From a few opening shows at The Rabbit Hole in Durbanville to winning the Battle for Wacken Cape Town leg 3 at Aandklas against Thread of Omen, Beeldenstorm, Subject to Slaughter and Junkyard Lipstick, with an EP just released, Cape Town based progressive death metal band, Fuera have built a massive reputation in their short 18 month stint on the local scene. Fuera released their debut EP ‘Balancing Machine‘ April 2016 and will be touring Johannesburg prior to the Battle for Wacken Final on the 28th May 2016 at Rumours. Matthew Cox of The Metalist za had a chat with Nicholas Kerr(vox/guitar) and Jonathan Burgers(drums) as they revel in the excitement of their win.
Tell us a bit about your lyrical influence and content off the EP.
Nick: Lyrically the music covers ideas on perception, evolution, space/the universe, sci-fi, science and the apocalypse. Death enters as a large theme through the EP whether it be the death of the universe, the planet or human civilization. I suppose that is what ties us in to being a death metal band apart from my vocal style.
Tell us about the actual recording of the EP. who? where? what gear and techniques were used? and what were the most and least enjoyable parts of the recording process?
Nick: We decided to cut down on costs by recording the guitars and bass in my room with straight DI’s into the PC which saved us about R9 – R10K. This was a great decision, but also pretty shit as I had to sit recording every guitar and bass part and then edit every guitar and bass part which took an amount of time I’m not comfortable mentioning. We recorded the vocals with Heinrich from Burning Tone Studios who then mixed and mastered the EP. Gear: Saffire 6 USB preamps, DAW – Cubase 5, Le Poulin Amp Sims – Peavey 5150 & Mesa Dual Rec.
Jonathan: Regarding drums, manually humanizing was a painful and timely process… But well worth it.
What are your plans for after the tour? How soon can we expect the next release?
We will definitely regroup after the tour. You may see us cutting down on local Cape Town gigs, however, I am keen to set-up a PE, Grahamstown, East London tour, as well as hitting Durban, Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique. We will see how those unfold. For 2016 I want to have 10 solid new tracks down for our full length album. I have 5 new tracks in the pipeline and we have about 8 tracks outside of the EP tracks already to consider for the upcoming album: due end of the year/first third of 2017. It will build on the foundation of the Balancing Machine EP, but also expand it, you may see a 10 minute track and some purely clean tracks on our full length, but no promises.
Who are your favourite local artists and why? Who do you feel complements your sound best when playing live with them?
Nick: I really dig Ohgod. They have that ‘song written like a story’ vibe that I love. I’m also a big fan of Megalodon, they just pull off what they do so well. The music is groovy disjointed fun with a killer atmospheric lead line. I want to see these two bands on the International circuit ASAP, please! Otherwise there are definitely many other awesome local bands.
Jonathan: My favourite local artist is Ohgod, I feel they complement us the most and to pull it of instrumentally is incredible.
Tell us about the history of Fuera. When the current line-up first came into place and what characteristics stood out in each musician that influenced your decision to make music together?
Nick: I approached Francios Meyer, the now DevilSpeak drummer in June 2014 and we started building the band then. We had two other guitarists before Josh and Greg joined at the end of 2014. In about October 2015 Jono joined on drums after Francios left. I was very involved in deciding who joined and a whole array of considerations were made on who would join. When everybody else was more settled into the band it started becoming more a group decision on who we all feel will be right for the group.
Jonathan: I decided to join after seeing the guys live once. After hearing they needed a new drummer, I was up to challenging myself to reach their level.
Who are your main influences? Does each member come from a progressive background or is your sound a result of a combination of styles, with a common interest for progressive music?
Nick: We all listen to progressive music and have a similarity in that. It’s the core underpinning feel in our music so whoever is in the band needs to understand that. For me my influences are Opeth, Emperor, Pink Floyd, Animals as Leaders and some classical music like Debussy and Philip Glass.
Jonathan: Nu-metal / thrash metal styles influenced me.
Explain your songwriting process.
Nick: It’s like an improvisation session being thought out over weeks or months with moments of flow where half the song will come together and then parts you have to grind on. The more relaxed the more the tracks groove and flow. The music I have written has always been a direct reflection of what is going on in my life, my thought patterns and emotions. As a band, I bring the song idea, Josh writes out a second guitar part and lead line and then Greg and Jono write out their parts. I will also have vocal ideas that have come up as I’ve written the song and these all influence the second guitar part writing etc. We will sit in the band room a lot and comb through the tracks, sometimes it feels right to jam out a section of the song as a band and then I will go off on my own and structure it and bring it back.
Have any members had any formal music education that have influenced your unconventional time signatures, note groupings, chord progressions, etc. or do you just write what feels right?
Nick: I actually studied music at school and found myself at university studying a B.Mus where I majored in Jazz guitar and minored in classical guitar. Truthfully I was drunk for most of the time so I don’t know how much I took in. Haha, I was a very shit student, but got through it. My desire to write eccentric, syncopated music goes back to my childhood. I’ve rained in the song writing on the current Balancing Machine EP to be more condensed in style. I used to write 15 minute songs. I’m going to get back to that though, when the time is right. The music is all on feel.
What’s your favourite live experience as a band, and craziest incident to happen so far?
Nick: Hmm, off the top of my head a favourite live experience would actually be at the Wacken Battle. During one of our clean sections in our songs I looked up and there was a guy and a girl in the front row. The girl had her eyes closed and the guy, who I presume was her boyfriend was embracing her and kissed her on the forehead as they were swaying to the music. I felt it was a really special moment to be part of. Not exactly “brutal flailing death pits”, but the other side of the spectrum we try and get our music to tap into.
Jonathan: Favourite live experience… Winning fucking Waken Battle!
If you could tour as a support act for any band, who would it be?
Nick: Honestly, Opeth. They are a huge influence on our music. The other guys also dig them a lot. We however do not aspire to be an Opeth rip off band and I have actually forced myself to pretty much not learn a single Opeth riff my whole life so I can keep my creative bound in its own direction.
How do you guys feel about winning the first heat of the Wacken Battle and how do you feel this will affect your progression as a band?
Nick: We are really very stoked, it’s a great opportunity in front of us and getting to the final in itself is a great victory. It’s good to know that a relatively new band on the scene as ourselves are not being restricted on that basis so when we bring our A game it’s recognized. I think associating with all the finalists at the Wacken Battle and being part of it shows people we are on the same level, so yes this is a great place to be in and platform to spread our music.
Interviewed by: Matt Cox (more from Matt)
Shots fired by: Black Anchor
Date: 210 May 2016
(More from The Metalist za on FUERA)
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