With their next release Heavy Steps, out now on Nuclear Blast, Comeback Kid has captured their live ethos in a digital recording. Like lightning in a bottle, the album is electric. From the title track, “Heavy Steps,” to the next track, “No Easy Way Out,” bedroom floor punches and circle pits of one ensue. Heavy Steps goes hard out of the gate and runs full-force right to the finish with “Menacing Weight.”
Singer and songwriter Andrew Neufeld, key songwriters Jeremy Hiebert and Stu Ross, drummer Loren Legare, and bassist Chase Brenneman have made a proper heavy record. It runs just over 32 minutes and pushes electrocardiograms to breaking points by the time it gets to “Face The Fire.” Think running five-minute miles at a time when walking a mile takes 20 minutes. It’s a pure adrenaline rush in 11 tracks that average three minutes each. Wipe the sweat up, catch a breath, and hit repeat.
Right before the New Year, Neufeld is on a mandatory timeout from touring. Comeback Kid, like so many bands, are quarantined due to COVID. Pacing his hotel room in the Pacific Northwest like a beast, he’s lean, having lost the pandemic pounds, with a new record to unleash once he’s out of the cage.
Neufeld details the last couple of years, touring and the events leading up to 2022’s release of their next banger. He starts in Oregon.
“A couple guys got [COVID] in Portland,” Neufeld says. “So, they’re stuck there right now. I was driving the others back to Seattle, and I was gonna get a flight, and then I got the news on my way up here, so I just stayed here. When you’re by yourself in a room for a few days, you start thinking crazy.”
Current holding pen aside, Neufeld weighs the pluses and minuses—touring slowed, but writing and recording went full speed ahead.
“If it weren’t for the pandemic, it would’ve probably taken that even longer to get this record out,” he explains. “Once the world came to a halt, it took some time to let the dust settle. Then we just started.”
They worked like so many bands through COVID. They sent heavy audio waves by cellphone towers and internet routers, likely hogging a ton of bandwidth with the crush of this record, to Logic Pro with a touch of Garage Band software.
“I would sing vocal ideas in my bedroom, send back to them, and it wouldn’t be, even, like, words,” Neufeld explains. “It would just be like, you know, cadence, I would just kind of get like the feeling or a rhythm of a vocal, or a melody and kind of, ‘OK, this works; this is cool,’ and a lot of that back and forth.”
Once they had a rhythm and a cadence, they moved into a pandemic practice space.
“We used Winnipeg as our home base during the pandemic, because that’s where Jeremy is from. Canada had a lot of restrictions. We’d pretty much just get an Airbnb there and rehearse inside there. That’s where we kind of come together and talk about, maybe restructuring certain songs or just kind of like working on transitions.”
With age comes wisdom. Finishing Heavy Steps as a band made Neufeld feel a new kinship with his bandmates and their work.
“We’ve never been the kind of band that can pump out records every year two,” Neufeld says. “I think the reason why it kind of happens every three to four years is because we need some time to think about it and have some time away from the songs after they’ve been written.”
The process gives the artistic nature of their varied musical tastes a chance to forge together in the fire of Comeback Kid’s furnace.
“We all have quite different influences,” Neuman says. “I wouldn’t even say that we all like the same kind of music. But that’s why, like every Comeback Kid record, you’ll always have those kinds of alternating styles. We’re not gonna, like, ever be super loyal to one certain genre of hardcore, you know? It’s hardcore down the middle, but we’re definitely veering.”
Neufeld is just excited about hardcore, and that excitement, that energy, is captured forever on Heavy Steps.
“I don’t think [this record] is cookie cutter in any way, shape, or form. I hope that you can hear the desperate nature of the vocals and that we’re really playing our instruments, you know? You can hear the scrapes between the chord changes on the guitar. You can hear those kinds of metallic slides and scrapes, and we kept a lot of that stuff in there. I’m lucky to have some really good players playing with me, and we try to like really push that authenticity as much as we can.”
Neufeld doubles down. He’s ready to go, to support Heavy Steps on the road, to let every bit of Comeback Kid’s energy off the cellphones and wireless routers and into the world, from live guitars, bass heads, and stacks of speakers.
“I hope that they can hear the emotion, and the realism in the emotion, and the desperation in the music and in the vocals,” he says. “I just lost 40 pounds during the pandemic, so I’m ready to go, dude. Like, get me out of this COVID hole. I’m like Mike Tyson ready to go, coming back, trying to get this back.”
Watch the video for “Face The Fire” here:
Photos courtesy of Comeback Kid and Nick Zimmer