Interview with Jona Weinhofen (I Killed The Prom Queen)
On the back of I Killed The Prom Queen’s (IKTPQ) re-emergence into the music scene with the release of their Beloved LP this year and a spate of gigs, I caught up with Jona Weinhofen to chat about the new record and their upcoming Australia-wide Rise of Brotality tour. Touting names like The Ghost Inside, In Hearts Wake, Bury Tomorrow, and Hellions the tour will kick off in Canberra early next month.
PW: So, you just finished playing a gig in Knoxville, how has the reception been out there?
JW: Yeah, this whole tour has been great for us. We’ve noticed that we’ve been hitting a couple of the same spots in the US that we’ve gone on the last two tours. We’ve seen returning fans from the last tours, some new fans and have played new places. Meeting some of the older fans we always get the ‘Oh my god! I’ve been waiting 8 years to see you guys and you finally came to my town’, so that’s awesome.
It’s good to see the rise in popularity [of] heavy music in Australia and especially overseas.
PW: IKTPQ have been on the scene for over 10 years ago now, have you noticed many changes in the metal and hardcore scene since then?
JW: Definitely, it’s a much more widely recognised genre of music especially within Australia. You’ve got bands like Parkway Drive and The Amity Affliction and even ourselves who have been able to break away from the Australian scene and start touring overseas, but when those bands come home they’re playing to a couple of thousand fans a night. Whereas when I first started touring with IKTPQ in the mid-2000s we were playing to a hundred or two hundred a night. It’s good to see the rise in popularity [of] heavy music in Australia and especially overseas.
PW: This tour is almost like a little metalcore festival you’ve got going on. Whose idea was that?
JW: The tour itself was a collective idea between all the members of IKTPQ and The Ghost Inside. IKTPQ has been in a funny position lately in Australia as far as who we work with; we’ve always been a pretty self-sufficient DIY band, at least at home. We recently picked up new management in the States and we’ve got a great team worldwide looking after us, booking us in Europe and the US. When it comes to home we kind of don’t have that. I’ve been handling management for the band since the Music For The Recently Deceased era and I’m actually booking the entire Rise of Brotality tour myself. So that gets a bit hectic when I’m here on tour in the US and trying to find wifi to connect my laptop and then finding out what time zone it is so I can email back home and make sure this tour is happening.
PW: Would I be correct in assuming Rise of Brotality is an homage to the quintessential metalcore album Rise of Brutality by Hatebreed?
JW: Yeah it is you know. We wanted a cool name for the tour that represented the bands and the friendships. We knew that quirky names work with tours and we were toying with a few ideas. One of them was the Living The Dream Tour because, you know, we get to live the dream everyday when we do our “jobs”. Ben, our bass player, said it out of nowhere and everyone was like, ‘Yep!’. We were actually on tour in Europe at the time and we were sharing a bus with The Ghost Inside, who loved it too. The ideas about the artwork and photoshoots were thrown around and we came up with the Street Fighter theme.
I think it’s really lame when bands spend more time being rivals with each other and talking shit than banding together and touring together and being able to help each other be more successful.
PW: Like you mentioned, the ‘bro’ reference speaks to the community between the bands, do you think this is applicable to the scene as a whole?
JW: It’s a bit of both. We like to promote unity between bands. I think it’s really lame when bands spend more time being rivals with each other and talking shit than banding together and touring together and being able to help each other be more successful. I think we and The Ghost Inside are a perfect example of that. […] I was already friends with the vocalist, Jon Vigil, from living in California for a couple of years and I heard their record when they first mastered and I thought it was awesome […] So, we brought them out on that [Say Goodbye] tour and since then IKTPQ’s toured with The Ghost Inside alone three times this year – Rise of Brotality will be the fourth time this year. I’ve bumped into them in various places over the years playing with other bands as well. We’re hoping to show that bands can be friends, bands can help each other out and it’s way better than having that unhealthy rivalry for no reason.
PW: The album that the tour is named after is actually the one that shot Hatebreed into status as metalcore kings. Are you guys going for some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy here?
JW: [Laughing] Nah, the name was purely a joking reference. We actually started tweeting about it and we got some tweets back from Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed, who is a personal friend of mine now, he jokingly had a dig at us but then suggested we take the tour worldwide and involve Hatebreed next time.
PW: Speaking of collaborations, did you work with anyone to on the Beloved record?
JW: Yes, we had our fairly new friend, Bjorn Strid from Soilwork, come in to the studio and help with some production, basically working on my and Jamie’s vocals on the record. We’ve always been a really big fan of Soilwork as a band and they’ve been a major influence on us musically as well. So we asked him if he would sing something with us, so he sang the chorus on Calvert Street. That was a pretty big milestone for us personally.
All the lyrics are about personal experience…it’s a very truthful album.
PW: The album feels quite experiential, lyrically. Do you think that notion of experience is what really got you through writing Beloved and the production itself?
JW: Yeah it is. All the lyrics are about personal experience whether it be a relationship or touring for a long period of time where we’re away from home. We have a song that deals with our passion towards animals and animal rights, so it’s a very truthful album. We even had a couple of people write lyrics for the record, it wasn’t just Jaime. I wrote lyrics to one song and a couple of choruses and our bass player Ben […] wrote some lyrics too. It was cool to be able to collaborate in different areas that we weren’t normally used to working with.
PW: Do you foresee Beloved as a return to the scene for IKTPQ? Can we see a continued presence from you guys?
JW: Oh yeah, absolutely. The whole point in releasing this album was to reintroduce the band [and] return full time to touring. That’s basically what we’ve been doing all year since the record came out. We started with Soundwave in Australia, then we spread to the US and we’ve been overseas since the end of Soundwave in March. So now we’ll be coming back to do the Brotality tour, we have another tour for the US that we’ll announce shortly and that sees us up to Christmas. We’re pretty much nonstop all year, next year will be the same thing after we have our little Christmas/New Year break then it will be time to write another album, I guess.
PW: We’ll look forward to that one! With Soundwave as your return to the live arena, did you have many difficulties with the band as a relatively new lineup?
JW: No, not at all […]. I guess I have had a friendship or a relationship with the new guys for at least a couple of years, the same goes with Kevin. Even the guys who joined from Jamie’s band, and Shane, they’ve all known each other previously; different bands, different projects, they’ve been on the scene for years together. I think that is what helped us gel so quickly as a unit on the writing of Beloved and touring, we didn’t just get three random guys to join the band we got three of our best friends that we’ve worked with and had history with. They all have had some kind of connection to IKTPQ in the past and so it was a really natural progression to include those guys into the band.
PW: Lastly, what are your favourite guilty pleasure songs or artists to listen to on tour?
JW: I listen to some pretty whacky stuff man. I think my band gets pretty annoyed when I’m driving and it’s the middle of the night and I’ve got some kind of like Diplo electronica mixtape and they’re all trying to sleep while I’m trying to stay awake. I listen to a lot of different styles of music, everything from screamo to electronica to hip hop; I’m almost ashamed to say this but there’s even some bluegrass in there. That comes from living with my housemate in California who got me into some pretty weird stuff.
PW: Thanks very much for your time tonight, Jona. I’m sure you’re looking forward to getting home shortly and we’ll see you in Brisbane early next month.