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Interview: I Killed The Prom Queen’s Jona Weinhofen talks ‘Beloved’ & ‘The Rise Of Brotality’ Australian Tour

Jona Weinhofen

Dull is definitely not a word one would use to describe I Killed The Prom Queen’s career. Spanning over 13 years, the Aussie metalcore heavyweights have seen countless lineup changes, a three-year hiatus in 2008 and several studio albums to their name. Now, in light of the release of their third LP Beloved, the band will return home this September for their mammoth Rise Of Brotality Tour.

We recently caught up with IKTPQ mainstay guitarist/clean vocalist, and former Bring Me The Horizon member, Jona Weinhofen for word of the band’s upcoming national tour, the creative process behind Beloved, and Australia’s “flourishing” heavy music scene.

Six years in the making and the follow-up to 2006’s Music For The Recently Deceased, Beloved was released earlier this year through Epitaph Records. Comprised of vocalist Jamie Hope, Shane O’Brien on drums, Kevin Cameron on guitar, and Benjamin Coyte on bass, Jona is Prom Queen’s only remaining original member. He admits that the lineup change and hibernation period were a source of pressure for the band, who aimed to one-up previous albums with their latest effort.

“We knew we had to write an album that didn’t suck, I guess” laughs Jona, “But, Prom Queen’s always been pretty good at taking pressure and turning it into a positive thing, and helping it be a motivator for us to write a great record, and I think that we’ve managed to achieve that.”

Despite toying with the idea of heading to a different studio this time around, the band’s musical comeback saw the five-piece return to the Gothenberg, Sweden to record with renowned producer Fredrik Nordström (Bring Me The Horizon, Architects).

“We just decided that they were so instrumental in kind of shaping Prom Queen’s sound with our last record that we didn’t want to lose that or steer away from that with this new record,” says Jona. “We wanted some elements of Beloved to really be identifiable by our older fans.”

With no central theme, Beloved, quite literally explores all things beloved to the members of the band, from family, friendship and animal advocacy to the relationship struggles that come with constant touring. Prom Queen’s newest additions also brought fresh ideas and influences to the songwriting process, which was traditionally carried out by Jona and Kevin. As the former vocalist for Day Of Contempt, bassist Ben gave lyrical input, while vocalist Jamie shared some of his bass playing know-how and wrote a lot of the heavier guitar riffs featured on the record.

“It was nice to have five guys that weren’t just doing their own job as guitarist or drummer, but branching out and having ideas in different areas of music,” explains Jona.

Written by vocalist Jamie – and with lyrics such as, “But this is the world we’re living in/Murder is the cure, who’s cashing in?” – the track ‘Nightmares’ is one which Jona holds particularly close to his heart.

“Lyrically that song reflects the band’s passion towards animals and vegetarianism, veganism and animal rights,” says the ‘Be Cruelty-Free Australia’ campaign poster boy. “So that’s an important song for me because I’ve been vegan for 14 years and it’s a thing that’s very close to my heart, and a thing I’m very serious about, and live very strongly by day to day.”

Hence, with an assortment of new songs, which features the Jona-penned ‘Kjærlighet’, IKTPQ will embark on their national Rise Of Brotality Tour next month. With a live set that Jona promises will be “energetic” and “fast-paced”, the metalcore titans will play 19 shows across Australia, playing both major cities and smaller towns along the way. But they’re not alone, they’re bringing US melodic hardcore outfit The Ghost Inside, who will co-headline the tour. The bands will switch out the headline slot each night to ensure the band’s both get the opportunity to play longer sets, which means the odd throwback track here and there (wink, wink).

“I think that we just love doing tours that are a little longer and go to some different places than usual,” says Jona of the band’s decision to venture off the beaten track during the tour (well, somewhat). “Most bands seem to come to Australia and play five or six capital cities, half the time they’ll skip Perth, maybe even Adelaide, whereas we like to route a tour so that we can play all the cities and then play some of the smaller towns on the way, have a day off in a cool place.”

Fresh from the US, Prom Queen’s return to home soil will mark the band’s second Australian tour of the year. With a new international fanbase, especially in Europe, and a new outlook, Jona says that the Australian heavy music scene is “really flourishing” at the moment, particularly overseas.

“We’ve had people come up to us and say ‘Oh, we love Australian music, we love Australian metal, and we love Australian hardcore,’ and it’s almost like we have our own brand now that people are starting to recognise in other countries, and that’s a really cool thing.”

Citing Aussie acts such as: The Amity Affliction, Parkway Drive, Northlane and In Hearts Wake, as bands currently bursting into global consciousness, Jona explains that despite being pretty tight-knit, the Aussie heavy music scene can be rather catty at times.

“I feel like there’s a little too much rivalry and, for lack of a better term, s**t talking in some newer bands these days, and I feel like bands should be helping each other out, banding together a little more. Especially some of these younger, newer bands.”

The 31-year-old guitarist also offered some advice for those considering a career in music – emphasising the importance of “realistic expectations” and the amount of “hard work” involved in the often-glamourised lifestyle.

“You have to really want to succeed for one, and I think that a realistic thing to tell young bands, and young artists, is that there is going to be hard work involved,” explains Jona. “You hear these stories about these American bands that get signed to a big label. The next minute they’re doing a big summer tour on a bus, or whatever, and that can happen for sure, but that happens to one percent of bands and the other 99 percent are out there touring in a van, saving up their money to pay for gas to get to the next town.”
He adds: “So you can either chase your dream and succeed, or you can fail at it and work some crappy job in an office that you don’t wanna be at. I suggest doing the earlier one.

I Killed The Prom Queen Australian Tour 2014:
Friday, September 5 – Magpies City Club, Canberra (AA)
Saturday, September 6 – The Cage, Picton (AA)
Sunday, September 7 – Cambridge, Newcastle (18+)
Tuesday, September 9 – YAC, Byron Bay (AA)
Wednesday, September 10 – Kontraband, Toowoomba (AA)
Thursday, September 11, Coolangatta Hotel GC (18+)
Friday, September 12 – The Arena, Brisbane (18+)
Saturday, September 13 – Oasis Youth Centre, Wyong (AA)
Sunday, September 14 – UNSW Roundhouse, Sydney (AA)
Tuesday, September 16 – Hotel Gearin, Katoomba (18+)
Wednesday, September 17 – Neil Wilson Pavillion, Wodonga (AA)
Thursday, September 18 – Mechanics Hall, Frankston (AA)
Friday, September 19 – 170 Russell, Melbourne (18+)
Saturday, September 20 – Phoenix Youth Centre Melbourne (AA)
Wednesday, September 24 – Karova Lounge, Ballarat (18+)
Thursday, September 25 – Synergy Dance Studios, Mt Gambier (AA)
Friday, September 26 – HQ, Adelaide (AA)
Saturday, September 27 – Leederville HQ, Perth (AA)
Sunday, September 28 – Capitol, Perth (18+)

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