Fallujah fearlessly mesh elements of progressive metal, blackened death, and a fiery dose of imagination, unveiling an extreme artistry that is wondrous to behold. The San Francisco-based collective recently completed a trek across the country on the Summer Slaughter Tour, impressing audiences with their epic opening performances. Toward the beginning of the Summer Slaughter madness, we caught up with vocalist Alex Hofmann at the House Of Blues on the world famous Sunset Strip – just right after they leveled the venue with a thoroughly mesmerizing set. Read on as we discuss their new album The Flesh Prevails – now available on Unique Leaders Records – life on the road here in the States and abroad, the San Francisco music scene, and other exhilarating topics of intrigue…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Fallujah and how long the band has been together.
I’m Alex, I sing and the band has been around since 2007.
What’s the metal scene like in San Francisco?
Not a good scene in my opinion. It’s one of those towns where the local shows do OK and the big bands do OK. But it’s really difficult for smaller touring bands to come through, it’s not really self sustaining. Hence why we’re motivated to go out and tour quite early. We started touring when we were 18. San Francisco is our home but as far as these days, it used to be when I was a kid, we had an awesome hardcore scene. Metal took a little bit of a back burner, but things kind of blended after a while. so the metal and hardcore scenes were together, it used to be fucking amazing. Now all the big bands got off on their feet, small bands broke up. The scene is a lot different than is used to be.
How’s the Summer Slaughter tour been going so far, what are some of the highlights?
Merch sales! That’s been great, food hasn’t been that great since we haven’t gotten any. Good shows, talking to people. We’re only three days in so we haven’t hit a lot of the hot weather or long drives yet. We’re milking that as long we can because it’s about to be fucking brutal by the end of this.
Let’s talk about the new album. Is there any story or concept behind the CD title, The Flesh Prevails?
Yeah, well, it’s not really a concept album at all, but there’s a recurring theme you could say, that being self-empowerment. Whether it’s emotional empowerment, sexual empowerment, psychological empowerment. A lot of different themes of finding yourself in incredibly volatile and dark places instead of trying to escape them and deal with them head on.
Select two songs that you’ll be doing tonight and what inspired the lyrics.
The song “Sapphire” I wrote around the time I was moving out to San Francisco. That mixed with some looming childhood ideas I’ve had ever since I’ve left Canada, I’m Canadian. This lack of knowing where you’re from and knowing where you should be and being unsatisfied where you find yourself and kind of reminiscing on places you really enjoy and you can never go back to. It was about this insecurity of not really feeling you’re in place and nowhere is really home. Then “Carved from Stone,” I’ll let the listeners read the lyrics and make up their own minds about that song.
Who did the cover art and how much input did you have on it?
Tomasz Alen Kopera, who’s a Polish artist. I’ve followed him forever. I handle all of our artwork, all of our previous stuff was usually done by me and so we wanted to bring someone in to do the new album cover. We were shopping around for a really long time looking for something that made sense and we kind of had no luck and we came across that and we were like – the artwork kind of represents all of the themes of the album tied up into one. It was my job to do all the photo treatment, texture and color to get that and the whole layout to look cohesive. To look like one general package, which was a lot of fun, actually. I always really enjoy using other people’s artwork in making it my own than actually doing stuff from scratch like I’ve had to do before. I licensed this artwork, I need to make a layout out of it, I think the whole thing came out exactly how we wanted. We think we have the best cover of any band out right here, we’re really stoked on the artwork. It’s really elegant and tasteful.
If Fallujah could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why.
The Deftones. They’re my favorite band of all time. We all love The Deftones. We’d love to open for Devin Townsend, he actually tweeted at us last night saying that he loved our new album. We all fan-girled for a second. I’d love to go on tour with a band like Godspeed You Black Emperor. From back in the day, it’s nice to say oh yea going on tour with Pink Floyd would be awesome, but whether or not that’s realistic. I’d love to go on tour with Thrice. They’re my second favorite band of all time. I’d love to eventually evolve to a point where tours with those bands are actually feasible, where the set can be diverse enough to where we could tour with them. Animals As Leaders got to tour with Thrice, that’d be a dream come true for me. If Thrice hadn’t happened, none of this from Fallujah would have happened, at least for me. I would have never started the band. They started the whole chain of things for me. That’d be a great opportunity.
How did the European tour with Suffocation go?
It was a learning experience. There are a lot of logistics in going to Europe that you have to tackle head on because the fans are different, there’s a lot of things we’ll do differently next time in terms of merch and traveling. Like, it’s just really expensive in the beginning. You can be doing really great in the states, go over there and no one knows who you are so you’re kind of starting over at a certain point. But it was cool seeing these fans who didn’t even speak a word of English, crazy superfans who are wearing your shirts they ordered for $30 shipping and they live in the Ukraine or Poland or some shit, oh you paid so much money to get that t shirt, wow. We became really good friends with the guys in Cephalic Carnage, really good friends with the guys in Havok. Traveling is why I do this. Playing music and traveling are the two motivations for touring. You have such a long periods of time because the busses show up so early, and you have these late bus calls. You can spend your days traveling, be back by three for soundcheck then after the show is over, you can go find a place to party until 4am when your bus leaves. You dont have to worry about driving. It’s a lot of convenience which of course is very expensive. You pay like €15 for a bag of nectarines and shit in Finland. You have to budget your money appropriately.
What’s up next for you guys after Summer Slaughter is all over?
We have a little west coast headliner coming up, doing all “B” markets with a few bands. Those details will come out later. Then we’re going to Europe with Dying Fetus and Goatwhore, who are both on this tour. We’re doing Europe for five weeks then after that, the album cycle begins really soon, we’re at the beginning of it. The album comes out next Tuesday, so right now once the first week sales come out and these tours wrap up, there’s already talk for early next year.
What would you like a listener to remember the most after hearing your album for the first time?
How it made you feel and what emotions it made you elicit. We as a band don’t really look for achieving things like brutality and technicality, those come standard in my opinion. It’s what you really do with music is, while we’re writing progressions and melodies and trying to create an aura with a song, we ask: what does this song tell you? What does putting these three notes in this order change the way you feel when you put them in a different order? It can elicit nostalgia, sadness, lust, depression, all kinds of memories about whatever and that’s what I’d like them to really try and harness when they put the album in for the first time. Like, wow, that section of the song, how did it make you feel for the first time and did it make you think of something from your past that’s completely different than what I felt when I was writing it?
Any messages for people reading this that should check your band out?
There’s tons of merch online, you can order anywhere. Local stores, at shows, if you’re going to come to Summer Slaughter, buy at the table. Come say what’s up. Help us get that good first week sales.
Alex Hofmann – Vocals
Scott Carstairs – Guitars
Brian James- Guitars
Robert Morey – Bass
Andrew Baird – Drums
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)
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