Interview: Jordan Whelan of Kill The Lights

Kill The Lights unites original Bullet For My Valentine co-founder Michael “Moose” Thomas (drums) with Throw The Fight frontman James Clark (vocals), Jordan Whelan of Still Remains (guitar), and Travis Montgomery of Threat Signal (guitar). Killer debut album ‘The Sinner’ has just been released on Fearless Records and we spoke to Jordan about the origins of the band, what fans can expect from ‘The Sinner’, as well as the plans that the band has made for 2021.

Was it destined that the four of you would eventually record together? How long have you known each other?

Jordan – I have known Moose for about 15 years now. He and I have always had a great friendship ever since we first toured together in 2005. When he messaged me in 2017, I instantly knew that we would be creating something special. I met James in the winter of 2017. He and Moose flew to my hometown in Grand Rapids, Michigan so we could meet and see what our chemistry was like together and BOOM. We then met Travis as a recommendation of Christopher Clancy who co-produced ‘The Sinner.’ Travis flew out to the studio that we were at in England and all four of us knew that we were on the same path.

What was the gestation period on debut album ‘The Sinner’ like?

Jordan – It all came together quite naturally. I had already written around 20 solid songs before Moose hit me up about starting a new band. We were able to weed through those songs, pick the best ones, and write another 20 songs together. We boiled it down to 13 tracks in the studio. Maybe the next album should just be a double, hahaha.

‘Use Your Illusion’ for the 21st Century! Now, during the early stages of the writing and recording process, was there a mission statement, or a mantra at all? Perhaps something along the lines of… “let’s make a fucking heavy album?”

Jordan – Since we wrote and recorded ‘The Sinner’ on our own purposely with no label, management, or guiding force, we were able to take the direction that WE WANTED. No songs were forced, no song had an agenda…every song was strictly written to satisfy only ourselves. We all came from previous bands and we wanted to feel like we were 15-year-old kids again making music for the first time.

That all being said of course making a heavy fucking album was in our heads!!

Nice one! ‘The Faceless’ was the first release from Kill The Lights, what was it about this particular banger that made it the perfect introduction to a new band?

Jordan – We chose ‘The Faceless’ as our introduction not only because of its musical prowess but also because of the message behind James’ lyrics. We felt that the song would show all of our fans, new listeners, and even critics, that it’s not our first time around the block and we mean business.

The track is, at the minute, sitting on 636,093 streams on Spotify, throw in streams for ‘Plagues’ and ‘Shed My Skin’, and you have topped one million streams. That is an incredible number to pass, it must have been quite humbling when you realised that you had topped the million mark? And, what did you spend your £10 payment from Spotify on?!

Jordan – Every single listen is humbling! I’ve always written music regardless of whether or not anyone will hear it because it keeps me sane and it is incredibly therapeutic. To know that when I pick up a guitar for KTL the sound touches millions of people is pretty mind-blowing!

Also, yes – I was able to buy a couple of bags of crisps (chips) from my earnings! Jokes.

Fearless Records signed the band after the independent release of ‘The Faceless’, and although ‘The Sinner’ is still a label release, it would seem that one thing which there was no sign of, was outside pressure. Did this help in the recording stages?

Jordan – Yeah, I kind of touched base on this one a bit already but yes, creating the album without outside influence was great. That being said, since signing to Fearless Records we have written another solid 15 songs so we are more than ready to get back into the studio and maybe even one-up ‘The Sinner.’

Shed My Skin’ is a killer opening track, was this always going to be the album opener? And, where did the spoken word sample originate from?

Jordan – James wrote the opening part originally as a vocal intro screamed by himself. When we were in the studio we couldn’t decide if that part should be over the bridge or over the intro, and then someone had the idea of getting a voice actor to do it as spoken word. We wanted it to sound like an evil priest speaking to his congregation. It wasn’t written to be the album’s opener but when we came out of the studio it was an easy choice to make.

‘Shed My Skin’ is a very evocative title, it could mean something different to each person that hears it, what does it mean to you?

Jordan – I personally take the lyrics of ‘Shed My Skin’ and reference them to my past. What I was and who I have become. I’m sure that James has a way more in-depth answer to that, but one thing that I love about lyrics is that any single listener can take them and apply them to their own life circumstances.

‘Open Your Eyes’ quickly followed by ‘Plagues’ is a knockout one-two punch, what’s your favourite moment on the album?

Jordan – Hard question. One of my favorite tracks is ‘The Enemy” because of how naturally it all came together. When Moose, James and I had our first writing session we sat down at my home studio, I plugged my guitar in and just started playing that opening riff. The guys looked at me and said, “What song is that?!” and I said, “I’ve never played it before!” 15-20 minutes later the song was complete.

What do you hope that people listening to ‘The Sinner’ take from the experience?

Jordan – I hope that when they finish listening to the record they want to immediately press play and listen to it again. We have so much passion, anger, sadness, and joy poured into all of these songs and I want the album to connect with everyone that hears it.

2020 is a write-off, but what are the plans for 2021? Will you be playing any Download warm-up shows? And who are you looking forward to catching up with at Download?

Jordan – OH YES, we have plans for 2021! We have a headliner UK tour booked already and multiple other tours in the works that have yet to be announced. Trust me, we will have a massive presence in the US, the UK, and the rest of the world in 2021.

Fingers crossed for 2021 then! What frustrates you the most about the music business?

Jordan – Probably how hard it is for the average full-time band to make a living playing music. There are so many bands out there that get worldwide coverage and are always playing in front of massive crowds but when they go home, they are by no means living a life of luxury. When bands post new merch sales please do not skip over it.

Whenever an artist posts a political post on social media the inevitable “just stick to the music” response quickly follows on. Music has always been a form of protest and artists have a right to speak out as much as the next person. Although there is a risk of alienating 50% of an audience, should someone with a platform use it to encourage dialog? Or should they in fact “just stick to the music”?

Jordan – I 100% think that everyone (artist or not) should encourage dialogue on all platforms. Not speaking your own point of view and not listening to others breeds ignorance.

Lastly, if music is truly subjective, is there such a thing as a guilty pleasure when it comes to music?

Jordan – Naahhh, no such thing as a guilty pleasure in my book. In America, country music is massive. Am I a fan? No, not at all, but a few years ago I was given tickets to go check out a country artist and for the hell of it I went. And guess what? He blew my socks off! Music is music. If you like it listen and if not move onto the next. No reason to say you can or can’t touch one genre or the other.

I bet a lot of you would be surprised if you heard what’s playing at a Kill The Lights after-show party!

Thanks for your time Jordan, good luck with the album, it’s a rager!

Jordan – It was absolutely my pleasure. Thanks for checking out Kill The Lights and I hope to meet you all on the road!


‘The Sinner” is available now listen/download:

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