Fire From The Gods recently released Narrative on Rise Records, and it’s an album I feel everyone needs to hear. The power of the lyrics is only enhanced by the intensity of the music, and it makes for a great listen, no matter what type of music you enjoy. AJ Channer‘s words are truly heartfelt, and he brings the listener on an uplifting journey from the beginning to the end. I’ve been a fan of his work for years now, but this is his shining moment, and a stepping stone for what can only be an even brighter future.
I recently got to chat with AJ about writing, recording, and performing the tracks on this new record, and you can read our interview below. This is a man that has something to say, and after you read his words, I urge you to grab Narrative today!
Mark- AJ, it’s great to talk to you my friend. Congrats on the new record man, I’m absolutely loving it!
AJ- Thanks Mark. I’m really happy you’re digging it. The response has been extremely positive so far.
Mark- It definitely has been, and it’s well deserved. You guys obviously put everything into this record, and now that it’s finally out, it has to be a great feeling for you.
AJ- It is man. It really is. It’s interesting too, because we didn’t expect to write this kind of record in the beginning. I think as a band, like the fans, we were thinking one way, but once the songs started to come together like they did man, it was a whole new animal. Narrative has hints of the heaviness that fans are used to, but it also mixes in our other influences, and we created something I think is really special.
Mark- How much did David Bendeth influence this new direction? I know you’ve said working with him in the studio gave the band a new life.
AJ- David definitely had an impact on it. We’ve worked with producers before that were very relaxed, and that’s not David’s work ethic at all. Going into the recording of the record, we were already pressed for time, and so there was no messing around with him. He’s produced so many great records over the past decade, so when it was time to plug in and go, that’s what we did. It was a lot of pressure, but it made us focus more, and the end result are these new songs. He really made us grow up, in a sense, but also brought the best out of us in a really short time, so he was definitely the right man for the job on this record.
Mark- I totally agree, and I’m not the only one. The response so far to this album has been unbelievably positive. Even websites known for talking shit didn’t have bad things to say, which I found awesome for you guys. This record really has something for everyone.
AJ- Yea, I feel like it does too. The first impression that everyone got of the new material was the ‘Excuse Me’ video, and of course people starting calling it a rap-metal revival or whatever, but once the album came out, they realized it was so much more. Once the record hit the stores, then the ‘End Transmission’ video came out, it was a blessing in disguise. People really listened, and heard what we were about, and that’s what we want in the first place. A lot of fans are so genre specific these days, but there are so many different elements on this album. To read all of the positive comments really shows that people are giving this a chance with open ears, which is what music is supposed to be about anyway.
Mark- The ‘Excuse Me’ track was the perfect single to release first for many reasons in my opinion. Obviously it showcases the different styles of music you guys can bring, but your lyrics really hit home with the feelings a lot of people have in the States right now. The racial tensions are at an all time high right now, and through your lyrics you really expressed the pain and anger people are feeling, but in a powerful and uplifting way.
AJ- Thanks man. It was really interesting because when we released the video, it was around the time that all the chaos in Dallas was going on. The video was scheduled to come out on that day for months, so when it came out while that struggle was all over the news, it seemed to work out in a weird way. It was in no way planned, but things happen for a reason ya know.
What really made me smile was that people realized that the song was more about unity than anything. It was not at all a song we wrote because of what happened in Dallas. It was written months and months prior to that. People could interpret that song as anti-police, or something extreme, but it’s not at all. It’s calling for love. It’s calling for unity of the people, and for most of the fans, they got that, and that’s what it’s all about. That really made me happy that fans opened their ears and found the true meaning of the track.
Mark- That’s one thing that really sticks out to me when I listen to this album. There is obviously a lot of pain, anger and frustration in your words, but the overriding theme is very uplifting and positive, and I really admire that.
AJ- I appreciate that. I really do. I’ve been doing this a long time, as you know, and I’ve always put my heart out there in all of my songs. That’s how it was with the music I grew up on, and that’s how I feel it should be. With Narrative, I think I finally became the artist that I’ve always wanted to be. I wanted to create an emotional journey on this record, because that’s the most powerful type of music to me. Whether it’s black metal, death metal, hardcore, punk, or whatever, music is meant to evoke emotion. With Narrative, I wanted to talk about the political and sociological issues going on, along with what I’ve learned from my life’s experiences. I think people really appreciate the honesty, because I do as a fan when I hear someone open up from the heart. That’s why when we were picking out a title I came across Narrative, and it just made sense. It’s a modern narrative that people from all walks of life can relate to. Each song calls for a different emotion, whether it’s anger, pain, hope or whatever, but the overriding theme is overcoming adversity no matter what. This record takes you from the bottom, and can hopefully help people realize that they can overcome anything in life. I truly believe that.
Mark- The way you go about preaching that message is very unique on this album. You showcase your screaming and singing that we all know, but you also throw in hints of reggae, hip hop and much more. How was it incorporating that into this style of music?
AJ- It kind of just happened. Like I said we didn’t expect this record to come out like it did when we first started writing the music. With the ‘Excuse Me’ single, it was the last song we wrote, and we didn’t finish it until the very last-minute of our recording time. It is actually a funny story because we were stuck on the chorus and ending one night, and that’s how the reggae and hip-hop parts came about. I was just freestyling to myself, and everyone looked at me like “Why are you not doing this on this song?” I didn’t want to do it at first, but once I put down the lines, it made sense. Of course we didn’t do it on every song, because I didn’t want people thinking we were another Skindred or something, but it worked, and the reggae part came about the same way. I was sitting around singing Bob Marley‘s ‘Redemption Song,’ and they all told me to add that to the song on the spot, so I did. It definitely was not planned, but as I said before, these songs go in so many directions, that it opens up the doors to whatever we want. Musically or lyrically, we can do whatever we want, and so I did my best to bring that out during those parts. Now that I hear them, I know it was the right thing to do, because it works so well. It’s funny because I was not going to do it at all, but now it opens us up to do it more in the future, along with whatever else, so it’s cool.
Mark- It definitely adds another element that can wider your audience, which is always a good thing. Every track has something unique, but I know you’ve mentioned that ‘Lifeline’ holds a special place in your heart. Why is that?
AJ- ‘Lifeline’ is special to me for many reasons. My upbringing was pretty chaotic ya know. My parents weren’t together when I was growing up, so I come from a broken home, so to speak. My dad was in Brooklyn, while I lived overseas with other family. I lived in West Africa for many years, so it was a very disjointed childhood in that sense. As an adult, I’ve been all over the world, as you know, trying to find myself. I tried school, and that didn’t work out. I tried touring in bands, and that didn’t work out. So I was in New York, living on my own, and as we both know, that’s not an easy thing to do. So I’ve been searching for that ‘Lifeline’ my whole life really. Even in my darkest times on this Earth, there was always a lifeline there, and I just had to find that in myself. This record is about taking an introspective look at yourself, and finding that strength inside. It’s not an easy thing to do, but once you find it, you feel unstoppable. No matter how much doubt creeps in, we can overcome anything, as I did, and we did as a band, and you can really hear that in this journey of an album. That’s why that song sticks out to me. It’s one of, if not the main theme, of the record, and something I truly believe in.
Mark- I think you can really hear that in your words, and I can only imagine how powerful these songs come across live. I know you just did a support tour with OTEP, as well as some headlining gigs, so how was it for you to finally play these tracks live?
AJ- Awesome. Just awesome. As you very well know, OTEP fans are OTEP fans. They are some of the most dedicated and loyal fans out there. They live on every word she speaks, so it was a daunting task to step in front of them every night, because I’m sure most of them had no clue who we were. As the sets would go on though, you could see people connecting with the music, and by the end of the show, they were applauding every night. We were really blown away at the response, because we didn’t know what to expect, but again, it shows people are listening, and that’s exactly what we want. It was definitely a surreal experience.
Mark- When can we be able to see you guys live? What’s coming up next?
AJ- We have a lot in the works, but not a lot I can talk about. Fans can find out when we are hitting the road on our Facebook page of course, but as it looks right now, we will have a very busy 2017. So I will see you soon Mark.
Mark- That’s good to hear! It will be great to see you, and finally hear these new songs live!
AJ- No doubt. We want to get out there, and play this stuff for everyone. We don’t mind playing gigs that are strictly in our genre, but we want to spread the Narrative to as many audiences as possible. I’ve said, since day one, that I would love to get heavy music back in the mainstream. Not like the glitz and glamour of the 80’s and 90’s, but more of as a respected style of music that people are supporting. Heavy music, as opposed to pop and the mainstream, is written from the heart, and there’s nothing like it. Yea, there are some pop and mainstream artists that do it, but not like we do in heavy music. The amount of work that our artists put into their craft is untouchable, and I would love to have it respected the way it should be one day. It needs to happen, and I want to have a part in it.
Mark- You guys are definitely on your way with Narrative for sure. Congrats on this record, and I’ll see you soon my friend!
AJ- Thank you for your support Mark. Much love!
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