Hands down, the coolest part of writing for Metalheads Forever Magazine is getting to discover, enjoy and talk to some seriously cool and talented people. Kelly Schilling is one of those people. She is the voice of yet another brilliant discovery, Bleakheart. Based in Denver, Colorado (not far from me) Bleakheart is comprised of members of various local bands, including Dreadnought,
In the Company of Serpents, and Vermin Womb. Their sound is dark, lush, atmospheric and, you guessed it, hauntingly beautiful. Absolutely worth checking out.
I had the opportunity to talk with Kelly via phone. She was warm, genuine and provided more than a few laughs. Thanks Kelly.
JP Damron (guitars)
Kelly Schilling (vocals, keys)
Mark Chronister (guitars)
Josh Kauffman (drums)
MHF: We appreciate your taking time to talk with us. I know you’re busy with work and the band and life in general.
Kelly Schilling: Yeah, no worries.
MHF: So, the album has been out about a month now?
KS: Yeah, I don’t even know what day it is. (laughs).
MHF: (laughs) Well I’m calling to let you know about your new album. 😊
KS: 😊 😊 Thank you😊
MHF: So far, how has the reception been to the new album?
KS: It’s been good! All of our friends have been enjoying it. It has received some really good reviews. The reception is going really well.
MHF: Good. I saw some reviews and they are all really positive.
KS: Yeah, it’s exciting. It’s a really different project for me so I’m excited to see what other people are thinking about it. So, I’m glad to see it’s being received well.
MHF: Yeah, same here. So, let me ask, for you personally, are there any standout moments? Like something you’re especially proud of?
KS: I really like the piano section on the last track, “Dream Griever”. It’s really open; I had a lot of fun singing on that part. As far as stand out tracks…I like all the songs 😊 😊
MHF: I do too. So, all the band members were in other bands. All of them, very different sounding from each other and from Bleakheart as well. How did you get together? It seems like an unlikely joining given the diversity of the bands. How did the
KS: Well, JP originally wrote a couple of demos for this project. It was his own thing. And he asked me to sing on it. So, I did that as session work and after that he asked, “hey do want to make a band out of this?” I said, “Yeah, let’s do it, let’s try it out. And we ended up finding Mark and Josh, who then joined. Josh had played in the band called Across Tundras a few years back. I can’t quite recall how he found them. JP and I knew each other from the scene from other bands. I think they were just friends already.
MHF: So, you got the core of the group and then it’s like friend of a friend of a friend…like life in general.
The Bleakheart sound is quite different from all the other previous bands. How did that particular sound evolve? You said it something JP just had in his head and things just grew spontaneously?
KS: JP just wanted to write some music that he had never played in a band before. And express another side of himself and also play guitar. Usually, he is the drummer. And Mark used to play in bands back in Oklahoma. It was more in the pop punk realm and he was wanting to write more posty type sounds. It was just so we could work on something different than we had originally done.
MHF: Yeah. An opportunity to be different. Probably the best reason ever…because you can.
KS: Yeah totally. I just wanted to work on something different. It was fun to play on a project that focused on simplicity and the thickness of sound. It was a different way to get my brain to work musically as well.
MHF: Nice. So, I was reading some of the lyrics to “Dream Griever.” and thanks for posting the lyrics, not everybody does that. From “Dream Griever,”
I feel a force surrounding me
Calling me, enticing me
Of blissful pleasures and promise
A land of pure extravagance
If only I could taste persimmons
Smell sweet perfume
And revel recklessly
Can’t say I’ve heard the word persimmons in a song before. So, tell us about the song and also how did persimmons work their way in there?
KS: Well for persimmons, I wanted to use something that was “divine fruit.” I looked up “divine fruit” and persimmons popped up and I liked the way it sounded.
MHF: I always thought they were synonymous with something sour or bitter and it didn’t really tie in. So, I’ll just go to the source…that would be you. 😊
KS: The song is about trying to move on from an identity, a desire, or an ideal that has actually been causing you more mental damage than good. That particular phrase describes being enticed by the grand thing that you always wanted, if only you could get there, you could finally be fulfilled, taste the divine fruit, revel in pleasures, etc. It seems so worth the chase, but the line after “But every stride bears heavy burdens,” expresses that the chase and the ideal itself, may not actually be what you want, or worth it.
MHF: I completely understand. This is the “put you on the spot” part of the interview.
KS: That’s okay; it’s good practice. I need to be able to talk about the lyrics. Sometimes it’s hard to formulate the exact ideas. I appreciate it.
MHF: So, the song writing process…are you the chief lyricist or is it a collaboration or what’s the overall process for you guys?
KS: It usually starts with Mark and JP coming up with a few different riffs or a song structure idea, skeleton riffs, choruses, etc. Then Josh will add his drums, and I will come in and feel out some vocal melodies, where I think the vocals should go and whatever I want to do on keyboard as well. We then work to arrange it into a song. We all work together to arrange it, but it all starts with Mark and JP. After all the vocal phrases are there, then the lyrics are written. JP wrote the lyrics to “The Dead Moon” and I wrote the lyrics to the rest.
MHF: You guys are getting some press coverage, interviews and reviews. I was reading about you in 303 Magazine, just a few days ago.
MHF: Oh…maybe you didn’t know about it 😊. They have a section called “Music You Should Know” focusing on local folks and you got a mention and there’s a link to the video for “Dream Griever.” They described your music as “dark and demonic.” Dark I understand, but I’m not quite seeing the demonic aspect. Any thoughts on that?
KS: I don’t quite hear “demonic” sonically, but I can see it in a way where it’s about your own demons. That’s really what the album is about, the inner psyche and the weirdness of our mind
and how we get ourselves into certain rabbit holes within our own thinking and how it’s hard for us to get out of them. And really being fascinated by that.
MHF: How would you describe your sound to someone who has no idea what they are in for?
KS: A hauntingly beautiful eclipse of sorrow and desire. That was the phrase we gave it because it captures the vibe of it without giving away the genres. Man, it’s so hard to describe your own band. I think that phrase really captures it. It has elements of Doom and Psyche Rock. But it’s also haunting, ethereal, and rich, you know…the guitar tones…and yeah, those adjectives. 😊 😊
MHF: The Denver Hexfest. (A two-day, 30 band Metal festival in Denver, CO). Bleakheart was part of that. I so wish I had gone. 🙁. What was your best memory of Hexfest?
KS: Overall, the best thing was seeing all of our friends; there were so many of our friends playing. It’s always great to see all your local friends at shows. That’s what I love about the Denver music scene.
MHF: There is a band called SHEL, a female quartet based in Fort Collins. They’re not Rock or Metal, but they do a killer version of Zeppelin’s “Battle of Evermore” When I first heard your voice, my mind went directly to that song because your voice would be perfectly suited for that song. Have you considered branching out into other genres? With your voice, you could easily do that.
KS: I would definitely branch out and I love doing session work. I love working with other people. As far as writing in different genres, Dreadnought is my other project that I’ve been in for a long time and that spans through a few different genres. It’s Metal, but I get to explore a lot there. (Dreadnought is another great Denver band.) I do have another project in the works. It’s like ambient, electronic music that I’m excited about. As far as session work, I sang on Wayfarer’s new album “A Romance With Violence.” I sang on Un’s latest album “Sentiment” and played flute on SubRosa’s album, “For This We Fought the Battle of Ages.”
MHF: Wow, you are quite prolific! Ok…the Colorado beer scene. There are two Metal themed breweries in Denver….are you partial to TRVE or Black Sky?
Well, I know someone who works at TRVE, and I do prefer their beer, so I’ll have to go with TRVE. 😊 😊 But Black Sky is cool too. 😊
MHF: With Covid, it’s obviously difficult to plan anything, but is there anything in the works for the band? Anything you can share?
KS: Eventually, when shows can happen again, we want to play. Dreadnought had a tour canceled with all this so we wanna get back out there when it’s safe again. Until then Bleakheart will be writing new material.
MHF: Any questions for us?
KS: 😊 No….I love the magazine you guys write for; it looks really cool. I’m just glad there are people out there that want to write about underground bands. It helps us get noticed a little bit more and helps you guys get a little more traction too.
MHF: Yeah, it’s good for both sides. So thanks for taking time to talk with us. I plan on checking out all the Dreadnought music now as well.
KS: Thank you. Thanks for listening.