Walls Of Jericho: Candace on relentless new album, self-worth, gender roles.

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 2:33 PM (PST)


Candace Kucsulain has been an underdog, a hardcore heroine, a mom, a fighter
and much more. Her band Walls Of Jericho are true veterans of the metalcore
scene, trench fighters who have done a lot over the years until a recent near
decade break between albums.

One listen to Napalm Release No One Can Save You From Yourself will not only
knock the dust from your skull but you’ll be really thankful the Detroit
natives are back to shitkick some sense into the current crop. Through and
through this album is a fierce winner, full of engaging topics, inspiring
motivational lyrics, ballistic breakdowns and crowd friendly chants that don’t
suck. Prepare to get very fired up.

It was great to talk to Candace about her career, her beliefs and how this
time it was very cool having everyone in the band contribute something to the
lyrical hardcore cookpot.

Read more BELOW.


Hi how are you?

CK: I’m doing well.

Psyched to be on your last interview for the day?

CK: Actually, this is my first one. The schedule was hugely mixed up. “What’s
going on?!”

Oh man, now I have to be really professional! I thought we could be relaxed.

CK: Sorry! I have a 12, 1, 2, 3, 4…haha.

All good. Just kidding. And Good! Because the album is great and I hope
everyone praises it.

CK: Well, thanks. We’re so happy to just have this coming out.

It’s awesome. I’d been a fan for a long time but I only finally saw you live
recently at the NJ show with Life Of Agony.

CK: Oh, ok.

I met your drummer at a Bury Your Dead show with a mutual friend, Jason from
Prong. But I finally got to cross WoJ off my live bucket list. And want to see
you again!

CK: Cool. That show was awesome. So good. I love Life Of Agony.

Really good people. I was just thinking how time flies. I can’t believe it’s
been so long since your last record. Some bands really adhere to an album a
year and other bands don’t adhere to that at all, like Tool.

CK: Yeah, right. Music itself is something where you need to be inspired. To
force creativity is not so cool.

Sometimes you’re super inspired and other times you want it to manifest in due
course. I have to do this Celtic Frost article and I really want it to be good
and not rushed, for example.

CK: Exactly. It wasn’t that long ago when it was ok to put out a record every
couple of years. And right before that it was ok to put one out every three
years. Now it’s expected like every year! That’s something people should look
at. We just want to consume, consume.

Is it art or cheap cereal?

CK: Right! It’s like a kid getting ten thousand toys on Christmas. He’s not
gonna really give a shit! It’s interesting we are like that as a people now,
but…we don’t have to get into all that (laughing).

But there is a lot to talk about. It’s a very topic driven record. Heavy and
well executed but also some motivating messages. It’s such a divided time in
the country. I really like “The Illusion of Safety” song. Even the album
title. I wondered if it was religious or self-motivated, about illusions?

CK: Not really religion. We’re kind of to each their own with that kind of
thing. It is kind of talking about the day and age. It’s about self but also a
worldly thing. It starts somewhere and is a chain reaction. There is not
enough accountability and too much apathy in the entire world.

Absolutely. I was just watching Gaycation Brazil with Ellen Page through Vice.
She was talking to a woman from a band CSS who says she can’t hold her
girlfriend’s hand going down the street without glares. The lady said she felt
like the rise of the evangelicals was actually because of progress, like a
desperation. I think that is similar to Trump in this country. People are
fearful or then also apathetic. How do you improve the narrative so people can

CK: Going into “Illusion Of Safety”, that fear is what keeps us going and
making poor choices. But, it’s also being shoved down our throats. We don’t
know what’s real or what’s not anymore. If you can become one with yourself
and see what you need, you see the world from a different perspective. If it
starts with you, then you can change. If you are not fearful anymore you’ll
not base your choices off of that fear. God, man…the circus right now
(laughing) it’s insanity. I don’t like to talk Presidential politics that
much. To each their own, I mean…we all base things off of different
experiences for what we need in our life. He has his right to freedom of
speech and people have the right to gather and protest. But what I thought was
interesting is so many people are into Trump because of fear and the idea of
the security he is promising to give us. Right? But yet he was too chicken to
get his ass up there in Chicago and talk anyway. What’s he gonna do when he
has the world fucking looking at him and breathing down his throat? That’s a
small gathering compared to that, and yet he cowers. I’m not saying I’m going
with either side. At the end of the day you have to decide the lesser of

I’m independant.

CK: Right, exactly. Me too. But, that is something to look at. When shit gets
hard you can’t be all talk. But again…if you can be clear in your own mind
it makes life easier. In the past I wrote like 90% of the lyrics. This time
around we all participated, because of our life changes. It’s pretty hard to
write a whole damn record! So this time there are five people’s perspective on
one topic. I thought it was really cool. We all kind of agree on a certain
level but pinpoint different subjects. Something might be more important to
one member than another. It’s political, social, personal. And because we have
a female fronted band…

Really? Just kidding!

CK: (laughing) Right. It was actually neat to have a male perspective in some
of the lyrics! Cuz I don’t! I thought it was cool.

And it probably brought you all closer together…or not.

CK: No, it did. It really did. And they saw how difficult it can be to write
lyrics. That has been a big hold up for WoJ. I am the most responsible. I was
the one who decided I wanted to start a family. And after ten years of going
strong it was “now or never”.

Yeah I mean, there is the biological clock.

CK: Aaron has two children so his wife could get pregnant and he could still
tour. I had to take almost an entire year off just to be pregnant. Y’know?
(laughing) I can’t tour like that. And I wanted to be home the first year
because it is so important.

Yeah, such a bonding time.

CK: Yeah. Right. And so…coming back into it after being away from music and
touring for a few years, my main focus being keeping a child alive…it’s hard
to go back to that drawing board. I didn’t know what I wanetd to adress and
had writer’s block. I felt separate from the world at that point. Just being a
mom. And they were super understanding and started pitching in. Once the
floodgates opened it was so much easier. We wondered if we would do another
record after this, but I can totally see it. And there are songs…there are
issues Walls Of Jericho usually addresses like domestic violence and sexual
abuse. I had a song perfect for those issues but it didn’t make it on the
record. It was supposed to have guest vocals but the timing didn’t end up
working out. And it was so good I didn’t want to just rush it. We’ll save it
for the next record.

I see how different people deal with the child thing. Clint from Sevendust is
posting things of trying to write riffs with his kids climbing in the
background. Or the stoner band Giant Squid, Jackie Perez Gratz from that band
had a big pregnant belly in one of their promo pictures, which I thought was
so cool. But it’s great when people can adjust and do the band on their terms.
Sometimes life comes first.

CK: It can be about timing. The guys were writing music parts since our first
tour back in 2012.

I’m the opposite. I’m a singer and will write way too much shit and then not
be able to pick. That’s almost worse sometimes. Like, who is the favorite

CK: That’s definitely not been my way of writing (laughing). I’m indecisive
sometimes. I’ll be the person standing in the aisle trying to pick a present
for my daughter. Like , (fake sobbing voice) “What do I want?!” Your way would
be worse.

I’m like that on a dinner date, which sucks. You can’t pick and order the
shittiest thing on the menu compulsively and then your date thinks you are
weird for getting it.

CK: (laughing) Yeah, right. “Do not judge me. This does not represent who I
really am.”

You look at a band like The Ramones, they had a Republican in the band and
others who weren’t. Identity politics can be a great thing but other times it
makes it harder to co-exist. I have one guy in my band who is big into gun
rights and another ex member who was a big Bernie supporter. I thought it was
cool we could have people with different beliefs trying to find common ground
within the music.

CK: Right, we have that too. Totally. Even when you are addressing one subject
there are points from each side. Bands speak out for who they feel and “if you
don’t agree you’re wrong”. Everybody has different life experiences. I’m in a
band of people who feel different about some things than I do but I still
respect they thought it through or care or take the time to hear what I think.
It’s not wrong to be passionate. Because of my experiences growing up I’ve
felt one way about some things and as time passes you change your mind. We
should be allowed to do that. It is called growing.

Yeah, and you have some people who flip flop back and forth whenever it is
convenient, but you can usually see through that.

CK: Oh yeah.

Even racism you wouldn’t have American History X stories where someone became
more enlightened.

CK: Absolutely. I have friends who have seen that side of the world. You have
to give them credit for their growth.

I was just watching a Viceland thing and it had YG and Kendrick Lamar. And the
song was moving and about their friends who had died but then the second verse
ruined it about girls saying “less talk more sex” from “bitches” and I was
like, C’MON! Such selective social awareness. You gotta still respect the
ladies. (makes Pac Man dying sound).

CK: Oh no! Yeah, there’s no substance to that. When sexism came into hardcore
it was so bad. What brought me into this kind of music was that we were
supposed to be open and non judgemental…yet I’m judging (laughs). But you’re
supposed to feel free from that in the music scene. Allow each other to have
your own thoughts.

You were making me think a few minutes ago of when you or I came into the
scene, perhaps…like when your band came out…there was more inclusiveness.
Now it is like if you like one sub genre you aren’t allowed to like others.
Which is weird because with the internet you’d think people would be exposed
to more but instead they are …defending their snapback hats or other attire
as the only right way (laughing).

CK: Oh yeah! It’s a little more closed minded, which is super weird. That this
has become part of our genre and scene and culture. It wasn’t supposed to be
that way. The identity.

People hold onto their little forts.

CK: I can’t like everything, I can only like this.

That’s why I loved at your show you got all the different types of people to
rage together. You called them all out and fired them up. It was great.

CK: We all feel the same shit. We’re all angry. I’m sorry, if you are at a
punk or hardcore or metal show, your life has not been super peachy. You see
injustices. Or something is on your mind. You are angry. That type of music
can soundtrack chaos, darkness and pain.

Even on “Anthem” you talk about getting back up, which can be cliche…but
it’s true. Over the years I go back more often to bands like yours or
Hatebreed, War On Women or Shai Hulud who have more positive, hopeful messages
embedded in the rage. That you can make it out. Achieve things. Move through
the darkness.

CK: We have to accept the darkness is there but move forward. It has to have
substance. Bringing it back to “bitches”. How is that making you better? It’s
not. That’s also what brought me to music, positive aggression.

Yeah, and on that topic…if someone is your lover or someone you’re fucking,
even if you have ten of them…to each their own, but…that’s someone you are
sharing your body with. It should still…I don’t know, I look at things in
terms of mortality. That is who you shared space with in your life.

CK: Yeah, it’s your and their body and a level of respect that should be

I was reading an LGBTQ article on bottom and top politics and how some people
look down on submissives as weaker when really, you should be thankful someone
cared enough about you that they were willing to do that. It doesn’t always
mean they want to be degraded. And the same for hetero relationships,

CK: Absolutely. Some people are being pretty selfless in a way!

Probably a LOT! They probably aren’t being done any favors. (laughing)

CK: (laughing) On a related topic, I had a friend who came out and it was the
best thing that happened but he came out and he found out who his true friends
were. So many people did not approve of it, and you don’t expect that. It’s
sad you have to get that perspective but it’s also good to know.

I was reading an Instagram self help quote today…like The Secret or some

CK: (laughing)

…And it was like ,”go where the love is.” But it’s true!

CK: It is true. Right on, Instagram. You know what’s up!

I admire the work you’ve done for yourself with your exercise regimen and
lifting. I see other women getting into it now. It seems like it has been life
changing for you.

CK: It definitely was. I wont just say this as a female thing, cuz it’s not.
Men and women care about our bodies. People want to be thin. I’ve fallen
victim to that. You don’t want a muffin top.(laughing)

Not body shaming, but…XmuffintopX

CK: Right! I started working out to be thin but now to be strong. And it
changed my perspective. I started getting fit and feeling and looking better
because of that goal. We know how destructive and discouraging some diets can
be. So it was mind blowing to just focus on getting stronger and with that
came the healthier body. I never wanted to be weak. I boxed when I was
younger. I didn’t want to be vulnerable. That’s pretty clear. We address abuse
and violence a lot. I’ve dealt with things like that in my past and wanted to
feel strong and not vulnerable. This eased that for me. I felt powerful and it
transformed into my actual life. Self doubt melted away. If starting off as 185
lbs was the most I could ever deadlift and by the end I am doing 400, clearly
it shows what I am capable of. And I put that into my daily life. Now I
confront things head on instead of living through fear.

Speaking of which, how was it doing the “Born Strong” song with Madball?

CK: Oh man, I love Madball. One of my favorite first hardcore bands. They keep
going and love the music scene and press on. They’ve always treated me with respect. The first tour we did with them I remember they walked up and introduced themselves to everybody equally and with respect. I absolutely love them. And so when they asked me to do the song I was like ,”Oh, Hell Yeah!”. I’d had discussions with Freddy while lifting weights about what we’ve gone through in our lives. You’re born in the darkness and you have to use that. I’m pretty sure that’s Bane talking to Batman (laughs). Use that darkness to make you stronger. You can’t be weak just because you reach a certain point in your life. And I love they put the kids in the song. Our kids were born around the same time. We are showing and teaching them. Now we are leaders that way. I always had a hard time being a role model. “What do you mean? I just want to be me?” Now that I’m a mom I get that more. You are shaping things because you’re part of things.



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