Interview with drummer Carlos Gutierrez
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: March 1, 2012
Young and relentless Californian thrashers Fueled By Fire have been making a fair amount of name for themselves over the past years through intense touring, plus of course with the band's unyielding, vicious and poser-smashing Thrash Metal that pretty much is culminated on the band's second album, "Plunging into Darkness", which finally got its official release date in Europe, April 27th. Thanks to NoiseArt Records for seeing the potential in them, and taking Fueled By Fire under their caring wings.
Drummer Carlos Gutierrez wanted to shed some more light on the band's both past and current activities through the following interview that he kindly wanted to do via email for The Metal Crypt. Read on, as this is actually a pretty hilarious reading - fully of funny details, at least some parts in this interview.
Luxi: Fueled By Fire have been around for 10 years, so how would you sum up your first 10 years for the readers of the Metal Crypt? has it been an easy road for you to make it this far?
Carlos: Well technically we have been around for 10 years. The band was actually formed under that name. We barely even knew how to play our instruments ha-ha-ha!! But in these last 10 years we've had lots of ups and downs. Playing backyard shows all over L.A., recording demos and albums, Lineup changes, touring. Lots of things! No, it hasn't been easy at all. I believe we've worked pretty hard to be where we're at. And we haven't even begun what we want to accomplish, so it's going to take even more hard work!
Luxi: When you first started out this band, did you already have a clear vision about all those things back then, what type of specific sound Fueled By Fire were striving determinedly for, ever since you started doing your first songs for your debut album "Spread the Fire"?
Carlos: No not at all! All we knew was we wanted to play metal like Iron Maiden!! We were just doing it for fun, nothing serious. We started out as a band learning our instruments, making up songs along the way, heavily influenced by Iron Maiden, Dio, Judas Priest and Armored Saint. We were playing more traditional Heavy Metal stuff, lots of songs we don't even play anymore, we even have them recorded live and even have a 2-song demo. Also the "Life, Death and FBF" demo we released in 2004-05, So it took a few years to really find our sound, and really get serious about our music and start playing in the clubs and building a fan base. Lots of learning and progressing in our music.
Luxi: Talking about your debut album a bit more, the original release of it was a self-financed release that came out in September 2006 and one month after that, Brian Slagel from Metal Blade contacted the band, wanting to get it re-released worldwide, remixed and remastered - and with two bonus tracks. Are you happy with this Metal Blade version, and the way it was promoted around the world by the label?
Carlos: We were very excited to be part of Metal Blade Records! They put out some of the best Metal albums ever! So when Brian contacted us, we even thought it was a joke someone was playing on us! LOL! But as far as me being happy with the re-release, honestly I like the self-release production a lot better; I think I speak for the rest of the band as well. Other than that, they did a great job getting our album out to the masses and getting our name out there!
Luxi: After this re-release of "Spread the Fire", Fueled By Fire lost their original vocalist and guitarist Gio. Was there any drama behind this unfortunate setback, why he decided to step out from the lineup of Fueled By Fire? Did his departure happen in good spirit with the remaining members of the band?
Carlos: Well, Gio wasn't the original vocalist of the band; we had a couple of guys before him. But, there was some drama that happened, I don't want to go into too much detail about it, and re-open doors that have been closed for a while now. But let's just say, we thought he left on good terms, but when we put out the press release and told the truth about why he left, he got angry. Haha! Have no idea why he got angry for us telling the truth, but he did. Now everything is cool, when we see him we say what's up to each other and have a lil' chat, but that's about it. We're not hanging out partying, having beers together and bullshitting with each other like we used to! But I believe the drama is squashed.
Luxi: Where did you find Chris Monroy for the second guitar anyway? Was he one of close friends of yours whom you had hanged around with in bars, concerts and stuff?
Carlos: First of all when we found Chris, we couldn't have found him in a bar; he was only 15 when he tried out! Ha-ha-ha!!! He lied to us!! About his age too! We had put out a press release saying we were looking for a guitarist/vocalist or a guitarist and vocalist separate, also some guidelines like age preference. One of Chris' friends contacted me on Myspace and was telling me how good Chris was, and if he could try out for us, so I said sure, give me his phone number so I can contact him. I contacted Chris later that night told him who I was and asked if he wanted to try out, he said yes and I told him to learn "Thrash Is Back" and set a date to jam out. Before I hung up the phone with him I asked, so you're 17 years old right? He answered "aaaaa... yeah!!" I said alright cool man see you soon! So the day he came to jam out "Thrash Is Back" with us, he knew that song perfect!! Solo and all! Within two hours of jamming out, he had learned five more songs with us! So we knew this kid was sick! We still thought he was 17. So we asked him to come back and jam a few more times. So one of those days, he told us his b-day was coming up, I said cool so you're going to be 18 right? He said what "nooo... 16!" We all looked at each other like WTF!? This fuckin' kid is tearing it up at this age, he can't even leave the house, let alone go on any kind of tour!! Long story short, our manager talked with his parents, told them what we're doing, let him get home schooled and play and tour with the band, as long as he did his school work on the road. LOL! Crazy shit right!! And that was the birth of Chris Monroy in FBF! HA-HA-HA!!!
Luxi: Pretty much after December 2007 - all the way up to July 2008, Fueled By Fire toured a lot both in the States and Europe, supporting bands like Scarecrow and M.O.D., plus playing at the "Keep It True" Metal festival in Germany at the beginning of April 2008. I guess all this intense touring was a good experience for the band for teaching that it isn't that always glamorous to be on the road but every now and then, things do not work out as they are originally planned. Did Fueled By Fire face any major setbacks when you were on the road in 2007-2008, like not getting your payments for some of the shows you played, lost some of your merchandise, got wasted a bit too much backstage before entering a stage - and hence fucked things up during your concert, etc.?
Carlos: WOW! Great question! Well when we were on tour with Scarecrow, it was a west coast winter tour. Lots of long drives through rain, snow and whatever else came our way. We had just played in Denver Colorado! Great fuckin' show that night! Lots of moshers, headbangers, drunk fucks, just an all-around great underground Thrash show! So the next morning we leave our hotel on our way to the next show in Oklahoma. We stop to grab something to eat at Sonic Burgers. First time we had ever eaten there. So we ate and hit the road, jumped on the freeway, we had just gone maybe a mile on the freeway and we see a Highway Patrol officer spun out along side of the median! So there we are are being stupid fuckin' kids, "ha-ha-ha... fuckin pig" talkin' shit! 2 seconds later! OHHHHHHHHH SHIIIIIIIIIIIT! We hit black ice! Started fuckin' going out of control! On to oncoming traffic on the freeway, we came back to our lane, seen a huge fuckin' semi-truck headed right for us! Turned back! Our trailer whipped the tail end and hit the semi-truck! Busted the back window of our vehicle, busted the trailer door open, all our merch was spread all over the freeway! We were fuckin' scared!! We all jumped out, because were in between the freeway in a grassy area, traffic was stopped, so we ran and grabbed all of our merch, while we were still in shock! So highway patrol came, called a tow truck for our trailer and took us to the nearest hotel. Stayed for the night, we had to cancel the Oklahoma show and rent a U-haul trailer, for the rest of the tour. We just left that trailer there to rot! Ha-ha!! That's one crazy fuckin' set back if you ask me! Till this day, none of us have eaten Sonic Burgers since! LOL!
Luxi: What about some brighter sides of being on the road? What were some of your highlights when you had all these tours going on in between 2007-08?
Carlos: Well always the cool thing about being on the road, is all the shit you get to see, we got to see a lot of shit people will never see around the US and Europe! Meet tons of cool people and eat at cool spots you see on TV! But the highlight had to be the very first time we stepped on European soil to play the Keep It True festival in Germany 2008! That was such an amazing time! I remember looking back and saying wow, I never thought this could happen, starting in backyards, and now this! Such a great feeling! We also followed with a mini-Euro tour with Resistance from France, that was a great fuckin' tour! Played like 6 or 7 kick ass shows! Belgium, France, Holland, Germany. Getting drunk, partying with all our new friends out there! Seeing all the cool sites! It was sick! We even got to tour a castle in France! Ha-ha!! Good times!
Luxi: Let's talk about your latest album, "Plunging into Darkness" a bit. It will finally be released in Europe by NoiseArt Records, on April 27th precisely, with one bonus track titled "Deadly Restraints". In fact, it's been said that you guys actually pre-sold limited edition copies (200 only) of this new album during your European tour with Brazilian thrashers Violator in 2010. Was this some special hand-numbered edition or what?
Carlos: Yes we can't wait for the official release! Finally! We did pre-sell it on our Euro tour with Violator, it was this cheap lil' demo-looking case, but it worked! Wasn't special hand numbered, but if you got one, we know where it came from just because of the case it was in!
Luxi: How was it tour with Violator anyway? Did you get along well with those guys?
Carlos: The tour with Violator was the best tour we have done so far! We were always fans of their music so to tour with them in Europe was very cool! Me and Poney always stayed in contact over email, so it was really cool to finally meet! We played lots of shows that were very fuckin' crazy! Played a few sold out shows as well! I can only remember maybe one bad show. Other than that the whole tour was fuckin' sick! We got along really well! We were always hanging out, partying! Having a good time! Those guys are our brothers for life! Now we just gotta do it again! And hit more territory!
Luxi: As far as the songs on "Plunging into Darkness" are concerned, in my honest opinion it's a much better effort compared to your debut album. The songs are overall way better on all levels; they are more dynamic, better structured, more brutal - and just capture this 80's Thrash feel much better than what you accomplished on your debut release, "Spread the Fire". What are your own thoughts about this matter in question?
Carlos: Thank you! I couldn't agree more! I feel we progressed and matured a lot with this album. We really worked hard on it, we knew exactly the direction we were going and I believe we accomplished it! Darker, heavier, FASTER!
Luxi: Was "Deadly Restraints", this bonus song on this forthcoming European release, mainly recorded because of its sort of promotional values, knowing that your second album has been out in the States for quite a while already - and some of the European fans of the band, may have purchased that American version already from the States as import?
Carlos: Yes that's exactly why! We also feel it's very appropriate to add the bonus track, because people have heard these songs before. "Deadly Restraints" is a brand new song and will crush your fuckin' face! Simple as that! Get yourself a copy! Because when you see people walking around with crushed faces, you're gonna regret not getting that album!!
Luxi: You had a gap of four long years between your debut album "Spread the Fire" and your follow-up record, "Plunging Into Darkness". Do you feel you should have released your second album a bit earlier because four years does seem to be a bit of a long time for any relatively new band that has only gotten one record out as far as getting the band's name out is concerned?
Carlos: Yeah man it sucked that it has taken so long to get the album out. But we've had so many setbacks trying to get the album out; everything that could go wrong went wrong! It was pretty much out of our hands. Especially doing it DIY and trying to get it out there properly DIY status is hard! Now that we are part of the NoiseArt family we hope everything goes smooth for the next album!
Luxi: How much new material have you written since the release of "Plunging into Darkness"? Is this new material going to be in the same vein with the songs on "Plunging...", or is there even a chance that you may try something a bit different on your next release music-wise?
Carlos: We have almost a full album written already! It's pretty much just some more neck-breaking Thrash Metal! We are trying to do things we haven't done before, but like I said, we're playing pure fuckin' Thrash Metal! Not trying to add some D-Beat bullshit or electronic shit to our music! Just music you can fuck each other up too!
Luxi: Do you think you are your worst enemy when you are in the middle of the songwriting process, and try to satisfy yourself with new stuff you come up with for Fueled By Fire, striving for some sort of perfection with your songs all the time - and kind of saying to yourself: "I can do this and that even better"?
Carlos: Fuck man! You hit that shit right on the head! That's exactly how I feel when writing new material! I have to feel 100% about that song we just wrote. If there's anything I feel needs to be changed, or worked on, it's always brought up and we try and fix it. Most of the time it does come out better, and we're all happy! If we're happy with it, we know the people listening to it are gonna be happy. Shit sometimes we'll spend too much time on a song to where we can't think of what to put next, or where do we go from here? It can get frustrating at time as well. Like we literally just finished writing a new song today that took us a whole fuckin' week to write! We kept getting stuck, it was really frustrating! But we figured it out and got passed it! Now that song kicks ass!
Luxi: Is there something in your personal songwriting process that you consciously try to avoid without exception so that you would know you'd go too far into some extremes - and lose some of that essential, specific sound that makes Fueled By Fire sound like Fueled By Fire in the first place?
Carlos: As for myself, yes. I will not do a blast beat. There are some Thrash bands out there that do blast beats here and there sometimes, and I think it sounds cool. But for me, it wouldn't be Fueled By Fire. Nothing against blast beats or anything, just isn't my style. I'm sure there are some other things the rest of the guys would say, but that's my NO NO. HA-HA!!
Luxi: What are some of your touring plans for 2012? Do you try to cover at least as much both the American continent and European territory as you can within this year - and perhaps even more?
Carlos: Honestly for us it's very hard to tour the States. This economy out here is killing it for us, we're still DIY out here in the U.S. and it's extremely hard to survive out here on the road. Hopefully in the near future were able to do another U.S. tour. But as for now, we have no plans. As for Europe we are travelling out there for the Keep It True fest in late April, trying to get some dates set up around that, then doing the Metal fest European tour early June. That should be fuckin' insane! Also were trying to get more dates set up after that as well! So we plan to hit Europe harder than we ever have before! Also one of our goals is to get to the U.K. We've never been there, and have lots of people who want us there. Also trying to get out to South America, Mexico, Asia and Japan again.
Luxi: Out of curiosity, what's your opinion about today's Metallica? Do they still have any rights to exist and making music (for themselves only - not for the fans anymore) in your honest opinion?
Carlos: Honestly I was never a big Metallica fan. So honestly I couldn't care less. But I guess they can do whatever they want. They're Metallica LOL! Do I agree with them still making shitty music for themselves and not for the fans? No. I guess they forgot who got them to be where they are...
Luxi: I guess that was it. I hope I got enough covered regarding Fueled By Fire - and last but not least I wanna sincerely thank you for your time for getting this done and wish you all the best with any future endeavors with the band. If there's still something you'd like to add to conclude this interview session, then feel free to do so, sir...
Carlos: Just wanna say thank you very much for this great interview and your interest in Fueled By Fire. Had a good time answering these questions. To all the readers. Make sure you pick up a copy of the NoiseArt re-release of "Plunging into Darkness" and play that shit full blast! It's guaranteed to smash your fuckin' face! Thank you and we'll see all you fuckin' headbangers soon!
|Other information about Fueled By Fire on this site|
|Review: Spread the Fire!!!|
|Review: Trapped in Perdition|
|Review: Trapped in Perdition|
Copyright © 1999-2016, Michel Renaud / The Metal Crypt. All Rights Reserved.