Walls of Jericho

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Don't get me wrong -- Candace Kucsulain is one tough chick. Any girl who can get her nose broken mid set and keep right on going has to earn some respect from even the most jaded hardcore veterans. But the fact that she's a girl in the male-dominated hardcore scene is really beside the point. The point being that her band, Walls of Jericho, is ready to come back swinging with a new release and upcoming stint on this summer's Ozzfest tour. Having taken a respite from the road to record "With Devils Amongst Us All," the Detroit crew is currently out on the Trustkill Takeover Tour with Bullet For My Valentine and Roses are Red.

Rock Star Journalism: You've been involved in the hardcore scene since a young age; what was the first band that really made an impact on you?

Candace Kucsulain: There's a bunch of different bands that really hit me when I was younger that I actually never saw, like Minor Threat, the Gorilla Biscuits, Guttermouth. When I was young, like middle school, I was big into punk rock like that. Also the Beastie Boys; I actually really enjoyed Beck at that time. A lot of bands that were really diverse.

Live, I remember Mustard Plug. They were an amazing band; that was one of my first shows ever where I got to mosh shit up and stage dive and sing along. As for hardcore, there was Earth Mover, which was a local band, that actually Mike and Aaron, our guitar player and bass player now, were a part of. They made a huge impact on my life, cause I was really into what that band had to say and the vibe of that whole scene.

RSJ: Since you recorded your first album very young, do you still relate to those songs, or does that all just seem a very long time ago to you now?

CK: It's more that I remember the place that I was in when I read the lyrics. Like, I remember lines and why I wrote them. I wouldn't say I'm still in that place, cause if I was that would be kind of sad. I do want to believe I've grown as a person over these eight years. There are things I wrote that I don't really agree with anymore, but I understand why I wrote them at that time in my life.

RSJ: With the new album coming out, what do you think is the biggest change from the last release?

CK: Structure. That is the biggest change we have. We've decided to kind of do Walls of Jericho at a more mature level, musically. We've always had this thing with our songs -- it's kind of like chaos, where all we wanted was the energy to get more and more and more intense. This time, we took a different approach of making the intensity by having dynamics. You have a part that starts to get somewhere, but then kind of calms down, so then by the time you hit that one part that you just want to fuckin rock, it's huge because you let it build up to it. That's something that we've never really done before.

RSJ: Lyrically, did you find yourself writing about any subjects you hadn't tackled before?

CK: Yes. We have a song about suicide; everything in this record is about some type of experience that I've gone through or a friend has gone through or something I've seen. And not just relationships, cause I've done that in the past; I've been through rough relationships and you tend to speak about that cause that's what's going on with you. [This time,] I didn't want to write about anything like that; I wanted to write about something that really spoke about the growth of someone as a person. I didn't want to look back on this CD and say, yeah, that song's about that person. I wanted it to be like, I really meant something when I fuckin said that.

RSJ: What do you think having Ben Schigel as your producer brought to the table?

CK: We loved having Ben. We've never had a producer before, and it was more like he had to be a part of our crew, he had to know where we were coming from and what we wanted, who we were and what we needed -- not, "this is what I'm gonna do for you." We didn't want someone to "produce" our record; we wanted someone to be a part of it, give us that outside point of view. We have five people who are very stubborn in our band; we all like things a certain way, and sometimes we don't mesh, and we need that sixth person to help us get to point B.

RSJ: You're known for being a heavily touring band; after not having been on the road for awhile, are you anxious to get back out there?

CK: I'm really anxious actually. We've been home since December; this is the longest time we've ever been home since we started this band back up. Usually, [we're home for] two weeks at max. And I am somebody who enjoys being home. I enjoy playing and I enjoy being on the road, but I love to be home. I love my friends, the people around me; I love what I've got going on. So, it was really nice to have that break home, and it was also good cause it gave me that appreciation of what the road does for me as well.

RSJ: The hardcore scene is known for being different in different areas, what's your favorite area to play?

CK: It is different in different areas. I can't say [I like] one specifically. There's places in California that are just off the hook; there's Worcester, Massachusetts -- that place is always amazing. We've had a lot of amazing shows and been very lucky, especially because of the people that we've met.

RSJ: You've played festivals in both the US and overseas; what's the biggest difference between the crowds?

CK: There really isn't a huge difference. Except for stage dives. Most Europeans have a completely different way of stage diving. It's amazing; I do like watching the difference in that.

RSJ: What element would you say makes a show good for you?

CK: Energy. Dancing and singing along is the most important thing for a show. The fact that people are enjoying what is going on and they're showing it through everything they do. When it's a show where people are just standing around, it drains you. Hardcore and metal and music in general is about feeling a part of something and connecting with the people in that room. If you don't feel like you have that connection, you feel like you're a puppet and you're basically entertaining them, which I have no interest in doing.

RSJ: You guys are on Ozzfest this year; what are you most looking forward to?

CK: I always look forward to the people we know on the tour, getting to hang out and see them. Cause you make connections with people and you build friendships, but then you don't get to see each other for six months. Also, being able to open ourselves up to people who have never seen us before, just showing them we got what it takes to get up on that stage and have a good fuckin time.

RSJ: Is there anything you're nervous about going into that?

CK: No, it's really important to me not to go into this with any negative thoughts, like, "What if people don't like us?" It's not about that. If it was about that, I probably would have cracked under the pressure a long time ago and quit. It's about the fact that we five people wrote a record and we are so fucking excited to get on that stage and play it. This is real for us. We're not getting up there to see how much money we can make or how many people are going to like our band or say, "Hey, they have the image."

RSJ: Do you ever feel any pressure to change your style to fit into something, since there is that "scene" element now?

CK: No. Honestly, I like fashion, personally. There's just something I've always enjoyed about expressing yourself through what you wear. I've never had anyone say, "hey, you should probably dress like this" -- I think I'm kind of lucky in that way. There is always going to be pressure for everybody, but you choose [whether to give into it].

RSJ: Would you say there's any personal message you hope to get out through your band?

CK: There's a couple. There's one issue we speak about a lot, and it is rape and the awareness that it does happen, cause I do believe that's something that constantly gets swept under the rug. There's so many other issues that are brought up, but I think this is one of the most important ones, to let people know that they're not going to be forsaken. You can heal and there are people who understand.

Also, as cliché as it may sound, it really is about being who you really are. And that is something that whether you're female or male, metal or hardcore or punk rock, it's just about doing what you do. I've seen a lot people go through a lot of shit in their lives and have really bad self-esteem issues, and it's sad to watch people you love go through that shit. I don't want anybody to go through that. It's important for people to know that people love them and they can be who they are. And if people deny who you are, it doesn't matter cause in five years those motherfuckers won't be there anyway. The pressures of what people want you to be -- it's everywhere, no matter what you do, no matter what scene you're in -- nothing is perfect and no one is completely accepted. It's just important to rise above that shit.

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