|Audio-only version of the interview|
SAN FRANCISCO (WHITE NOISE METAL) – In a changing world, Shadows Fall frontman Brian Fair knows you have to be proactive about making change work for you. In the band’s second appearance on the White Noise Metal Video Podcast, Fair tells host “That BS Dude, Brian Shields” Shadows Fall is embracing that change from the way the band members write music to the way they get their creative product out to their unique fan base. Fair says taking responsibility for making things change is the theme of the first single off the new album “Retribution” called “Still I Rise.”
" Lyrically, it's a song about channeling inner strength and rejecting the idea that a lot of people will project perfection on something they think is unattainable,” Fair said. “The first line, 'Stop Searching the Sky for Answers and Look Within', instead of always putting things in the hands of a god or a higher power, realizing the power's within you and it's also your responsibility. If you want things to change, you can't just pray for change, you have to create change. It's not a knock on anyone's spiritual beliefs or religion but it's about not using that as an excuse or as an escape route but using it to inspire you. That's a problem I've always had with a dogmatic approach to religion. If you just want to read the rules and think at the end of the day I'll be fine because I did everything I was supposed to but if you don't do anything to help the world, that's kind of missing the point. It's also to know that when things seem the bleakest, to know you have the power inside you to make a change."
“Retribution” marks a change in approach for Shadows Fall who are coming off the Atlantic release “Threads of Life.”
“It's definitely a darker, more aggressive record than the last one,” Fair added. “There's still a lot of melody, it's always a big part of our sound. But this record is a little more up-tempo, more thrash beats. I think of a lot of it is the way we wrote. We wrote a lot of stuff altogether in the practice space, full volume, at once as opposed to trading CD'. I think that playing it altogether loud kicked it up a notch in intensity. A lot of the transitions were worked out on the spot as we jammed so you got a lot of the technical side of it there too. We're really excited. We think it's the perfect balance of all of our influences from old style classic metal, the Priest and the Maiden influences that we'll always have, through the melodic death metal like At the Gates, to everything we've ever done.”
Fair tells White Noise Metal the decision to write together in the practice space made the songs on “Retribution” instantly ready for live performances. On the podcast, he talks in detail about “Still I Rise” and “Public Execution” which he describes as the most brutal tune on the release.
“We've never had a curse on a record before. So we thought let's just chant 'fuck.' It just fit the energy of the song. It's sort of a song about anger and energy but it's unfocused. Just revolution for the sake of it but you don't really know what you're railing against. That kind of happens sometimes in aggressive music, especially in classic thrash where you have some lyrics that inspired you do something they just didn't tell you what. It's a tongue-in-cheek approach to that but at the same time using the same ways they get you to sing along. What better sing along to have than just 'Fuck it All.' I think it's also an attitude that a lot of people can embrace in this day and age when everything's just such a mess, you just throw your hands up in the air."
Brian Fair and Shadows Fall certainly aren’t throwing their hands up in the air when it comes to the changing face of the music industry. After that one record with Atlantic, the Shads have decided to create their own record label and maintain total control over the relationship they have with their fans.
“Major labels are kind of in a panic about record sales and doing things the way they used to,” Fair told White Noise Metal. “So we decided to be proactive about it. Let's change the business model. We still use a major label, Warner Music, as a distributor so they can get us into retail and open those doors we wouldn't be able to do on our own. They hire Ferret music out of that to do the everyday promotions, a DIY thinking label that understands a band like us from the ground up. We make the final decision about everything. We know the bottom line is no longer about helping the record label, it's about helping us because we're the bottom line."
Fair says it’s silly to stay on a sinking ship just because that’s the way the industry has always worked.
"It's about taking the power back,” the Shadows Fall singer added. “It's about flipping the grid where instead of everyone else getting paid and we get the trickle down royalties in the end, we flipped it so that now it gives you a motivation to work harder. Yes, it is more work running your own label but it's worth it in the end, especially to go from 10-to-12 percent to 70-to-80 percent, big difference."
Fair says Shadows Fall knows its audience better than someone sitting in a record company office. While touring in support of “Retribution” the singer is talking daily with fans on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The band also has set up its own social networking site using the Ning platform.
"On this tour, I'm going to give a secret password on Twitter with something random,” Fair said. “So if you come to the merch table and say this, you're going to get free something. If we have guest list spots, I'm going to give them away on Twitter. We're going to use it as a way to talk to people. It may be something as simple as if you meet me at 7:00 tomorrow, I'll buy you a shot of Jägermeister if you have a valid ID. It's cool. All of the tools are out there because it's getting tough to survive as a band in the traditional ways if you don't find a way to make it work."
So what will you find in Brian Fair’s mp3 player these days? In White Noise Metal’s famous segment called “Shit We Like”, the Shadows Fall frontman says he’s been listening to a lot of instrumental music lately.
“One band is Russian Circles. I really love their record “Station.” It will start really minimalistic with these guitar riffs and it will build to these huge riffs. It's sick. Maybe I listen to a lot of instrumental music because I'm a singer so I'm sick of people yelling at me. That's one band people should definitely check out."
White Noise Metal with That BS Dude Brian Shields features interviews and profiles with some of the top names in the genre. Previous episodes have featured bands raging from Gojira to Between the Buried and Me to Corrosion of Conformity. White Noise Metal is available at http://www.whitenoisemetal.com, on iTunes, and on MySpace Video.