Latest release: Dear Monsters (Better Noise)Website: www.badwolvesnation.com
US hard rock/heavy metal act Bad Wolves are set to release new record and third LP overall, Dear Monsters on October 29. It’s the group’s first album with new singer Daniel ‘DL’ Laskiewicz, who previously played guitar with The Acacia Strain. He replaced Tommy Vext, who left Bad Wolves in January.
The lead-up to the new release has been plagued with controversy and headlines, with Vext waging a public relations war and legal battle against his former bandmates and label, Better Noise Music. However, and in case readers were wondering, none of that was on the table for discussion when Loud sat down with Laskiewicz to discuss the creation of Dear Monsters. And to his credit, Laskiewicz proved a friendly and engaging interview subject during our conversation.
Q: When you joined the band, what was your goal – did you mainly want to focus on being the singer? Or contribute to the writing as well?
A: There was no real intention in mind. Obviously, they tapped me to be the singer, but whatever shoe fits. During this process we did some writing together in the studio, (and) once I came to do vocals, we started really collaborating on some more songs. It really depends on what we need as a group moving forward. And if it’s a situation where we need some more material written or whatever, then I’m always in creative mode. (And) every guy in the band can almost kinda step into that producer role, and I think everyone’s always writing for the sake of writing.
Q: I recall you spoke to Doc (Coyle, guitars) on his podcast prior to you joining Bad Wolves, and you mentioned how you wrote for a number of other bands and projects. Do you just typically have a lot of material lying around, and when Bad Wolves called you had songs there? Or did you have to write specifically for this band?
A: It’s really both, honestly. I always have a riff box, of just ideas and things for, whether it’s a band I’m working with, or if it’s Bad Wolves, or whatever the case may be. But I can speak for myself and probably the rest of the guys as well, that we’re always in creative mode. Everybody always has like a riff box of ideas and things to sling around.
I’ve never been in this kind of situation where the amount of talent in the band… It’s kind of crazy that every guy in the band could be a producer in their own right.
Q: The prospect of finding a new vocalist during a global pandemic seems like a curious and challenging task. How did that whole process work?
A: It was kinda crazy. It was a situation where it was like a traditional tryout. I don’t think any of us really went into it just thinking I was going to be it, thinking just because we were friends or we had a relationship already that I was just going to be a shoo-in for the position. Everybody wanted to expand and try out all their options and really see what kind of talent was out there. At that point, a band like Bad Wolves, they have two big albums under their belt and it’s kind of a scary time (for them). But at the same time, it’s a really exciting time for them, to try new things and spread their wings a little bit.
Going into it, it was a situation where we wanted to stick to the tryouts, rehearsals and give everybody a fair shake. Even after I did my rehearsal, I had gone home and they still went on an extensive search. There were a lot of really, really talented people that submitted. They probably have would have been fine with the next ten people besides me, so it was definitely a cool process for them, for sure.
Q: When it was announced that the band was searching for a new vocalist, was your mindset straight away, ”that’s a job I’d like to have”? Or did that idea take some time to develop?
A: It wasn’t really a thought at all, honestly. I had shown Doc, way before any of this, I had shown Doc some demos I was working on. It was after I had done an Ex-Man Podcast with him that you mentioned. At that point, after we did the podcast, we kind of hopped on the phone and just caught up a little bit. And that was the first time that he’d heard me sing on some of the demos I had been putting together. I think it was maybe a cover song or something. So that was the first time he heard me clean sing, and maybe it was just one of those moments where he put it in his back pocket and was like, “this is really good” or whatever.
When the time came to find a new singer, I think he had still had that demo maybe in one of his Dropboxes or something, and he had shown it to John (Boecklin, drums). And that’s when contact was made with me. At that point, it wasn’t just an overnight, “you’re in” kind of thing, it was still a long process in the traditional sense of trying out, rehearsing and still feeling each other out. Because in a sense, the band was trying different people out, and with me and those people, they were trying the band out as well. There has to be some kind of camaraderie and chemistry there, especially in a working environment if you’re writing together and everything. All of that stuff is very important.
The second we got into a room together, rehearsed the songs and shot the shit with each other, it felt like a family reunion. It felt good, and there was a good chemistry between all the guys and myself.
Q: It’s obviously crucial to find someone who’s not only a suitable fit musically, but their personality has to mesh with the other members, in order for you to co-exist for weeks at a time on tour buses, flights, airports, etc. That has to be a greater challenge during a pandemic though, as there were probably restrictions preventing you connecting like you normally would.
A: At the beginning of the process, we were still pretty conscious about being safe about all that stuff, and to this day we all still mask up and do the right thing. It did get to a point where we did have to rehearse together in the same room, and I had to take my mask off and sing into the mic. It was one of those things where we had to take some chances just to move forward and get some work done.
Tracking the album, I had to go in the studio and we were all working in the same room. Luckily no one got sick. Going in the studio there was ten-plus of us in a room at a time. It’s a tricky time for everything, even with the live shows and trying to get any studio work done, it’s just tricky.
Q: There’s a perception of Bad Wolves as strictly a “radio-rock” type of band, and while that’s a significant part of the sound, there is also a much heavier side as well. Was it important to you, especially having played in some very heavy acts, to ensure that more aggressive element of Bad Wolves was represented?
A: Yeah, absolutely. First and foremost, it’s just, especially in the writing process, it’s just really important for all of us that we never really go into anything saying, “oh, we need ‘x’ amount of radio songs, and we need ‘x’ amount of heavy songs”. We just write for the moment, and we always make sure first and foremost that we write for ourselves, and we write material that we would enjoy listening to.
With this record, that’s what we did. I’m a fan of this record; even after tracking it so many times, singing the parts so many times and hearing it so many times, it’s definitely stood the test of time. I’m still not sick of it, and usually when I’m (finished) doing an album, I’m over it, I won’t listen to it any more. But yeah, I still listen to this record, and I’ve never been more proud of anything that I’ve put together with a group of guys.
Q: It felt like the band covered its bases well with the two singles – Lifeline being one of Bad Wolves’ most radio-friendly songs yet, and House of Cards is probably one of its heaviest tracks. That had to be an at least somewhat calculated move?
A: Honestly, I don’t think so. Especially with Lifeline being the first single, there was a couple of tracks that kind of got mentioned and tossed around as possibilities for a single. But we had landed on Lifeline, just simply based on the fact that we feel that it’s a good representative of the album as a whole. It has the really catchy, super hook-y chorus, and it still has the very heavy instrumental, down-tuned guitars. I believe Lifeline was done on eight-strings.
It was that middle ground of hook-y and heavy, and also kind of touched on that new… Going into this album, we definitely made a conscious effort to maintain the integrity of what Bad Wolves is. At its core it’s a heavy band that has a lot of melody. But with me coming into the fold and bringing a little bit something different stylistically, vocally… You can hear it in Lifeline, you can kind of hear it in Springfield Summer, we kind of touched lightly on even some pop aesthetics. That was something fun to do, especially for them having a new guy come in and stylistically having a different voice and being able to do some things that they may have not done in the past.
Q: Obviously bands are touring in the US in ‘bubbles’, but a lot of them are being cancelled as the pandemic rages on. How do you prepare for that as a musician? What are the touring plans for this record?
A: I don’t think there’s any way to really prepare for it. Just wash your hands, mask up and don’t be too touchy-feely and hugging with everybody. I know it’s hard because everybody’s ready to be together, party and get back to normal. But it’s definitely that type of situation where we would hate to get going on a tour, and I get sick or the next guy gets sick, and we have to drop off the tour a week in or something like that. How many times have we seen that already? It’s kind of crazy.
So, there are talks, especially with the record coming out this month, there are talks about some things. But really, we’re just focused on getting the album out right now as the task at hand. We have a lot of behind-the-scenes footage from the videos we’ve been shooting, behind-the-scenes footage from studio stuff. So we’re definitely stacking the content for the rest of the year to get us through to when we do eventually play live.
Q: Any famous last words?
A: We really can’t wait for the album to be heard as a whole, because it kind of tells a story, even though it’s not a concept album or anything. But it does sit quite differently as a listener when you hear from top to bottom, front to back, because there’s a lot of peaks and valleys. Even the tracklisting and how we sequenced the tracks, it tells a story, it takes you on a journey and it’s meant to be heard as a whole.
Other than that, be on the lookout, October 29th for Dear Monsters. We can’t wait to see you on the road. We can’t wait to actually play this stuff live. It’s going to be an event for sure – especially the first show. I did an interview yesterday, and I said especially the first couple of live shows we do, bring warpaint, because it’s going to be intense for sure (laughs).