INTERVIEW WITH LUKE JAMES
From Fatal’s MySpace:
"Thrashing, Shredding, Air Guitar, Nattys, Head Banging, Bong Rips, BBQ’s, Skateboarding, and Womanizing. If any of this sounds appealing to you, come kick some ass with us." Read on for a Q-n-A with vocalist/guitarist Luke James.
So Luke, what about the forming of the band. How did you hook up with each other? Did you know each other earlier as well?
Steve, Nick and I were in a band before Fatal that wasn’t really what we wanted to do. So we started jamming around for a while then it progressed into writing more thrash oriented songs. We liked the feel so we kept at it. We were looking for a bass player for a long time and Shane and I had the same class. I had no idea who he was but he had a beard and long hair so I assumed he liked metal. I told him to check us out to see if he wanted in and he came to a show and has been in ever since.
Is FATAL your very first act or were you involved in other outfits before you started playing with FATAL?
The band before Fatal with Steve and Nick was all of our first serious band where we actually played shows, and Shane has been involved with other bands as well. Nothing really too bragable, but we were all young as hell and just wanted to play.
What are/were your influences to become musicians? All of you are self taught or…?
Having fun is a big influence. If your a musician and your not having fun then you lost sight of why you got in it in the first place. We have all had lessons at one time or another. It is good to learn someone else’s way of seeing music and expanding on that with your own ideas.
Who came up with the name of the band? Were you aware that there was a cult band from Michigan, that was called FATAL as well?
I came up with the name. We have gone through a lot of band names before we settled on this. Everytime we have had to change it some guy from some band from some where would threaten to sue us and all this bull shit. No one has said anything to us about Fatal. I wasn’t aware of the band from Michigan, but everything has already been thought of and Fatal is good enough for now.
In the last 4-5 years came a lot of old school sounding bands into being, such as Toxic Holocaust, Crucified Mortals, Avenger O Blood, By War, Eternal Devastation, Farscape, Merciless Death etc. Are you close to these groups? Do you have a friendship into them?
It is really awesome hearing all these new bands. Thrash is definately back and there are so many different styles now but it all comes back to the feeling that has been missing from metal over the past few years. Toxic Holocaust is raw as hell and kill it really hard. I wish we were friends with them and could hook up on some shows. We are pretty new still and don’t really have any connections with bands outside our area, but are trying to get something going.
Would you say that the goal both of you and of these bands were/are to keep the flame of old school thrash alive and to draw the younger fans attention to acts, such as Dark Angel, Possessed, old Slayer, old Exodus etc.?
Definately. We can never forget who came before us. They paved the way and to forget them would be stupid as hell. The difference between new thrash bands and older ones is that they invented and perfected the sound. Whats happening now is that everyone is trying to reinvent it and there has been a bunch of killer shit coming out. Bands like Ramming Speed, Skeletonwitch, Violater, and Municiple Waste are at the top of their shit now. It will never be the same as it was, but I think everyone wants the vibe that the time period had to come back.
How do you view all of those reformations that happened in the last few years, such as Hirax, Destruction, Necrodeath, Metal Church, Heathen, Nuclear Assault, Agent Steel, Assassin, Mortal Sin, Onslaught, Death Angel etc.? Did you perhaps listen to their comeback stuff, and what do you think about them compared to their classic ones?
I think it’s great to hear all of them coming back. I haven’t had a chance to hear any of their new stuff.
Do you also like the newer materials of Exodus, Slayer, Kreator or Sodom as well?
Exodus and Slayer have stayed true pretty hard over the years. You can’t really compare their new stuff to their old stuff, because nothing made ever really compares to it. Fabulous Disaster and Reign in Blood are two of the most epic albums ever. I think it would be impossible to recreate something that had that much of an impact on metal . The feeling they all had while writing these would be pretty hard to recreate since they aren’t all young, drunk, and pissed as shit anymore.
Would you say that these bands have never been as big as they are nowadays?
It is hard to say since I wasn’t around when they were all in their prime, but they are still getting respect and selling out clubs and that is where is counts.
Are you aware of Forbidden’s reunion as well? Gene Hoglan is playing on drums…
I am now, and that’s fuckin sweet to hear.
You are from Tampa, Florida. What about the scene of Tampa these days?
It isn’t what it used to be that’s for sure. There are still a bunch of old dudes hanging around saying shit like we would have killed it back then, and my favorite was when some guy came up to Steve about his setup saying how in ’82 he had a rig just like it. There isn’t really a huge thrash scene here, it is mostly still lame hardcore bands doing the same shit as everyone else. There is a really killer black metal band, Legions, that everyone should check out.
Because you seem to be very young, do you have any memories about the Florida scene of the ’80s when a lot of influential acts started popping up such as Morbid Angel, Xecutioner (later Obituary), Death, Savatage or Nasty Savage?
I was too young. I was born in 87 and everyone else in the band is younger than I am. I did take guitar lessons from a guy who played in John Oliva’s Pain though. I know thats not really much, but it was really killer hearing him play“Hall of the Mountain King.” That is my memory from that era you could say.
Tell us please about your rehearsals! Did you start writing originals right from the start or were you jamming mostly on old school thrash covers?
We started trying to figure out how to capture the feeling and structure of thrash songs just by jamming to Metallica and Slayer songs. We didn’t have a singer and I had never sang and played guitar before, so we played For Whom the Bell Tolls since it’s an easy one to play and sing to. Once I got comfortable with that we started jamming on our own stuff and have been writing ever since.
This year you released BORN 2 THRASH, featuring “Born 2 Thrash,” “Call of War,” and “Sacrificed in Vain.” What about the recording sessions which was probably your first studio experience?
It was our second studio exerience. Our first one didn’t go as well as we thought it would. It was at a cheap studio with a guy who was pretty burnt out. You know the guy who cracks his back then makes a joke about getting a freebee, that was the guy who produced it. So going into this we had a better idea of how it worked and went in with more confidence than before. It was an awesome time especially since we were in the studio where Hate Eternal, Cannibal Corpse, and voice overs for Metalocolypse are recorded.
Can you give us a song to song description?
“Born 2 Thrash” is just about heavy metal being the law. The only reason why any of us are here is because we love metal and I wanted a song that was about nothing but metal. The “Call of War” is about throwing your life away to go fight in a war that doesn’t have any effect on you. It also refers to the people who call the shots on starting a war. Half of which have never been and its usually those people who glorify it. “Sacrificed in Vain” refers to corruption within the church where people’s actions condradict what they preach and force upon people.
It was recorded by Brian Elliot at Erik Rutan’s Mana Studios in St. Petersburg, Florida. Were you happy with Brian’s work? Was he the perfect choice to do this job?
We couldn’t have asked for a better finished product. Once it was done we were all blown away with the production value. Everything came through clear and he pushed us pretty hard to put all our effort into it.
Did the material sound close to it what you wanted to achieve with Fatal?
Hell yeah, it was exactly what we wanted it to sound like.
I read that the new stuff, BORN 2 THRASH, is a better representation of the band? What about the previous material as a whole? Can you give us details on it?
Stuff previous to BORN 2 THRASH wasn’t really as good as we thought it could be. The riffs and the rhythm weren’t there like it is now. We always wanted it to sound really aggressive but still have melody and good rhythm, and a lot of it was all over the place and really weak. So we threw away a lot of songs and just kept at it until we were satisfied.
I think so, the title of the demo speaks for itself, but what can you still add to it?
I wanted it to sound simple and to the point. Nothing very technical just good straight-forward heavy metal that doesn’t need an explanation.
Did you shop around the demo to attract label interests? How much promotion did you make for the demo at all?
We are in the process of sending out right now. Ed from Thrash Unlimited has been helping us out a shit ton by telling everyone about us and playing our demo on a daily basis. We are just hoping for the best right now.
What does thrash metal for you mean and how big/what kind of role does thrash metal play in your life?
It gets me through the day. I have always been into punk and metal, and when I first heard thrash I thought it was the perfect blend of every good style of aggressive music. It got me wanting to play more than just power chords on my guitar and most of all when your drunk as shit and want to fuck something up nothing sounds better.
What are the milestones of thrash, the most influential thrash record of all time and why?
Kill em All
You have a myspace site, didn’t you think about having your own one?
Once we get the money and free time to make one we plan on it. We are all still in school and are always practicing or playing shows, so free time is usually spent getting drunk or playing video games.
What do you think about myspace? What’s so special about it that no one seems to ignore it?
It has its advantages and disadvantages just like anything else. Its great because it gives bands a chance to be on a global site to exchange their ideas and music freely and network and make friends they normally wouldn’t. It is kind of like the new tape trading system, but since tapes arent really made anymore mp3’s get it done. Plus it is free and easy as shit to set up.
What’s your opinion about downloading music?
I think it’s good because thrash has the kind of scene where if you download something and it’s good chances are you will go to the show and still buy shit.
What comes in mind if I mention:
a. – old school thrash – glory days
– nu metal/metalcore – dead
b. – trends – everything is a trend and everything gets exploited
c. – beer, leather, patches, spikes – F.U.B.A.R
d. – Bay Area scene – Tampa bay is the new bay area
e. – Tom Araya, Paul Baloff, Gene Hoglan, James Hetfield – Heroes
f. – German thrash metal movement of the ’80s – shit yeah
What would be your all star thrash metal group (singer, guitarists, bassist, drummer)?
Metallica in the glory days with Cliff Burton.
What are your future plans? When do you plan to record your first full length and do you have more material written?
We are always working on new material and hopefully soon if something picks up we can go back to Mana and record with Brian.
Luke, thanks a lot for the interview, anything to add that I forgot to cover?
HEAVY METAL IS THE LAW. Check us out and thank you for this opportunity dude.