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I recently saw the thrash metal band Fatality live in Phila, PA and I loved the band's CD so I thought and interview as in order. I emailed band member Spencer LeVon some questions and here is what he said to them:
MC: Let's get the boring question out of the way. How did the band come to be and what is the current line-up?
SL: Fatality has been together since 2004. We have the competitive edge because the guys in my band are my best friends and have been for some time. I started the band with guitar superstar Eytan Gordon. We have been riffing since grade 6 but have been best friends since grade 1. Along the way we came across Adam Zlotnik who shared the same guitar teacher as Eytan, and turned out to be a great fit. Adam came across Andrew Suarez who is a complete savage of a Drummer. We are a power 4 piece and at this point we are a functional unit.
MC: How long has the current line-up been together and did you have to go through any line-up changes to get to be where the band is today?
SL: This lineup has been the same for about 2 or 3 years. We had one painful line-up change however. My brother Mason used to be on skins, but made a decision to go to university in Ottawa. We wanted to really start digging in our scene, so I had to kick my own brother out of the band. Adam knows Andrew from his high school and he has turned out to be one of the best metal drummers in Toronto.
MC: Your new CD is easily one of the best releases I have heard this year. Is this your 1st release or is their other releases floating around?
SL: This is our first official release. We have recently released a free download on the Internet as a gift to anyone who has been into our music, as well as a tool to maybe get a few new people to our gigs. Again we recorded it all ourselves and released it independently. Check out http://fatality.bandcamp.comand get yourselves some free shit!
MC: I know you put the CD out yourselves. Any reason why you did that and decided not to with a label?
SL: There are a few reasons that we didn’t do it with a label. The main one was that it is hard to release a first album on a label without getting robbed blind. Record labels don’t take too many chances these days so now they take more then they give. Plus we are smart, calculated and organized young men. We know how to do these things by ourselves, so why would we choose to have more hands in our pockets. Also an attractive part of doing things independently is that everything we release is exactly as we envision it. We aren’t influenced by anyone with outside interests bugging us to change certain things or ideas in exchange for money. Therefore our product is pure as Columbian blow. Nothing added or taken away, just pure expression.
MC: I know your on the road and the tour has a few shows left before it ends. What has been some of the best things about it and the worst things and how have you been received by the crowds so far?
SL: We are taking well to this lifestyle. I’d have to say the worst part is probably the physical ware and tare. You can’t always sleep or eat well on the road. Also we are young dudes on our first tour, so we are drinking way too much and partying almost every night, so it takes a toll on your general mood and well being. This hasn’t had any effect on our performances though. Every night we go out and play to our best ability. The crowds have been more then amazing. We seem to be making a mark on every town we travel to. We are just having fun every night on stage and I think the crowds are connecting with that easy-going, fun loving attitude.
MC: After this tour wraps up what are your plans for the rest of 2011?
SL: We have a huge west coast tour lined up for July. We are doing west coast Canada and doing the west coast of the USA and then circling back up to Canada. We are also writing in the meantime and planning on recording a new album and doing it all over again!
MC: How is a song written and does it sometimes take you a long time come up with a certain riff and where is the weirdest place you came up with a musical idea?
SL: Our band functions like a machine at a factory. The tunes usually start with Eytan Gordon our guitar player. He is a true wizard. He usually works out ideas with our bass player Adam until they have something to hold on to. Then we get together in a room and bash the shit out of it from all angles until we have something we are proud of. We basically put pressure at all angles until we end up with a diamond. We are all very passionate about our tunes so it can take some time, but there is no way we are going to half ass it and pump out music that isn’t our best. Because there are a million bands who are writing dynamite material, and we want to be at the top with them drinking and playing shows.
MC: Thrash metal made a little bit of a comeback a few years back. Do you see thrash metal sticking around or do you sort of seeing it dying out again like it did in the early 90's with whole Florida death metal thing?
SL: I’m not too sure that the stereotype 80’s thrash thing will stick around. I almost hope it goes away to be honest. As soon as we stop romanticizing the past, we can get past it and do something original relevant. I think we have seen a thrash revolution, but what I am waiting for is the thrash evolution. I personally see thrash as fast rock and roll; and look at all the forms rock has taken. Kids are going to take this genre to a different level, but it wont be by playing cliché Metallica licks and wearing a flipped up hat. We are sitting in a bubbling pot here. I just hope Nu-Metal doesn’t come back…
MC: How has the press been treating you guys are far as reviews go? Have you read any reviews you thought were funny or unfair?
SL: All of our reviews have been great. The thing about our live show is that it is just as potent in front of a huge audience as a small one. A few reviewers have shower up to a gig that wasn’t as successful as others and commented on the fact that we were still professional, entertaining and high energy. That is really the best complement you can receive as a musician. The entire art is based on making something from nothing. Or taking a bad situation and making it a good one.
MC: How did you come up with your name and where any other names considered?
SL: We wrestled with a few names when we were kids. One that came close was “Re-Capitation”, which was a tongue and cheek way of saying “getting head”, which is at the forefront of thought as a teenager. I got the name Fatality from the game Mortal Kombat. When someone would get punched into a pile of spikes on the ceiling, and drop into a vat of acid. The word “FATALITY” would appear in the sky and drip blood. As soon as I saw that when I was a kid I thought it was killer! It is kind of an obvious name, but it gets the point across you know? What’s in a name anyways?
MC: Is there a healthy underground metal scene up in Canada?
SL: The Underground metal scene is strong in Canada. The people who tell you otherwise are probably just lazy. We learned quickly that in Toronto, no one is going to do anything for you. We realized a simple formula and started small. We started doing everything ourselves and learned along the way. All you need to do is have a good strong product and get people access it. The product comes from creativity and hard work, but getting people to notice is a bit harder, and sometimes involves more creativity, believe it or not.
MC: Do you feel, like I, that there is way too many labels and bands nowadays, that it is hard sometimes for a great band to get noticed cause you get lost in the shuffle with so many releases now?
SL: For sure, it is a bit overwhelming. We choose to embrace it. We live in a day and age where you can post a song on the Internet and 3 seconds later a kid in Indonesia can stumble upon it with his friends. It is absolutely crazy! I look at it as a rock and roll lottery. The payout is lower, but the chances of being a winner are greater. The days of the rock star is dead as dog dirt, but there has never been a better time to be a band, or be alive in general.
MC: Any funny road stories to tell?
SL: We got busted in Cleveland for drinking beers in a park. The cop was giving us shit and was threatening to give us a $1000 fine and impound our van. We were trying to reason with him and told him that we were a Canadian metal band touring the states. His face lit up and he told us that his brother was in Mushroomhead, admitted that he was being an asshole, gave us his card and told us to continue partying. I love Heavy metal man!
MC: Do you feel in a few years that CDS will go the way of tapes and that all the music will just be on the computer and Ipods?
SL: CDs are already done. I can’t remember the last time I picked up an album from a music store. It is still a convenient means of purchasing music at a live venue, but other then that, it’s all over. Surprisingly vinyl is on the way back. I think deep down inside people are still interested in a physical representation of the music they are listening to, you know? I’ve always loved that warm feeling of cranking an album I just bought, and reading the lyrics, looking at the art, looking at the pictures, even reading the thank you section. We live in a consumer society, if we are paying money for something; we want to be holding a physical copy of it. It validates us for some reason. I don’t think music will ever be exclusively MP3 downloads only. We will always want to have something we can hold on to.
MC: Plug any websites you have.
http://Fatality.bandcamp.com- for free downloads
www.Myspace.com/fatalitythrashfuck– Yes, we are still on myspace like a bunch of teenage fat girls.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/FATALITY/97224729901- our facebook page
http://www.reverbnation.com/fatalitymetal- our reverbnation
http://Fatalitythrash.blogspot.com– To catch up on stories from the road written by yours truly
MC: Do you feel you’re a good live band and are their any videos of you on say You Tube?
SL: I feel like when we are at our best we are up there with any big label band out there. Sounds arrogant, and it probably is. What we do is pure and we never half ass it. We also go above and beyond the song, song, song formula of most metal bands. We incorporate different musical elements. Another attractive element of our live shows is its unpredictable nature. Every show has a different feel and texture. Anything can happen at any given time. It’s a beautiful thing. Check out http://www.youtube.com/user/Fatalitythrashers for any of your fatality needs. Make sure you check out The Fatality Show, which is a compilation of live videos, home video and comedy that we have hand crafted.
MC: In your eyes and ears, what makes a good song?
SL: Any song that makes me move or think. I think any good art takes you from where you are and moves you to another place and makes you feel happy you are there. I think a song needs to challenge you. It needs to take you to unfamiliar territory and then bring you back home where you area comfortable. In music we do this with dissonance and consonance. Dissonance is created by musically taking you outside of the home key so that your ear is itching for resolution. Consonance is created by bringing you back to the home key and giving you a since of relief. You can use these tools to add maximum interest in a song.
MC: Any plans to try to get overseas to play any shows in the near future?
SL: None in the works, however, It is a distinct possibility that we will travel oversees within the next 2 years.
MC: Describe what you think a typical Fatality fan is?
SL: A Fatality fan is hard to spot. They are usually fun loving individuals who are interested in getting away from there shitty jobs, there pointless relationships, there frustrating home lives and going to a metal show to go absolutely mental. I feel like the Johnny Cash of metal. Except I don’t play for prisoners and those who are down and out and left for dead. I play for those who are just plain fuckin bored of every day life. Frustrated by societal expectations and other pressures. I think anyone with a mentality of fun and positive release can relate to what we do on stage each night.
MC: Do you think underground music as a whole will ever die out and where do you see the music scene headed in the coming years?
SL: With CD sales going the way of the turd you can expect shit to start getting real. The only way people can make a connection with a band now is by seeing them live. Bands can’t rely on cushy album sales anymore, they will have to hit the road and not just play their music, but also live it. I have learned more on the road about music and life than I could have ever learned in any school. And you will start to hear it in our music. The lifestyle and music will feed of each other and grow. So check out live music near you, it is good for your soul and well being.
MC: Has the band ever done any cover tunes and if you were to try and do one, what are some songs you might pick out?
SL: We have an arsenal of cover tunes that we can jam on live if the mood is calling for it. The cover I have been enjoying the most is Black Sabbaths War Pigs. I enjoy it because we involve a fair bit of improvisation, which I have always thought is an important muscle to flex. We also have developed a pretty wicked cover of Jungle Boogie by Kool and the Gang. I don’t get too impressed if a band can play raining blood not for not anymore. I get off when a band plays a cover of a song that isn’t metal and turns it into a crushing metal piece. It showcases the bands creativity and inner voice. You cant fake that shit, son.
MC: What is the weirdest request you ever had and have you ever been recognized by a fan outside of say like a concert hall or what not?
SL: I think the strangest request is when girls want to have sex with us. Does this happen in any other profession? Has a guy ever gotten blown for getting a chicks Burger King order right? I get recognized in Toronto regularly. It doesn’t happen in the states too often yet, but I always enjoy chatting with someone who is into what we are doing. It kind of validates me is some sort of self centered way. I think everyone wants to be appreciated deep down inside.
MC: Tell me a little bit about each band member and do you all get along for the most part?
SL: We are like brothers. So obviously we get into stupid arguments and know how to piss each other off with the snap of a finger. I do love them with all my heart and at the end of the day we still get our work done. Our band leader is probably Adam Zlotnik. He is an entrepreneurial genius. He has a very sharp mind and is extremely organized. We are lucky enough to have enough brain on our team to keep us from outsourcing all of our work and loosing all the money and opportunity. Eytan Gordon is the riff master deluxe, and is becoming efficient at tour booking. Andrew Suarez plays drums. He also has enough positive energy and passion to power a small Canadian city. My main job is the live show. I am just an entertainer above all else, so when we have an important gig I make sure we leave a mark on the audience and aim to give them a positive experience. Each member has an important role and we work hard to get our voices heard.
MC: How long do you see the band sticking around for and do all of you have regular jobs you go back to when you’re not touring?
SL: It is impossible to say how long we will stick around, but I do think we have more longevity than most bands because our band has already transcended the cute stage. Cute is fucking over, and we have gone way too far to stop now. We have too much momentum. Also I would never want to have to start from scratch. This isn’t a just a band, it who we are.
The rest of the boys work in bars and are active in the service industry, where as I am a full time Music teacher. We are all fortunate enough to have steady employment when we are back home.
MC: What advice would you give to a young band just starting out?
SL: Stop waiting around and make it happen kids! Work on you music, but work on promotion just as hard. The music industry is almost like the dating scene. You have to make people believe you are a little bit cooler then you already are, and then strive to be that fucking cool. Book a small venue or bar, and invite all of your friends. Have incentives for people to show, and have a wicked after party. And then promote, promote, promote. Flyer the streets, Make videos and get creative. Make friends with bands in the music scene and gather information, it will be your greatest asset!
MC: I am out of questions. Horns up for the interview and it was great seeing you guys live in Phila, PA, any last words to wrap this up.
SL: Quit your job at Staples Office Depot and learn the god damn bass!