Tallah vocalist and YouTuber Justin Bonitz is metal’s own Disney villain, bringing a wide array of character-driven accents, singing and screaming to his music. Today, he joins us in the latest episode of How I Learned to Scream.

Bonitz first learned to scream so he wouldn’t crash while driving home from Walmart. “I must have been 16 or 17 years old, I just got my license, and I was driving home from Walmart and I started falling asleep in the car and I was like, ‘I’m gonna crash, I need to do something,’” Bonitz recalls. “I happened to be listening to ‘State of the Union’ by Rise Against and I was like, ‘I’m just gonna sing along.’ I just copied what I thought [Tim McIlrath] was doing and I just had it.”

In Tallah, Justin showcases one of the most unique vocal styles in metal, not only going through a wide range of screams, but singing and rapping with different accents seemingly chosen at random. Bonitz says the reason he developed that style is actually a sad story.

“I always hated my voice, so I did everything in my power not to sound like me,” the singer says. “That’s how I got known on YouTube — that guy that can do all these crazy screams and different voices … When I joined Tallah, that’s what Max [Portnoy, drums] wanted. He’s like, ‘Yeah, I like that you can do all these crazy things, so just go nuts with it.’ I sent him this demo for ‘Kungan’ and I was like, ‘Do you care if I, like, rap with a British accent in this?’ He’s like, ‘No, that’s awesome. Go for it.’”

As for Bonitz switching between harsh and clean vocal styles, that took him some time to learn. “That’s why I do a lot of distorted singing, because I found it easier to go from a scream to a raspy clean and then to another clean, rather than this dramatic switch. That definitely took years to be able to do it clean like that … When I would listen to anything off [All That Remains’] The Fall of Ideals or This Darkened Heart, I’m like, ‘How is he doing that? He’s going from these crazy fry screams to super clean [singing]. I tried to continue to replicate that in a live setting over and over and over again until eventually I could do it.”

Check out more on how Justin Bonitz learned to scream in the video below. Make sure to grab a copy of Tallah’s new album, The Generation of Danger, which comes out Nov. 18.

How Justin Bonitz (Tallah / Hungry Lights) Learned to Scream

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