The term supergroup has been so overused, but sometimes you just can’t avoid it, like in this case with Living Wreckage. The brand new metal powerhouse is about to release their self-titled debut album on September 23rd via M-Theory Audio, ten tracks of wails, howls, and roars over shredding guitars and potent drums. A relatively new creation, the band is made up of singer Jeff Gard (Death Ray Vision), guitarists Jon Donais (Anthrax, Shadows Fall) and Matt LeBreton (Downpour), bassist Matt Bachand (Shadows Fall, Act of Defiance), and drummer Jon Morency (Let Us Prey).
With all of that talent and experience, the band arrives as a well-oiled machine, capable of furious blasts of growls and frantic riffs, but also more melodic moments that differentiate this act from the members’ other musical endeavours. They recently wrapped up a run of live dates in the New England area this summer, where fans got the opportunity to get more familiar with the group’s superior sound and dynamics.
Recently, we excitedly had the opportunity to speak with bassist Matt Bachand about the origins of Living Wreckage, their writing process, some of his current favourite bands, and what touring plans may be in store.
For those not familiar with Living Wreckage, can you tell us how the band came together?
Matt Bachand: “The band took quite some time to get to where it is today. It has been MANY years since the seeds for Living Wreckage were planted. Not Long after Shadows Fall went on hiatus and Jon was playing with Anthrax full time, he and I had discussed writing new music and doing something else. He writes a lot of material and wanted to do something with it. It was intended to be more hard rock-based than metal.
“When the first few riffs started being thrown around, I was playing guitar, not bass. Jon and myself were in a cover band called Kobra Kai at the time (which I played bass in), and as it turned out, our guitar player Jon Morency was quite a good drummer, and we started jamming with him. Shortly after that, I was very busy working two jobs and attending school full-time as well. Not wanting to lose momentum, Jon kept writing and trying to put a lineup together. Guitar player Matt Lebreton came in during that time and was the perfect fit as part of the idea was to have two lead guitar players to trade off solos.
“I am strictly a rhythm player, so this made a lot of sense, and I moved over to bass. A few singers were auditioned before welcoming in Jeff Gard, whom we had known from Death Ray Vision, and the band continued to write. I was not personally involved in much of that process due to time restraints of my work and studies. As soon as I had obtained my degree, I jumped right in, and by that time, the songs that became our debut album were pretty much finished.”
What was the writing process like for your self-titled record?
“As I just mentioned, the writing was really happening before a solid lineup was even in place. So it was a slow evolution of many years. But what I can say is once we were all in place, those songs really came alive. More so while we were recording. At that point, we had only intended to record a demo of about five songs or so. It was never meant to be a debut album. The whole process was very immersive, which was great for us. We just lived at the studio for a week with no distractions. We had the remaining material more or less planned out but not complete.
“What ended up happening was that we were very well rehearsed going in, and the process went very quickly. I do believe Jon Morency had recorded all the drum tracks in only three or four hours. Since all the microphones were already set up and we were ahead of schedule, we decided to just capture the other material as well. If we did not spend the time at the studio 24 hours a day, I don’t think that would have been possible.
“In fact, with ‘Endless War’ and ‘Sink Below’ specifically, I just sat down with Jeff one night with about 50 cheap beers after we were done for the day and wrote those on some old paper plates and pizza boxes (which I still have). I tend to work much better under pressure, and one night I pretty much said, ‘we are writing these tonight and tracking these tomorrow.’ Somehow we actually pulled it off.”
When you write, do you do so with the live setting in mind, or do you write a song just for the song’s sake?
“A song needs to translate well in a live setting as well as a recorded one. Ultimately, a lot of people that hear our music will never see us live as everyone around the world can access it online. A well-written song is important to get people interested, and a live setting is where you drive the point home with the energy you take from the crowd to give back to them. If people hear your song first and it is not the best it can be, why would anyone pay to see that live? So, both aspects are critical.”
Along those same lines, do you take advantage of technology and email riffs and parts back and forth, or do you get together in a room in a more traditional sense and write together?
“Both of these things happen. Usually, someone will have at least a very rough skeleton of a song, and that’s when we start jamming them live to get the feel right. Sometimes, a part can sound fine recorded, but when it’s being played in the room, it could be too long or not long enough. Then the layers come together, harmonies and things like that, which really give those rough ideas a whole new sonic perspective. One thing we make sure of is that all of us are content with the finished product. There isn’t any one person forcing a part in there that someone else may not care for.”
When recording Living Wreckage, did anything strange, wonderful or terrible occur?
“I would say that the fact we ended up with a whole album was amazing in itself since it was only meant to be a five-song demo. The vibe just felt right, and we just went for it. Out of all the years I have been doing this, I would say this time around was the easiest recording process I have been involved with. We really never expected an album to come from that session.”
What’s the story behind the name of the band?
“It’s actually rather boring. Finding a band name these days that isn’t taken is almost impossible. We had ideas kicking around and always found some band somewhere in the world that already had it. I suppose it was easier back before the internet because unless you were tape trading (which I was) back in the day, you would never even know those bands existed. Now, it’s as simple as a search on Facebook and back to the drawing board. If I remember correctly, it was something our drummer Jon Morency came up with. It was just mentioned in a group chat; we looked it up; it wasn’t taken, so we said, “I guess that’s our name!’”
What do you think of the current state of the rock/metal world?
“It will always continue to evolve, and new sub-genres seem to pop up all the time. Metal fans are the most dedicated around, and I don’t see that slowing down any time soon. If you look at the mainstream charts, it’s a lot of ‘here today, gone today’ flavour of the month. Though there will always be ups and downs with the state of the scene, it has always remained constant. So whatever it takes to keep it alive, I am ok with.”
What are some of the newer bands that you are listening to or enjoying?
“Even though they are not really new, I am really enjoying Ghost lately. But if you want to talk brand new bands, I have been into The Halo Effect a lot. That band is so nostalgic for me as early In Flames had been such a major influence on me back at the birth of Shadows Fall. I try my best to listen to what’s out there and discover something new.”
Do you have any touring plans in support of the new recording?
“We are just getting to that now that Anthrax is off the road. We are trying to play as much as we can and get the word out, as I feel the songs really come to life in a live setting. No matter how great a recording sounds, there is nothing quite like the energy you can give from the stage and share that with the fans. So, as of this moment, besides a couple random shows, there isn’t anything confirmed 100 percent yet, but we certainly hope to change that soon.”