FALLUJAH have pushed things to a new level with their latest release, Dreamless, (you can read our review here) and Distorted Sound recently caught up with guitar extraordinaire Scott Carstairs to discuss the writing and recording of the new album, his latest guitar, and touring with THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER. Check out the full interview below!
How is your tour with THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER going?
Scott: The tour’s going great actually! We’ve toured with BLACK DAHLIA before so it was kind of cool just meeting back up with them, but now in a direct support slot, and it’s supposed to be in smaller venues, so everywhere we play is like a small club, and it’s just kinda packed out, so it’s cool. Weird, but it’s cool.
How do you feel about the whole creation of Dreamless?
Scott: I think it went pretty well. It was kinda one of those things where we as a group signed to Nuclear Blast, so they were basically like, “Get me a record as soon as possible,” so whenever I came home from whatever tour it was that we signed with them on, I just went straight to writing it, and it was kind of just a thing where we just wrote it all at once, took like five or six months, and then a month to record it, so it kind of happened all at once if you know what I mean. I just sat in my room and got it all done.
So what was the actual recording process like for Dreamless?
Scott: After everything was finished being written, you know because I basically wrote all that stuff with like this recording program. I’ll record the guitars and, you know, program drums to it, so then after I kinda got everything written, we started with the guitars first, and we recorded all of those in my room, and we recorded the DIs [direct input] so we could re-amp them later. And it was pretty much as simple as that, so we recorded all the guitars, and after all the guitars were finished, we went to the studio and we recorded the vocals, we recorded Alex [Hofmann]’s vocals, and any clean singing, like we had some artists come in, like Tori Letzler came in and recorded with us, and after everything was finished, we recorded the drums. So that was actually the final thing we ended up recording. So everything was finished before Andrew [Baird], the drummer, even began recording, and he knocked it out in a couple of days. So it was pretty cool.
Brian James (guitars) was present on the last record, but he only played a couple of solos for The Flesh Prevails. Did he have more of an input this time around?
Scott: This time, on the new album, he had more solos. I think he did about five or six solos, maybe five.
What were your biggest influences while writing and recording Dreamless?
Scott: I don’t know, because we had to write it so fast, we didn’t really have time to like sit around for a couple of months and think of what it conceptually should be like. I just kinda immediately went into it, and started writing music that we were already heading towards, and then trying to be influenced by – not so much the metal bands that are playing right now or the artists that are playing right now – but like the kind of movies that were coming out at the time. There were a lot of cool sci-fi movies and dramas that had some really cool scores and some really cool vibes to them, so I think that was the main influence, trying to kinda give off the same vibes in the music as we get from some of our favourite movies, if that makes sense, so movie scores and stuff. Even the lyrical approach that Alex did was based around movies.
What were your favourite movies coming out at that time?
Scott: I can’t tell you, I’m going to keep those a secret!
So how was the creation of Dreamless different from your previous records?
Scott: The previous record, we wrote everything and then we recorded the drums, and then after the drums were recorded, we recorded all the guitars and string instruments in my room. This time was different because we got everything done before we went into the studio. So, we got all the writing done in the same period of time, all the guitars recorded, and after all that stuff was finished, then we recorded drums, and mixed and mastered it. So, you know, it was kinda the same thing. It’s all based around writing and recording guitar parts in my room, so it’s always the same kind of process, maybe sometimes we switch the order around, but it all starts, you know, at my desk when it comes to writing and recording.
You recently got a new guitar from Kiesel Guitars. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Scott: Yeah, so Kiesel used to be Carvin guitars, and they recently just like separated and became like a custom guitar shop, and the name of the family that’s been, you know, owning Carvin Guitars is Kiesel, so he changed it to Kiesel Guitars, and I met up with him about a year ago, and he’s been working with me every time I got a bunch of tours lined up, you know, he builds me a guitar, and I take it out. This most recent one, we wanted to actually match it to the album cover, if you know what I mean. So we took his newest model, it’s called the K7, and we did like a buckeye burl, and he dyed it blue to make it like match the same kind of ethereal look of the album, and he did a fade on the fretboard to kind of match the fade in the clouds on the album cover. It’s really awesome! It plays super well. Best guitar I’ve ever had. It’s pretty cool just that I can work with the owner with ideas, you know, I can give him my ideas, and he’ll take it and make something cool out of it.
Can you tell us more about your studio set up?
Scott: So, yeah, I use the Kiesel Guitars K7, and in that is Lithium pickups, so they’re Kiesel pickups but they’re just like hot passive pickups, and then for the album we actually tried a bunch of different amps. The cool thing about recording it at home and taking those DI tracks to the studio is you can send those DI tracks into a bunch of different amps and if you don’t like it, you can get rid of it. I think we started off with a Randall Thrasher, I think, going through a Mesa, and then we decided we didn’t like that. Then I think we tried something like, I don’t know, Bogner. I think we tried a different Randall, and then we didn’t like that, and we deleted all of those tracks, and we finally ended up using a Peavey 5153 for the rhythm guitar tracks, and for the lead tracks, we ended up using a Marshall, it’s like a Marshall clone, it’s not an actual Marshall, it’s like a Marshall someone rebuilt, so a little bit hotter. Then as far as effects go, a lot of effects we would do, you know, I would work with the engineer and just put it on in the program, or I’d use the Kemper for a lot of its effects, especially the cleans. It’s pretty much as simple as that. We use a lot of chorus, if you know what I mean, maybe some octavers on some bass parts, we were just kind of trying it as we went.
What’s the plan for FALLUJAH for the rest of the year?
Scott: Seems like, right now, from the e-mails I’ve gotten, it’s just gonna be nonstop touring. I’m probably not gonna be home for more than two weeks. We’re gonna do this North American tour with BLACK DAHLIA, we’re gonna finish that and then like a week or so after that we’re gonna go off to Europe and a couple of festivals. We’re gonna do Tech Fest, With Full Force, Hellfest, some club dates with THY ART IS MURDER and FIT FOR AN AUTOPSY. And then I think when we get home from that, we’re gonna start a huge American tour with some huge, awesome bands I’m really stoked to tour with, we just haven’t made the announcement yet. So we’re gonna finish this North American tour [with THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER], then we’re off to Europe, then I think we’re off to Australia and then after that we’re gonna come back and do another huge North American thing. And then I think we have another Europe thing planned after that. So yeah, the whole year is booked so far, so we’re just gonna be pushing the album nonstop.
Thank you for a fantastic interview!
Dreamless is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.
For more information on FALLUJAH check out their official Facebook page.