Saturday, October 5, 2002 @ 2:49 PM
At The Century Media-Hosted BB
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Shadows Fall is in Los Angeles on this day after their last tour date with Kittie and Killswitch Engage. The hosts of the evening, Century Media, decided to throw a BBQ/kegger at the office in south central to celebrate a successful tour and a new album, The Art of Balance, in stores now, for Shadows Fall.
As I arrived there were already several people milling around, drinking beer and snacking on chips and some sort of dip concoction. A couple of the guys from Shadows Fall were already there as well. More people were arriving by the minute, getting drunker by the minute. Then, the grill fired up and we were moments from some bbq’d burgers and dogs!
I waited until night fell and the band got drunk before pulling them aside for the interview. They admitted that the drunker they were the better the interview is, so I simply followed their advice.
Sometime during the course of the evening members of Kittie showed up, as well as Killswitch Engage. This will matter in a few moments, as we start to talk with Shadows Fall, this is, after all, a Shadows Fall interview.
As we started, most of the band was there, vocalist Brian Fair, guitarist Matt Bachand, guitarist Jon Donais and new drummer Jason Bittner. The only exception was bass player Paul Romanko, who was at the party, but absent from the interview due to personal reasons. We started by talking about the current tour, which just ended, and how it had been going.
They all agreed that it was a great tour, with great crowds and they felt good playing the new material, which is being received well by the audiences around the country. They are even willing to put up with touring in a small van -- that smells, with bad shocks, and no air freshener -- to get their music to the public. They wouldn’t trade in the last 6 years for anything… well, maybe one thing, an RV or a bus with and air freshener. Brian also stated that “we have already exceeded any goals I had.” The band has gone from just playing weekend gigs around the Boston area to recording and touring full time.
At this point Jason is ready to bail on the interview and go drink some more, but is convinced to stay by the rest of the band. Also about this time Adam Dutkiewics of Killswitch Engage comes to the interview area to start smack talking, but the boys of Shadows Fall will have none of it.
Since this is the day after the last show of the tour, the backstage and on stage antics of the previous night are still fresh in the minds of all the band members. Brain tells us how Kittie replaced his microphone with a large black dildo. At the mention of big black dildos, the phallically infatuated Killswitch Engage and Mercedes from Kittie start throwing hot dogs and other food items at us.
I have heard rumors as of late that Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall were not getting along on the tour. I asked Adam if this was true, he said, “Fuck yes! You guys are fucking awful! Fuck all you guys! I hear you guys take it in the ass!” To which Matt responds, “You and your perm, ‘I wanna look like Dexter from the Offspring!’” Jason added that he also looked like Thomas Dolby. As Adam was leaving the area he yells back, “Fuck you guys and the horses you rode in on, you bitches! Go to hell!” Matt could not refuse one more dig, “The first Killswitch singer left ‘cause he kept trying to finger his ass on tour!”
Okay, now I try to get the interview back on track by asking how they got invited on tour with Kittie. The other guys had started walking away, but Matt said Mercedes should answer that so we called her back over. Mercedes said the reason they invited Shadows Fall to tour with them is because, “They are our homies. No, seriously they are really, really good at putting out. They are big man whores and the first time I met them they stripped on a table for me.” Finally the real reason came out, “Because they are a great band and we love them.”
With the interview somewhat back on track, I talked to Jason about being new in the band and how that was going. Some bands tend to give the new guy some sort of initiation, but Jason has been in this business long enough that he was giving the rest of the band the initiation to him. Since the first day the played together last Novembe,r the chemistry was there like they had been playing together for years. Right away both sides knew this was going to work out and that Jason would be the new Shadows Fall drummer. “I played my ass off on the record,” boasts Jason. He backs that statement up by saying that the band had the luxury of tons of preparation for the recording. Jason also states that this is “one of my best recording performances,” and Brian added that Jason “knows when to throw it down and when to lay it down.” Just as important as drumming ability is the ability to put up with the other band members while on the road and Jason can do both equally well.
With Jason now in the fold the guys knew the songwriting would step up to a new level. All members were on the same page coming into this album. Brian starts talking about new album, The Art of Balance, saying the diversity on this recording was just a natural thing that happened. The only thing that they did not want to do is make a shitty record like the Killswitch Engage record. Matt added that you can say what a Shadows Fall record should or should not sound like, but they don’t care about that. What they do care about is making a record they want to hear.
As for some of the more mellow moments on this album, the band quickly states that they have done things like this going back to their first album. But Jon said that even if it was the first time they did this and some fans didn’t like it, so what. Jason says there are acoustic elements that help bridge the gap between two heavy songs and not necessarily songs themselves. Plus it shows off guitar talent of the band, Matt and Jon.
They talked about their first European tour. Being able to play in front of huge crowds and turn them on to something new was a big thrill for them. “The European crowd is more receptive to metal,” says Jason who has been on tour in Europe before. “The Europeans treat you much better as well, with food, showers, and nicer venues. Plus, they appreciate the fact that you traveled all the way there to play for them, and the crowd appreciates it. Maybe some day Killswitch Engage might find that out if they ever play Europe.”
With so much beer drinking being done, Brian has to excuse himself for a bit. Adam takes this opportunity while Brian is gone to talk more smack, “Brian’s dread’s are not real, they are held together by everybody’s semen. It’s their preshow ritual; they all jerk off in Brian’s hair. They look at each other naked, all oiled up and jerk off in his hair and then play the show, then they do it after they play! Shadows Love Men Fall is the real name of the band!”
Matt is wondering why Killswitch Engage is still around… “Is there a gay pride parade somewhere?” The interview is slowly falling apart at this point as band members are coming and going to the keg, to the bathroom to wherever.
We talked about some of the songs on the album, okay we talked about all of them, but I will just give the highlights here. The album starts out heavy with a thrash opener called “Idle Hands” that sets the tone for the album. Next is the “single” of the album, “Thoughts Without Words.” Look for a video for this song soon. The fourth song on the CD is an acoustic piece titled “Casting Shade,” which leads you into my favorite tune on the disc, “Stepping Outside the Circle.” The title track follows. The name of the album/song came before anything was written, but it does represent what the band is all about, heavy music with a positive message. “The Art of Balance” has a melodic vocal as the chorus that makes the song stand out from the rest. “Prelude to Disaster” is one of those acoustical bridge pieces the band spoke of earlier, leading you into “A Fire in Babylon.”
The end of the album has a surprise a cover tune. Not of some dumb Killswitch Engage song, but of the mellow and moody “Welcome to the Machine” from Pink Floyd. This song was to be on a Pink Floyd tribute CD and they were on a deadline to get it done. Nearing the deadline with very little of the song done, they still needed a heavy groove to go under the vocals. With little time to spare, Matt comes up with a riff in his sleep! He woke up at 4am and recorded the riff into his 4-track, brings it to the studio and the song is done. Brian says, “Matt writes better stuff asleep.”
Killswitch Engage killed the keg.
Jason thinks this album will be significant in metal history. He compares this album to Number of the Beast or Screaming for Vengeance, or that type of album. He says this not because he is in the band, but because he believes in the album.
They talk about the Internet for a bit saying it is important to have a website since it is a good way to give up-to-date information to the fans. Print magazines are cool, but the information is sometimes up to two months old. With the Internet you can put songs for download on the site, but not the whole album. “I would be upset if the entire album was being bootlegged off of some site somewhere,” confesses Brian.
Shadowsfall.com has a message board, and while the band is off the road they do respond to messages. It is tough to respond to messages while on the road, between playing gigs, driving, drinking and eating at Denny’s there just isn’t much time left. However, Matt will answer all email. It may take a while but he will get to it.
Look for Shadows Fall to continue touring this year, check out www.shadowsfall.com for the latest tour dates.
Mercedes and Adam join us for some final comments. Adam is now calling Shadows Fall, Homo’s Fall. Mercedes confesses that she and Brian are in a sexual relationship. Shadows Fall thanks their fans for buying the CD and coming to the shows.
Brian also had some final words, “Don’t believe everything you read.”