Latest release: Revival (Nuclear Blast)Band site: www.facebook.com/LightTheTorchOfficial
Howard Jones, front-man of US metallers Light The Torch is somewhat of an anomaly in today’s music industry. He’s not on social media, for instance. Also, while amiable in conversation it doesn’t always seem like conducting extended rounds of press to promote a new record is a natural, organic process for him. At one stage during our conversation the vocalist concludes an answer with, “Gosh, it sounds so serious and not fun. Can we talk about fishing or something? That’s so much more enjoyable,” before bursting into that distinctive laugh.
However, the former Killswitch Engage singer has been candid on certain topics, including his ongoing battle with depression in assorted interviews. Does he hope telling his story can inspire others to seek help, that it can make a positive difference? “I don’t really think about that,” he ponders. “My first thought is getting into the day. Getting up, that’s my first thought. If it’s going to help someone, that’s awesome. But I don’t really do it with the intention of being an example. I’m human, and I fail a lot.
“So I don’t think of myself like that, I just kinda do what I do. I’m weird. I don’t have social media, I am pretty much a loner a lot. So I don’t think of myself like that. I’ve been honest about this in a few interviews… This is every day for me. Every day is just this struggle. I’m not looking too much beyond that except to get through this day and then see what you’ve got for tomorrow. That’s all I do. But if it gives hope to somebody, that’s awesome.”
It’s been an arduous couple of years for the members of the newly rechristened Light The Torch, who adopted their new moniker after two albums under the Devil You Know banner. The band parted ways with Australian drummer John Sankey in acrimonious fashion, eventually adopted a new name amid alleged legal complications with their former band-mate and are now set to release new record Revival.
It’s all about branding and brand recognition nowadays – hence why members of established acts who have gone splitsville sometimes squabble over the legal rights to a band name and associated trademarks. “It was not easy,” the front-man says of walking away from something they had collectively established over two LPs and toured internationally. “There was a three-year gap between the last Devil You Know album and this album. It’s never easy to do that. We didn’t come to that decision lightly. But it’s done. We lived with it for a while, so then springing it on everyone, it’s kinda like, almost like opening the old wounds,” he chuckles. “It’s not really the most fun thing to talk about, because we were just dead in the water for a long time.”
There were both personal and professional setbacks. The inner-band turmoil aside, Jones was attempting to deal with the loss of his eldest brother. During that time period, Jones says the group – also featuring former All Shall Perish guitarist and renowned shred virtuoso Francesco Artusato, ex-Bleeding Through bassist Ryan Wombacher and now new drummer Mike Sciulara – “bonded like never before”. The musicians quietly struck the match for Light The Torch during 2017. Without so much as telling either their label or management, they wrote the songs comprising Revival and recorded them in Los Angeles with the assistance of Wovenwar/As I Lay Dying bassist and producer Josh Gilbert.
“I was definitely more hands-on with arranging, and just structuring the songs. This really was just Fran and I spending a lot of time together,” the vocalist laughs of the new songs. “We got to know each other real well, which actually ended up being a cool thing. Me and Fran, and then just everybody else, we just kind of banded together. It’s the first time I recorded an album with everybody in the studio. I’ve never done that. It’s always just, it’d be like Adam (Dutkiewicz) and I, Logan (Mader) and I, or Josh (Wilbur) and I.
“This one, all of us were in there. We ended that band together, and we’re starting this one and doing everything together. In that way the writing and everything else kind of changed. We became friends because of this. Not like a band that’s friends, we’re friends that happen to work together now… Now we hang out all the time. For us to get to the place we are now was worth every bit of hassle.”
The aptly titled Revival showcases the quartet playing to its strengths; most notably the increased presence of Jones’ potent clean vocals. The end result is an often accessible, yet undeniable metal release featuring a memorable hook lurking around every corner. “It’s unfortunate, those are good albums,” he says of their former incarnation. “When it all happened, we went through all of that together, so it was like, ‘well, let’s do something different. Completely different – change the name, change the music’.
“We knew we were going to do it together, so that’s what we did. We just wanted to do something different. We didn’t have like an outline of what we were going to do. It was just like, ‘let’s just start writing, because we’ve been sitting for far too long’. We started writing, and this is the direction we took.
“Everyone’s got a path. There will always be strange and unexpected twists and turns. More important than the struggle is how you handle it and come out of it. I don’t know what sparked it, but for us it translated into the music. This album is what we were supposed to make.”
The avid fisherman’s other musical ventures include contributing to Dee Snider’s upcoming heavier-leaning record, which is being produced by heavy music Renaissance man Jamey Jasta. There’s also his as-yet-unnamed project with former Soilwork guitarist Peter Wichers. Jones is also a regular guest on Jasta’s podcast, where the Hatebreed screamer often pitches the concept of Jones hosting his own show.
“I’ve actually gotten a couple of offers from a few different companies. Keep trying, guys,” Jones laughs of the latter prospect. “I don’t think I’m interesting enough to start a podcast, but who knows. I’m doing so much other stuff, so finding time to schedule that and then getting ready to tour, along with… I don’t know how much you guys know, but I’ve got a whole lot of stuff. I’m doing the project with Peter. We also do writing, we do some writing for other bands and we’re doing some writing for a record label and some of their bands. I’m doing a lot of stuff. But we’ll see. I don’t sleep much, so you never know.”
Light The Torch’s impending touring itinerary may be another obstacle to Jones eventually hosting a podcast. “We will be active,” he says. “We’re gonna put some mileage under our belts with this one.”