Matt Fisher of Eyes of Fire
Interview by Lord of the Wasteland
Back in the mid- to late-90s, there was a band based out of Orange
County, California called Mindrot. When they split up, it's members went
their separate ways but two of the members, Dan Kaufman and Matt Fisher,
soldiered on and formed Eyes of Fire, a new signing on the mighty
Century Media Records. In late 2003, the band released a three-song E.P.
called DISINTEGRATE and their full-length debut, ASHES TO EMBERS, hit
stores March 23rd. I had the chance to speak with vocalist/bassist Matt
Fisher about the new CD and what exactly he's been up to for the last 5
had your new CD, ASHES TO EMBERS, for a couple weeks now and it really
stands apart from anything I've heard in a while.
That's awesome. Thank you! It's something that we've been working on
Have you read any early reviews for the CD and if so, how have
So far, we've been getting a lot of great reviews and response has
been very positive. A lot of people are saying that they like it and
that it's something different, something new. You can't really pinpoint
it, but it's catchy and it's heavy. It's atmospheric. It's got all the
elements that you need for different styles and have people come
together and listen to one record and still be a part of the heavy music
If you had to classify the band's music, what category would you
file Eyes of Fire under?
As far as a specific genre, I don't think we really fit into one. We
are definitely metal as far as the heavy guitars, riffs and powerful
dynamic, but we aren't traditional metal in the sense that we don't do
leads or operatic vocals or anything. We're very atmospheric, kind of
melancholy. Some people say we're like Pink Floyd meets Neurosis for
people with short attention spans.
(Laughs) That's a good description! The promo that I have doesn't
have any of the credits, but who does the songwriting in the band?
We do that intentionally. We don't link ourselves to any songwriting
credits. We feel that as a band, it's important to express ourselves as
a unit. Dan Kaufman and I are the main songwriters and founding members,
as well as the founding members of our former band, Mindrot.
Mindrot broke up in 1998 after the SOUL album was released, but
what happened in the last 6 years for you and Dan?
Although it might look like we disappeared for 5 years, quite a lot
has happened. We were on the scene as a band called Shiva. We did Shiva
for 4 ½ years and essentially changed the name Shiva to Eyes of Fire.
Shiva went through 5 or 6 different drummers trying to solidify a lineup
that was cohesive and had a strong work ethic. That was what held
Mindrot down was the work ethic. Touring was a problem for certain
people, so with Shiva, we made sure that everyone was 100% into what we
were doing. We wanted it to be a working band, not just a recording
band. We did numerous demos and had a few offers from smaller record
labels before meeting up with Century Media. We were signed for the
better part of a year and a half before the DISINTEGRATE E.P. came out,
so we signed with them about 2 years ago.
Do you and Dan approach writing Eyes of Fire songs differently
than you did with Mindrot songs?
Well, for one thing, we both take care of the vocals this time
around. We don't have a lead singer, so it's a lot easier for us to
express our vocal direction. Sometimes he'll bring a song to the table
and we'll work on the arrangement together. Other times, Dan will bring
riffs and we'll work on the arrangement. I tend to write more lyrics
than he does and he tends to write more riffs than I do. Sometimes he'll
come up with the first riff and I'll come up with the second one and so
forth. That's how we get a wide range of song styles. As long as the
music comes out balls to the wall heavy and powerful, it just has to
have a kind of melancholy feel to it before we'll put our stamp on it.
Between yourself and Dan, who does the clean vocals and who is the
harsher, raspy vocal?
I do both and so does Dan. Dan is the lead singer on the first track,
which is "The End Result of Falling" and I'm the lead vocal on
the second track, which is "Empty." I have the guttural, deep
voice. He does the high-pitched screams. We both do melodic vocals, but
I have the raspy smoker's voice that you'd hear on something like the
song "Hopeless." I do the lead vocals and he does the clean
parts. I do the lead vocals on about 8 out of 11 songs.
I think your voice has a lot in common with the guy from The
Mighty, Mighty Bosstones.
(Laughs) Yeah, I've heard that before! Kind of gruff, like Motorhead
or something. We're not trying to sound like death metal. We want to
have aggressive, cutting edge, raspy vocals but we still want people to
hear what each person is saying. We want them to be able to follow along
without lyric sheets. We don't want to have a monotone scream overt the
music the whole time. I feel that melody brings out the hooks in songs
and it's very important to have vocal melody. Over the years since
Mindrot, we've been working on vocal harmonies and trying to make them
work together. I think we're doing a pretty fair job of bringing melody
to the style of music that we play. People compare our music to Isis,
Neurosis, Opeth and bands like that, but we still have an American
sound. It can be more like Neurosis or Isis but with hooks. You can walk
away from our record and still remember the words to it or even sing
along with it.
Well, "Hopeless" and "Breathe" are catchy as
hell! Are there any plans to even try to penetrate the radio market with
"Hopeless" is actually going to be the first single. We're
doing a video for it this week. We've had a lot of people telling us
that could be a hit song! It could cross over. It doesn't sound like
anything specific like nu-metal or rock or death metal. It has its own
vibe. We're trying to bring melody to the sounds of apocalyptic bands
like Neurosis and stuff. We come from that kind of music background-the
heavy underground scene.
Which singing style do you prefer? The gruffer style or the
cleaner, melodic vocals?
I'd like to expand with the melodic vocal parts. That's what I've
been working on lately. We've been doing the screaming and the harsh
thing for so long. We want to do vocals that are very dark, melancholy
and bleak, but still clean at the same time without sounding sterile.
That's very important for us to get across. It helps us connect with the
audience, too. When they've never heard your record, they can come to
the shows and still understand what it is we're saying. We aren't trying
to be corporate rock or anything. When I first started singing it wasn't
guttural; it was more death metal. Over the years, I've tried to get
away from that satanic death metal voice without losing the heaviness or
the brutality. That's how I got into the gruff, guttural vocals.
The band just finished a tour with Lacuna Coil and Moonspell. A
bill like that seems like it would draw a real mix of people. How was
It went very well. The Lacuna Coil fanbase really appreciates what it
is we do. Hearing atmospheric metal or any guitar-driven, ethereal or
eclectic music, people seem to really have embraced it over the last
couple of years. It seems like some of the traditional metallers are
into the cutting edge bands like Lacuna Coil. They seem to really
understand what we're doing and it feels good. Anytime we can play with
atmospheric metal bands, we will.
What are the band's upcoming tour plans?
We start touring the U.S. in the early summer. The schedule hasn't
been released yet so I'm not sure with who, but we will be hitting the
U.S. and hopefully Canada as well. We intend to do 2 or 3 months of
touring. The album drops March 22nd in Europe, so I'm sure we'll be
touring there, as well. We'll definitely be following the tour cycle
this summer. Once the summer is over, we'll get back home and start
tracking our second album.
Going back to the album, one thing that immediately caught my eye
was the artwork.
Cool! Thank you.
Who did the cover for ASHES TO EMBERS?
His name is Stephen Kasner.
We liked the artwork he did on the Integrity album, SEASONS IN THE SIZE
OF DAYS. We liked his style, so Dan approached him to see if he would be
interested in an original concept for our album artwork. He was a fan of
Mindrot so he was happy to put it together and get some work out of it.
He did an amazing job.
The band released an E.P. last year called DISINTEGRATE. Why did
you start with an E.P. rather than just release the full-length CD?
When we changed the band name from Shiva to Eyes of Fire, we needed
to give people a pre-cursor to our album to let them know that, so we
decided to float an E.P. out and get reviews out there to let people
know we're out here and we're making noise. As far as the song selection
went, it was either "Disintegrate" or "Shelter." I
don't feel that "Shelter" is as strong a song as
"Disintegrate" and we didn't want to come out with a solid
song since that was our first release. The next E.P. we do will probably
be five or six songs instead of three. That was just a warm-up for
people that were not familiar with us. It was put in stores at a very
reasonable price. In fact, you can actually download the E.P. off the
Century Media website. The artwork and everything is downloadable.
As for the band's own website, eyesoffire.us,
do you have a lot of involvement with it?
We just recently started to maintain our own website. In the future,
we'll probably have someone else do it, but right now, it's Dan that
does it. It's pretty basic but that's so that we can maintain it. We've
had problems in the past with people not maintaining the website. What
did you think of it?
I would say more material, but of course that is coming. It could
use some updates, too, but it's a start!
It hasn't been updated lately because things have been pretty quiet.
We've had better and we've had worse (laughs). It's just something that
Dan can control. He just learned how to do websites so this is his first
one. When we get out on the road, we're going to have someone else take
it over but we needed something that could be update in matter of
minutes at our control. It's better to have it at our control and have
it just look basic than have no control over it and have it look really
sharp. We're kind of in a website limbo right now (laughs). Coming from
a big webzine like Metal Rules, I'm sure it looks VERY elementary!
Well I don't do any of the design stuff, so it doesn't take much
to impress me (laughs)!
If it functions and it works, then we're cool with it for now.
As long as it's easy to navigate and get through, to me, that's
important first and foremost before the snazzy design and effects.
Right. It's pretty self-explanatory and easy to find stuff. You can
read plenty of reviews and check out our merchandise, sign our message
board, e-mail us…all those fun things.
All right, Matt, that's all the questions I have for you. I
appreciate the call and I'd like to wish you the best of luck with ASHES
TO EMBERS. It's an excellent disc and I hope this interview and the CD
review gets the band some well-deserved exposure anyway!
I hope so, too, I really do. I appreciate the time and I look forward
to meeting you someday in Vancouver.
**Read the Eyes of Fire CD reviews at Metal Rules:
**Visit Eyes of Fire official website: Eyesoffire.us
**Thanks to George at Century Media for setting up the interview**