In the time following the release of Bad Wolves’ second album N.A.T.I.O.N. in 2019, the band’s world shifted. Midway through their third album, Bad Wolves had to work through the very public departure of former lead singer Tony Vext in January 2021, while there was still more work to be done on Dear Monsters (Better Noise Music).
“We have all put a tremendous amount of heart and soul into Bad Wolves, and we owed it to our fans to make a third album that is the band’s best yet,” said the band in an early statement. “Bad Wolves is and will remain a creative collective, where no one member, inside or outside the band, holds the key to the group’s success.”
By June 2021, the remaining band members—lead guitarist Doc Coyle, rhythm guitarist Chris Cain, bassist Kyle Konkiel and drummer John Boecklin—welcomed vocalist Daniel “DL” Laskiewicz, founding member and guitarist for metalcore band The Acacia Strain, who first connected with Bad Wolves after contributing to N.A.T.I.O.N., and Dear Monsters took on new life with the band’s new unit set in place.
Still feeling the rush of joining Bad Wolves, DL is excited for this chapter for him and the band. “It’s just really exciting, really organic, and everything’s just kind of been chill,” DL tells American Songwriter. “I don’t think it would be as easy if there wasn’t such chemistry between the guys. That definitely makes things a lot easier… work doesn’t seem like work.”
Coming into Dear Monsters halfway through, DL says was pretty effortless because of the immediate connection between him and the band. “The collaboration between the band and I really started once I started tracking vocals for the record, and everybody just got in the same room,” he says. “Everybody took on the producer role, where we kind of put each song each part of each song under a microscope and really kind of tailored them to my vocal, especially since it’s different stylistically than what they had going on before.”
Dear Monsters is a partial ode to new beginnings and reflections of more precarious times, from the explosive open of “Sacred Kiss” through “Lifeline,” the song the band chose as their first single, to introduce DL.
“‘Lifeline’ made the most sense to me as the reveal for the new sound, because it felt like a Bad Wolves song through and through as far as the heavy instrumentals but also bridged the gap between the soft and the heavy,” says DL. “There’s minimal screaming on that song while still maintaining that heavy kind of integral Bad Wolves sound. It was the middle ground that was indicative of how the rest of the record sounded.”
Throughout, Dear Monsters pierces the weightier subject of facing one’s demons. “The peaks and valleys of ‘Dear Monsters’ is a penning of a letter acknowledging that everybody has personal demons,” says DL. “It’s addressing those personal demons and taking them head-on.”
Moving through heavier riffs and vocals on “Wildfires” and “Comatose,” Dear Monsters slows the pace around “Gone” and the closing “In the Middle.” The acoustic-driven “Springfield Summer,” was a song DL and Boecklin wrote off a 30-second riff once the album was mostly complete. “We felt like we were still missing a little bit of something,” says DL. “We just fell in love with this 30-second riff and said ‘we have to write a song out of this,’ and it just came together. I can’t stress enough how things just took shape organically, especially with everybody’s writing ability in the band. It’s almost too easy. It’s kind of weird.”
Working on Dear Monsters was a fresh outlook for everyone, says DL, to try new things and approach the music differently than they did in the past. “What drove us through all the material is just being able to try new stuff and experiment a little bit, and accentuate those peaks and valleys of the record,” says DL. “This is some of the heaviest stuff we’ve ever done, and some of the softer stuff we’ve ever done.”
For DL, who has also worked as a songwriter and producer with Legion, All That Remains and For the Fallen Dreams, nothing has changed in this new role. “The only thing that’s really changed is the fact that I’m not going to have a guitar dangling around my neck anymore,” jokes DL. “It’s having the freedom to be a singer.”
Moving ahead, the band is constantly writing and basking in their renewed energy. “We’re always looking forward and looking beyond what’s what’s going on in the present and that’s the fun of it,” says DL. “Everybody in the band is always in this creative mindset. We’re always writing, always creating.”
DL adds, “The biggest thing is that we write music that we believe in, that we’re fans of, first and foremost, because at the end of the day, if you don’t love your own material, if you don’t believe in your own material, then who else is going to.”