“We were all steering our own ships, but together we’re a war ensemble.” - hmv.com talks to Fightstar
As they return with Behind The Devil’s Back (which you can preview and purchase on the right-hand side of the page), their first new album in six years we chatted with Fightstar about coming back together, getting fatherly advice on their album title and why they were quite prepared to walk away without making a record at all..
Your first album in six years hit shelves today! When did you decide that you were going to do another record after your hiatus?
Charlie (Simpson, vocals/guitars): “The idea to make a record came way after the idea to do a 10-year anniversary show. I was on holiday and my brother was asking me when we were going to play together again. I emailed round and said ‘Come on you old b******s, when are we going to play together again?’ and everyone was up for playing a show. We put the Forum on sale, it sold out very quickly and then we did some more shows and they did the same so we realised there was a real appetite for us.”
So you weren’t always minded to make a new album?
Charlie: “I said from the get go that we should go and write, but we’d only release stuff it was good, we needed to have a reason to put it out.”
Omar (Abidi, drums): “We had no expectations. It was one show for fun. Then it became about doing more dates just to please our fans and then it was in the rehearsals that were found out the sparks were there. By the end of the tour I think we all felt like we wanted to write another record and we managed to get in the studio quite quickly.”
Charlie: “It’s our best record. I really believe that, which is incredible, considering it came together in half the time.”
Dan (Haigh, bass): “It really felt like during all that downtime our ideas were slow-baking, the process was always turning over in the back of our heads, so when we got the chance to let it out it came together very quickly.”
Was it easy to get back in the groove, so to speak? None of your side projects are much like Fightstar?
Dan: “The easiest way to sum it up is like this. You know you have those friends, you can not see each other for 10 years and the second you get back in a room it’s like only 10 seconds has passed. That happened.”
Charlie: “I really think our side projects have benefitted it. I hadn’t written riffs for about five years and I started and it just splurted out, it all came very quickly. So much pent up creativity. If we’d gone in to write another record after Be Human I don’t think it would have been very good. We were so burnt out, I couldn’t face writing another Fightstar record.”
Dan: “Writing for this band is an emotional experience, you can’t fake it, there needed to be enough water under the bridge to draw on again.”
Did you record differently this time?
Dan: “Normally we’d all write and bring things to the table as a group and then we’d decide on what we wanted to do. This time the individual taste of each of us was allowed to shine through, we all wrote separately. Historically our sound has polar extremes, some very heavy songs, some very light songs, so with this I feel like you get those extremes within each song.”
Alex (Westaway, guitars): “We recorded separately too, we’ve all busy lives, we’ve all got different projects going on. Charlie did his guitars and none of us were there, it was all like that.”
Omar: “We were all steering our own ships, but together we’re like a war ensemble.”
Alex: “It was weird. We’d send our parts off and be nervous about what everyone would think of it.”
It’s quite common in hip-hop for records to be made like this, but not for rock bands…
Charlie: “I don’t think we thought too much about it. I was wondering if we could do it, but everyone’s work was so good that it really ending up working.”
Alex: “It was the only way to do it really. We didn’t have two months to take to go away so it had to happen like this.”
When did you decide to release it via your own label?
Omar: “From the start. We had talks at the beginning, but we all just thought a traditional record label wouldn’t give us what we need. We’ve got a great fanbase and it’s not like we’re starting out, it made total sense to do it ourselves.”
What kind of record do you think this is lyrically?
Charlie: “Every song is different. We all had a hand in the lyrics this time. Usually Al and I write the lyrics, but this time we talked things through as a band."
Dan: “It was like scriptwriting. We would come up with scenarios and characters. It was like trying to get everyone inside one brain.”
Where did the title come from?
Dan: “My Dad suggested the title, well we’re slightly in dispute about who came up with what. Basically there’s a line in the book (The Bible) which is ‘Behind God’s Back’, which is to do something a little bit questionable and then one of us, I think it was him, suggested flipping it. It’s being in a negative environment and doing something positive. Pushing against the darkness.”
Fightstar’s new album Behind The Devil’s Back is out now.