Platinum-selling, chart-topping rock band Bad Wolves has just released their highly-anticipated third album, Dear Monsters, via Better Noise Music, marking its first full-length release with a new singer DL (Daniel Laskiewicz, ex-guitarist with The Acacia Strain). Dear Monsters was preceded by the release of the album’s first single, “Lifeline,” last month, which earned rave reviews for the frontman’s powerful vocals. The song was met with immediate support from radio and sits currently in the top 10 on U.S. active rock radio.
Excited to connect with fans, Bad Wolves are preparing to bring the new album to life on the road next year. They will join Papa Roach and Hollywood Undead for a slate of North American dates (more information on those dates, venues and tickets will be announced soon). They are also set to join Tremonti on their European tour starting in January, hitting major markets including London, Berlin, Milan, Glasgow, and more.
Bad Wolves band members John Boecklin (drums), Doc Coyle (lead guitar, backing vocals), Chris Cain (rhythm guitar), and Kyle Konkiel (bass, backing vocals) on DL joining Bad Wolves:
“DL is one of the most talented and hard-working people we have ever had the pleasure to know. He is a team player, a creative force, and overall a great human being who fits perfectly with our B.W. family. It feels incredible to be surrounded with such positive energy, and the music we’ve made is certainly reflective of this new-found optimism and collaborative spirit. This new album shows a more cohesive and unique reflection of the band. There is a lot to prove, and expectations are high with a new singer coming in. And we nailed it. We are sure you will agree that this is our best album yet.”
Our heartfelt thanks to DL for taking a healthy chunk out of his afternoon a few weeks ago to field a few questions for V13 via Zoom. The audio (via SoundCloud)/video is available here if you’d prefer to hear his answers in real-time.
So tell me, what made the band think of you as the new vocalist, Daniel? How did that come about?
Daniel Laskiewicz: “You know, I’m not too sure. I don’t want to speak for the rest of the guys. But I can give you the timeline of how things worked out. The closest relationship I had with any of the guys before the band or anything was with Doc (Coyle). I was in The Acacia Strain before Bad Wolves, and he was in God Forbid. So we had done a couple of full U.S. tours together back in the day; I believe as far back as 2006-2007 maybe. So we became friendly on those tours, and we just kept in contact ever since. And then, post my tenure in The Acacia Strain, I had transitioned to the creative side of things behind the scenes, just doing production for other bands, I was co-writing and doing producer work.
So, since 2010, I’ve been in the studio. And during that time, I ended up doing an Ex-Man podcast with Doc (which he still does). And we just talked, and even after we did the podcast, we hopped on the phone and just kind of caught up a little bit. At which point, I tell everybody that I’m always in a creative process. I’m always writing, whether it be for another band or a band that I’m working with in the studio or for myself even. With that, I kind of always at least top-line a song; if not full spectrum, at least I kind of scat a melody or something over a chorus just for arrangement’s sake.
So yeah, I have been singing my whole life. It’s just something that people didn’t know too much about because it was never a public thing; it was more behind the scenes and in writing situations. Even just catching up with Doc on that phone call, I think out of my own fandom even, I had done a Sevendust cover of their song ‘Skeleton Song,’ and on that phone call, we just kind of were asking each other what we’re up to, and I had sent him that song. That was the first time Doc heard me clean-sing, and he was just kind of like, ‘what, this is you?’ So he probably kept that demo from then on out.
And when it came time, fast forward to when they’re looking for a singer; we had always kept in contact. And I think when it came time for the band to start looking for a singer, Doc maybe still had that demo or something laying around, and I believe he showed it to John, and John hit me up and asked me if I’d like to try out. The rest is history, I guess.”
So what did ‘trying out’ look like? Did they audition you, or were you presented with some material to try and sing?
“So I believe the jumping-off point for anything like that was when John had reached out to me, he sent me three instrumentals, I believe it was ‘No Messiah,’ ‘I’ll Be There,’ and ‘Better Off This Way.’ And like I had mentioned, I have a studio and the means to properly record things. So within 24 hours, I had tracked, edited, and sent them back those demos. That gave them an idea of how fast things work around here when it comes to production and creating. And with that being said, although they were happy, and I think that they were impressed with what they were hearing and all that, I think it was just the kind of situation where we all agreed that there’s no shoo-in for it, right? We’re friendly, we all come from the same metal background, and we all knew each other, but that didn’t mean anything.
I’ve been saying that at that time with a band that has built such a big world around them like Bad Wolves, looking for a new singer is a scary, scary time. But at the same time, it’s a really exciting time too. It’s a time for them to try new things, even expand on their sound a little bit. With a new voice, you can imagine that you can try a lot of new things with a new voice, dependent on who you end up with. At that point, it was imperative for everybody involved that they exhaust all their options and see what kind of talent is out there. So I had sent them the demos, and we had just kept on good terms, and we just kept talking. A couple of months went by, and they went through a really extensive search and tried out a lot of amazing people. Even when it came down to that last tier of people that they were considering, I think me and maybe five other people or something like that, out of maybe a couple of hundred or something, I’m not sure exactly how many people they tried it out, but I know that it was a lot.
And even out of that last tier of five people, I had heard some of the submissions, and they were really good. Some amazing talent was submitted, and I’ve just been saying that they would have been ok with any of the other five people that were trying out. But it just ended up, I think, beyond my vocal ability or anything; I think we just had a connection. Even just going into the first rehearsal and everything, It felt like a family reunion. There was obvious chemistry between the guys and me, and it felt right. So it turned out that the first guy that they sent the demos to and the first guy that they heard on them ended up being the last.”
Sometimes you have to make that journey to figure that out, right?
“That’s right, yep. You don’t know until you know.”
You had said it’s a strange thing for a band to find a new vocalist; it’s even stranger to do it during a global pandemic, you know? I can’t imagine what was going through everybody’s heads in that time frame.
“Yeah. No, I agree. Even being in the middle of it, it was still kind of funky for all of us, even the first couple of times. I mean, everybody in the band, we’re all very like-minded; we want to be safe, we don’t want to get anybody sick. So beyond the demos getting closer towards that last tier of people trying out, we started having to figure that out. Up until then, even my family and I were spraying groceries! We didn’t know what we were dealing with. So we were trying to be cool about it, and it got to the point where John was like, ‘Ok, so you’re in.’ We really like what you’ve sent. We’re happy; we want to try and rehearse now and try and put a set together and kind of give it a live run through.”
So it got kind of tricky to take that flight out there; the first flight since the pandemic. I go rehearsal, and the guys are in the room, so you’ve kind of got to throw caution to the wind, and that was actually that point where it just kind of felt like that chemistry. When we finally got into a room together, and we were able to kind of play the songs loud and kind of feel each other out and talk some crap to each other and just be bros for a minute.
I’ve kind of been telling this story; in the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty insignificant, but in my mind, it was a really cool moment for me. Just leaving that first rehearsal and being with the guys and stuff, we were just kind of getting past the music, and we’re going to eat dinner or something, we were leaving the rehearsal space, and we got to the parking lot. I had been writing with John, and I don’t know if it was his keys or something, but from across the parking lot, we got out of the building, and he whipped something at me. I don’t know if it was keys, but he threw something across the parking lot and the ex-football player in me; I just noticed it last second, and I caught it with two fingers. Chris, John, and everybody stopped, and that was kind of like a moment where we’re like an ‘Alright, ok,’ kind of thing, and then the day continued. But it was a cool moment for me, for sure. That was a day that kind of presented the chemistry for sure.”
So did you assemble all of the material that is on the new album remotely? Did you record it all and put it together separately?
“No, no. So the guys have been writing this album. By the time I had come in, if I had to put a number on it, the album was about 60 percent done. The guys have been working on the album for over a year, maybe even closer to two years within the band, and with outside writers as well. The collaborative process between the guys and I started taking place when I came to track the vocals for the record when I had gone out to Sparrow Sound, their local studio, with Joseph McQueen and Josh Gilbert being the producers. That’s the point where we started putting every part of every song under the microscope.
And stylistically, we started tailoring the parts to my vocals and maybe moving the arrangements around or just figuring out the dynamics of the songs. Especially with my new vocals and stuff, that’s really kind of when we all kind of took the producer role. And I’ve just been saying the same thing where I’ve never been really in a band situation where almost every guy in the band could be a producer in their own right. It’s kind of crazy the amount of talent in this band. The collaborative process started there, and then even after the fact where we had felt like we had finished the record. The band is an LA-based band; I’m a Massachusetts guy, so I had gone back home to my studio, and we felt like there were still a couple of things missing, so that’s kind of when the remote writing process began between the guys and me.
That’s when songs like ‘Springfield Summer’ sparked and things like that. Even beyond that, we had written, and recorded songs and even had them mixed that just didn’t make the record. Not so much that we don’t feel like they fit the record, but more like we just had so much material that there was no way. We would have had to put out a double album. We had so much material, so a lot of this stuff, we have a shared DropBox between the band, and we have maybe half of another record already started so that creative process of ‘strike while the iron is hot’ never stops. That’s kind of where we were able to test (even remotely) the writing chemistry between John and me.”
It’s a good problem to have; to have too much material.
“Yeah. I would hate for it to be the other way around.”
Is there ever any discussion when you’re putting an album together about a skeleton of what it’s going to sound like? It needs to be heavier; it needs to have cleaner vocals; there needs to be different chord structures? Anything like that, or do you just write songs and go for it?
“No, not at all. I think that’s a big point, even coming into it, that we didn’t even really have to talk about it. It was almost intentionless. I think it was most important with my coming into the band (and even moving forward) that we first and foremost write for ourselves and write a record that we can be fans of. Which I think is exactly what we did. I’ve said it so many times that I’ve done a lot of records for myself and other bands; it’s such a repetitive process; you hear the songs so many times that by the end of it, you can hate the material (almost) just because you’ve heard it so much that you’re done with it. But this is probably one of the first times doing a record for me where that isn’t the case.
I’m trying to build the muscle memory working up to playing live and stuff and just being super familiarized with the material. Beyond that, I’m still listening to the record as a fan of the record, and we love it that much. That was definitely a big point going into it; that we write an album that we want to listen to.”
So when you look at the twelve songs on Dear Monsters, do you know which ones are the hits or the singles, or do you just leave that up to marketing people?
“I think another thing going into it; it’s all killer, no filler. There’s not one song (I can’t speak for anybody else except myself), but I don’t there’s one song that I would skip on the record. So at the end of the day, I think every song on this record, in some way, shape, or form, could be a single. And that wasn’t intentional either; I think we just write that style of music. I think every guy in the band is just into that style of music where the big hooks, the big memorable choruses, it just tends to be how we write, and it tends to be the music that we listen to on the side anyway, so yeah; unintentional.”
Alright, I was surprised. I’m terrible at picking songs, and I’m terrible at picking singles…
I went to “In The Middle,” and the way the album ends on that song, it’s nice. It’s nice lyrics; it’s softer; it feels like a rock radio song. I don’t want to jinx it or anything, but there’s some mojo on that song that I think could go places.
“Yeah, yeah, that was, for me, that was one of the most stressful moments for me tracking the album; was recording that song. Especially because that song is based on Doc; he lost both of his parents in the past year, so he’s had kind of a tough year, and that song is just kind of a tribute song to them. Just having such a strong, big meaning behind it, and Doc being a good friend and now a bandmate, that was a very stressful moment for me because he’s going to have to listen to that song years from now. And it’s going to make him think of his parents; it’s going to bring up a lot. It’s a very emotional song in that sense, so I just wanted to knock it out of the park and do it justice, especially based on that fact. So that was a stressful moment for me, and I’m glad that it turned out the way it did, and I think everybody had a good cry after that song, for sure.”
So talk a bit about what touring is going to look like for you in the next year. I imagine you’re not eager to do face-to-face interviews, meet and greets, all that kind of stuff that was the norm for touring back in the day. I don’t even know what that’s going to look like now…
“I don’t either, yeah. Not only with the pandemic and the ‘new normal’ or whatever is going on now with everybody trying to figure out this volatile situation, this shaky ground. But on top of that, it’s like I haven’t toured in ten-plus years. So it’s a double whammy for me. But beyond that, at some point, we’re going to have to get out there. It’s just the kind of situation where we don’t want to get out there; we’ve seen it so many times lately where bands have a nice big tour start, and a week into it, the singer of the headlining band gets COVID. It’s just been such a mess, so we’re trying to avoid all of that messiness. So we’re just really looking for smooth sailing from here on out, and so really leading up to that, it’s (or the rest of this year at least) I think we’re just focusing on getting this album out.
We have a ton of content in the pipeline, including behind-the-scenes footage from the studio; and behind-the-scenes footage from all the videos we’ve been shooting. And some interactive stuff leading up to the release of the album and everything. So we’re just kind of focused on the task at hand. And that happens to be the release of the album, and it’s crazy that the album comes out in two weeks. I can’t believe it’s already here, so we’re just super excited for everybody to hear the album in its entirety because I think that’s a really important point to this album too. It’s important to hear it as a piece and not just the drips of the songs. We’re really excited.”
Did you have a portal or a Patreon? Somewhere people could go and see some of the creation and the stems of this album as it was coming together?
“No, I don’t think so. I think on this one, we’re saving all of that stuff for, as I said, we have some interactive stuff coming up that I’m not sure if I can mention too much about yet, but I think it’s very soon. Yeah, all of that stuff is going to be this interactive thing.”