up. It helped being able to actually see these guys there, who want to help me not be in such dark places. And I’m much more receptive to it. I guess I’m just getting older, or experience just kind of shapes you. But yeah, we’re pretty close.

You’ve also recently launched Sion, a project with YouTuber Jared Dines. Can we expect to hear more music soon? Does that project scratch a particular musical itch for you?

I was filling in for Matt [Heafy from Trivium in 2018] when he left tour because his wife was pregnant. And I think I was doing something like nine songs of their set. Jared was there, I got to meet him, we hung out and talked, and I just liked him! I didn’t watch any of his videos or anything like that, I just liked the guy that was onstage with me. I could see he could play, and I liked his attitude. I was like, “Hey, we should do something sometime.” And literally that was it, that was how it worked out.

It definitely scratches an itch – I still love heavy music, and it’s fun to do. It’s a full-length, we’re tightening up 12 songs I think… It’s just been this fun thing, and as long as I’m busy, that helps my mind. To be able to do that and some other stuff during the pandemic, it really helped. 

Bad Wolves have announced a new frontman, and Fear Factory will be recruiting a new one. It seems whenever members of those bands posted on social media about vocalists, a number of folks would chime in with, “Why don’t you get Howard Jones to sing?” Even though those band members said it wasn’t going to happen for various reasons, it must be flattering that fans hold you in such high esteem.

I’m not really into social media so I didn’t see that. I don’t know, I’m the fill-in guy? It worked out okay once. I don’t know. That would be hard to do, it would be hard for me to do with everything I’m doing. Light The Torch is…What Ryan, Fran and I have, is so important and comes before everything. It would be a little hard for a while to do [other projects]. That’s appreciated, but I didn’t know. 

You Will Be the Death of Me is out on June 25 via Nuclear Blast.