Interview with Fashion Bomb frontman Val
Fashion Bomb is poised to explode on the Industrial Metal circuit with the re-release of their debut offering "Angels To Some, Devils To Others" courtesy of Full Effect Records. I recently had the opportunity to visit with Fashion Bomb vocalist/frontman/mastermind Val, a classically trained opera singer with a penchant for aggressive music and a disdain for organized religion, about signing with Full Effect, what it means to be a Drone and his unique take on the music industry at large. Expect a new full length album to follow the debut’s reissue in the immediate future, and definitely try and catch these guys live when they come to your town if Industrial Metal is your cup of tea!
How are you doing today Val?
Good, how are you doing?
I’d like to be among the first to congratulate you on signing with Full Effect Records, you must be excited to join an ever growing roster with notable flagship acts like Faster Pussycat and the Newlydeads…
That is true, that is true. Whenever you get on a label that has that kind of a pedigree, you know your doing something right. So…it’s a good time.
How did you and Full Effect Records hook up?
Well, you know what? We had played a couple shows in the Detroit area, and I think we had just came to the attention of one of their A&R guys, and then we just did some shows and just got to talking, we have a similar mindset .
We were kind of a grass roots effort, if you will. So, yeah we just have very similar outlooks on the industry and really trying to find the next best way of getting your music out there. Especially with the music industry and the major labels in decline.
You guys started out opening shows in Chicago for veteran acts like Bile, and from the get go had the crowd behind you culminating in winning the Next Big Thing competition sponsored by Chicago’s 94.7 the Zone. That victory got you hooked up with Hollywood Records and you were able to work with the cutting edge producer Tadpole, what was that like? How much did the band’s sound change at that point?
It was kind of interesting because the Hollywood Records deal, they’re sort of…obviously a major (label) they’re owned by the Disney Corporation, they have some big time money…and Tadpole he’s worked for everybody under the sun, he’s really gifted, so we were just really excited to go in with him.
Hollywood (Records) they really asked us to have more of a rock n’ roll sound. At the time Hollywood Records’ big act was Breaking Benjamin. We are much heavier than Breaking Benjamin. When Tadpole got in the studio I know Hollywood wanted to see more of a rock n’ roll kind of sound.
We were a little heavier, a little more metal then what they were looking for at the time, but it was an excellent experience and you always learn a whole lot when you go in with a veteran producer and engineer. We’ve got nothing but positive out of it, even though the songs never got used.
We were really a whole lot heavier than they really had a roster for… I mean, we don’t really fit with…Hillary Duff.
Shortly after that Fashion Bomb was tapped as the opening act for Marilyn Manson on his Against All Gods tour. I’m guessing that since Fashion Bomb draws their name from a Eurythmics tune, you and Marilyn became fast friends, what was the tour like for you?
You know what? It wasn’t really like that. Marilyn likes to keep to himself, which is fine. Actually we got along more with Tim Skold who came out to our sound check most of the time. He was really, really a cool cat.
We have a really similar audience and it was a really great experience.
Your debut album "Devils To Some, Angels To Others" will be re-released shortly through Full Effect Records, have you had time to work on a follow up album, and if so has your sound changed much given that you are virtually the sole original member since the first album?
We definitely have a little bit of a more evolved sound. We do have a follow up records in the works, Ray Herrera from Fear Factory is producing the new record. We’re gonna be recording that in the next couple months actually, so we’re in the studio right now demoing and we’re gonna have it done by the end of the year. If everything goes according to schedule we’ll have a follow up album here in the first quarter of the new year.
We’re really happy with the new material, we’ve been playing some of it at shows, we debuted some of the new songs and they were very well received. So we’re on the right track.
Fashion Bomb has adopted the slogan "Dead Techology" and you now refer to the band’s current lineup as "Era 2.0" what can you tell us of the ideology behind these new calling cards?
A lot of people think it’s “Dead Technology” but “Techology” is really more of an obscure term. It refers to the methodology behind the design of a computer system. We use techology as opposed to technology because we’re really trying to harken back to some of the practices that have been neglected lately in live performance.
There’s the trend towards being over produced, like all the bubblegum music these days. You just create a formula and everything is about business and really trying to create a cookie cutter out of anything else that was successful.
So we’re really trying to push the envelope of what was already, and I think we’re really doing that with the new record. We’re incorporating some old school practices in a very new way. So that’s kind of the whole slogan behind “Dead Techology”
“Era 2.0” refers to the fact that we had a couple members of the band that were really not performing up to professional levels, so we really just kind of shed the excess weight, and we got a couple of very good musicians.
“Era 2.0 really signifies a rebirth. The first record was excellent, we’re really proud of that one, but we’re really excited about “Era 2.0” if you will…the direction, the imagery, the new sound…everything.
One thing I find interesting about Fashion Bomb is your inclusion of Drones. Fashion Bomb currently employs Drone 1 and Drone 2. Are these just interchangeable session members lacking flashy stage names? Is there a certain amount of hazing rituals involved in being a Drone, or does it carry a certain degree of respect?
Hahaha….You know what…uh, it carries a certain degree of respect. I can say that we have a very good reputation around the region as being easy to work with and also people love what we do.
We were really kind of an all inclusion project, we really worked hard to make sure all the band members had an image and could make a name for themselves…and then many, many times in the past we would just find that those individuals, after a lot of work, would not have the dedication to follow through with helping the band.
So we decided that the writing core of the band which is Trace, Acid and myself…we would continue on with our good energy and our positive vibe and our really good writing. We as a core didn’t need any additional help writing the music or anything, so we brought in the Drones because…To me a Drone is not just a session musician. We really shopped around for some people and these are professional musicians who are involved in projects of their own, but love what we’re doing and want to help us out.
We’re always looking for the best help, if we have Drones that are eventually going to be performance artists…you know, who knows…A Drone could be a fire juggler, a Drone could be a sword swallower, I don’t know…Drones can’t just be anybody.
Your contempt for Christianity is apparent on the track "Christ Puncher." As far as iconic religious figures are concerned, is your scorn exclusive to the Nazarene child, or do you dare stir the pot on your next go round and have a song called…say…."a swift kick to Allah’s nutsack (While Wearing Platform Boots)"? or maybe " Blackeyed Buddha"?
Hahaha…I think that I have a non biased disdain for organized religion. I’m not going to be such a hypocrite by saying that religion has no place in society, I think there is clearly some people who use it to good effect, and in that case more power to you. I’m all about freedom, so if you want to practice a certain religion who am I to say that it’s wrong.
For myself certainly I’ve observed other religions, certainly not everybody, but other religions forcing their beliefs on others or holding others to their own standards and that’s something that I really find reprehensible. So that’s the root where all of my disdain for religion comes from.
It’s not so much the individual choice to practice more than the self righteous holier than thou “I’m going to hold you to my set of beliefs” ideology.
The song "Drugpool" seems to be told from an autobiographical viewpoint. Have your inner demons at one time or another manifested themselves in the form of pins and needles?
No, you know what…umm I can honestly say, it was more…I more wrote that from the perspective of friends and associates that I have known that have went through that. At one point in everyone’s time you counsel a friend or you try to be helpful in some way, when you recognize someone is going down the wrong path.
It was more taken from a third party perspective and then I made it first person for the song. I felt it made more of an impact to do that, so that’s why I changed the third person to first.
Up to this point, Fashion Bomb hasn’t exclusively pigeonholed or adhered itself to any given genre. You have covered artists as diverse as David Bowie to Motley Crue. When you aren’t onstage performing or creating music in the studio, are your listening tastes as eclectic?
Absolutely. I’m a classically trained opera singer, my guitar player is a big fan of Slayer, our bass player loves Motley Crue…It’s all about really drawing from and recognizing good music in any form.
If you can recognize what makes a song work or what makes a performance memorable…why not strive for that in your own creation? There’s a lot of folks that might be elitist and say “Metal is the only thing I’ll listen to” or “Country is the only thing I’ll listen to”
The one nice thing about music is that music is a no penalty pursuit. In other words it’s not like a sports team where you can root for both sides and everything’s cool. With music, you can love every type of music without penalty.
So I feel…why limit yourself?
Because we are interviewing you for metal-rules.com, I think it’s only necessary that you tell our readers how you initially became attracted to heavy metal music, who your favorite bands were growing up, and what metal bands you’d kill to tour with nowadays…
I would say that what originally attracted me to metal music is just the raw energy of it all. The performance potential behind it and just the overall feeling…it’s kind of like a catharsis, where you can release so much tension…anger, happiness…all of those emotions can be released in the energy that metal music brings.
People say “That doom and gloom metal, it’s all a bunch of Satan worshipping, depressed youth.” That’s not the case! It’s a different type of energy; it’s something that connects with you.
Some people sit down to jazz to unwind, some people can sit down and listen to metal and do the same thing. It’s all in an individual’s taste.
It meshed with my being and the fibers of guys in the band, what we represent. We just think that it’s attractive.
There are a ton of bands we’d kill to tour with…Fear Factory, they’ve got a new album coming out so that might be a possibility. They are super cutting edge.
Meshuggah, we are…we admire Meshuggah’s style of kind of mixing prog rock and death metal together, there are a lot of odd time signatures, they’re just…sick!
Nine Inch Nails…once again, a legend. His performance credentials speak for themselves. There’s a bunch of great artist’s out there that we’d love to tour with.
I’d like to thank you for taking the time to chat with me today Val. I really appreciate it. Before we wrap this up is there anything else you’d like to say to your legions?
Full Effect Records…they’re new on the record scene but with all of the stuff we’ve got going right now we’re going world wide, with all of our Sony friends…we’re really looking forward to our relationship with Full Effect Records, getting some tours done…basically just keep an eye on us. We have a website with a free mailing list that you can sign up for. Just enter your email, we’re not gonna spam you or anything but we can keep you a breast of everything going on and the new album’s going to be coming out on Full Effect in September, so please do check it out, it’s a good listen. All the reviews that we’ve had are really favorable so I’m really proud of it.