Where does one even begin to discuss the impact the band Killer Be Killed has had in Australia? The metal supergroup consisting of vocalists/guitarists Greg Puciato and Max Cavalera, vocalist/bassist Troy Sanders and drummer Ben Koller have released one album (with a second on the way), scored rave reviews around the world within the metal community, and, get this, they’ve only conducted ONE tour and that was in Australia way back in 2015 for Soundwave Festival + a couple of sideshows. It’s so strange that such a globally recognised band like KBK has such a strong connection to Australia, more so than anyone else because of that factor, but we love them just as much for making the effort that year and giving us one of the biggest bragging rights in the world.
Earlier this week I got to reflect on that tour with Troy Sanders who elaborated just how much it meant to the band too:
“When we left Australia [after Soundwave] we were on an incredible high, because not only did we enjoy ourselves being together… but most importantly, the crowds were mind-blowing. We were accepted with such open arms, it just blew us away…”
“It was mind-blowing, it was more eye-opening and heartwarming and welcoming than we ever had expected…”
These guys were already well respected in their own bands at the time – Mastodon, Soulfly, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Converge – but to fly all the way across the world to debut your new project that NO ONE else has seen live before is a big risk, and luckily for them, the payoff was exceptional.
I still remember standing side stage at their very first show down under at Soundwave Melbourne (thanks to John Howarth) watching these guys hit the stage, unbeknownst to me how hectic their set would be and just gazing in awe at the crowd losing their shit (including OG WoS writer Ricky Aarons crowd surfing not even 5 minutes into their performance). By the time they left the stage, they had their Aussie fans wrapped around their fingers and because of that moment, a bond was set between us and the band as Troy mentioned later in the chat:
“There’s a reason why us Americans will fly halfway around the world to your country, because it’s gorgeous and the people are great and you always leave having a good time.”
And as a way to return the favour, Aussie KBK fans were not forgotten when it came to the band’s forthcoming release of their sophomore album Reluctant Hero
“That’s why with this release we made sure that our record would be available in Australia with a special pressing, for an Australian release only, because we feel a great connection with Australia…
“We do have to travel the world [touring] if possible… If we had an opportunity to tour anywhere to start, we could choose Australia, without a doubt!”
And speaking of the album, 6 years between releases is a long time, but when you think about the pre-existing obligations these guys had with their already world-famous bands, it was always going to be hard to set aside time to get it done, but as it turns out, they wanted to make the album together, in each other’s company as opposed to recording demos and sending them across the country:
“There was no questioning of will there be another Killer Be Killed record, it was just a matter of when will there be another Killer Be Killed record. It took a while because collectively our four main bands keep us very busy and very fulfilled… so we knew it was going to take time and that’s why years ago I mentioned to my guys, ‘every time we get together and work on something, let’s just keep it to ourselves’ so we don’t create any type of buzz or excitement to our small handful of fans… let’s wait until we have a collection of songs that we love, an album title with some cool artwork and hopefully some tour dates to accompany it, but make one big announcement when the thing is ready, instead of teasing it bit by bit over the course of several years…”
Long term readers of Wall of Sound would know that ANY given opportunity to talk about a follow-up Killer Be Killed album with the members between 2015 and now, we would bring it up, and we’d always get the old “it’s coming next year” or “new music coming soon” deal, and now we know why and to be honest with you, we’re not even upset. THAT’S how you tease an album that no one knew was going to drop in a year when we needed it the most.
But the thing about Killer Be Killed that works best, is the fact that all of the members put their egos to the side when making music for this project together. It’s not about who’s right or wrong (more on that soon though), but how they can work in unison and keep the cogs moving on the wagon which really goes to show the potential this band really has. Troy agreed with that statement and let us in on an early conversation the guys had with Max Cavalera (guitarist/vocalist) which, upon reflection, sets the scene for how this band have just gelled together so well since day one
“That was one of the things that Max Cavalera said early on, that ‘I want this to be no ego, no drama, no bullshit! Only fun, good vibes and good times’, and that’s the premise of how the band started… It only has to be done for the right reasons and that’s why the four of us enjoy it so much and we’re so deeply attached to being in this band. It’s gotta be very rewarding and very healthy if we’re all gonna leave home AGAIN, to be a part of what started out as a side-project, now the four of us feel is a full-on, committed band.”
Isn’t it just great when bands get along and work together! It works well for them and for us, the fans, who get to enjoy all the fruits that they’ve been working on together, BUT, as I mentioned a little earlier, with egos aside and four big-time metalheads together in a room making music, who gets the final say in the event of a stalemate – e.g. the guys can’t decide which direction to go with a song – and as it turns out, Troy is the ONLY member of Killer Be Killed to win a Grammy Award (let alone be nominated for 5 over the course of his career) in the Best Metal Performance category for Mastodon‘s track ‘Sultan’s Curse‘ and because of that little win, he jokingly told us he likes to flop it out… umm, his award that is… to settle in house debates in the studio:
“This is how I display my passive/aggressive humour, I will keep my Grammy trophy in my backpack and if we’re ever having a conversation, I just say ‘hey I think it should go like this…’ and the only guy says ‘I really think that chorus is great, we should open with that’ and I’ll just turn around and just politely pull out the trophy and set it down and just say ‘I THINK IT SHOULD GO LIKE…’ but it always creates a laugh”
“Its the chemistry and the friendly comradery that’s most important… If I didn’t really love being with these dudes, and our time together, there’s no way I would be in this band.”
Take note, you don’t always need heavy riffs, face-melting breakdowns and the best beard since Zeus to make it in the industry, sometimes you just need a bunch of good mates to jam with who you’d not only call your friends, but your family and that’s what makes Killer Be Killed so fucking special.
Troy Sanders was an absolute pleasure to chat with, take a listen to the full interview below and just see how smart, funny and charismatic he truly is AND if you’ve ever wondered which member of the band best represents which female-lead character on Sex and the City (no, I’m being 100% serious here), Troy was more than willing to assign each musician to their best-represented counterpart… Seriously, who lets me get away with this shit.
Words by Paul ‘Browny’ Brown @brownypaul
Stream via your fav podcast app here
Reluctant Hero is out November 20th via Nuclear Blast
Killer Be Killed – Reluctant Hero tracklisting
1. Deconstructing Self-Destruction
2. Dream Gone Bad
3. Left of Center
4. Inner Calm from Outer Storms
5. Filthy Vagabond
6. From a Crowded Wound
7. The Great Purge
8. Comfort from Nothing
10. Dead Limbs
11. Reluctant Hero