IKILLYA is a band that’s flown uncomfortably under the radar here in WNY. Not many people have talked with me about this band over the years and it’s a shame. Then again, I suppose it happens. In an age when the internet rules and album sales drool, one must do everything they can to be noticed. For example, I first noticed IKILLYA when they opened for Battlecross at Waiting Room back in 2014. It was a great show and I have to say, IKILLYA blew my mind that night. I thought they were fun, explosive, innovative, catchy and balls to the wall.
At the helm of this killer band was Jason Lekberg. I use the past tense, because unfortunately, IKILLYA called it quits a few months ago. It’s a shame to be sure, but these days, Jason is looking to get back on the horse and (so far) things aren’t looking too promising.
I decided to reach out to Jason and get some information from him about exactly how much work he’s put into music, and the vital connections he’s made over the years in the business. All that being said, if you’re in the NYC area and you’re looking to get into a serious extreme metal band, but you’ve been sleeping on Jason Lekberg all this time, you’ve got some serious homework to do.
Mike Marlinski: I’ve seen IKILLYA twice. The first time was with Battlecross at Waiting Room in Buffalo and the 2nd time was a headlining date at Stamps in Tonawanda, NY. You guys had a great blend of styles in your songs, ranging from thrash to punk to metalcore to death metal. Tell me about the beginning of the band and how things initially took off.
Jason Lekberg: In 2005 I joined a band in NYC called Violent by Design. After a few months I felt that it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, so I left the band. The drummer Seven and bassist Mansa reached out and asked if I wanted to work with them, and we formed IKILLYA. The band went through several guitar players over the coming years, finally making significant progress with Dave Kerr, starting in 09. During the recording of our debut album Recon, Seven’s other commitments resulted in us asking him to leave the band. Jeff Gretz (Zao) stepped in and recorded the rest of the album. Additionally, he and Matt Zebroski (Alex Skolnick Trio) played live with the band for several years.
The album Recon received quite a bit of good press both in the US and UK. We eventually recruited drummer Gary Pickard and did a short tour of the midwest and then a headline run in the UK. Upon returning from that, we began writing the follow up album Vae Victis. We were able to secure a distribution deal with Megaforce Records Inc but during the recording of the album it was apparent that Gary, Dave and Mansa were not going to be able to tour to the level that I felt we needed to grow.
Mike Marlinski: Can you give a rough outline of IKILLYA’s label history? You just mentioned Megaforce, but what came after? Were you ever self managed/distributed after Megaforce?
JL: Jeff Gretz again stepped in and recorded with us. Unfortunately, he was unable to tour with us so I put together a new band to tour Vae Victis. This is where I found Bill Burton (drums), Rob Broderick (bass) and Eric Jackson (guitar). This is the lineup you saw with Battlecross. We toured for several years, all over the US, including another headline tour in the UK.
Once we started writing for the follow-up War For An Idea, Billy’s personal issues began to impede our progress, so we asked him to leave, and Jeff Gretz again stepped in to record the album. During recording, we were able to secure a record deal with Urban yeti. We brought in drummer Drew Maciejewski who began our touring cycle. Unfortunately, after our first full US tour on that album, both he and the guitarist Eric decided to move on.
Rob and I felt that after 12 years, it was time to put the band to bed and start something new.
We have always been self-managed. I have handled all of that. I also handled all booking. and marketing.
MM: So, as for your next step, what exactly are you looking to do with your next band? What kind of music and people are you looking for? Also, talk about some of your biggest influences. Who got you into metal in the first place and how have your influences evolved? Who have you been listening to the most lately?
JL: Rob and I have been looking for a guitarist, drummer and keyboardist for our next project. We recorded a reworked version of Type O Negative’s Everything Dies to show our influences, which can be heard at Lekberg Enterprises. We’re looking forward to collaborating with whoever our next team is to create a unique sound, but that’s a good starting point. The critical thing for us is that our next partners are fully prepared for the sacrifices needed to tour and build a band. My biggest influences come from all over heavy music. Type O is my favorite band, but other favorites are The Haunted, Testament, Pantera and Sigur Ros.
The band that got me into “heavy” music was Bon Jovi, but when I heard Metallica I got really heavy. That pushed me over the edge and I started digging deep. I was all about Megadeth, Pantera, Testament, Fear Factory – that stuff in high school.
My influences have evolved in that I’m listening to all kinds of music now. Bands like Sigur Ros, Bohren and Der Club of Gore, and then really ground breaking songwriters like Kendrick Lamar. Amazing lyricists like Yelawolf and Eminem.
What I’m jamming right now? A few albums actually. Dyscarnate’s With All Their Might is fucking mind blowing. Tooth Grinder’s Phantom Amour has been on repeat this week. The new Night Verse EP Copper Wasp is killer also.
MM: Okay, I guess this would be the last thing. What’s your all time favorite IKILLYA album/song?
JL: I’m most proud currently of War For An Idea, just because it’s newest.
Follow the links, listen to some tunes and get in the game, folks!
The Metal Webzine of Western New York