Fallujah finally make their way to Australia for the first time ever in 2017 coming over as support for Killswitch Engage making the tour all that much more special for fans of the heavier side of metal. The band just recently announced a sideshow for their own headlining show off the tour and with a new album out “Dreamless” that pushes the boundaries of extreme metal, there was much to find out as we caught up with Alex Hofmann recently to discuss the tour and more.
Andrew: So we are looking forward to seeing you guys with Killswitch Engage in March, exciting stuff!
Alex: Yeah it should be cool, our first time over there.
Andrew: Yeah I was going to say I don’t recall ever seeing you guys over here before so it must be exciting for you guys to be coming over for the first time.
Alex: Yeah Australia is a place that we’ve been trying to get to for over a year or two years now. With Killswitch it’s probably the best circumstance in which to happen so we’re excited.
Andrew: Have you guys ever done a tour or played shows with Killswitch Engage before?
Alex: No I don’t think so.
Andrew: Oh OK we’re big fans of Killswitch Engage and have seen them a few times so it should be a killer show. Are you guys big fans of them as well?
Alex: Yeah and especially back in the day when I was a kid I remember getting my first Killswitch Engage CD, that was pretty cool. It’s always cool to tour with bands that you gave a shit about when you were younger kids purely for nostalgic reasons which I’m sure because I’m in a band is probably not the best answer you want to hear.
Alex: But at the end of the day for me the most important bands to tour with are not necessarily the biggest ones but the ones that you were the most enthusiastic about when you were coming up.
Andrew: Yeah absolutely. Has there been a particular band in the past where you thought you would never tour with?
Alex: I never thought I would tour with Devin Townsend, we’re about to do a tour with a band which I can’t talk about until next week but it’s with a band I never thought I would ever tour with. I never thought I would tour with The Black Dahlia Murder, we did it twice. I never thought I would go out with someone like Dying Fetus or…it’s easy to forget about the tours that you’ve done, they kind of blur together but I’ve been able to tour with the majority of bands that I grew up enjoying which is a cool privilege.
Andrew: Oh yeah absolutely. How does it feel to be touring with your heroes like that? Is that nerve wracking at times?
Alex: No I mean you care for like the first 5 minutes and then you’re done after that – No not really! I’m not really one to get star struck to be completely honest so for me it’s more so a reflection of are they cool or not, that’s my biggest concern. Of course you can get caught up in the, ‘Oh wow so cool I’m doing this thing that I always dreamed of doing’, but at the end of the day if people suck then it doesn’t really matter. But luckily we’ve had some good luck with it, a lot of the bands I grew up listening to that I remember going to shows and seeing when I was a kid, now I would consider close friends of mine. That is more rewarding than simply being able to just tour with them because you realize very soon after you tour a lot that a lot of these guys are not much different from you and I think there’s very much a line that is drawn when you stop being a kid going to watch these bands and start being a kid going on tour with these bands as a contemporary and that’s something I never really understood until I kinda started doing it. I think that’s more rewarding than some of the guys that I would maybe get starstruck meeting when I was 15 again, now I can just call them on the phone whenever I want. The wall starts getting broken down and maybe Killswitch will be one of those bands, maybe they won’t be but it’s a cool opportunity especially to go to new territories like Australia. You couldn’t really ask for a better or bigger band to go with.
Andrew: Yeah looking forward to it and looking forward to seeing you guys for the very first time as well. Obviously you are touring on the back of your latest album that came out [last year] “Dreamless’ which is a very cool and unique album I have to say. It’s cool to see bands do different things out there, how do you feel about the album now that some time has passed since it’s release?
Alex: I kinda feel the same now as I did when it came out. My worries stopped being about the record now that it’s done being written and recorded and start being about touring on it, I kinda take everything a step at a time. When the album is being curated and coming together, that’s my main focus but now we’re on the album cycle all I care about is touring on it. We spent a very large part of 2016 touring with bands that are kind of riskier moves, touring with Devin Townsend and touring the Never Say Die tour in Europe where there is a lot more ‘core’ bands. We spent a lot of time on the road [in 2016] with bands that aren’t really like Fallujah and 2017 is being spent more with bands that are kind of similar to us because we kind of wanted to have the record drop and then cast a really wide net and put ourselves in front of kids who normally would not be drawn to music like this and say, ‘Hey take the risk, play shows that maybe won’t be as exciting as ones that are catered to your audience’, but the next year is being more pushed towards preaching to your own choir so we’ll see if the investment was a good one or not.
Andrew: Yeah I think it’s a good thing to play in front of different audiences and cast a wider net so to speak, much better than pandering to a certain kind of audience I think.
Alex: It depends on what kind of band you want to be. There are some bands who want to put out the same record over and over again and play in front of the same crowds over and over again but there’s not really a lot of new ground to be gained in doing that in my opinion. I would rather take the risk and have the diversity and the experience.
Andrew: I’m reminded of a little quote from you in a press release that said “Simply calling it (Dreamless)) death metal would be inaccurate”, which I totally agree as there’s a lot of progressive and atmospheric elements in this album. What do you consider yourselves to be? What kind of a band do you think your music would be described as now?
Alex: I don’t know, you could lose all kinds of sleep trying to put a moniker on it to make sense. But I guess the term we push is atmospheric death metal but what does even really mean? You say that more as a marketing ploy if kids want to call it that and the most comical thing is that there are other bands now who are starting to call themselves that which I guess is cool but at the same time you gotta laugh at it to a certain extent because people don’t necessarily believe that’s what you should call it. I know what I don’t like being called but at the end of the day, metal is so tribal that I’m not really sure if I think it’s a good idea to be contributing to that tribalism by making up some new sub-genre to classify Fallujah. I mean you can call it metal core or tech death or progressive metal or atmospheric death or whatever you want but at the end of the day none of that shit matters unless you like it. So the real question is do you like it or not, not what you are going to call it but then again there are many people in this genre of music, the general metal umbrella that are so naive and so stupid that they will not listen to something simply on what it’s called before they would actually listen to it. I think that’s metal’s biggest shortfall whereas the judgement comes more so from the tag that it’s put on as opposed to the sound and emotions when you actually sit down and listen to it. You put on a record, you think it sucks, you don’t listen to it as opposed to some guy selling you the idea, ‘Oh well it’s called this’, ‘Oh no I don’t like that’. Oh well I think you’re kind of an idiot in that way.
Andrew: [laughs] I’m reminded of a quote which said that basically metalheads were some of the most conservative people in the musical climate. Would you agree with that?
Alex: In a number of ways yeah, I disagree on a couple of them. I mean metal is super diverse, yeah you got a bunch of gun toting rednecks who love to do whippets at the gathering of the juggalos and then you’ve also got a lot of a liberals who like firebombing churches. You’ve got a whole span of spectrum within metal music, I guess what I should be saying is that’s what makes it so great. But I don’t know, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. Metal has a lot of conservative tendencies because it caters to a lot of impulses of aggression which I think conservatism thrives on. I would say metal definitely is closer to country as far as it’s culture and politics than it is to maybe underground electronic music which is fiercely liberal or hip hop which is fiercely liberal. Yeah I think you’re probably right, metal is definitely very conservative. You meet a lot of very interesting characters on the road and even globally, I mean this isn’t just an American problem. You meet conservatives in other countries in other places that I think if you were in other genres of music you maybe wouldn’t fall into.
Andrew: Yeah that’s definitely quite prevalent in Australia at least. I mean I’m sure you get a lot of flak from other metalheads for the fact that you use electronics in your music which is something a lot of metalheads are opposed to. How do you deal with that kind of criticism or do you not worry about that kind of thing?
Alex: I mean there’s a certain kind of person that doesn’t like the music because there’s electronic elements, because none of us would be here if it wasn’t for electronic music! Metal wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for electronic music. Every major band from Pink Floyd to Cradle Of Filth to whatever it is, the whole spectrum from regular Dad rock to modern day metal has incorporated electronic music in one way or another either through synthesizers and even if not that, at least through the production. The use of electronics and software in various ways is on every record they listen to whether they know it or not. I remember we had one guy in New York City who saw me as I was playing the keyboards after a song and said, ‘Is this tech death or is it techno?’ And I’m thinking to myself, ‘That guy is so stupid in so many ways – 1. to try and classify Fallujah as techno music, 2. to try and imply that me playing a micro-chord on stage is somehow techno music’, the guy probably doesn’t even know what techno music actually is! You can try and sit there and be offended by people for what they say but at the end of the day there’s a very specific person that goes out of their way to say things like that and I think that is very much encouraged by social media because there’s a comments section on everything. But it’s kind of like some idiot at a show criticizing your use of electronics in the music is kind of like going to a family dinner and your 4 year old cousin saying something mean about you. It’s not because he’s genuinely mean, it’s not because there’s something generally wrong with what you’re doing. He’s a child, sometimes the child nature doesn’t end well into your 30’s and 40’s.
Andrew: Yeah it’s a weird sort of thing with the internet where everyone has a voice and they feel that voice is such an important thing when really when you think about it, it’s not that important. There’s so much of it out there that it becomes insignificant in a ot of ways.
Alex: Yeah it’s the nature of being in a band. If you get into this game and you are super caught up by what everyone says, you are in for a super rough ride!
Andrew: [laughs] Exactly! Now as far as your tour with Killswitch is concerned, what can we expect? Can we expect a varied set from night to night or do you have a certain thing that you stick to for every show?
Alex: I know we’re going to get more time in those shows than on the tour we’ll be coming off of, I’m sure there will be a lot of guys who are going to want more older songs mainly for the reason that we’ve never been down there before but the truth is I have no idea what we’re going to play.
Andrew: Are you the kind of band that does change the setlist though or do you stick to one kind of thing?
Alex: I think a goal is going to be to change the set drastically on this next one which is good for American fans because they’ve heard a lot of the same songs in the last year but maybe bad for some of the Australian ones who have been wanting to hear those songs. To be honest I hope we play new songs because Fallujah has pretty much been playing the same set for about a year and you can’t bore your fans so we’ll see. I mean we figure it out about a month before we leave for touring so we’ll see how that goes.
Andrew: OK cool! Do you have any final words for the Aussie fans before you come over?
Alex: No other than show us a good time!
Andrew: Awesome man, we look forward to it and we will see you in March!
Alex: Absolutely, thank you so much.
KILLSWITCH ENGAGE AUSTRALIA TOUR 2017
Wednesday 1 March – Powerstation, Auckland 18+
Friday 3 March – Enmore Theatre, Sydney Lic/AA
Saturday 4 March – Eatons Hill, Brisbane Lic/AA
Sunday 5 March 170 Russell, Melbourne 18+ (2nd & Final show SOLD OUT)
* Monday 6 March Workers Club, Melbourne (* Fallujah side show)
Tuesday 7 March – 170 Russell, Melbourne 18+ (extra tickets available)
Wednesday 8 March – Metro City , Perth 18+
Tickets and info through Select Touring