by Ryan Meehan
Walls of Jericho fans worldwide count on the unmatched aggression and integrity of Detroit`s daughter and sons – be it at their brutal live shows or on record! Eight years after The American Dream, Candace Kucsulain and Co. have found new allies in Napalm Records and seem more relentless than ever: there`s no space for soft nuances! Maddening riffing, downbeats, and huge breakdowns proudly display the band`s historical vigor. The new record No One Can Save You From Yourself, is out now on Napalm Records and digital pre-orders come with instant grat track downloads of the songs “Relentless” and “Fight the Good Fight.” Seemingly overnight stylized bands playing strains of melodic hardcore have sailed up the pop charts, but for Walls of Jericho things have played out a bit differently. During the scene’s ascension, the band’s members have all but shunned the idea of a genre tag or an “image” and have instead focused their energies on making music that will survive strictly on its musical merits. These are just a few of the reasons we are raising horns high in the air as drummer Dustin Schoenhofer of Walls of Jericho is my guest today in 10 questions.
RM: When you first wanted to get into playing music, were the drums your first choice of instrument to learn? What’s the first album you ended up being able to nail down from start to finish behind the kit?
DS: My dad, uncle and older brother are all drummers so basically it was not a choice but rather a competition to play and play the drums better than all of them. (laughs) That sounds so shitty, but it was all very positive between us. We would listen to albums and talk about how we would play them…The first album I ever really studied was Anthrax: State Of Euphoria, I can still sit down and just play that entire album. I just did that with Avenged Sevenfold’s City Of Evil the other day, great album!!!
RM: The city of Detroit typically seems to get a bad rap in the media because of high crime rates and the like…What is the most erroneous misconception of that city and the people who live in the greater metro area?
DS: Detroit is one of the greatest cities in the world, right now there’s more money being put into this city than anywhere in America, and you can see it!! It’s insane. Give it 10 years and it’s going to be the next migration city for music like Nashville is right now. What people don’t see is the pride Detroiters have about the city and about welcoming new businesses and people here. Hell, I live an hour away and you can still see it in my little town. Detroit is everywhere, it’s because this city is what formed America and we are now seeing it in ruin. So people are seeing opportunity in that, as they should.
RM: The other three former drummers in WOJ (Wes Keely, Derek Grant, Alexei Rodriguez) did not have particularly extensive tenures with the group, but you have now been with the band for over a decade…When you first got together, was the chemistry something instantaneously made you feel like this was going to be a long-term deal that would eventually change your life forever? How would you best describe that feeling; and how were you able to adjust to such a major change in your professional career so quickly?
DS: Joining WOJ was a long time coming for me…they asked me when Wes left but I wasn’t ready. I had my own thing going and wanted to take that as far as I could, when I left Premonitions Of War it was put on my plate the very night I left that band so it just made sense. I’ve been with them since the beginning touring with them in my other bands, I was at their first show, it was just the most natural thing to do and we all knew we wanted to take this to the highest level we can take it. I think that’s why I’ve been around so long, we all have been on the same page since day 1.
RM: I know you guys aren’t particularly really big fans of claiming residence within a certain genre, but the term that gets tossed around a lot when it comes time to categorize your music is generally metalcore…Aside from terms like that being used by music journalists such as myself, is there anything positive that you can take away from being classified as such? Do you think the word metalcore is an accurate representation of what you are trying to put forth in your musical output?
DS: Nah, we’re a hardcore band, metalcore to me was pinned cause all these wanna-be metal bands weren’t real metal and they weren’t hardcore in attitude or lifestyle, they were pretty guyliner bands that would get laughed off the stage at a real metal show and probably get beat up at a real hardcore show but the music was popular, so metalcore was born to provide an avenue to market these bands. Now there are some bands like 18 Visions that were hardcore but to me they really started that scene of glam meets hardcore meets metal, and they would kick our ass. (laughs)
RM: WOJ left Trustkill Records and you guys eventually landed a deal with Napalm…You said in a radio interview in 2013 that although they Trustkill helped your band develop a huge following, they also owed you quite a bit of money and did not fully support the band from a financial standpoint while engaging in heavy festival touring…How did you go about shopping around to see who you wanted to work with from a business standpoint after such a troublesome experience within the inner workings of the music industry? What has been the best aspect of getting to work with the folks at Napalm so far?
DS: I have no beef with Trustkill at all, Josh gave us all the opportunity he could and he’s still my friend to this day. When it came to new labels, it was all about who saw the vision that we could see for the band. Napalm was on the same page as us from the beginning and we are actually working harder now than we ever have, because Napalm is coming thru on all their deadlines and marketing and their entire team is busting their ass for this album. It’s really overwhelming actually, but we’re okay with it because this is what the band needed for way too many years.
RM: In your new video “Fight the Good Fight”, the band is shown in a very natural element doing a photoshoot and performing live inside of a warehouse…What was the primary reason you decided to go with more of a stripped down visual interpretation of the song as opposed to more intricate video with a storyline and all that goes with coming from such an angle? Do you think any of the videos you make for other songs on the record will have more of a conceptual feel to them?
DS: Yes, we have the video for “Reign Supreme” that’s all concept and we have an animated video coming out this April as well. Videos need to catch the attention of the viewer or they’ll go somewhere else, for FTGF we needed to re-introduce the band to our audience so we kept it simple.
RM: You’re endorsed by Sabian Cymbals…What’s your current setup; and what is the biggest alteration you’ve made to your kit since you joined the band in 2004?
DS: I just signed with DW drums as well, so currently I have a new kit coming as we speak. My usual set up is 3 crashes, an 18” Paragon, 19” an AAX Metal, an 18” AAX Metal, a 20” Paragon China, a 24” bash ride and 15” HHX high hats. My drums are always 1 rack tom 2 floors…sometimes I use 2 kick drums but most of the time its just 1. When I joined Walls I had to add a floor tom and a bigger snare drum, my old band had lots of blasts so when I joined walls I need a bigger snare, recently I’ve changed my kick from a 24 to 22 and have a larger rack tom. I wanna add a 3rd floor tom to my left on this new kit, we’ll see how that goes. I’m always looking for new ways to improve my playing. It’s a never ending battle.
RM: Do you concern yourself much with the content of album reviews in metal publications? What’s the most meaningful compliment you’ve ever received in one of those write-ups; and what’s the most incorrect assessment of your drumming which has caused you to re-read that passage and leave you puzzled as to what the reviewer was trying to really say about your band?
DS: I actually don’t read them at all, I did an interview with Neil Peart of Rush for DRUM magazine and they put a picture of another drummer instead of me which bummed me out considering he’s a huge influence on me, besides that there’s so many blogs and magazine reviews I can’t keep up, I’ve seen some good and some bad and I appreciate them all because I appreciate constructive criticism.
RM: If you had to wish one positive change to take place in the metal community over the next decade, what would it be; and why do you think that particular alteration would be so crucial to heavy metal continuing to thrive as a whole?
DS: Metal needs to diversify itself on the touring side of it. Too many bands go on tour together, they all sound the same, and the audience wants variety. If that train of thought were to be applied to metal touring then a larger audience would be reached, more record sales, higher show turn outs, and people would be more open minded.
RM: What’s up next for you and the rest of the band in the remainder of 2016 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
DS: Tour, tour, tour, I’m also doing some drum clinics which is super awesome and nerve-wracking. We plan to stay busy until 2018 for sure.
Walls of Jericho on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WallsofJericho/
Dustin on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dustin.schoenhofer
Walls of Jericho on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/wojofficial
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