Light the Torch – Emerging from Shadow

Tuesday, 13th March 2018

If you were to go back a few years, Light the Torch seemed to be taking the metal world by storm. Of course, back then they were called Devil You Know, and the Howard Jones-led act (which also featured ex-All Shall Perish guitarist Francesco Artusato and ex-Bleeding Through bassist Ryan Wombacher) released two full-length albums over a span of two years. But then they ran into troubles behind the scenes, involving the departure of then drummer John Sankey and the legal rights to the name ‘Devil You Know.’

Last year, the group came out of the darkness with the new name and the promise of a new album in the pipeline. The upcoming Revival is said album, the first under the name Light the Torch, and it represents a fresh start to the act. We got ahold of vocalist Howard Jones to give us some of the details about what the band has been up to in those few years, his thought on Revival, as well as his thoughts on the joys of fishing, love of music, and some of the other projects he’s currently working with.

Dead Rhetoric: Obviously 2016 was a tough year for the band. Was there ever a point where you thought you’d just toss in the towel?

Howard Jones: No, we were just hoping to resolve everything. We just wanted to continue with that name and continue doing what we were doing. But that was not in the cards…so be it. There’s a lot more to it than ‘so be it,’ but to get to this point right now, it was worth all the headache.

Dead Rhetoric: Leading on from there, how did you come about finding the name Light the Torch?

Jones: We thought up about a half-dozen ideas and that’s the one we picked. You can say that there’s some symbolism to it, and the name works because it does feel like we came out of the dark…which we did. We had an album in 2014, and in 2015, and now here we are in 2018 with finally something new. So it seemed pretty appropriate.

Dead Rhetoric: In getting a new band name, does it give you some wiggle room to incorporate some new ideas from a musical perspective?

Jones: Yeah, but not even that. Whatever the name was going to be, Devil You Know was dead. We just did something a bit different. It was time to change. We finished the album before we had come up with the name. We just had this desire to write and record since we weren’t handcuffed anymore.

Dead Rhetoric: That being said, how do you feel that Revival compares to your work done under the name Devil You Know?

Jones: It doesn’t. It’s a different thing. It’s completely different. I’m mean, it’s heavy and all that. There’s a lot more melody. I think we structured things a little more and we tried to make this a fun listen from start to finish. You always want that to happen, but I think that it’s an actual good listen from start to finish.

Dead Rhetoric: You mention bringing in more melody. What can you say about the role of emotion that plays into your music?

Jones: I think that’s just kind of how I’ve always written. But there’s a lot of it in this album, because a lot happened. Some of this is fact, some is fiction…I just kind of write whatever I happen to be writing. But there’s a ton of emotion in this.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel that heavy metal, in general, allows you to express a range of different emotions?

Jones: I think it depends on the “artist.” It depends on what you want to write or sing about. There’s not many topics that are off-limits these days I don’t think.

Dead Rhetoric: Is it important that you maintain that positive, ‘persistence in the face of adversity,’ type lyrics in this day and age?

Jones: I think that’s part of it for me. If I do it on purpose, there’s always the dichotomy of light and dark, high and low. That’s what I fight with daily. I think that stuff still applies. I always want to be a better person, so I think regardless of what’s going on, that applies.

Dead Rhetoric: Speaking to that and knowing your own struggles that you have overcome, is writing those lyrics more personal to you? Is it some form of catharsis even?

Jones: Is it? I still write about it, I still struggle with it. So I don’t know if it really is. Does it help? Maybe? I don’t know. It still comes out because it’s still something I deal with. I still have those moments every day where I’m struggling. So I’m not sure. It’s just what I feel when I put pen to paper.

Dead Rhetoric: Being as involved as you have been, how do you feel that being in the music industry for a long as you have has changed you as a person?

Jones: Wow, I don’t know. Everything you do, if you’ve been doing it for a long time, it changes you. I think I appreciate it more. Just to be able to do this for as long as I have, and to be able to emote all this stuff, especially when I’m a pretty quiet person. To actually have a voice like that is an interesting thing that’s not lost on me. That people have paid attention to what I’m done, I’m baffled. I’m grateful, and I’m baffled. I love doing this. Being able to create like this, and come up with different things, I love it. It feels like a revival of sorts. Did I just say that? I’ll bow myself out [laughs].

Dead Rhetoric: Could you go into a little bit of your passion for fishing?

Jones: There’s a couple things about it. There’s the peacefulness to it. When you are at a venue, the day starts early and it ends late. It’s all noise. You are arriving in some sort of van or bus, it’s noisy. And you leave in the same thing, so it’s noisy. When you are fishing, it’s just quiet. So quiet, and I love it. And when it comes to the water, you just don’t know what’s down there. That’s amazing! It’s like a living mystery box.

Dead Rhetoric: There’s that time for reflection and thought too – as you were saying with all the noise on tour.

Jones: I’ll be perfectly honest. I wrote every bit of these lyrics outside. I was walking or hiking or whatever. I was outdoors when I wrote the whole thing. I don’t know if that changed anything, but I just need to be out. I like fishing and nature, and all that good stuff. You appreciate it more when you are in a band and make a bunch of noise.

Dead Rhetoric: So is there anything else you really enjoy doing outside of your time with music?

Jones: Anything that involves being outdoors, and anything that involves laughing. I go and see stand-up, I enjoy that. I’m kind of open to whatever. If it interests me, I’ll go for it. But right now, I’ve been working a lot! I haven’t really been doing a lot of super extracurricular stuff. I go out every day, without fail, but I’ve been doing a lot of writing and collaborating. Peter Wichers and I are doing an album together, and we are doing some writing with bands and working with a record label with some of our bands. Just songwriting and arranging. I got to work with Jamey Jasta and Dee Snider on some stuff for Dee’s solo album. I’ve been working more because I kind of fell in love with it again.

Dead Rhetoric: Is the work with Peter Wichers getting to the point where there will be talk about releasing something?

Jones: That’s definitely going to happen. We just want to try and write it correctly and finish it up. Hopefully that will get tightened up here soon enough. I’m sure another visit is in order shortly. His son Leo probably won’t see this, but if by chance he reads it, “Warm up the Nintendo, I’m coming down!” He knows what I’m talking about. The struggle is real. We go to work, we do a little writing, and then Leo and I go to war. That’s just what happens.

Dead Rhetoric: Is it any particular game?

Jones: Whatever he wants. I’m at his castle, so it’s his rules. Whatever he wants to play, bring it on.

Dead Rhetoric: How did you get involved with the Dee Snider project?

Jones: It just kind of happened. Jamey Jasta started working with him, and he reached out to me and asked if I wanted to be a part of it. There was no way I was going to say no. Jamey and I have worked together on a few things at this point, so it was just really cool that he asked me to be a part of it. Dee sounds amazing, and the fact that I got to even be on a song with him, let alone right some stuff – that’s bucket list material!

Dead Rhetoric: Going back to the time off you took between Killswitch Engage and Devil You Know/Light the Torch. Did it allow you to gain a sense of perspective about the music industry?

Jones: I don’t know if I had thought that deep about it. It was just trying to survive [laughs]. I was just in a bad place. Even now, I still think I came back too soon. I just wasn’t mentally or emotionally prepared for it – it was a struggle for me. I tried to power through because this is what I love to do. I’m in a better place, but every day is still a fight. I was born this way; every day is still a struggle. It’s learning to get through it. I’m much better now – the time away was very beneficial. I needed it, I needed some time away.

Dead Rhetoric: So do you any advice for people are struggling with mental illness?

Jones: Every situation is different. It really is. Everyone is at a different point when it comes to that. All I can say is that there’s no quick fix. It’s never over, but the fight is worth it. As long as you know that you are still going to fight – it’s going to suck – but it’s worth it.

Dead Rhetoric: You mentioned that you needed to come back into music, even if it was too soon. Where does that pull come from?

Jones: I wish I knew. I’ve just always been drawn to it. I feel like I’m any other person that loves music. I tried and I went for it, and I got lucky. I was able to keep doing it. I think I’m just pretty lucky. I’m trying to mentally put a cool spin on it, but it’s a one in a million thing. A lot of these guys in bands that I’ve been playing with and touring with. There’s a million bands and not a lot of people get to continue doing this. It’s pretty cool.

Dead Rhetoric: Especially to get to the size audience you’ve been able to play to. Many strive for that, but fall short of their goal.

Jones: I don’t know that I ever had a goal in mind – I just get to do it. It’s my job. I just happen to really like my job [laughs]. I wish I could say it in a way that’s quotable and sounds really awesome, but I’ve got nothing! I like creating things. I like trying things. I like being able to walk into a room and walk out with a tune. That’s really cool.

Dead Rhetoric: From my perspective, the honesty works. It doesn’t need to come in an eloquent way, as long as you can convey emotion and the sincerity behind it.

Jones: If there’s a feeling in it, that just says so much. That’s why there are punk bands. A lot of punk, it’s sloppy, it’s dirty, it’s gritty, but there’s emotion. If you can convey emotion in a song, man you are doing your job. I love that. I like trying, and I like trying to do it better the next time.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s planned for Light the Torch at this point, besides the album release?

Jones: Tour, tour, tour. If we had done this a few weeks later, I’d have some more detailed information for you, but that’s the plan. Get on the road and finally do what it is that we love to do, because it feels like it has been forever.

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