If you’ve been hanging out for some new music from some not-so-new musicians, and you thought 2020 was done, think again. Kill The Lights have just unveiled themselves to the world, and although they’re only just releasing their debut LP The Sinner this month (our review here), they’ve had this royal flush of an album ready for years!
But hold on, who are these musicians, and did we even expect to have a super-group on our hands? The one and only Michael “Moose” Thomas (ex-Bullet For My Valentine) joins James Clark (ex-Throw The Fight) on vocals, Jordan Whelan (Still Remains) and Travis Montgomery (ex-Threat Signal) on guitar to form Kill The Lights. Renowned drummer Moose tickles our fancy to tell us all about his next musical chapter, and the people joining him for the ride.
“We’ve been sitting on the whole finished album now for two years, so it’s going to be nice to actually be able to release it and get people’s reactions” the Welsh drummer tells us – world’s best kept secret, we reckon. “We’re really happy with it and really excited for it to get released.”
So why have Kill The Lights waited this long to reveal themselves and unleash their metallic masterpiece unto the world? “The boys and I had some good songs and we just wanted to get into the studio as soon as possible, so rather than fishing around for a record company (to fund it), we just paid for it ourselves” – as a bargaining chip so to speak. “Fearless Records wanted to sign the band, but it took around ten months to negotiate a deal with them”, so that combined with the album’s writing, production, tracking and promotional period – it took some time.
Let’s face it though, how many bands walk into a record company with their debut pre-recorded album with the production of a signed artist? “I mean it’s a good bargaining tool to have a recorded album in your pocket.”
So you may know and love some of the members of this band already, and it seemed like there were some really strong pre-existing friendships that brought the band together. “Well, I’ve known [most of] them beforehand, from when I was in Bullet (For My Valentine)” – as the metal giants toured with Still Remains and Throw the Fight over the years. “The only guy I didn’t know was Travis so it was nice to finally meet him when recording the album.”
At Wall of Sound, we reckon The Sinner has massive Bullet For My Valentine early-days-vibes (think The Poison and Scream Aim Fire), and Moose gives his take on the album’s sound.
“When I joined there were already thirty to forty songs written, but I wanted to put my own stamp on it, so that’s where you’re gonna get that Bullet element from, but we all just wanted each individual member to sound like themselves rather than trying to do something that is relevant at the moment.”
The record is incredibly eclectic, and that’s no accident for Kill The Lights. They carefully track-listed the slower rock ballads in between the faster heavier tracks to make a point. “We thought about having [structured sections] of the album, but then we thought ‘nah man if we have (heavier tracks like) ‘Shed My Skin’ just before ‘Tear Me Apart’ (more acoustic), it shows the diversity of the songwriting” – a great way of juxtaposing the extremely different musical styles.
Moose gives us just the ultimate comparison to nod in agreement to. “It’s like back in the old old school days when you’d first put on Metallica and listen to ‘Ride the Lightning’, and they’d have ‘Fight Fire With Fire’ and then like ‘Fade to Black’ straight afterwards, it just makes the album sound far better.”
It’s no secret that Bullet For My Valentine took massive influence from Metallica and they weren’t afraid of showing it. It’s also clear that Moose was a big part of that – until he shocked fans and the metal community, by leaving the band in 2016, shortly after they released their fifth studio album Venom. Long-time fans would know this album was a follow-up to Temper Temper which left a bitter taste for many fans.
“Bullet got very stale you know, after the third album we were trying to get a bit of cash because, you know, it is your job – but it just got boring” Moose admits. He feels like Kill The Lights has filled a bit of a void in that regard. “It’s just nice to be in a fresh band where everyone’s excited and ready to go, and writing good music is the best remedy for me at the moment.”
Reflecting on his final years with Bullet For My Valentine, the Welsh drummer felt misaligned with the band’s changing direction.
“It was just too safe with Bullet. We started recording our fourth album Temper Temper and we were just writing for radio, which is definitely the wrong thing to do. When I joined Kill The Lights, we were just like ‘fuck radio, we have our own sound’. I grew up with a lot of punk rock and none of that is on the radio. We just enjoy what we’re playing and that’s where we are at the moment, just being ourselves.”
It’s no wonder why one of the biggest metal bands on the planet, wasn’t doing it for the drummer anymore. Once hearing The Sinner, it becomes abundantly clear why, too.
On a lighter note, for the varied music fans out there, you may or may not know that Britney Spears released a song in 2008 called ‘Kill The Lights’, so we had to find out whether Moose might’ve been a quiet (or not so quiet) fan.
“Five years ago I took my wife to see Britney Spears” he tells us confidently – “and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen actually.” Moose insists it was his wife who wanted to see Britney, but after pushing him on the topic, he admits it was really him all along. Taking it a step further, the Welshman reckons if the band were to cover any Britney song, it’d be ‘Toxic’.
Unfortunately, we may hear the unlikely Britney cover before Australia gets a visit from Kill The Lights, with the current blockers around international touring. Moose admires his many visits to Australia with Bullet – and he truly means ‘many’ – there can’t be many international bands that have toured down under as many times as those guys.
“One of the best [tours] I remember we did in Australia was a co-headline with Avenged Sevenfold (back in 2008 with Atreyu) – now, that was an insanely fun tour.”
Moose assures fans that regardless of current circumstances, he really wants to get back here soon. “I’ll be the first fucking one in the queue on the airplane to come down to play.”
Interview by Ricky Aarons @rickysaul90
Pre-order The Sinner here
Kill The Lights – The Sinner tracklisting
1. Shed My Skin
2. The Faceless
3. Watch You Fall
4. Through The Night
5. Open Your Eyes
7. Tear Me Apart
8. The Enemy