Why Soundwave Was The Only Place For Killer Be Killed’s Debut

The concept of the supergroup is a peculiar one at the best of times. A lot of the time, they come across as the daydreams of a high-school kid who scribbles band names on his pencil case. “Hey, what if you got the guy from Queens of the Stone Age, the bassist from Led Zeppelin and the drummer from Nirvana?” or “Let’s get the singer from Van Halen — no, the other one — the Van Halen bassist, Satch on lead guitar and the drummer from the Chilis.”

Other times, they come across as a lucid dream from a stoner. “I’m telling you, man, it was the kid from Hanson, the guitarist from the Pumpkins, the bassist from Fountains of Wayne and the drummer from Cheap Trick! I saw it with my own three eyes!”

What, then, of Killer Be Killed? Its casting certainly reeks of the former — Troy Sanders from Mastodon and Greg Puciato of The Dillinger Escape Plan teaming up with Max Cavalera, formerly of Sepultura and currently of Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy. They’re subsequently joined on drums by Dave Elitch, formerly of The Mars Volta and currently of Antemasque.

Something about this combination, however, suggests that it seeks to venture beyond the mere novelty of big names teaming up. At the very least, that’s the impression one gets from the debut studio album from the four, which shares its name with the project itself. It’s a barnstorming, clenched-fist heavy metal album that centres itself in that particular universe and borrows elements from the farthest reaches. This is a record that won’t bat an eyelid at the sheer force of a bone-crunching riff or a blister-inducing blast-beat, yet is also welcoming of the more harmonious and melodic elements that have recurred in the day jobs of each musician.

In other words, if you consider yourself a metal fan to whatever degree and within whatever subgenre, there is almost certainly enough on Killer Be Killed to satisfy one’s hunger.

In one of the latter announcements for the Soundwave festival, it was unexpectedly announced that Killer Be Killed would be making an appearance. It should be noted that these will be the first shows to ever be played under the Killer Be Killed moniker, making it a world-exclusive for the festival. This is an unprecedented move, and one that has made Soundwave itself the envy of many a metal fan. It follows on from last year’s festival, which featured both Mastodon and The Dillinger Escape Plan on its bill.

In an interesting twist, Elitch will be in Australia at the exact same time and playing the exact same festival, yet will not be playing with the band due to his commitments with Antemasque, who play on a different day. Not to let this get in the way of such a momentous occasion, the band have enlisted Ben Koller, the drummer for evergreen hardcore legends Converge. The daydream lives on.

Ahead of their first-ever shows, vocalist/guitarist Greg Puciato got on the line with Music Feeds and talked shop on making the album, being put on a figurative leash, fanning out over his bandmates, and the group’s unique relationship with Australia.

Watch: Killer Be Killed – Snakes Of Jehova

Music Feeds: Well, this is always interesting – getting someone that’s very specifically known for one thing and then speaking to them about something else entirely…

Greg Puciato: Trust me, dude, it’s just as weird for me! [Laughs]

MF: It’s the kind of thing where you see the lineup and think, “Bullshit! There’s no way that happened!”

GP: It’s always so funny to hear people say that. I’ve known Troy since I was 21. Dillinger and Mastodon would tour together all the time back in the day – we’d play to probably 100 people tops. So, when I think of Troy, it’s hard for me to even understand how we’re both in our thirties and still playing in bands.

MF: Not only playing in bands – playing in the same bands…

GP: Totally! I mean, especially considering Mastodon turned into this gigantic band. The two of us were so stoked that we got to put an album out together, 12 years after meeting one another for the first time. Not only that, but we’re in a band with a guy we grew up loving as kids. I can’t imagine Troy or I would have even considered being in bands were it not for Sepultura and [their 1993 album] Chaos A.D.

MF: Obviously, there are a lot of different songwriters, backgrounds and ideas going on in the mix of Killer Be Killed. Were there assigned roles? Did it change from song to song?

GP: It was anything goes, man. That was a really exciting part for me. In Dillinger, even though we’re always trying new things, we’ve kind of set out who does what over the course of the band. With this, everything was so new — there was no idea of what it was going to sound like, or what everyone’s individual jobs were going to be. We were getting our hands dirty with people we’d never worked with before.

It was just so exciting to see these songs come together. We can all play guitar, we can all write songs, we can all come up with ideas. There were no rules.

MF: What was the first song that was written – that moment where it started to fall into place that this was what the record was going to sound like?

GP: That was actually the first song on the album and the song we decided to release as the lead single, Wings of Feather and Wax. When we wrote it, everyone kind of shined. It confirmed that it wasn’t going to be a total disaster [Laughs].

People might not think that when they hear the finished product, but there was definitely a time where we genuinely had no idea if any of this was going to work or not. There was no guarantee that what we were planning to do would click at any point. Thankfully, it did. That song made everyone think it was all going to be okay.

MF: You’ve gone on record a few times saying this was probably the biggest stretch musically for you out of anyone else in the band…

GP: For sure.

MF: Was that challenge something that motivated you? Was it a matter of considering what Dillinger would do and then heading on a different path?

GP: Dillinger’s always been more interested in that extreme side of hardcore. With this record, it’s a lot more metal in that truer kind of sense. I’ve never thought of Dillinger being a metal band, really. I always saw it as artsy hardcore. The energy on this record was so different. I was writing riffs, too, which is obviously something I never get to do in Dillinger.

It was also really cool to be writing with other people’s voices in mind. I could write a vocal part and then think to myself, “Y’know what? I think Troy would sound better singing this.” I’d also be writing screaming parts for Max, because I’d want to have a lower scream in the mix but it just wasn’t something I could do. That’s where Max would come in and hit it out of the park.

Watch: Killer Be Killed – Wings Of Feather And Wax

MF: You’re practically infamous for being one of the most high-energy frontmen in heavy music, and yet, when it comes to Killer Be Killed playing live, you’ll be playing guitar…

GP: I seriously give it maybe two songs. [Laughs] I already warned the other guys about this – you can’t have a dog off its leash for 14 years and then expect it to obey when you put the leash back on! I’ll play my guitar parts, but I just can’t guarantee that I’m going to keep it on.

MF: One of your better known stage-moves is to hang upside down from an overhead pole. Maybe we can get you doing that with a guitar on?

GP: Oh, Christ! That would be the death of me! [Laughs]

MF: Are there any other aspects of the Killer Be Killed live show that you’re thinking about as it draws ever closer?

GP: Yeah, actually. The whole thing, to me, is just crazy. It’s really exciting. We’ve never even been on stage together. There’s a massive difference between playing in a room together and playing on a stage. The energy is going to be very different for these shows.

I know exactly what a Dillinger show is going to be like – if you gave me a microphone, right now, I could do a Dillinger set from start to finish. There’s a comfort of looking either side of you and seeing those people that have been there for the other shows, knowing where to go and what to do. This is completely different.

MF: Do you remember playing with Dillinger for the first time?

GP: I’m not sure. [Pauses] Actually, I do! I remember how nervous I was. I was so nervous; I didn’t think that I was going to be able to make it onto the stage. It’s so funny to look at now, because I don’t get nervous at all anymore. I get excited, but never nervous. I’m excited about that one minute before stagetime for these shows – knowing there’s 60 seconds until you’re up on the stage, that’s such a rush. It’s going to be equally exciting and terrifying.

MF: Of all the places for Killer Be Killed to be playing their first-ever shows, not many people could have anticipated that it would be Australia. It’s made Soundwave quite literally the envy of the world. The comments online have just been all this “Come to England! Come to Canada! Come to Brazil!” sort of thing. It’s a bold move to make that executive decision and say that this is where it will all begin for you guys…

GP: The last time I was in Australia, it was Soundwave, and both Dillinger and Mastodon were playing. Troy and I were both on separate flights home, so we were saying our goodbyes. He said to me, just as an offside remark, “Maybe this time next year, we’ll be playing Soundwave in the same band.” It almost felt like a pipe dream to us. It was difficult enough getting our schedules together to make this record, let alone getting the time to tour it. We all felt really strongly about Australia to begin with, though.

The first time I ever came over with Dillinger, we were thinking that no-one was going to turn up to the shows and that we’d somehow made this terrible mistake. Everything was so up in the air, and then the shows ended up being mind-blowing. The crowd was so enthusiastic! We couldn’t believe it. Ever since then, I’ve always been so grateful for Australia. You guys have a really strong relationship with music as a culture, maybe more than any other place. There aren’t that many places anymore where music has this much importance.

To me, it made perfect sense for Killer to be playing for the first time in Australia. There was briefly discussion of doing a warmup show in L.A. We decided against it, because we wanted it to be symbolic for Australia. Consider it a thank-you gift.


Killer Be Killed make their debut live performances at Soundwave 2015, and will join Lamb Of God at two Sidewaves — details below. Their self-titled album is out now.

Listen: Killer Be Killed – Melting Of My Marrow

Soundwave Festival 2015

Saturday, 21st February & Sunday, 22nd February 2015

Bonython Park, Adelaide, South Australia

Tickets: Soundwave

Saturday, 21st February & Sunday, 22nd February 2015

Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne, Victoria

Tickets: Soundwave

Saturday, 28th February & Sunday, 1st March 2015

Olympic Park, Sydney, New South Wales

Tickets: Soundwave

Saturday, 28th February & Sunday, 1st March 2015

RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane, Queensland

Tickets: Soundwave

Lamb Of God / Killer Be Killed Soundwave Festival 2015 Sidewaves

Tuesday, 24th February

170 Russell, Melbourne (18+)

Tickets: 170 Russell

Thursday, 26th February

Metro Theatre, Sydney (Licenced All Ages)

Tickets: Ticketek

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