If the manner in which one manages and perseveres through personal and professional adversity foreshadows future success, then Jerry Montano and his new band, Death Division should reap huge rewards. Having spent years making a name for himself as bassist for such acts as The Deadlights, Nothingface, Danzig, and Hellyeah, Montano found his personal demons and addictions taking a toll on every aspect of his life. When he found himself renting a basement apartment in rock bottom, Montano pulled himself up by his boot straps and started taking control of his life. That journey ultimately led to his formation of Death Division. This week Metalholic caught up with Jerry to talk about the band’s forthcoming EP, Angels of the Black Dawn, Part One, how the band came together, and his connection to Bridging the Gap Recovery.
Montano united with vocalist and guitarist Sean De La Tour and began writing music. The duo added drummer Alex Rivas, and in 2013 Death Division self-released its debut EP, We Are the Fallen. The band quickly caught the eye of Justis Mustaine (son of Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine) which led to the opening slot of the Gigantour with Megadeth, Black Label Society, and Montano’s former band, Hellyeah. Even Metallica’s Kirk Hammett found the band impressive enough to add them to his recent FearfestEvil show. Montano created Death Division with the idea of having no borders with his music:
“I wanted to be able to do anything,” Montano stated of Death Division’s sound. “I knew that we wanted to be able to do heavy music, melodic stuff, and if we wanted to something acoustic or vibey and get into some more moodier or even Muse type heavy stuff, that we could. We really wanted to leave all the windows and doors open, for growth and for other things to happen down the road. That’s something we laid the ground work for early on with Death Division.”
With Angels of the Black Dawn, Part One, which releases on June 24, the band hopes to take things to the next level. The debut EP was recorded in Montano’s home, but the band went to EastWest Studios to record the new EP which was mixed by Augustus Cryns (Panic! At the Disco, Stitched Up Heart, Escape The Fate, Foxy Shazam).
“I put a lot of work into this one,” Jerry says of the new EP. “We put a lot of work into pre-production and writing, trying to write the best songs that we could for it. Everything kind of came into place. There’s a lot of growth on this one. We’re really excited.”
Creating the Angels of the Black Dawn EP also struck a personal chord for Montano, who admits the whole process became a cathartic animal for him that has helped him on his journey through recovery:
“I’ve come to a point in my life where I’ve been through so many different things: I had a pretty gnarly battle with alcoholism which a lot of people have known out there. Departing Hellyeah back in the day, and just being a wild and obnoxious kind of selfish alcoholic, drug addict loser, scumbag for years. I just finally got to a point in my life where I knew that I needed to find another way. I was unhappy with myself, and I was unhappy with the way things were working out. Through a miracle I found my way into Alcoholics Anonymous and ended up kind of getting my shit together. I spent a lot of time on myself, working on just being a better person to people around me–the people in my life. And I think a lot of that came through on the record. The whole journey was really cool.”
Death Division recently released the first single and video for the song “The Truth”. The video is a mix of animation, lyrics, and performance from the trio. The song itself is open to interpretation.
“’The Truth’ is a song that we had written—we were playing it on Gigantour, and we sort of started to re-work it. When it came to that song, Sean had a definite vision and idea of where he was coming from with it and at the same time I always see things from a different point of view. So the cool thing is that when we write songs, he’ll be writing it from one perspective and I always write from another. So for instance, with the video I went from his perspective when I wrote the treatment and the idea for the video which was kind of a literal sense, to where on my end it came from my background and battle with addiction and kind of making it through some things.”
Montano is equally passionate about his non-profit organization Bridging the Gap Recovery, formed with Sharon Gibson, the mother of Duke Collins, Montano’s former vocalist in The Deadlights. Collins passed away from a heroin overdose last year. The organization’s goal is to raise money for living expenses for addicts in recovery.
“Duke was a very dear friend of mine,” shared Montano. “We had done The Deadlights together, we toured around, and we still stayed close after all these years. He had a long battle with heroin addiction, and eventually it took his life. During his battle we were going in and out of treatment and hospitals trying to help him and a lot of times he would be like, ‘How am I supposed to go to rehab? I’m going to lose everything I have, Jerry. Who’s going to pay my bills if I go to rehab?’ So after he passed away I talked to his mother like ‘maybe this is an opportunity for us to do something good for some other people.’ So Bridging the Gap came together. What it is is we’re going to help people that are going into treatment. So somebody going into treatment isn’t going to lose their house. We’re going to keep the lights on and the bills paid while they go in to get the things done they need to do to better their lives. It’s something that’s very dear to all of us.”
You can check out the full interview with Jerry and check out the video for “The Truth” below.