LIGHT THE TORCH interview. New album, ‘You Will Be The Death Of Me’, out June 25th, 2021.

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I spoke with Howard Jones of LIGHT THE TORCH, about the upcoming release of ‘You Will Be The Death Of Me’.

MAL-
Talking to Howard about the new LIGHT THE TORCH album. Thanks for taking the time, Howard.
HOWARD-
No problem.
MAL-
Where's the time gone? I can't believe it's nine years since you left KILLSWITCH.
HOWARD-
Yeah, I guess it has been.
MAL-
Has it seemed to just fly by?
HOWARD-
I don't know. I guess. I haven't really thought about it in that way, kind of busy with life happening. A lot of life has happened since then.
MAL-
Yeah. How's your health Howard? How are you going with everything these days?
HOWARD-
Very good.
MAL-
Everything under control?
HOWARD-
Yeah, I'm doing well.
MAL-
Okay, one thing that always worries me is when a band changes their name. Now this was done, apparently for copyright issues, is that the case?
HOWARD-
We changed the name a while ago, that was the best decision we ever did.
MAL-
Let's talk about the latest album. Tell us about how that came together, where it was done. Where is the band based these days for starters?
HOWARD-
We are based out of LA and we recorded in and around there, with the same producers from last album.
MAL-
Was it difficult to do with lockdowns and things like that? Or did you find a way past that?
HOWARD-
Yeah, we had finished recording it before lockdown started. We just did the mixing and mastering during all of this.
MAL-
All right. So let's talk about some of the the tracks on there, if we can. Any ones with any particular stories you want to relate?
HOWARD-
Not particularly, I mean it's just all part of the process of writing an album.
MAL-
Well 'Let Me Fall Apart' stands out as a track that really caught my ear. Can you tell us anything about that?
HOWARD-
It was just a pretty catchy song that Francesco had written and I didn't know exactly want to write with it. So I'm just going to put it to the side and then kept working on other things. And then eventually, 'I think I'm gonna work on this' and then it just kind of came after finally spending a little bit of time with, it was just don't know why it works like that, but it just did, it was just a fun album to work on, difficult, but fun.
MAL-
It's a good album, I really like it. The cover at the end, I remember casting a sideways glance to my phone that had it playing the other day thinking, 'Hmm that's interesting' but it turned out very well. Tell us how that one came about. The 'Sign Your Name'.
HOWARD-
That was just Francesco and I having dinner one night and he was playing some music, had a playlist going and that song came up and we both happened to love the song and Francesca being from Italy, a lot of times, you know, you just don't know if he has exposure to some of the same music, you know certain bands didn't hit the way they did in the U.S, just like certain bands don't don't hit in Australia, so you just never know. But then, you know, he's very familiar with the song loved it, so did I. And he said 'We should cover it'. I said 'Really? Okay, maybe  we can give it a go' and a couple days later, I had music and I said, 'Wow, this was, this was fast. So, okay, let's do it'.
MAL-
Sometimes the things that work out best are the things that just fall into place straightaway.
HOWARD-
Yeah, it was just one of those cool things that happen, and it seemed to seem to fit nicely at the end of the album and just worked out well.
MAL-
Yeah it does. June 25th the album comes out. What is the plan from there? Are you able to tour? Have you got anything booked? How is it looking over there at the moment?
HOWARD-
It's looking like things are slowly starting to open up and, you know, we're just waiting to get word, whether we'll be back on the road or not, so fingers crossed and we'll see what happens in the end. Everything seems to change pretty quickly these days. Once we're actually on tour, then I'll say that we're actually on tour.
MAL-
Alex is new to the band. Tell us how he came on board and what he's brought to the table.
HOWARD-
Alex is a fantastic drummer, we needed someone to play, and he is just an absolute monster and a great guy, definitely not our drummer, he's still pretty busy with WHITECHAPEL, and doing a lot of his own solo stuff, you know, where he records a bunch of things,  yeah gets hired out, you know, so he's able to do everything we asked and more, but I don't think we're able to pull him away from what he's actually doing. He's a pretty busy guy.
MAL-
What do you do to relax these days, Howard? Have you still got...I read somewhere about land up in Manitoba, still got that?
HOWARD-
Yeah. Just haven't been able to do a bout a fishing or anything like that, but still every day I am outside. I've got to be outdoors and in just kind of helps me keep a little more balanced you know, because I get a little music obsessed and I'll try and do a million things. So I constantly go outdoors but I just haven't been able to do a lot of fishing as of recent, so hopefully that'll happen sometime soon.
MAL-
Yeah, you sound like me, have to get out outside and do something every now and again otherwise I feel like I'm going stir crazy inside.
HOWARD-
Yeah, can't be indoors, not good.
MAL-
What are your memories of the Soundwave tour, Howard?
HOWARD-
I always enjoyed it. I mean, Australia is just one of the places I've always kind of took to, you know? So I've gone there early and chartered boats fishing. I enjoy Australia. So yeah, any of the tours that we get there, I'm probably going to have a pretty good memory of it.
MAL-
When you go out on the road, is it something you probably going to be a headlining tour, or hitching onto someone else's wagon? How's it looking?
HOWARD-
That I do not know, I kind of leave that up to booking agent and management but most likely it will be support, we're still a band that's growing.
MAL-
With regard to being, as you put it, a band that's growing, how is the reaction been? How was the support for you when you left KILLSWITCH? Did a bunch of pressure come on you as having been in KILLSWITCH ENGAGE or do you think it sort of released a lot of pressure, so you're free to work on what you want? How did it look from your side?
HOWARD-
I don't think any of those options apply. I just don't think like that. This was just a fantastic tour where we were very fortunate to be chosen to do it and you know those guys they asked me to come and perform with them. I'm in. Simple as that for me.
MAL-
All right, Howard, thanks for talking to us today. Good luck with the new LIGHT THE TORCH album, which is 'You Will Be The Death Of Me'. Excellent album, really like it, and good luck with that. And hopefully, we'll see you on the road sometime soon.
HOWARD-
Fingers crossed. Yeah, we're ready. I think, I think everyone's ready for in-person live entertainment, so, hopefully soon.
MAL-
It's going to go off when it comes back.
HOWARD-
Yeah.
MAL-
All right, Howard, you have a great night, and all the best.
HOWARD-
I appreciate it. You too.

Time fortifies the bonds between us. Since emerging in 2018, Light The Torch have grown stronger in lockstep together as a band and as friends. Through this growth, the Los Angeles, CA trio—Howard Jones [vocals], Francesco Artusato [guitar], and Ryan Wombacher [bass]—only enhanced every aspect of their signature sound. Upheld by head-spinning seven-string virtuosity, yet also anchored to skyscraping melodies, the group crafted twelve no-nonsense and no-holds-barred metallic anthems on their 2021 second full-length album, You Will Be The Death of Me [Nuclear Blast].
“The past few years have helped me to become much more personal in my writing,” explains Howard. “Even though I’m kind of a loner, this band became real family. My experiences with Ryan and Fran inside and outside of the band truly bonded us. I think it shows in this album, it truly represents who we are as a group.”
“Every second on this record was thought-out,” adds Fran. “Howard’s performance gives me chills, because it feels so alive. There’s so much emotion in it. I know the guy very well at this point, and our friendship is a big part of Light The Torch.”
That friendship cemented over the course of the past three years. The group shot out of the gate as a contender on their full-length debut, Revival. It bowed at #4 on the Billboard US Independent Albums Chart and at #10 on the Hard Rock Albums Chart in addition to receiving acclaim from Revolver, Outburn, and many more. “Calm Before the Storm” racked up a staggering 14.5 million Spotify streams, while “The Safety of Disbelief” remains one of SiriusXM Octane’s all-time most requested songs. They also crisscrossed North America and Europe on tour with the likes of Trivium, Avatar, In Flames, Ice Nine Kills, Killswitch Engage and August Burns Red to name a few.
In late 2019, an idea for the title track “Death of Me” kickstarted the creative process. The guys returned to Sparrow Sound in Glendale, CA to once again work with the production team of Josh Gilbert and Joseph McQueen [Bullet for My Valentine, As I Lay Dying, Suicide Silence].
This time around, they also welcomed Whitechapel’s Alex Rudinger on drums. “He’s incredible,” says Fran. “He was exactly what we needed.”
Now, they kick down the door for You Will Be The Death of Me with the single “Wilting In The Light.” Howard’s instantly recognizable vocals soar over a sweeping riff and rolling beat before culminating on a massive luminous hook, “Over and over again we struggle. We’re wilting in the light, and we stumble in the dark.”
“It has a different vibe and a very interesting riff,” observes Howard. “I love it when listeners can take what they want from a song. This was a special one for us.”
“More Than Dreaming” opens up the record with gut-punching guitar and another knockout hook. Elsewhere, airy keys wrap around chugging distortion on the title track “Death Of Me.” Regarding the latter, the frontman goes on, “Most people have some source of grief in their lives. It’s relatable, and it was appropriate for the song.”
After the melodic melancholia of “Come Back To The Quicksand,” Light The Torch recharge the 1987 Terence Trent D’Arby classic “Sign Your Name” as the record’s climax. Shimmering keys bleed into an overpowering verse before it snaps into the immortal chorus beefed up with thick distortion.
“Howard stayed at my house with me and my wife for the entire recording of the album,” recalls Fran. “I like to cook, and one night during the first week of pre-production I made everyone dinner. A compilation with ‘Sign Your Name’ started playing, and I thought, ‘I can do a version that would sound awesome!’ Howard knew and loved the song too. For as crazy as it sounded, it worked so well.”
In the end, the bond between Light The Torch burns brighter than ever in the music as they deliver a definitive statement with You Will Be The Death Of Me.
“We wanted to make a fully listenable and fun album that doesn’t let up,” Howard leaves off. “At the same time, we’re showing some heart, passion, and connection. It’s what we’ve always intended to do with this band.”

Click to order the album

Tracklist:
1. More Than Dreaming 3:09
2. Let Me Fall Apart 3:27
3. End of the World 3:17
4. Wilting In The Light 3:48
5. Death Of Me 3:23
6. Living With A Ghost 3:31
7. Become the Martyr 3:45
8. Something Deep Inside 3:31
9. I Hate Myself 3:41
10. Denying The Sin 3:32
11. Come Back To The Quicksand 3:06
12. Sign Your Name 4:34