Fallujah are currently gearing up to release their brand new album Undying Light, their first with new vocalist Antonio Palermo via Nuclear Blast records. Prior to their show with Obscura in Manchester recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with guitarist Scott Carstairs to discuss not only the new album, but also cream teas and coffee. Prior to starting recording, I mentioned to Scott that I had been listening to the album which is where the conversation starts.
Awesome! We’ve heard some mixed reviews from the songs we released and I kinda like that to be honest. Rustle some jimmies.
I would say it’s a Fallujah record, but not the one people were expecting.
Not at all. The idea with it was to make stripped back and have just the 4 of us involved in writing it. On all our other albums we had loads of solo musicians and fancy synth sounds. For this album, I wanted it to be just the 4 of us and with no fancy sounds. If we want the sounds, we make them with the guitar or use a moog which is on a few tracks.
We were more focused on the sound of the album and the mix rather than trying to make the most amazing or complex riff possible. We wanted to have a nice fat sound on the album which I think we got just right on this album.
You worked with Mark Lewis again, is that right?
Yeah, that’s right. He really killed it on this album. The first time he worked with us, he was trying to work out what we liked. He said: “really, more reverb on this?!” and we were like “yeah, that’s how much we use!” This time around, he knew exactly what we wanted and had some really cool ideas for it and how to make it sound fatter and have a huge atmosphere. He’s awesome and super into classic metal albums by bands such as Megadeth and Deftones so the snare we used on the album was a bell brass one and sounds awesome.
All the techniques he used were out of classic records and as a result sounds huge and awesome. The bass sounds killer too which I find is often overlooked on records. In the past we used to track the bass after the guitars and record and write it at the same time. On this record, we spent way more time working out what we be the best bass notes for each chord and how make the mix sound as big as it could.
What tremolo system do you use on your guitar that allows you to get your sounds?
I use a hipshot bridge so it’s kinds of like a Floyd but more of a Strat style. I use a wide vibrato and swell into it sometimes as well. I try and make it sounds like vocals but on a guitar. I love vocals and to do it with guitar is pretty sick.
What are three things you can’t live without on tour?
A fresh pair of socks. That would do it right there. A good jacket is key as it can get really cold in some places. It was snowing in Munich and without my jacket I would have froze. A spare everything as well is key. I have a spare of everything just in case something stops working. It seems like it’s always body stuff! Oh! and a comb. My hair is super long and without a comb it would be a mess.
On the topic of tour, you have Danny Tunker with you on this tour. Was that a conscious decision or a case of he was free to help?
I met him whilst playing in Eindhoven a couple of years ago and he’s a super cool guy and passionate about guitar. He’s played with some of my favourite bands so I know he can play anything I give him. I thought it would be a cool idea to feature guitar players on tours and that’s what we plan to do going forward. It’s something exciting for the fans and I know some people that have come out specifically to see him. We’ve already picked someone for the US tour and no doubt we’ll get some great people on following tours.
The group of us four in the band of us wrote the album so we’re sufficient in that but I think we need a second guitarist in the live situation to deliver the best performance we can. If we can feature some great guitar players which excite the fans then that works great for us.
Previously, Alex Hofman used to write the lyrics. Who was it that wrote the lyrics for this album?
I would say that conceptually we like to work as a group on everything relating to the album and the vision for the record. Whilst I take the lead in terms of writing, Antoni took the lead in the lyrics in terms of arranging and making sure it was cohesive. We worked as a group in terms of the concept and were really personal to us such as the topic of being in a band and the struggles that come with it such as whether to give up or keep going and chasing your passion.
These are all kind of subjects we can feel personally and we gave Antoni these and let him run with it to create those lyrics. He’s an amazing lyricist and match the depressive feeling of the music we’re putting out perfectly. Both Alex and Antoni came from a similar area of California and have similar influences so there’s some relation there. There’s a lot of good stuff coming out of there at the moment.
Following on from that, are there any bands from the bay area who you think people should check out?
I’d say Ontogeny who have members from Anomalous in there. They’re really good friends of ours and I think folk should check them out. They’ve always made amazing music and it has the same soul of Anomalous. Another band I’d say to check is Wräth who have a similar style to us. Really killer band and we’ve played with them for a long time.
Tea or Coffee?
Coffee man, I’m a true American that way. I used to work as a barista and am fully addicted to coffee. We do have tea sometimes as my family came from Scotland so there’s tea and shortbread every now and again but primarily coffee is what I have. When would you say tea time is though?
2:30pm I’d say. That’s normally when afternoon tea is.
It’s like the 5 hour energy shot. Is that like a cream tea thing with scones?
Yeah, that’s the one.
Ah nice! What would you say is the classic tea? English breakfast?
English breakfast and Early Grey I’d say.
That’s the one. Earl Grey is one that I like to have occasionally. We don’t really have it in the states though.
No, it’s primarily Coffee and pies in the midwest.
That’s right yeah. Pies in the midwest and barbecue in Tennessee and Southern states. We recorded the album in Nashville and that was so good. I had 4 different types of hot chicken and I’d say it’s one of the most culturally american things. That and Californian Mexican cuisine. In the last 20 years though, England has been stepping up it’s Mexican food game so I might grab some of that later.