Waylon Reavis is known to many for his years fronting Mushroomhead, but the rocker exited the band in the fall of 2015 and nearly gave up music altogether. But thanks to a little divine intervention, he found himself with a rejuvenated passion and something to say. The vessel for his message is the new band A Killer’s Confession and we recently had a chance to talk to Reavis about his band and their new album, Unbroken.
Reavis discusses his transition from Mushroomhead, the formation of A Killer’s Confession, some of the key tracks on the band’s Unbroken disc and the guest turns from Brian “Head” Welch and Kim Freeman. He also speaks on lessons learned from loved ones that found their way into his music and how the band’s touring has gone so far. Check out the chat below.
What made it the right time to move on from Mushroomhead and what were you looking for out of your new project when you left? Did you have a vision of what you wanted it to be or did that more come together as you added the musicians to the band?
The move kind of just happened. I’ll admit now, because of course hindsight is always 20/20, that mistakes were made on my behalf. I should’ve left in a more discrete manner. Now, with that being said, it was something that had to be done because my heart was no longer in that project. When I first left, I had no intentions of ever picking up a microphone again. I spent most of 2016 working with children in a residential treatment facility. The time I spent with those children helped me heal some wounds and find my passion again.
It was a humbling experience being able to see firsthand that life could be so much worse. It was rewarding in a spiritual way to help children who do not have families and just need to be loved. Out of the blue one day, I found myself having urges to do music again. The children, knowing what my previous career was, encouraged me to follow my heart, just as I had taught them to do.
Around May 2016, I wanted to get back into music so I started doing tracks with bands as a “guest” vocalist. While doing these tracks I was also covertly looking for a new band. I wanted that perfect sound and members to accompany it. In early August 2016, I received an email from a band called Dark Lit Sky. The track that was sent to me turned out to be the track “A Killer’s Confession.” I instantly fell in love with this song. At that moment, I knew Matthew Trumpy was the guitarist I was looking for.
I sent the track to Brian “Head” Welch of Korn and asked him if he would produce it. He graciously declined but said he would be more than happy to play on the track. At this point I knew I had something big because literally one of my greatest musical influences was going to be on a track with me. After we recorded the song, the guys went straight to work on the rest of the album, working relentlessly to finish it before December as that’s when we planned our first live performance. The guys poured their heart into that album. When I received it, I could feel the raw emotion and was able to lay the foundation of my vision into their music. To be quite honest, they understood how I felt, so not much extra work was needed.
When putting together a band, there’s no guarantee that all the pieces will fit. But this is a solid sounding outfit in A Killer’s Confession. Can you talk about some of the strengths of your bandmates and what Jon Dale, JP Cross, Matt Trumpy and Paul Elliott bring to the band in terms of the recording and touring?
Matthew Trumpy, Jon Dale, Paul Elliot and JP Cross are the backbone of A Killer’s Confession and were meant to be in this band. I am the lucky one to be in this group of talented individuals. Matthew and Jon are the magic behind the music with Paul adding his heavy edge into it. JP has been one of my best friends my entire life. He was in my first band 3 Quarters Dead. JP also lives in Ohio so he helps me with t-shirt designs and handling the day-to-day business of the group. Onstage they help create magic and inspire me to do better every night.
You also handled production on this album. Knowing that you’re also overseeing that aspect of putting the album together, does that in any way affect your approach to the music?
I just knew that I couldn’t let my fans down. They had waited so long for me to come back and I wanted to reward their loyalty with an amazing album. I approached this album with an open mind and a straightforward attitude. I did not want to leave the listener with a bitter taste in their mouth. The album is called Unbroken for a reason. Because no matter how much the human soul can endure you can always pick yourself up and continue moving forward. Life is all about learning and changing yourself for the better.
This is an interesting album in that you can have something heavy and brutal one moment, but there are moments of more melodic sounding rock. You close out with “Purification” featuring Hex, a song you might easily hear in a dance club and through it all, the album never really loses its the flow. How freeing must that be in the studio? Are there any sort of parameters of what may or may not be considered A Killer’s Confession song?
There’s no parameters. We do not want to be chained to or feel like we have to continue to do the same thing all the time. If it sounds good, then it sounds good, no matter what the style is. If you chain yourself down to do one style then you limit yourself. Always be open to different sounds because you never know … You just might stumble into something that could change everything. Just because you wrote one song one way doesn’t mean you must write the next the same. Plus, it’s just more fun.
Getting into the disc, “A Killer’s Confession” has been out there with Brian “Head” Welch lending a hand. I know he’s been complimentary of you over the years. Can you talk about what it meant to get him on this record and how that relationship has evolved over the years?
First of all, I love that dude. He’s like part of my family. He has been a good friend to me and my family over the years. I can’t thank him enough for all the support he provided to me and my wife, Jen, during our tough times. He’s just such a special person and I’m very blessed to call him a friend. When I first saw him perform on May 5, 1995 (yes I remember the date… it changed my life), Korn was opening for Marilyn Manson and Danzig. I was lucky enough to meet the group and get to hang out with them that night. They were young and doing something completely out of the box, changing the music scene with every show they played. I remember asking if I was ever in a band and I made it if I could open for them … it only took 18 years, but I got to do exactly that!
When I was with Mushroomhead we got to open for Korn at Soundwave in Australia. I got to know the guys a little bit on that tour, but we became closer friends later that summer on the Mayhem tour. We would bump into each other at catering and eat together. We also attended some of the goofy after parties together. By the end of the summer I was honored and privileged to be able to join them onstage to sing “Somebody Someone.” That moment was without a doubt a highlight of my career.
The guys in Korn have always been the most humble and caring group of men I have ever had the privilege to work with in my career. Having Brian play on one of my tracks was, in my opinion, one of the greatest gifts anyone could ever give me. I am so thankful and grateful every day because even if no one ever liked the song, I achieved a lifetime dream of working and playing with a musician that influenced me to do what I do.
As heavy as much of the album is, I’m also a fan of the more melodic and dreamy song “Sympathy” with Kim Freeman of One Eyed Doll. Can you talk about how that song and the collaboration came about?
“Sympathy” is a song for Matthew Trumpy and his wife, Cassie. Matt wrote the song and approached me about the lyrics. He told me about how Cassie and himself had just lost a child due to miscarriage. He asked me to write a song about that for he and Cassie because he’d written the music with that in mind. I was honored and terrified at the same time but I wasn’t going to let them down. I worked on the song and it was one of last songs I recorded.
I was thinking it needed something else and my wife suggested I call Kimberly to ask if she would accompany me on that song. So, I did just that. Kimberly, being the big sweetheart she is, didn’t hesitate and recorded her parts in one night. She truly took that song to another level and made the song what it is. Thankfully Matt and Cassie love how the song turned out and now have a special ballad to hold near and dear to their hearts.
I know that “Rebirth” is a favorite of yours and it’s also key in what seems to be a theme for this album. I’m guessing it was a therapeutic song to get down. Can you discuss what “Rebirth” means to you and your thoughts on finally hearing it as a fully realized song?
“Rebirth” is my favorite song on the album because I could take the lessons from my mother and write a song about it. I lost my mother when I was 13 to breast cancer and don’t really speak that much about it. She may not have been with the me many years but she left me a lesson that I will never forget. She taught me that holding onto anger toward someone only hurts yourself in the long run because you might not be here tomorrow. She told me I could find strength in dark places if I only knew where to look. When I started writing the song, all that came rushing back to me and to my surprise it seemed like my mother was speaking through me. As I was writing it, I got to the mid part of the song and was hung up on a spot and I didn’t know what to do. I asked my wife, another very influential woman in my life, what she thought and she came up with a line “hating me is f–king you.” Now every time she hears the song she tells me I owe her 10 percent (laughs).
All jokes aside, to hear the two most influential women of my life come through my lyrics means the world to me. I want everyone to share and learn this lesson because sometimes you just need to let things go, because in the end if you don’t, it can end up hurting you way worse.
You’ve been out on tour of late with Nonpoint. First, what can you share about how the tour has gone so far and your thoughts on your tourmates, and second, is there a song that’s come to the forefront off the new album as a favorite to play live and why is that song standing out to you?
I am having an absolute blast on this tour. Nonpoint are one hell of a band and I will gladly go out with them anytime they ask. They have been nothing but professional, good people. We’re also out with Nine Shrines and Messer. Nine Shrines are also from Cleveland and if you have not heard them yet be sure to check out their new song “King of Mercy”. It is amazing. Also go check out Messer. They are a new up-and-coming band. This tour has a killer lineup! No pun intended, ha! I love all the songs off the album and we are changing up the set every night so we’re able to play all of them live. I have to go back and say that “Rebirth” is my favorite to play live. The song is being played on the radio right now so people seem to know it even though they might not really know who AKC is yet.
Just out of curiosity, what are the set lists like at this point? Are you sticking solely to the new album or might fans hear some Mushroomhead or even cover songs thrown in?
We are sticking to the album. But we have tossed around the idea of doing some cover songs on our next tour. A couple ideas we’ve thrown around are Dethklok’s “Murmaider” and Men at Work’s “Down Under”.
I’ll close and ask what’s on the horizon for A Killer’s Confession for the rest of the year?
We hope to stay out on the road. We love touring and meeting new fans. We also will continue to work on our next album, which we plan to release next year.
Our thanks to Waylon Reavis for the chat about his new band, A Killer’s Confession. The band’s ‘Unbroken’ album is available via Amazon and iTunes. The group is winding down their current tour with a few more dates scheduled. See their currently scheduled stops below and stay tuned to their website to keep up with their touring. You can also follow the band on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
A Killer’s Confession Tour Dates
6/7 — Fort Wayne, Ind. — Rusty Spur
6/9 — Columbus, Ohio — Alrosa Villa
6/30 — Houston, Texas — Scout Bar
7/1 — Dallas, Texas — Trees
7/23 — Braidwood, Ill. — Top Fuel Saloon
A Killer’s Confession featuring Brian “Head” Welch, “A Killer’s Confession”
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