Interview: Walls of Jericho

by bushman

God brought down the Walls of Jericho with a thunderous vengeance. How appropriately named is this Michigan unit. Tearing apart the middle ground between metal and hardcore, the music attacks on most levels. Aggression battles against speed, but a structure of determined riffage and empowering breakdowns elevates the band above the simpler approach of many of their hardcore peers. And the throat for this musical assault is a hard as nails girl from the Midwest named Candace Kucsulain. While the uninitiated might smile thinking, “Oh cute, the hardcore band has a girl singer.” those thoughts are put to an abrupt end once they hear the gravel laced anger she spews forth. It’s a physical presence that apparently carries well into the live setting. Just days before this interview, Candace caught a fist to the face at a live show and busted up her nose pretty bad. But she finished the set, broken nose and all (remember, she’s singing through that broken nose, not to mention squaring off with a hardcore crowd that just busted said nose). How hardore is that? Harder than you. Speaking to Candace, she doesn’t come off as hard as the image, but there always seems to be something bubbling just below the surface. Like it wouldn’t take a whole lot to switch from her natural sweet girl disposition to something that will most likely kick your ass if you disrespect.

So I hear you had a rough show?
I did have a rough show. I got punched.

On purpose?
It was an accident. It was in the chaos while we were playing. It was like 4 songs before we were done. We finished the set.

You finished the set with a broken nose?
Yes we did.

You are so hardcore.
Yeah, some guy definitely did a windmill into my fucking face.

Did you hit him back?
I told him that I did get a free shot. But he felt really bad and he got me a card. What happened was my cartilage went one way and my septum went the other way and the actual bone itself isn’t broke so they can’t fix. In six months I have to see how it goes.

Detroit is home for Walls of Jericho. The Murder City. Is that were all the aggression came from?
Well, that and experience. I think DC had us beat at some point as the Murder City.

Why the two year hiatus?
We lost our original drummer who left to go to college in Seattle. We tried out a bunch of people, but nobody could fit musically and personally. We couldn’t sacrifice that. We had called Alexia recently, and he was living in Europe and still in Catharsis, and that was our number one guy, and when he decided to move back to the US last April, he gave us a call and we hooked things up again.

“All Hail The Dead” is the new release. Where do you see the growth in this one from previous releases?
The growth comes from the fact of those two years off and we had a lot of pent up emotions that all of us wanted to take care of within the band, and we didn’t have that outlet. So once the two years was up and we got to rock out again, it was pretty amazing.

Did taking time off give perspective and the band?
For sure. This is what we all wanted to do. For most of our lives we were all just ready to rock out hardcore style, but over those years you have time to grow in the sense that we all like different music and all have matured a little bit more. Definitely had an easier way to let it out. We all like different types of music so once we got back together, we combined it all. It made it a good thing for all of us. A lot of it is chug chug hardcore, but then a lot of it is just experimental of what we do like and what we are trying out.

While probably defined as a ‘hardcore’ band, there are so many tangents of straight up thrash and metal.
It’s definitely a mix of a lot of things. A little rock in there to.

What is the significance to the album title “All Hail The Dead” (which is also the title of the opening track)?
It has to do with how all of us feel about the industry of music as well as the marketing. It’s very raw. Kind of like, no matter what you try and throw at us, we’re not gonna take it.

The album art is striking as well. How did you get Josh (owner of Trustkill Records) to do that?
He was the one who liked it the most. We did have somebody else take over and do the artwork for that. We knew what we wanted, but we couldn’t portray it. I do believe he did a really good job. It’s striking. It’s disturbing.

You’ve been into the hardcore scene from an early age. What was it about the scene that appealed to you?
The aggression of it. The first time I went to a show, I saw a bunch of guys beatin’ on each other and everybody is screaming about emotions they can’t let out during everyday life. And for me, I was just kind of an angry individual. I needed that outlet. I needed to be able to punch somebody in the face and scream ‘fuck you’ once in awhile. There is something to say. There is a message which really caught me. I always felt like I was missing something in my life. The passion about it is what really caught my eye.

What made you such an angry individual?
Experience. Family. All that bullshit that life throws in your lap that you have to live through. A lot of people of do have to deal with it, but not to the extent as many others do.

Do you see that theme of dissatisfaction appearing often in hardcore?
Yeah. It’s people that haven’t had life handed to them, and they know something better can come along, and they won’t settle for anything less than that.

I’ve seen you referred to as “One of the best female vocalists in hardcore”. Do you resent that word “female” in there? No one says, “He’s one of the best male vocalists in hardcore.”
I don’t resent that because I think being a female is a wonderful thing. It’s an empowering thing because so many women don’t do it. So I don’t take it any negative stride at all. I’m excited that some people may say there is a roll model in that, and that’s great to me. But I do know that it’s in all of us and unfortunately, many people try to beat that down. So knowing I can overcome that by being a female, I ’m all about that.

Do you (if at all) feel that the ‘girl in a hardcore’ band has affected your bands career (either positively or negatively)?
I think definitely positively. A lot of people are like, “What is she gonna sound like?” and I come out and tear everybody apart. People are very intrigued by that. Which is a good thing.

What different perspectives on the hardcore scene might you have in comparison to your male peers?
As much as people want to say there is not a difference between men and women, there is. We look at things differently and see things differently. But we should be all treated as equal, but there are always differences. You should always listen to your female.

What was the significance to picking Walls of Jericho for your name? I’m sure you must be familiar with the heavy religious associations that go with it?
There is, but we do not take a stand on actual religion. Some of us are, some of us aren’t. But it has to do with the empowerment of it. Of what Walls of Jericho is. And honestly, it was in the band before I was, the name itself. But it ’s a good name.

Who is doing the background moaning/singing on “1:43”? That softer vocal element in there really stood out.
That was me. I want to incorporate that in our band because that is something that I do love to do, is sing. But we try to keep it very hardcore. It is an element of me that is good for other people to see.

Where did the instrumental album closer “To Be Continued…” come from? Not the typical Walls of Jericho song.
No. Not at all. It’s something that we really wanted to do, especially our guitar player Chris. He wrote the whole thing. So we decided to throw it on the end. On our last CD we did that acoustic song with just him and I, so we wanted to do something else like that.

I notice you have a lot of ink. When did you start getting tattoos?
I was 15 when I got my first tattoo.

Isn’t that illegal?
Yeah it probably was, but my mom took me though.

You have a hip mom?
Yeah, yeah. She’s hip. She’s bought me a few of them.

Who does your work?
I’ve definitely collected, but know I have certain people I let do my tattoos. Aaron our bassplayer does tattoo’s. He does a lot of my shit.

Hardcore is an aggressive, powerful form of music. How do you define ‘power’?
It’s inner strength. It’s being confident. It’s having experience. Taking all of that and using it to your advantage. Being knowledgeable about what you got going on in your life, and how to work life.

What was your favorite toy as a kid? I’m guessing it wasn’t an Easy Bake Oven or a Barbie Doll.
Do definitely was not. Shit, let me think, that’s way back. Definitely my bike. It was purple, cause I was a girl, but had like a BMX bike when I was younger. That was my favorite.

Feel like getting political? I notice your bands lyrics (at least not on ‘All Hail The Dead’) generally steer away from heavy politics. Here’s a forum to be heard.
The one thing that we do discuss as a band, politically wise, is we are very ‘rape-awareness’. Like ‘Another Anthem for the Hopeless’ [from the “All Hail The Dead” album], in every single CD that we’ve done, we’ve had a song about rape, and about coping, and about standing up against it. It’s a subject that people tend to forget. That’s for sure. People tend to overlook it and think it will just fix itself. It is in the hardcore scene, and a lot of people want to think that it’s not around in the hardcore scene because we are supposed to be different and have different views, but it still goes on. Maybe it’s not so extreme, but there are still cases like, you’ll have these 30-year-old guys who are dating 15-year-old girls, you are a fucking pedophile. I don’t care if you are both punk rock or not. And that definitely gets under my skin. There is somebody in the Detroit scene that we know and I won’t play shows where he fucking works. Like I don’t want nothing to do with that. Like I said, it might not be to the extreme of rape, but it’s still there. And unfortunately, men tend to feel like they can ’t speak about it as much as women do.

On a different level, I see it in the assholes that think it’s cool to grab a handful when a girl goes crowd surfing at a show.
I’ve definitely experienced that when I was younger. And I definitely punched a bunch of guys.

As a singer, you get very confrontational and up close with your crowds, do you find that still goes on now while you are playing?
I’ve gotten some stupid bullshit where some drunk stupid fuck in the crowd wants to yell something about me being a woman. It doesn’t happen a lot. I think it has to do with my presence. I try to come off as that I’m here for a reason. But that’s kind of what you have to do. You have to demand respect from people otherwise they don’t want to give it to you. So if it ever does happen, I try to be humorous with it and humiliate them. Make people laugh at them.

Gimme three bands everyone should be listening to right now.
Definitely the AKAs. They are fucking amazing. As well as Silverstein and Armor For Sleep. Everybody else we’ve gone out with, I already kinda new. Everybody else knows them as well. But those three bands we did two weeks with them, and they just blew my mind. Mike Ski, I love that guy, the singer of the AKAs. He’s doing something with himself that he should be proud of. Good stage presence, good sound. Armor For Sleep and Silverstein, they are all young kids and they are just amazing. They are so into what they do. It really blows me away. The grace that have and the confidence that they bring out on stage. They rock the crowd all the time.

Give me some words of wisdom. Let’s leave the kids smarter for having read this.
Seriously, for anybody, you should always treat people with respect. Way too many people forget that and look too much to what everybody is wearing, or what people are doing. And you have to like people for who they are, not what they do. It’s so important to try and find out who people are and worry about that. That’s something so many people tend to forget.