From The Heart – Bryan Fontez of Last Bullet

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As we continue getting to know Toronto’s Last Bullet and frontman Bryan Fontez, we touched on topics such as song writing, cover songs, keeping true to one’s artistic vision, selling out, their local music scene and the future plans for the band.

 

On the earlier EPs, I felt the lyrics were more fun and young bandtype of material. On the last EP and the new track, there is a definite change. What is changing about the band to push out new ideas?

It’s a combination of things. Ultimately the first EP was written before I had joined the band, when everyone was in fact much younger lol. Brenden had  written most of the music and then Mike our rhythm guitarist had written all of the lyrics. So if the songs sound a little more party oriented it’s because Mike’s influences are more along the lines of Motley Crue, AC/DC and Bon Jovi.

The only lyrics I wrote were for the song “Can’t Move On” and ultimately that was the audition that landed me the gig as the frontman. At the time Mike had vague idea’s about the vocal melodies for his lyrics so I had him hum and sing them to me the way he envisioned them and then I moulded them to my style and personality to make it feel more genuine when I sang them live.

The Love.Lust.Illusion. EP was the first time I had an opportunity to write songs from scratch with the band. So in a way that’s the first time you’re hearing the real/full Last Bullet with all the members. Mike wrote the lyrics for the song “State of Confusion” and I wrote the rest. I have a lot of similar influences to Mike lyrically but I think I naturally gravitate towards themes that are darker, edgier and a little more aggressive, so that’s probably why you noticed a difference in the lyrics and melodies.

But like I said before, we are all growing as individuals so you can expect our lyrics, music and themes to change constantly based on the experiences we have through life. It’s just a natural progression for us and you’ll definitely be able to hear a lot of our personalities in our music.

 

Bands just don’t rock much anymore, free from gimmicks. It is tempting to jump on a bandwagon and join a scene in order to be more successful?

Never. I mean money is great because it helps you open opportunities and do things you wouldn’t be able to do without it. But I’ll never understand a band that jumps on a band wagon or a scene in order to find success. That’s disingenuous and pathetic. You’re lying to yourself as an artist and you know full-well that nothing that you’re creating is coming from the heart.

Money means nothing to me. If it did I most certainly wouldn’t be a musician I can tell you that much. There is no money in this, and if you’re getting into it or writing music because you want to make money, then you’ve completely missed the entire concept of being a musician. I make music because I enjoy it, it might sound harsh but I don’t write music for anyone but myself first. I mean I hope people like it, I really do, but I don’t write it for them, I write it for me. And my standards are so high for the music that I create that hopefully the average person will dig it as well.

I’m also a professional DJ on top of being a songwriter. I’ve seen a lot of my peers and fellow musicians abandon their bands and start a solo career making EDM. Why? Because it’s quick, cheap and easy to do. It’s also way more popular right now and extremely easy to make a name for yourself in quickly. And although I appreciate some of that music and the people who make it, but what sounds more exhilarating and interesting to you…

Sitting in a bedroom and pressing buttons to make synthetic sounds and then pressing play live and mixing songs together for a bunch of people on drugs that will make you love anyone and anything OR singing lyrics from the heart, screaming at the top of your lungs and developing a chemistry with your band on stage during a 40 minute live set where anything can go wrong at any point in time, on any given night, where we’re all fighting, sweating, losing our minds and are completely focused on giving people the best live show imaginable.

In my opinion, they don’t even compare. I love shit that rocks, and I’ll die to keep it alive.

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I really dig your acoustic cover of ‘Feel Like Making Love’ from 2012. Any other songs you have covered or would like to in the future?

Wow you really dug deep into our SoundCloud eh? lol. I really appreciate you taking the time to listen to our music and do your research. It’s refreshing most, people barely listen to our single before they interview us lol.

That cover was a lot of fun to do. It really get’s to show our skills vocally and as dynamic musicians. We love going acoustic and a lot of our songs start off that way. As far as covers go, we have quite a few we’ve done that we draw on from time to time. We normally only do one in a set, MAYBE two. Recently we’ve been doing our own version of Vasoline live. But the list of covers we’re known for doing are as follows…

Slither (Velvet Revolver)

Jailhouse Rock (Elvis)

Show Me How To Live (Audioslave)

Mr. Brownstone (Guns N’ Roses)

Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be (AC/DC)

Bounce (Danko Jones)

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What is the Toronto music scene like right now and who are some other up and coming bands we ought to check out?

The Toronto music scene is pretty damn good. There’s a lot of great music coming out of here, and there’s a great community of musicians who are super supportive of each other and come out to all the shows, festivals and events. Toronto is very eclectic and probably the most multi-cultural city in the world, so you’ll hear a lot of different styles and genres of music as well as a lot of different sounding types of rock bands.

As far as some bands that we enjoy playing with and are similar to in sound and attitude, there’s a bunch that we are really good friends with and would suggest for you to listen to. Fallen Heirs, Diemonds, The Lad Classic, Glass Ampp, Head of the Heard, The Standstills, just to name a few.

Bands we love and have played with outside of Toronto? Our boys in The Wild are from Vancouver and are a GREAT band. Open Air from Calgary are awesome. Monster Truck from Hamilton, The Sheepdogs from Saskatoon, I could go on and on. There’s a lot of great Rock N’ Roll coming out of Canada right now.

 

What touring or gigs if any is lined up for the near future?

Right now we’re in the middle of planning an East Coast Canada tour in May and we have plans do another tour sometime in September. Right now we are booked to play April 2nd at The Bovine Sex Club in Toronto.

 

KEITH CHACHKES

 

 

Dreams of the Carrion Kind (Part III) – The Watcher from FEN

To celebrate the release of their stunning 9/10 album Carrion Skies (Code666 – review here) The Watcher, guitarist and vocalist of England’s atmospheric post-Black Metal band Fen spoke to Ghost Cult on a range of subjects. In the third of four parts, with a further feature to follow in the next Ghost Cult digimag, talk turned to the role of the audience in the development of a band…

 

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When it comes to writing music, and developments and changes in Fen’s sound, do you care what your fans think, or is writing music for Fen purely for the band members?

First and foremost you have to write music that satisfies yourself; that is an absolute underlying fundament of being in a band, but I do care, yes. I think a band takes on a life of its own after a point. We’re on our fourth album, we seem to have quite a few people out there who support us, and I think it’d be disingenuous to say that your audience, or the buyer, isn’t in mind when you’re putting together material. If people are willing to take the time and effort, and potentially money, to invest in your art, then there has to be an element of reciprocation there. We are conscious of the fact we have listeners; it’s not like we’re a global phenomenon but we are aware, and if we put out a record and our established fans didn’t like it, I’d be really interested to know why.

By not being a band that is overtly a touring artist, does that audience becomes more distant, and contact with the people that buy your product is reduced? It’s not like you are a 5fDP with 18 month tours…

“It isn’t, but that’s not to say we wouldn’t like it to be [on tour that long – not that they want to be Five Finger Death Punch – ST]. I enjoy doing this, I enjoy doing shows, we enjoy getting opportunities, and if you’re in a band and you have an audience, you look to grow that audience, and it’s important. I think there are bands that are disingenuous, and they say ‘We just write for ourselves, and it’s a bonus if people choose to listen to us’, but if you’re just doing it for yourself, then just play your music loudly in the rehearsal room.”

To Misquote Al Jourgensen, as soon as you play music to other people you’re selling out…

“I think it’s a dishonest thing to say ‘We just in it for ourselves’. When you pick up a guitar when you’re 13 or 14 years old, you just want to rock the fuck out. You want to be the man! No matter how many permutations your musical endeavours go down, or whatever prisms you view yourself through, as an artist the minute you’re going onto a stage and plugging into an amp that’s cranked up, there’s an element of that original instinct that kicks in, of wanting to just rock out in front of a crowd. I’m not going to lie about that just to make myself look a little bit cooler or more detached, or more intellectual.

“OK, we have signifiers and caveats to it – we’re playing “Atmospheric post-Black Metal…” Well, ultimately, we’re playing loud rock music. That’s an underlying fact. And a part of that is an audience. It’s an important part of being in a band. No one in a band can look me in the eye and tell me they enjoy playing in front of fuck all people. That’s not true. You can lie to yourself with your ‘There were only 2 people there, but those 2 people really loved it’.

“So… ?”

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“I remember in my old band, in Skaldic Curse, we started working on a 25 minute long progressive black metal epic, and we were ‘Oh, this is really going to piss people off’… Hang on a minute, where’s this thinking leading? Are we getting so wrapped up in trying to do what people don’t expect of us? But then you are still thinking about what the audience think, you’re just looking at it through a different end of the telescope. It’s an un-ignorable part of the artistic process, unless you are going to record music on your own at home and only listen to it alone. The minute anyone else enters the picture, even band mates, you’re sharing, and there’s consideration for the listener, and I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t see why that has to somehow compromise the purity of the art.”

I guess it’s always been something that’s intrinsic within the Black Metal / Kvlt Metal mentality or mindset…

“Yes, there’s always the isolationist thing, but if you look at the second wave of black metal, Euronymous still wanted to shift records. He ran a record label. He wanted to sell records from a shop. It was under the guise of spreading the message of the horned lord, or whatever, but he wanted an audience.”

And let’s not pretend De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (Deathlike Silence) is shit…

“It’s a brilliant record, and Euronymous wanted an audience for it. He’d do tours; Mayhem were touring around Eastern Europe in 1990, 1991, and they were one of the first second wave Black Metal bands out there doing it. And there are some real headbanging moments on De Mysteriis… take the riff on ‘Pagan Fears’, that’s a proper fists in the air riff. The mid-section of ‘Freezing Moon’… that’s a head-banging classic, and that’s why I don’t think considering your audience has to be a compromise at all. I think there’s some dishonesty in that level of thinking because you can be inspired, you can write with integrity and you can still consider your audience.

“If you’ve got to a point where your band has a fanbase, then your band has overtaken you. It’s no longer yours and yours alone. And I know John from Agalloch gets really upset with this, he gets upset with fans having a sense of entitlement, and that’s fair enough, but these people are buying and consuming your music, and it’s a sense that’s born from them enjoying your music. While that can be annoying, in a sense, you can listen to them and take some stuff on board. There is a line, but if they’re genuine fans, buying physical releases and merchandise, and they’re investing in your band and your music, then you owe it to them to take them into consideration.”

 

Fen on Facebook

Order Carrion Skies here

 

Words by STEVE TOVEY