Bay Area 5-piece Fallujah have an interesting take on the ever-expanding genre that is Death Metal. While many bands within the Metal sphere look to rip the head off of everything in their path from the first note, Fallujah offers a more introspective landscape and swirly take on their compositions. Then, they rip your fucking head off.
Clearly technical virtuosos on their instruments (listen to that drummer… damn!), their latest album, The Flesh Prevails, is 9 tracks of sonic chaos that floods the listener with all the breakneck tempo and distorted soloing you could ask of Death Metal, combined with a washy atmospheric component that makes me ponder what Dream Theater might sound like on Special K and Methamphetamine at the same time. I won’t be trying that myself, but please comment if you have a good story about it.
Right after their performance at 2014’s Summer Slaughter Tour, I caught up with vocalist Alex Hoffman in Austin, Texas at The Historic Scoot Inn to talk about the new release, which dropped recently on Unique Leader Records, their run on Summer Slaughter opening for Morbid Angel (!), plans for the rest of 2014 (Europe was recently announced with Goatwhore, Dying Fetus, and Malevolence), and who Fallujah most wants to tour with in the future.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! It’s a hot one, eh?
A- That’s a fucking understatement. Oh my God I’m gonna die. We try not to overheat during our set, but it was fucking awesome.
G- Is this the hottest show that you’ve played before?
A- No. Hottest show I ever played was our first tour ever. We were in Phoenix, Arizona and we played at 10:30 at night. We were the second band of the night. We played in some guy’s living room and they crammed 150 people into this living room, and it was about 112 at 10:30 at night. Some guy smashed a fishbowl, so the floor was covered in glass and water, there was blood everywhere. Everyone was drunk. It was like a Punk co-op, and I ended up breaking into a hotel pool to go swim. It was a fun night, but that was the hottest show there.
Then we played a show in Midland, Texas in a shot-ass abandoned something in 2010. I almost passed out during that set. Today was…
G- So it’s wasn’t that bad, then? It’s hot, but it wasn’t that bad.
A- I’m from Canada, dude. I’m not cut out for this. (laughing)
G- Right on.
So let’s talk about this Summer Slaughter tour, because this is one of the best lineups the tour has had.
A- Oh yeah.
G- You guys have been one of the standouts, and you’re on the opening end of the day. So as soon as people walk in the door, they’re getting their faces blown off. How’s the run been, man?
A- It’s been insane. Like, we’ve had nothing but good responses. Merch has been crazy, just hanging out with people has been crazy, everything! Everything has been better than we could’ve anticipated. Except we missed Houston which sucks. We love Houston.
G- What happened?
A- Basically, we’ve had an abusive relationship with our former trailer…
And for a few years it has been botching days of tour for us. So finally, through Amarillo, we blew 2 tires at once, and doors were falling off, and we were like ‘Fuck this. We’ve got a little money, so we’re going to buy a brand new one.’
So, we missed Houston, but we negotiated and got some money for our old one, and bought a new trailer. Never fucking again! I fucking hate trailers with a passion.
G- Yeah they’ll do that.
So the new album, The Flesh Prevails on Unique Leader, released on July 22nd. It’s fucking nuts, man… Scary ass record!
A- Thanks man.
G- How do you feel the reception has been to the songs, and I want to know if you’ve seen any fan favorites off the record thus far.
A- I mean, the response to the record has been 10x better than we thought it would be. We knew it would be good, and we wrote an album that we’re all proud of, but it’s been accelerating like crazy. The hype building right now is something we couldn’t have foreseen.
Fan Favorites? It’s a bit too early to say, I think. Fans seem to like the opening track, “A Starlit Path.” It’s one of the more dynamic songs on the album. Playing “Carved From Stone” live is one of my personal favorites.
I need to give it a little more time to see what everybody’s favorite is. There’s so much to dig into that people are all individually finding their own favorites, you know?
G- I dig it.
A- It doesn’t seem to be one universal song that everyone loves. Everyone seems to get affected different with different tracks.
G- Cool. And in terms of recording, let’s give the studio that produced this brilliance a little shout out. Where did you record it, who was behind the boards, and how long did it take to get it done?
A- Zach Oren. He has recorded everything that’s been cool in the Bay area. Animosity, All Shall Perish, Suffocation, bands like Ceremony, Tragedy… Tons of great Bay area bands. Suffocation is not, of course, but so many record, and he went out of his way, in an insane way, to make this record happen. He really believed in this album, and he knew it was going to be great. He put so much effort into it. Zach Oren. Castlerock Studios. It was recorded in Sharkbite Studios, which is a Bay Area studio.
And it took us, I would say, maybe 2 weeks. We weren’t in there for an extended period of time. I’d say the longest stretch was 4 days. It was spotty here in there, kind of bursts, because we had to record different parts at different times due to touring and shit like that. Recording it was actually easy. We had a lot of fun.
And with the rest of 2014, you’ve got the album drop, you’ve got the rest of Summer Slaughter Tour, and now you just announced a European tour with Dying Fetus, Goatwhore, and Malevolence… Have you been to Europe before and are you hitting any new countries or places you haven’t been yet?
A- Yeah we hit Europe last year with Suffocation, Cephalic Carnage, and Havok. That was last May and June, about 4 weeks. This run we’re hitting all kinds of new territory. Eastern Europe, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, and we’re also going to Spain and Portugal, which I am so stoked about!
G- That’s great! Hot girls everywhere!
A- Fuck the hot girls… I’m talking about the cured meats and cheeses and wine. That’s what I want!
Even in places like France, Germany, and Holland, we’re hitting a lot of new places. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
G- Right on. And staying with touring for a minute, you’ve got the epic war that was your trailer, but you guys have a lot of time on the road coming up. What do you guys do with your spare time?
A- I do a lot of sitting at the merch table, a lot of talking to people, a lot of drinking. Lots of hanging out. These tours, they way the venues are set up, can be maybe not very conducive to hanging out sometimes. You’re kind of trapped in your van sometimes. Sometimes the food sucks. Every show is kind of different and takes on its own form, so I kinda play it safe and stay by the merch table. I’m one of the more social guys in the band, so I love talk to fans and hanging out, talking and drink. It’s always fun.
G- Right on. So, this is a very interesting mix of Metal you’ve got going on here with the atmospheric component and the Death Metal component and soloing. I want to know, in your opinion, 4 albums that every fan of Fallujah should have in their collection.
A- Animosity Empires, Saturday Equals Youth by M83, The Blade Runner Soundtrack, and probably Converge Jane Doe.
G- A favorite all around. Good choices!
Now, you’ve got a hell of a lineup that you’re touring with right now, and you’re going to Europe with that aforementioned chaos that we mentioned, but if you could pick any 3 bands to go on tour with, who would you pick?
A- Deftones, Thrice, and Godspeed! You Black Emperor.
G- That’s a hell of a mix!
G- That’s a very wide emotion spectrum right there. Damn, that’s all over the place!
A- That’d be mine. That’s what I’d say. Other guys would probably agree with Deftones and Godspeed!, but not Thrice.
G- Hey man, The Artist in The Ambulance is a classic. Hands down.
Alright now.. Favorite memory, best show, or best place you’ve played during your tenure with Fallujah?
A- Hard question. Sometimes good shows happening in bad places and bad shows happen in good places. I love playing NYC. I love NYC. We played probably our biggest show in San Francisco the first day of this tour. 1200 people here I think at The Regency. That was fucking crazy, and we’re from San Francisco so it was cool to be able to play The Regency. We had a great time in Paris the last time we were there. But honestly, of all the touring we’ve done, the best shows from when we were kids were probably playing a local venue in the Dublin area called Lucky’s Pizza. It represents the quintessential old school hardcore shows on the floor, DIY PA systems, just chaos. The coolest shows, and my best memories, are always from Lucky’s Pizza as a kid.
G- Keeping it at home. Very cool.
And one last question: You’re young guys in a younger band, big tours, and a lot of miles coming up. It’s a tough life on the road, we’ve already discussed that…
G- A lot of kids are here today, and a lot of kids are going to be listening to you going forward, and they want to be in bands, too. What does it take to be in a touring Metal band?
A- Patience. Patience and a positive attitude. Patience because touring is 99% sitting around, and a positive attitude because you will get into it with the guys you’re touring with. If you are the type to be negative for the sake of being negative or are passive-aggressive, touring will eat you alive.
G- Leave them somewhere in Arkansas with $5 for a bus ride home?
A- Yeah. The Greyhound home. Pull a Dave Mustaine.
G- We may have just made a meme out of this one.
Well look, we both need to get into some air conditioning. I just want to say again it was an awesome set, and looking forward to more to come. Thank you for speaking with Live High Five today and tour safe and play hard!
A- Thanks man!