Currently on the Radio Rebellion Tour with Norma Jean and Between the Buried and Me, Fear Before the March of Flames is a hardcore band that’s grown-up. Touring for their third full-length CD, The Always Open Mouth [Equal Vision Records], they show they’re smart lyrically, musically, with lots of layers-- plunging like a knife deep into the heart of experimental territory. Except in the case of FBTMOF, the energy we find is life-- not death.
After an unfortunate onstage accident in San Diego, CA, FBTMOF’s singer David Marion accidentally got smacked in the jaw by Mike Madruga’s bass, actually knocking David unconscious and putting a hole clear through his cheek. Many stitches, several tons of antibiotics, some guest singers, a few cancelled dates and a blown-up van transmission later, David is back, and the full band is performing with the same high energy.
No one ever said this rock star business was easy.
Nighttimes.com caught up with FBTMOF’s guitarist Zach Hutchings (“Binks”), to talk about the band, honest music and haircuts…
NT: You have a real range of music in your personal tastes that goes far beyond the current stuff—old 90s alternative bands like Shiner, Hum, Mogwai, Fireside and Far…
Binks: “Before I moved to Aurora, Colorado [to join the band] from Portland, Oregon, Adam [Fischer, guitars, vocals] had all the songs for the new album, The Always Open Mouth pretty much mapped out. But Adam just kind of let me do what I wanted. Since I listen to so much spacey stoner-rock, he let me do what I’m good at, and let me add some of that kind of vibe to it. I’d like to think I could be credited for some of the spacier stuff. I wanted to go more this way, and he himself is way into 90s rock too. The both of us working together, collaborating, bouncing back and forth with ideas was always referring to 90s rock bands like Failure, Alice in Chains, the Toadies… basically everything 90s. Because there’s nothing like that anymore. People are trying to bring back Classic Rock, but no one is trying to bring back 90s rock yet. We want to do a full cover album of 90s rock—we’re trying to make a list right now: Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots—it’ll be awesome!”
NT: The new album is reaching into different genres and touching on some industrial stuff. It’s not just a bunch of kids screaming and getting rowdy anymore like FBTMOF’s first two albums, Odd How People Shake [Rise Records] and Art Damage [Equal Vision Records]
Binks: “I’ve known the guys since they came and recorded Odd How People Shake--I actually lived at the house they recorded at. I’ve known them since that album and I’ve seen them change from just finding their ground, to Art Damage. I was always way into that cut-throat style too, so I enjoyed it. But when Adam showed me the demos for the new album, I was totally blown away.
“Both of our bands were on a small indie label, Rise Records, in Oregon. We just became really good friends. When my old band broke up, I spent about nine months with the Fall of Troy doing lights, vocal effects, being kind of like their tour manager—the everything dude—and FBTMOF started talking about having a second guitar on tour. I packed up all my stuff and moved. We got the ball rolling with that and then we went to Europe with Fear, Fall of Troy and the Bled. By the end of that tour they said to me, ‘you wanna be in the band?’
“It would have killed me to not be playing guitar. Especially like being with a band like the Fall of Troy where Thomas, he can shred like crazy! It just made me really, really jealous that he could rock out while I did my thing with the lights and whatnot [laughs]. Playing guitar and feeling that energy onstage, that’s something completely different. I knew I needed to have that again.
“Matthew [Clouse, former FBTFOF guitarist] left pretty soon after Odd How People Shake to go back to school. I’m still very good friends with both Matt and Brandon [Proff, former FBTFOF drummer]. We talk to them just about every day.”
NT: So is it true that on Odd How People Shake every song is a reference to a movie? That’s pretty different from the social commentary of Art Damage.
Binks: “A lot of what Adam writes about lyrically has a lot to do with movies. He’s a totalmovie buff, watches all the trailers and stuff. We all love movies, but it’s probably like his favorite pastime. There is always going to be a movie or TV reference somewhere. In Art Damage, all the political decisions going on had quite an effect on everyone in music at the time.
NT: Is it true the band won’t play “On the Brightside She Could Choke” anymore? Is it just too emo for your tastes today?
Binks: “It’s not that it’s too emo, it’s just that everyone in the band kind of just wants to get the new stuff out. Get away from it and grow. There is probably going to be a headlining tour in the future—I can’t say near future, where we’ll have a bunch of those old songs and everyone will just poop their pants! They want it every single night and we’re just like, shut up! [groans and laughs].”
NT: How do you feel about genres? I used to think of you guys as seriously heavy hardcore. I’ve heard of post-hardcore, mathcore, metalcore…
Binks: “Everything’s ‘core’! What does that really mean? Can’t it be like Metal, plainHardcore, Rock and Roll, Pop and Soul? I see, like, ten genres at best. Not all these subsidiaries and spin-off genres. I don’t really know how to classify the new album it all. It just sounds like Space Rock to me...”
NT: It’s exciting that music is starting to take a new direction again. We’re getting away from the whiny emo-pop-punk that was smothering everything.
Binks: “Haircut music.”
NT: Yeah, and the backlash against that was probably the screaming stuff. But to old fogeys like me, that didn’t offer a lot. But now it’s like, oh hey, they’re thinking…
Binks: “Yeah. [Reflecting on the sad state of a lot of current popular music] People took Jawbox, At the Drive-In, even old, old Glassjaw, and they ran with it, but they screwed it up! They’ve made those bands look like they started something silly. I feel like what they were doing was totally just honest.”
NT: Any advice for new bands out there?
Binks: “Tour and tour some more. Even when it sucks. For a long time, starting out, you’re not gonna get the guarantees, and you’re gonna be broke. Your shit is gonna break down. [and your singer may get clobbered by your bass player’s guitar…] Just keep doing it. If you feel that passionate about it, if you feel that rush, you have to do it. You won’t give up. I hope I just get to see the whole world. That’s what I’m doing it for.”
Catch Fear Before The March of Flames in these cities:
11/17/2006 Omaha, NE @ Sokol Underground
11/18/2006 St. Louis, MO @ Mississippi Nights
11/19/2006 Minneapolis, MN @ Quest
11/20/2006 Madison, WI @ Fast Forward
11/22/2006 Crown Point, IN @ On The Square
11/24/2006 Indianapolis, IN @ Emerson Theatre
11/25/2006 Louisville, KY @ Headliners Music Hall
11/26/2006 Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Zoo
11/27/2006 Cleveland, OH @ Peabody's Down Under
11/28/2006 Buffalo, NY @ The Buffalo Icon
11/29/2006 New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
11/30/2006 Norfolk, VA @ Norva Theatre
12/1/2006 Wilmington, NC @ The Rox
12/2/2006 Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade Music Park
Photo of Zach Hutchings by Zach Hutchings!