Shadows Fall - Threads in the Metal Web

Interview with Brian Fair by Joe Who?

Progress is the catalyst which we all strive for. It can be obtained by a goal completed, success in general, both rolled into one, or perhaps it can even be answered in the form of a question - What do I want to accomplish in order to progress? I mean, there's always something to consider, and things are "subject to change" of course, but, at the end of the day, it's up to us all to decide on what road we should take.

I'm pretty sure Massachusetts melodic-rock-hardcore-metal-thrashers Shadows Fall have headed down many roads themselves throughout their career. They've likely traveled down some rocky roads, dirt roads, and hit some potholes along the way, but you know what? They've always shown a lot of heart for what they do, and followed their instincts. The result of their efforts has produced many accolades for the group, but at the same time has also been a humbling experience for Brian Fair and his bandmates. When I asked him - Does all this success ever feel surreal at times? His response was modest, yet, sincere - "Yeah, it's crazy, we never expected any of this. We're just a small metal band from Massachusetts having fun, and things worked out... we're stoked!"

Indeed, the band has good reason to be stoked. They've accomplished a lot in a short period of time, seen a majority of their dreams come true, and even managed to take their music to the next level by signing with major label Atlantic Records. Not too shabby, Huh?

In the midst of their summer tour with "Sounds Of The Underground", I caught up with vocalist Brian Fair in Chicago, to discuss "The Threads Of Life", and more...

Wormwood Chronicles: Congratulations on signing with Atlantic. Was the transition from Century Media to Atlantic nerve wracking? I mean, when you guys left Century Media, you were a top priority band. Was that a tough decision to make?

Brian Fair: No, not really. We were pretty comfortable because we had worked out the exact deal we wanted to do, and we were ready to move forward. Century Media was a great place to be at for six or seven years... whatever it was. They really got us to a level that we never expected to get t, and the company really grew. Everyone that we worked with originally was gone as well. So it was like a new company there. Then we started making new relationships with people at Atlantic and it just kind of moved forward.

WC: You know, it's probably inevitable that some people are going to accuse you guys of "selling out", because your on a major label now. How do you respond to that?

BF: We don't care at all. (Laughs) If you worry about what people will think, your never gonna produce the pure thing that's within you.

WC: "Threads Of Life" is your debut for Atlantic. Was the creative process different this time around?

BF: It was a little more group oriented if anything, because we had a lot of time. We took off most of the year from touring and worked on the songs together a lot in the practice space and at the studio. This allowed us to really be 100% satisfied with everything we laid down, instead of having to be like - Alright, that's as good as it's gonna get, because we don't have any more time. (Laughs)

WC: I remember last summer you guys only did the "Strhess Tour". Did you road test any of the new songs on that tour?

BF: No, we didn't play any live, but we worked on them. We practiced them at sound check and listened to the demos and shit, you know? It was more of a discussion than anything else.

WC: You guys used a different producer for "Threads Of Life", Nick Raskulinecz. What brought about the change?

BF: Well, Nick Raskulinecz is just a great dude and we've talked with him for years... as well as Zeuss, (Shadows Fall's long time producer...) who we've been friends with and worked with for many years. Nick approached us awhile back and Zeuss wanted us to mix it up more. Zeuss's strongest suit is his mix, so he was still able to be a part of the process. Working with Nick was just a way for us to push the sound in a new direction.

WC: You guys have a knack for writing great songs that get stuck in my head. I really enjoy the variety on this album, all the songs have their own uniqueness about them.Was that the goal for this one?

BF: Definitely. We wanted to cover the full spectrum of what we do, which is; thrash metal to ballads to rock songs and everything in between, you know? We really try to keep open doors and open minds towards different styles.

WC: This next little batch of questions are just songs I really enjoyed on the record and I wanted to get some insight on them. What's "Redemption" about? Is it about standing up for what you believe in?

BF: Yeah, it's about the power of music and the power of conversation and the power of exchanging ideas. If you never let your voice be suppressed, you can really accomplish a lot.

WC: "Failure Of The Devout" has a killer intro, a total thrash attack ensues, there's a great middle hardcore breakdown part that really gets the crowd going and it also has an excellent solo... I'm sure this song will be a classic for years to come. This one sounds like you're talking about religion and questioning faith.

BF: No, it's more about organized religion. It seems like as soon as it became a dogmatic system controlled by a few with power who were really dictating things, it allowed their own personal interest and greed to kind of manipulate the people's faith.

I have true faith that there's some sort of higher level of consciousness, higher in being that it can exist in all of us, you know? But as soon as it becomes organized, it seems it becomes corrupted by personal interest, greed, money, and everything else.

WC:"Another Hero Lost" reminds me of a eighties rock power ballad. This one sounds like it's dedicated to our troops in Iraq.

BF:It's a song written for my cousin, who passed away this past year.

WC: Sorry to hear that, man. "Final Call" is another great song. Just like "Failure", a great intro and the pre-chours and
acoustic parts on this song are pure gold. Is this one about taking something into your own hands and trying to make a differance with your actions?

BF: You know, for me it's more about realizing you're not alone with your thoughts. Sometimes you might think, wow, I'm so outside of this normal accepted set of ideas and values, that you feel alone. Then you realize there's people all over the world who share similar ideas and as soon as you're willing to express them, that's when you can really progress. It's a lot easier these days to communicate world wide than it was in the past. So there's no reason for ignorance anymore, you should really be able to find out everything.

WC: "Dread Uprising" is a killer straight up thrash tune, with a more aggressive vocal approach. It's got some religious overtones as well.

BF: Yeah, I always have to have one about fire and brimstone and that "burn Babylon" verse on every album. (Chuckles) I was lashing out at the overall inhumanity of progression and technology, like taking the human element out of a lot of life. It's just about unifying behind the idea that you can exist outside of that real confined structured sort of life.

WC: I notice you'rr doing more singing on some of these songs. Was this something new you wanted to try? Or was this just a way to fit the frame work of the song?

BF: Yeah, whatever sounded good for the song is what worked. I didn't think - Oh, this has to be two parts growling, two parts singing, one part clean vocal, whatever sounds best over the riff. Also... the scream shit builds to a peak to add impact.

WC: You guys are refered to as one of the "New Wave Of American Metal Bands". When you first heard this phrase, did you have any idea that you'd go down in history as an influence on others?

BF: No, we just figured it was a way for journalists to describe us, Killswitch Engage, Lamb Of God, and Hatebreed without having to say all three or four band names, you know? ... It's a way they don't have to write everything out. We never took it too seriously and we were all about ten years old at that point.

WC: What do you think it was about the New England metal scene that made people take notice?

BF: There were just a lot of great bands. We all came from a tight knit scene, and all of us had common interests. We didn't want to have any rules and we wanted to write a bunch of good tunes... plus everyone did their own thing. Killswitch dosen't sound like us, nobody sounds like Unearth, nobody sounds like Converge, everyone sounds different.

WC: I read you did a reunion show recently with your old band Overcast. Do you plan on doing another album with those guys?

BF: Yeah, we recorded,and were hoping to get it out later this year, around October / November. It's gonna have nine songs that were on past releases, but were impossible to find. It'll be completely re-recorded with the same original core lineup, but redone with Adam Dutkiewicz from Killswitch at his studio. We also did two songs that we never recorded that were written at the end of our career. You can hear a lot of overtones of where we went between me and Mike (D'Antonio...) with Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall, as well as Seemless, Pete's ( Pete Cortese...) other band, things like that. So you can really hear where a lot of the new stuff came from.

WC: Does Matt (Bachland - guitars...) still run his independent record label?

BF: He's put the label on hiatus because he dosen't have the time to dedicate to it what it takes to really put out a bands record, and he didn't want to half ass it. He's seen the other side,so he dosen't want to screw any bands over by taking on more than he can do.

WC: I see you guys did a song for WWE wrestler Rob Van Dam. How did that come about? Are you guys big wrestling fans?

BF: Me and Jason (Bittner - drums...) are big wrestling fans. They (WWE...) just asked us to do it and we were stoked.

WC: You guys were on the last tour with Damageplan. Do you have any good stories you could share about Dimebag Darrell?

BF: There's a million man. It's really hard to condense into a few sentences what it means to hang out with Dimebag. He was one of the greatest people I've ever met in my life, and I miss him everyday.

WC: Do you have any Spinal Tap moments or crazy road stories you could share from any tours you've done past or present?

BF:(Chuckles) There's thousands! If you can think of it possibly happening, it's probably happened. We've had wheels fly off the bus, we've gotten lost on the way to the shows, we've had things blowing up, fires, floods, everything... it's all happened.

WC: What are your plans for the months ahead?

BF: Touring, and Touring, and Touring....

WC: Thank you so much for your time Brian. Do you have any final words for your fans out there?

BF: We're gonna be out on the road all year, check out "Threads Of Life", and just keep it metal!

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