In the last several years, the rise of FALLUJAH has been enormous. The Bay Area tech-metallers have shot up the ranks through their expansive soundscape and relentless approach to their live sound. One year on since the release of the sensational Dreamless, the band have graced the prestigious Bloodstock Festival for the first time, and despite the departure of long-standing vocalist Alex Hofmann, the band’s momentum is still in full gear. Following their performance on the Ronnie James Dio Stage (read our review of that performance here) we caught up with guitarists Scott Carstairs and Brian James to discuss the band without Alex, their approach to song-writing and playing a festival like Bloodstock for the first ever time.
So FALLUJAH played the very early slot this morning, how did you think that performance went?
Scott: I think it went pretty well, especially since it was early, well, it wasn’t early for us as we showed up at four in the morning so we were just waiting!
Brian: We’re on American time still so we’re super jet-lagged.
Scott: But for being so early, everybody came out and enjoyed it and I think we gained a lot of new fans!
This is FALLUJAH’s first time playing Bloodstock, were there any nerves coming into this?
Brian: Not really, it’s funny as we were just talking to someone else, but the nerves come from just making sure your guitar is working fine, the gear is all running well, the backline is all ready to go. Once that is all set up and ready to go it’s almost a relief and I can just play.
Scott: Yeah, once the set starts and it is fluid, all the nerves go away.
Brian: Especially with the fests, I just like to rock out and I really like to take in all the people there and make eye contact with everybody and make sure everyone is enjoying themselves. It doesn’t really feel like I’ve got a bunch of people staring at me, it feels like we are all there together.
The setlist was very streamlined, it was a nice chunk of every record FALLUJAH have done, was that the intent with playing a festival that you’ve never done before?
Scott: A little bit!
Brian: Having a catalogue now, we can pull the best from each album and that’s what it is about. We wanted to show off the best songs from each album, especially the ones that come off really well live.
Since Alex left, your new vocalist really seems to have integrated into the band. Was it a quick learning curve for him?
Brian: Very quick!
Scott: It’s funny, we’ve known him for years so he’s already adjusted to our humour and how we are. We’re all from the same area and we’ve toured together. He’s toured with us as crew and with other bands as a singer so it was pretty quick. Alex wanted to leave and we had all this stuff lined up and he instantly knew he would be the one to fill the job.
So it was seamless then?
Scott: Definitely, he’s already done merch for us on a very long tour. He knows our music quite well so it was seamless, he didn’t need any instructions. It made us less nervous, we didn’t need to worry about someone else.
These festival runs are still off the back of Dreamless which was released last year. Now that record has been out for over a year, how have you found the reception for that record?
Brian: I think it’s been as good as we wanted it to be.
Scott: I think fans just want more now…
Kind of leading onto that, have you started looking ahead to the next record?
Scott: I think because this is not like a job for us, we love to play our instruments and we love to write music, the writing process never ends. We never finish an album and take a break, we’re always making music and we’re always developing our sound. We have a few things in the works.
So it’s almost like a natural evolution of your sound?
Scott: I think having a solid lineup for all these years, nothing seems out of place. Being the same writers all the time, it would be different if another guitarist came into the band and said “okay I have to write to this style.” It’s our style and our music, so it just comes out naturally. I think it’s really cool that the band has evolved naturally and the fans have been with us for that.
With FALLUJAH’s music being so technical, it allows you to play to catered crowds like at UK Tech-Fest last year for example. How does playing a festival that is catered around a specific style compare to that of Bloodstock which caters for everything heavy?
Brian: Maybe because it was just so early but I think there was a lot of people that didn’t know us before. Maybe because it is a different scene I guess? Playing this fest, there are a lot of people who are just watching us and finding out what we were where at Tech-Fest people knew who were and were losing their minds at our set.
Scott: Yeah, that was crazy!
And I guess by playing these festivals that are more open to everything heavy, you can present yourselves to people who wouldn’t normally go for tech?
Brian: Dude, it’s why we are here! We just did our meet and greet and I would say more than 3/4s were people who didn’t know us and wanted to come and say how they felt about it. It was awesome!
And really, just to close off, now that you’ve done Bloodstock, what’s next for FALLUJAH?
Brian: So we’ve got a festival in Belgium then we have some club dates with GORGUTS, REVOCATION and HAVOK. We’re then going to finish off the tour with Summerbreeze and then we’re going home to America and we’re going to play a full US tour with DECAPITATED, THY ART IS MURDER and GHOST BATH.
Well brilliant, best of luck for the future guys!
Scott and Brian: Cheers, thank you!
Dreamless is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.
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