LA metalcore “supergroup” Light The Torch had just finished recording their new album, You Will Be The Death Of Me (out June 25th via Nuclear Blast Records) when the pandemic hit – and like so many others, they had to sit on the record through 2020 and into 2021.
Luckily as the world is reopening, so are Light The Torch, and YWBTDOM is definitely an album worth waiting for. Fans of the new wave of American heavy metal know what to expect when you have former members of Killswitch Engage, Whitechapel and All Shall Perish rounding out the lineup – carnage.
We caught up with guitarist Francesco Artusato to talk about the new record, the magic of an Evertune bridge, and staying positive through lockdowns.
I understand you guys finished recording YWBTDOM in February of last year – how has it felt sitting on your new record for over a year waiting for the right time to release it to the public?
That was such a weird feeling… especially at first. The new album was supposed to be released last year, we had so many things planned including tours with great lineups and all of a sudden – no more plans. That was pretty brutal. But I’m glad we waited. Now it feels like a much better time to release our new album.
Was there ever any temptation to use the interim to tinker with the album at all? Either change things or add new songs?
Not really, we had obsessively worked on this album and we took our time to get everything the way we wanted, we felt very satisfied with the final product and we still do.
How did the band deal with the lockdowns in 2020? Was there any Light The Torch stuff going on, or did you guys put the band aside until the release of YWBTDOM?
We were forced to sit and wait. We saw all of our plans getting changed and cancelled. So we stayed in touch, interacting like friends do, more than just being business partners. We have a very strong relationship/friendship and that helped each other to stay positive.
So guitars! What did you guys use on the new record in terms of guitars/amps/pedals?
I’d say 90% of the guitars were recorded with one of my Ibanez 7 string guitars (RGR752AHBF) with an EverTune bridge. Absolutely perfect for recording and not having to deal with tuning the guitar…ever. I love it. Then I used an Ibanez AZ prestige for some of the guitar layers and whenever I was looking for a different tone.
In terms of amps we used a Kemper with a profile that we had partially used on the album Revival. Marshall JMP, this time that’s the main guitar tone on the album.
And if I remember correctly, we were using a Maxon overdrive in front.
All guitar fx were done in post in Pro Tools.
Did you have any reference records going into the studio in terms of how you wanted the finished product to sound?
Not really. Personally, I had a pretty precise idea of what type of sound I was hearing in my head. And the rest came through during pre-production and recording with the help of our producers.
YWBTDOM sees the production team of Josh Gilbert and Joseph McQueen back at the desk. What was it about working with Josh and Joseph on Revival that brought you back a second time?
They really get it. They understand the band, our sound and what we are looking for. We share an appreciation for a lot of the same music and they are as relaxed as we are. We like a very chill environment.
Are you a gear head at all? Any pieces of gear you’ve played recently that were a pleasant surprise? Anything you got to play that was disappointing?
I used to be way more into gear than I am now. I spent years experimenting with gear and now at this point I kinda know what I want and need.
To me the biggest “new thing” was the EverTune bridge. I spend so many hours tracking guitars while I’m writing and recording music and that bridge made recording completely different.
In the past, I would spend way too much time re-tracking just because of the tuning not being perfect. That problem was solved with EverTune. I couldn’t see myself recording an album without it anymore.
Is there any one piece of gear that you couldn’t do without? Anything that’s integral to your sound?
I discovered a pedal called Fender Blender a few years ago, and that was used on both our records. You usually hear it during certain types of transitions, during the heavy bridges we often have, and sometimes as an added guitar layer even during the main riff of a song.
I just love the sound of that pedal and it’s very unique.
A lot of guitarists are embracing modelling and profiling amps these days, especially due to making fly in gigs much easier. What’s your take on digital amps and effects?
The technology to make these things sound great is there, and we are at the point where the practicality of using these modelers is offering a great advantage. Especially in the studio.
I still play with my Laney head and cab live (especially in the States) and I’m satisfied with it. But it’s so good to be able to fly to any country and have your small digital unit that you can plug in into almost any PA and get all the tones you are comfortable with.
If someone maybe wasn’t familiar with Light The Torch but wanted to learn to play one of your songs, where would you suggest they start? Any riffs/licks/passages in particular that are fun to play, or maybe challenging but rewarding for more advanced players?
A song like Die Alone has a bit of everything. Nothing too challenging there, but it showcases our overall sound/style. Also, one of our new songs More Than Dreaming is a very riff-oriented song and very fun to play.
What’s up next for the band? Any new material in the works? Any post-rona plans?
Finally releasing our new album this June. Then hopefully on tour soon. We really need that!
I’m also starting to write new material. I usually use the first few months of writing for a new album to experiment and try different things. It’s fun. That’s the time to let your creativity run free, before you start planning songs and arrangements in a more conscious way.