The Further Adventures of For The Fallen Dreams
The Further Adventures of For The Fallen Dreams
For The Fallen Dreams are having an epic time in this, their 15th year of existence. They’ve just released an amazing new Self-Titled album on Arising Empire, and are currently hitting the highways of America with Secrets and Outline In Color. And when that trek has concluded, no rest for the band is to be found at all, as For The Fallen Dreams will immediately rage on the road once more alongside Bad Wolves – with Volbeat joining in at a few of the dates.
Right before the release of the Self-Titled endeavor, Highwire Daze caught up with lead vocalist Chad Ruhlig in front of The Echo in Los Angeles for an all encompassing interview. The touring cycle was just beginning, and Ruhlig and company were on the road with the equally amazing Gideon, ready to commence upon the further adventures of For The Fallen Dreams. Read on…
We’re here with Chad from For The Fallen Dreams. How has this tour with Gideon been going so far? And what have been some of the highlights? How do you like Southern California?
Well, Southern California has always treated us well. It’s not treating us well today weather-wise, but it’s just good to be back here in SoCal. It’s always been almost like a second west coast home for us. Always a good time. The tour has been amazing. We’re wrapping up this last week of the leg of a six-week run with those guys. And so many surprises, man. So many little shows along the way that we just did not see being as big or as impactful as we would’ve guessed. Like Chicago was great. Atlanta was great. Salt Lake and Seattle, and SoCal, I could probably just go down the entire list of the tour because every show has had its own little special thing. But the shows have been amazing. The fans have been great. So, it’s just cool to be back out here, man. It feels good after three and a half years to just kind of get back in the swing of things and play in front of all these new and old fans. It’s really great.
Why did you guys decide to do the self-titled album this time around?
Record number seven, 15 years later, a very clear sound shift of what we’re doing. We had so much going on with the new sound and what we were trying to accomplish since 15 years ago, and what this record turned into; it kind of just made sense to start from scratch in a way and say, “Hey, this is For The Fallen Dreams. This is the new era. This is what we’re doing 15 years later. Don’t get it twisted. We’re still up there with the best of them, we’re good at what we do, and we’re enjoying this new space we’re swimming in.” It’s been really fun just experimenting with the new songs, playing them live, writing them. So it made the most sense to kind of say, “Hey, this is a new chapter of the band. 15 years later, seven records in.” That’s a statement. And we stand by that statement that we’re very happy with where this record is and where the band will continue to go.
What made you decide to part ways with Rise Records and Go with Arising Empire? You guys have been on Rise for, I think, almost the entire time.
Almost the entire time. We’ve had a great relationship with those guys. I have nothing but love for the Rise Records team. They gave us our start 15 years ago. I have such a long history with those guys, man. They gave For The Fallen Dreams our start. They gave my other band, Legend, the start that we got. It just got to that point, though where we were needing to try different things. The same reason we’re trying a sound change or we’re going to different producers. It was also important for us to just test the waters and say we know what worked for the band in that era. We know that Rise Records took good care For The Fallen Dreams when we were what we were. And now it’s time to change it up. So I think going with a different label and producer and the sound change, we kind of just had to say, “All right, all bets are off, and we’re really starting from scratch in every way.” The Arising Empire guys, a European label, a great group of guys, they were very excited about us being on the market. They are trying to establish themselves in the States. They have an amazing roster overseas. They’re just killing it over there. So to be a primary focus on a label for us at this stage and how many records in, and the sound change, and for them to still be like, “Yeah, we’re on board.” It was just very refreshing, and they had a great game plan. And we’re super excited to be with those guys. It really is a great thing to be a primary focus on a label that really believes in what you are doing. So Rise to Arising Empire. Let’s hope things continue to just keep swinging up. But we love where we’re at right now.
Your recent song and video, Without You, tell me a little bit about that and the inspiration behind it.
Without You was a song that came in the fourth quarter of the record. We put that one together while we were tracking vocals in the studio. We knew we wanted to do something a little different as far as the time signature. So we did a song in three-four, and that was a little bit different from the rest of the record. Sonically, it came together very easily. It was the last track we put together for the record, which turned out to be what really is the primary focus track of the record. Lyrically, it’s a very emotional song. It has a lot of life to it. I think, and I’ve talked about this before, being genuine and really believing in what you’re writing is very important. It’s very important that if you’re going to do something, you got to do it 110%. Or if you don’t believe what you’re saying and what you’re writing about, the fans are not going to believe what you’re saying you’re writing about. So to be genuine, first and foremost, lyrically was the goal. It’s a very emotional song. It’s a song about grieving. It’s a song about losing a loved one.
I wrote this record with that in mind that we’re never really promised any amount of days tomorrow. That could be it for any of us, any one of my family and my friends, a stranger. You never know. You just really never know. And that song, it was emotional for me tracking it, just thinking about my own mortality or any of my families or friends or whatever, just in general. It’s a heavy subject. And since then, my grandfather, who’s a massive influence me – I would not be the man in the musician I am without him. He passed away last week. So that song holds true now more than ever. It hit me before, and even thinking about it now gets me sweating a little bit, man. But it’s a beautiful thing. Music is a beautiful thing. And a song like Without You is therapeutic for me, and I hope fans are able to find solace in that song as well with whatever they’re going through and grieving or a loved one. And writing that one was a trip. And I’m glad it’s one of the big focus tracks of this record.
No Heaven, tell me a little about that one.
No Heaven was a track that I wrote with, well, I shouldn’t say I, the whole band really came in and wrote it with DL Laskiewicz, a good friend of mine. You’d know him from the band Bad Wolves. He sings for them. But him and I have been writing music together for a very long time. We did a song. We did a record. My other band, Legend, we did a record together in 2015. It was a self-titled record as well of my band Legend. So him and I remained very close friends. We were just messing around with the For The Fallen Dream stuff. He did all the vocal production, and I said, let’s write a song, man. Let’s write a song together, and we’ll bring in the rest of the boys too, and we’ll put something together, and let’s have a blast with it. So we were messing around with some riffs, and him being not just a singer-songwriter but a phenomenal guitar player was like, “What do you think about this riff?” And I was like, “All right, we’re cooking, man.” So we just kept going. And it kind of just worked out, man. It was really cool to write a song for this record with one of my best friends and have that song be like a staple now in our set that we play live. One of the bigger songs of the record as well. It’s really rad. Lyric-wise, it’s just nothing, kind of a vague song. Nothing too crazy. Sometimes I like to be a storyteller. Sometimes I write about really sad, emotional stuff that I’m going through, but it’s not always a personal thing. So, No Heaven’s one of those tracks where it was just a story I wanted to tell about life and loss, and we went down that road. But the composition of it was a collab with a good friend of mine.
What If, let’s talk about that one.
What If was the one that threw everybody for a loop? That was the very first song that we had released in over five years. People had heard our last record Six, which came out in 2018. It had “that viral hit called Unstoppable” That did really well. I think it’s up to like 18 or 19 million on YouTube and just did great numbers. So I think people thought we were going to follow suit with that, right? They thought they were going to get Unstoppable part two. And then we came out with a song that sounded like a Linkin Park B-Side, which was fun, man. It’s one that we talked about this earlier with the guys. Debatable that it was either the best or worst song to release first because it’s one of the most off-the-wall songs on the record as far as doing like the rhyming and flow and rap style stuff, and it’s a very slow tempo song putting that out as the very first track that people have heard from us in five years. You had people that were just like, “What the hell is this?” You know what I mean? Like, really, threw the old fans were loop.
But we were able to grab a lot of attention, man. A lot of attention from the new fans. And since then, since the summer, bringing in a whole new fan base, the new fans, the OG fans, everybody’s been so great, man. It’s been so great just to connect with everybody on that way and have them say this isn’t the For The Fallen Dreams I heard 15 years ago, and that’s why it’s special. I’m just glad they’re here, and they’re still making music. So What If was the oddball, and I think it’s great that we released that first. And it’s also a little comical to me sometimes, because it really just threw people for a loop. But it’s a good representation of a lot of what’s on this album. There is a lot of that spoken word style flow and guitar work and riffs. That’s something For The Fallen Dreams is not used to doing, is being a band that’s like, oh, they got riffs. We know we’re heavy, but they’re coming out with some riffs and some slow tempo, big choruses. It was also the first time that anybody had heard me sing on a song. I’ve never sang until this record. So good first song. I’m happy with the way What If was perceived.
I have a few questions about the past. Then we’ll switch back to the new album. Did you know Dylan Richter (the other lead vocalist in the band when you had left), and what did you think about the albums that he was on?
I did. He’s from around. We’re all Michigan Boys, for the most part. As far as like the older material, Relentless was a great record. We still play some of those songs live. I think having Jim and Andrew that were a big chunk of the writing with that one. They did a great job. Back Burner and Wasted Youth are their own things. While they’re not my favorite records of the For The Fallen Dreams catalog, I still think those records did a lot, man. Back Burner had some great hits on it. And for everything that the band did while I was away, it was all stepping stones to get to this point. So you got to appreciate Relentless being Relentless and then moving into Back Burner. Back Burner was much different than Relentless. And Wasted Youth was much different than Back Burner and Relentless, and every album that For The Fallen Dreams has done. And that’s why sometimes I’m a little surprised that people are like, “I can’t believe it doesn’t sound like this or sound like that.” It’s like, “Have you not listened to the trajectory over the past 15 years?“
Every record has been different from the record before it in whatever way that means. You know what I mean? Wasted Youth was very alternative metal core with pop influence. It was very different, very off the wall. And that sounded completely different from Back Burner. And then Heavy Hearts, when I came back, sounded completely different from Changes. We’ve always been all over the place. And if you’re able to sit there and listen through the discography without being closed-minded, you can say, “Okay, these guys have been painting this picture on the wall for a very long time.” So where we’re at now isn’t too far off from the trajectory of where we’ve wanted to be. But those earlier records, the ones without me were still very important to the band’s foundation and success at the time. And without those records, we wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing now. They’re still an important piece of the puzzle.
When you look back at that first album Changes, what do you think now in retrospect, 15 years ago?
We still play some of those songs live. So, they’ve definitely held. We stood the test of time. You know what I mean? There’s still crowd favorites. There’s still songs that we play, Vengeance being one of those songs. That’s a heavy song. That’s a metal festival song. That’s a European festival track. 15 years later, we could still play that, and then people would be like, this is the track. So it’s definitely stood the test of time. All great songs. It’s a little surreal sometimes just to think back that, like now to be putting out the new record 15 years later. Well, it’s been 15 years, and that’s madness. You know what I mean? We were 19, 20-year-old kids putting out our first record and we didn’t have a clue what this was going to do. We didn’t have a clue that Changes was going to pave the way for the band or really lay the complete foundation for who we are. You know what I mean? And give us the platform to continue to do this. So to look back at it and think about my 20-year-old self writing some of these songs, I never in a million years would’ve guessed that I’d still be here 15 years later releasing a seventh record, and still on tour, still having people sing along to new and old stuff. I’m very humbled by it, man. It’s a beautiful thing, and I’m just happy to be here. I’m happy to still be here and enjoying the ride after all these years and changes. It’s all because of Changes. So it’s a beautiful thing.
When you look back on your time in Legend which the two albums, on Rise Records. What do you think of those now in retrospect? Would you ever like to revisit Legends again?
Yeah. Legend will always be there because it’s turned into this glorified studio project now. Now it’s like this novelty thing that people still look forward to. We did Valediction, which came out in 2010. But then The Pale Horse came out in 2011. And those records, for me to leave For The Fallen Dreams for the time that I did and start another band from scratch and have that band be successful in its own space. It’s a really cool thing, man. Again I’m just happy to be here. But for Legend to have its own mark on this small niche of music is really cool. And all of that had to happen while For The Fallen Dreams was doing what they were doing at the time without me. So again, I say puzzle pieces. This is all part of the big picture. So it made the impact of me coming back to the band that much more impactful because I left and I did this other band that everyone still loved, and then I was like, “Oh, boy. He’s back for For The Fallen Dreams, but he’s still doing Legend.” It’s been cool, man. And as far as like doing new stuff, we put out a bunch of singles during the pandemic. I did a different single with a different producer and writer for each song. It will always be there. It’ll always be that glorified studio project now, and I love that. That’s what it is. I love that. It’s kind of like no rules. And it’s cool.
Your guest vocals are all over iTunes.
Yes, they are.
What format did you use to decide I’m going to do this song or I’m not gonna do this song?
I’ve never really said no to any song. I’ve never told a band, no, I’m good. I’ve always made myself accessible to people who are interested in what I do. It doesn’t matter if it’s a band that’s been a band for two weeks or a band that’s been a band for five years. If someone respects my craft enough to ask me to be on their material, I’d love to do it. Obviously, there’s logistics that go with recording and all that stuff, but I’ve never turned down a guest vocal just because I see that as a huge sign of respect. If you love my vocal so much that you want to put me on a song, I’m not going to discriminate and say this band isn’t as good as this band. I just love to be a part of it, man. It’s, like you said, I’m all over iTunes with that. It’s been a privilege, and I hope to do more.
Do you have any messages for For The Fallen Dream fans reading this in the magazine right now?
Thank you all so much. I think it’s as simple as that. Thank you, guys, for sticking around for 15 years. To be doing this for as long as we have is no easy feat. And we would not be able to do that without the love from the fans and the acceptance over the years, good, bad, ugly, and in between. We’re happy to be here, and it’s a big thank you to all the fans over the years that have just kind of been along the route with us, man. It’s been crazy to be a young kid and now a full-grown adult that’s still doing this stuff. It’s great, man. So, hats off to the fans. Love you guys and appreciate you for all your support over the years.
(Interview by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Jack Lue)
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