// JP Damron, Kelly Schilling, Josh Kauffman and Mark Chronister of BleakHeart. Photo provided by BleakHeart’s website.
Kelly Schilling has already made a name for herself as a local Denver badass, as well as one of the serious forces behind the ‘20s progressive doom revival scene in the world of heavy metal.
For those not familiar with the nuance of the subgenre, the past few years have seen a resurgence of slow, melodic droney metal with progressive influences. Schilling and her band Dreadnought are more than just a local band; they’re one of the most respected bands in the scene.
Schilling joined forces with JP Damron of Vermin Womb and In the Company of Serpents—and later with Mark Chronister and Josh Kauffman—to create BleakHeart, a doom/shoegaze/wall of sound powerhouse based right here in Denver.
We caught up with Schilling about the new band and her plans moving forward with this exciting new project. This Q&A was conducted via email and has been edited and condensed for clarity.
What inspired you to start a new musical project? Are your other projects on hold?
I have always liked having multiple projects going on so that I am always busy with one project or another. BleakHeart became an opportunity for me when I did not have any other projects besides Dreadnought in the works. I enjoyed working with JP on his initial demo songs and was also excited to play in a new band on keys instead of guitar. I really liked the style of music JP and Mark were writing, and it gave me an opening to experiment with my voice and explore new avenues with it. Dreadnought has always allowed for that too, but BleakHeart’s style is much more vocal-centric, and in being the only vocalist, I had a lot of room for play.
During the beginning and middle of quarantine, all of my projects were on hold except for a new, remote project I have been working on with a friend. It was nice to stay home and have some time to recharge. The last two months things have been picking up again (safely). Dreadnought is writing; BleakHeart has begun writing, and I’m in the mixing process with my newest endeavor. [I] can’t wait to share it!
What was it like starting a new project during COVID?
Luckily, COVID did not affect this band too heavily. The band started a couple years prior, and we recorded “Dream Griever” in February 2020, right before everything happened. It made the process of releasing a record much slower and kept us from playing any shows, but otherwise, it did not affect our plans.
What was the music writing process like?
BleakHeart songs begin with JP or Mark bringing forth a riff or a collection of riffs. They typically have fragments of a basic structure figured out, and as we add drums, keys and voice, I help with the arrangement of the parts, how long [the parts] are played, how the energy flows, etc.
What are some of the lyrical themes on the first outing?
Lyrically, the first record, “Dream Griever” explores the absurdity of our human condition, how our emotions lead us to create destructive thought patterns within ourselves. Each song is different, but overall, I wanted to explore some personal emotions of anger, the loss of control within it, the absurdity of our tribalism, apathy and propaganda, as well as the struggle with personal change, striving to be better, yet falling victim to patterns deeply seeded within our psyche.
Do you have any other plans you want to talk about or announce?
Currently, we are writing. Due to COVID, there is not much to announce yet, but we have plenty of ideas for the future.
What more can we expect from the band in the coming months and years?
More music and potential tours, after COVID, of course.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for taking the time to read these thoughts and for listening to our craft!