Kill The Lights Triumphs In UK: Insights From On-Tour Interview

If there is one band that deserves the chance to make a solid push at getting their name out there and exciting the crowds at shows, then Kill The Lights is high on the list. Their shows in the UK are proving such a hit, which is a testament to their quality albums, The Sinner and Death Melodies. MetalTalk Editor Steve Ritchie caught up with vocalist James Clark and guitarist Travis Montgomery before their show at The Dome in Tufnell Park.

The show in Cardiff the previous evening opened the tour and it was a great start for Kill The Lights. “It was a great place to start the tour,” James said. “Obviously, Jay [Jason James, Bass] and Moose [Michael Thomas, Drums] are both from there, so it was really fun to have friends and family there and all that goes with that. Because that’s kind of our second or third home right now, so it was a great time.”

Kill The Lights - Cardiff - 2024
Kill The Lights – Cardiff – 2024. Photo: Camphaus Media

The photos show that the crowd enjoyed it, too. You knew it would be good for Travis to get in front of people and start shredding again. “Yes,” he smiles. “It feels like ages since we toured a year and a half ago. So it’s nice to finally get out on our own tour and play all the new music. We have two albums of material now. So it’s just nice to get out there.”

The band based themselves on this side of the pond to prepare for the tour. “A week in advance,” James says. Cardiff is where we practice. Bridgend is where we were staying. With two of the guys being in the US and a couple of guys here, band practice is a little more difficult. We spent a week practising and ironing out all the kinks. We all seemed to have something that was not working on the rig. So, we spent a week doing that. It went great.”

Kill The Lights - Cardiff - 2024
Kill The Lights – Cardiff – 2024. Photo: Camphaus Media

You imagine that the first rehearsal session must be an emotional release when you think about all the excitement of the build-up. Just to get together in a room, plug in, and just play. “It’s more like a release of anxiety,” Travis says, “because we haven’t played together in so long. We’re like, oh God, I hope this is gonna sound OK. Then, luckily, we plugged in, and we were like, oh, wow, we can actually do this.”

“It was pretty damn good,” James smiles. 

I suggest that maybe a lot of people don’t consider the time and effort involved in making an album. There’s the emotional strain, the worry and the hope. Putting yourself out there in front of people. That first time you play one of the new songs live, with the thought of everything that’s gone before, is it some kind of goosebump moment?

“It’s funny, actually, because I didn’t think about that last night,” James says. “Last night had probably five or six songs we’ve never played live. I guess now you said that I would think about it. But it went down. It wasn’t a different reaction, which is great. Last night, particularly, people were singing along to both new songs.”

“Pretty much everything was kind of shocking,” Travis says. “There’ was a group of people in the middle that knew all of the words. Even the new stuff.”

Kill The Lights - Cardiff - 2024
Kill The Lights – Cardiff – 2024. Photo: Camphaus Media

For the set, the band wanted to have a balance between the two albums. “I think people sat on the first album,” James says, “obviously with the thing called Covid, which we talked about before. It impacted some of the touring. We still wanted to go back to the roots of The Sinner album and play some of those tunes that people are aware of. But also play some fresh stuff too. So it’s a 50/50 mix.”

Death Melodies is a really impressive album, with no sign of the difficult second album. “We wrote most of it over Covid,” Travis says. We would just send ideas to each other online, and if everybody liked it, then we would keep working on it. We had nothing in particular that we were going for. If we all really thought a song was great, we’re like, all right, let’s keep moving with it. But there was no predetermined thing for the album.”

Listening to both albums, you can feel how Travis and Jordan Whelan have different but complementary styles. “The first album was 95% Jordan, Travis says. This one’s pretty much a 50/50. I’m a bit more on the technical side. The bands that I’ve been in prior are more Progressive Metal-type things. So I think I bring a little bit more of that to the table.”

There is a fantastic Open Your Eyes quad cortex playthrough video Travis made on YouTube. It’s an incredible four minutes. I love the way, in a solo, he can go from a slow vibrato and then, in the blink of an eye, be absolutely shredding.

“That’s all really intentional,” Travis says. “Our producer, Chris Clancy, takes my guitar solos and chops out the unnecessary bits. We go back, and the point of that is to make it so that he wants to have, even if it’s a really shredding technical solo, to have little pieces that stuck in your head that you can kind of sing along to.”

Southampton would follow, with one day off and then six days straight through for the UK leg of the tour. How does James pace his voice for a schedule like that?

“Right now, we had a week of prep,” James says, “so five weeks prior to this, I started [getting ready]. That’s how far in advance I was going to do it because we’re doing a headline set. So to go from probably a year for nothing to this is pretty intense. I’m already at day seven or eight already, even though it’s the second show, with practice. A lot of hydration and tea.”

Kill The Lights - Cardiff - 2024
Kill The Lights – Cardiff – 2024. Photo: Camphaus Media

After the UK leg, it’s off to Europe, the first time for Kill The Lights. The time together will give them a chance to work on some new songs too. “That’s the idea,” James says. “We talked about it. We’ll see if we’ve got time to do what we want to do. That’s the plan because its nice having everyone in the same room at the same time.”

“We’ve got a handful of demos going for the new album,” Travis says. “So just keep it rolling.”

The band will tour the US later in the year, with plans underway to be back in the UK in 2025 for some more shows and festivals. 

Kill The Lights - Cardiff - 2024
Kill The Lights – Cardiff – 2024. Photo: Camphaus Media

Now, it is just about enjoying the UK and meeting fans after the shows. “I can’t wait to see you guys hang out high five,” James says, “all that good stuff, drink a beer. We appreciate it. It’s really nice, with how long it took to get going with Covid and everything else, to get in front of these people that have been listening to us for five years.”

The show at The Dome was a success, and the rest of the tour is panning out very nicely. Kill The Lights are attracting the crowds, which is well deserved given the quality of their two albums. Several dates have been sold out. 

Given the challenges of getting the album out, not just logistically, it is very pleasing that it is going down so well. They look like they are having fun, too. The Travis Tastes on social media has raised smiles as he munches on pork pies and pickled onion flavour Monster Munch,

Personally, I’m over the moon for them.

“I think the main thing is just getting out there and doing it,” James said. “That’s the most exciting thing for us, just to get across the country.”

Kill The Lights - Cardiff - 2024
Kill The Lights – Cardiff – 2024. Photo: Camphaus Media
Kill The Lights - The Death Melodies Tour 2024
Kill The Lights – The Death Melodies Tour 2024

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