If the American Dream is anything like WALLS OF JERICHO see it on their new album of the same name, no wonder Tyler Durden was so pissed. Brian Shultz recently spoke with frontwoman Candace Kucsulain about the meaning behind their aggression, as well as Walls Of Jericho’s softer side as heard on this past April’s Redemption EP.
Some people are already regarding The American Dream as the band’s heaviest album thus far. What would you attribute that to?
I would say [it’s because of] the state of mind that we were all in. It was a very frustrating process for us to even get this record out and written and everything. We were supposed to do a tour [with Devildriver and Napalm Death earlier this year] and our label had asked us not to tour, and to write the album and record [instead]. That’s something we’ve never done. It wasn’t something we wanted to do. So, it just kind of threw us all for a loop and I would say–[Laughs.]–that we were all a little upset with everything that was going on at that moment. So it definitely came out in our record–for the better, I think. I think it’s the most pissed record we’ve put out. I love it.
Do you think this whole experience has soured you on the label?
[Laughs.] Yeah. I’m actually gonna say “yes.” Honestly, I’m sure [it’s the same] for every single band. [Trustkill] is just doing their job just like we’re trying to do our job. Sometimes you butt heads. But we’ve got a record, it’s coming out and that’s the positive side of it. That’s the most important thing.
Do you think you’ll move on from Trustkill after this album?
We still have another record with them, I believe. And we’re not completely unhappy with them. It was just different circumstances than we were used to.
I recently spoke with Misery Signals who basically said they had an iffy experience recording with [producer] Ben Schigel. Considering Schigel has now worked with your band for two straight full-lengths, I’m guessing you find the recording experiences with him a little more positive?
Oh yeah, for sure. He puts input where we want him to. That’s what the amazing thing about Ben is. [When we worked with him on 2006’s With Devils Amongst Us All we didn’t want him to be the kind of dude who would come in and try to take control over everything or try to write things or change our sound. We made it very clear to him that we’d appreciate if he’d just put input where we asked him to, or if he saw something that needed to be changed, and he was awesome at that. So when we worked with him [this time], we were a little more open to what he would have to say and he had more input than he did before. Certain songs, like "No Saving Me" [from With Devils Amongst Us All], he definitely helped so much on-and that song’s amazing. We have always had a good experience with him. It might just also be that sometimes you click with people and sometimes you don’t. We have a lot of fun with Ben and we don’t just look at him as a producer. We treat him as a friend. Sometimes that makes a world of difference. I don’t know what band you’re talking about…[Laughs.], but sometimes people have “rock star” attitudes, and that’s gonna affect some things. I think he’s a great producer and he has a lot to add, especially with guitar tones. He’s been in music since he was 3 years old, learning how to play the drums. His entire family is musicians. He can sing, he can play guitar, he can play drums-he’s multi-talented; it’s amazing.
When the band went on hiatus several years ago, you became a piercing apprentice. Are you still involved with that?
Yeah, I [am] on and off. We usually aren’t home a lot. The band are actually my full-time job. Especially last year, we would be home for two weeks at the most.
Have you ever gotten requests on tour to do piercings for fans?
Oh, yeah. I definitely get a lot of people [asking], but I don’t bring [the equipment] on tour. To me, it’s not clean [Laughs.] to do it that way. I’m a little anal about that.
What sort of frame of mind did you have to dip into to create the Redemption EP?
I definitely had to break myself down. I tend to throw up walls and bottle everything in, so it took a lot of me just taking some time out for myself, listening to a lot of sad bastard shit, trying to get myself on that level so I could open up emotionally. It was definitely a rough process. It was pretty emotional for me.
What sort of sad bastard artists?
I’m a big fan of Tom Waits. [I listened to] Ben Harper, Johnny Cash-anything that’s slow, anything that’s got lyrics that just grab you and tell you a story. It makes memories flood in while you’re listening.
What else do you think helped you open yourself up more for the writing of the EP?
Redemption was pretty much for me a tribute-my mother passed the year before that. "Ember Drive" is all about her; That’s a tribute to [her]. That’s a huge part of it. She passed a couple of weeks before OZZFest 2006, so I had to right away go on tour, bottle it up and be able to be okay everyday without breaking down. You become numb [to] emotions at that point. So I never really coped with my mother’s death. I knew going into that record that it was going to be time for me to let it all out and open up and finally deal with the situation.
Do you think the EP has been a cathartic experience?
It definitely gave me some closure that way.
Have you seen a backlash from working with [Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman] Corey Taylor?
[Laughs.] I’m gonna be honest: I don’t really care what people think. I care what I think and I know that Corey Taylor is an amazing musician and an amazing person and we all love him–our entire band. He’s a great dude, and that’s what matters. People don’t respect him, maybe, because they don’t like his music, but I think it’s an ass-backwards way to look at it. You should respect somebody for what they do, even if you don’t like their music. I wasn’t a huge Slipknot fan or Stone Sour fan. I’d actually never even seen Slipknot or Stone Sour before the Family Values Tour [in 2006]. But getting to know him and then see his creative abilities, there’s no way you can’t respect him. So I think to all those people who don’t, they’re just ignorant. So I don’t care.
Do you still believe Walls Of Jericho have a sense of belonging in the hardcore community-from playing VFWs or to smaller crowds [in general]?
No. To me it doesn’t matter where we play as long as the people in that room care just like we care. They go for the experience just like we’re there for the experience. I’ll admit it: I’m a jaded motherfucker. I’ve run into hardcore kids who are just as shitty as nü-metal kids. [They’re] just as closed-minded. Being in hardcore is a mentality; it’s a way of life. It’s the way you think about things. That part of the hardcore scene has definitely died. There are the few die-hard people who know what it’s about, but it’s not just a look and it’s not just the sound. I’ll play anywhere to people who care.