Fuera: Interview – Balancing Machine EP

Fuera press picture 2016

Cape Town, South Africa: local progressive death metal band Fuera are still considered by most as a fresh start, but rapidly becoming viewed by many as an extremely quick start! With the band only arriving on the live circuit barely a year ago in 2015, they have quickly built a name for themselves as a diligent live act with a penchant for writing interesting and dynamic music; a feat which won them a slot at our recent M4A SummerFest’16 live showcase. With Fuera poised to begin the launch tour for their Balancing Machine debut EP at this weekend’s 18 Till I Die concert in Cape Town, we wanted to hear and share a little bit of their story.

It began in April 2015 with the sudden appearance of a facebook page, a demo of ‘Amorphous Filter’, and the announcement of a few shows. Fuera was in business! What was immediately evident from the demo was that these guys also meant to crack the mould of stereotypical “brutal” songwriting right from the onset – even as the name suggests, ‘Fuera’ loosely translates ‘outsider’ from Spanish – and it cannot be disputed that they are delivering an aural and visual style unlike anything else presented in the city before; a fact further emphasized with the later unveiling of another demo ‘A Gift Of Desolation’.

Initial release for Balancing Machine was estimated for October in 2015. However, as for getting it done on the first time around, the band met with some unexpected challenges including having to recruit a new drummer and prepare him for live performances.

“Also, a part of it was that we didn’t anticipate how much work was going to be involved in not just making the EP and recording it; but there was also the marketing of it, pulling together all the artwork, making sure how the best of tracks fit together. We were doing it pretty much all ourselves.” ~ Greg Williams (bass, Fuera)

And as evidenced by the output by the band to date, Fuera don’t do something unless it is being done thoroughly. Though, they still describe their processes as an exploratory journey.

“I think we’re learning more how to do that with the experience of recording this EP. We’d set a date for the launch and we’ve been working towards that; but we can see now maybe we should get everything in hand – finish everything – then set the date.” ~ Nicholas Kerr (guitar/vocals, Fuera)

As to the actual recording, lead guitarist and vocalist Joshua Cole-Mitchell described how tracking of instruments was done at his home with the final step of vocals being recorded by Heinrich Kollner of Dark Matter Studios (now joined forces with Burning Tone Studios) who then also handled post production for the band. But with the demos already communicating the strength of the band’s songwriting, we wanted to learn more about the processes involved.

“I bring the song idea, but it’ll be the whole song idea. If I bring it half-arsed, I’ll get a lot of crit from the guys – the same as if Greg brought half an artwork, we’d all be like ‘what the fuck is this!’ – so I’ll bring the whole idea and then we’ll sit and flesh it out.” ~ Nicholas Kerr

“Often we’ll lay tracks down and then all listen to it. Once we’ve all got the crit in, then we’ll track it down and maybe still even go back to the old way. There’s usually three or four different versions for one riff.” ~ Joshua Cole-Mitchell

https://youtu.be/syhufu1jkCA

Yet they also describe an evolution of the band’s songwriting where band members are beginning to anticipate each other in terms of their capability and style.

“Josh will do all the lead guitar playing. The way Josh’s style has been developing since we started playing together, I’ll simplify some areas where I know he’ll do some awesome tapping or atmosphere over it.” ~ Nicholas Kerr

We quizzed the band on the dynamism of their sound, filled with contrasts and different moods in almost every song. Nicholas explains how the band’s approach is to try and balance songs out.

“We’ll be, like – ‘okay, we’ve had enough heavy fucking riffs now’ – and it needs to go somewhere else, but it needs to work. It can’t sound like a different song.” ~ Nicholas Kerr

“Often the songs will grow on me. Nic will come with a riff, and I’ll be like ‘what the fuck!’ – what have you been eating? But it sounds awesome, so it grows on you and eventually you understand what he’s doing and you see what the rhythms are.” ~ Joshua Cole-Mitchell

“I think we all appreciate diverse music, and we want that to come through in layers and textures, and atmosphere… In the track ‘Balancing Machine’, for instance, we spent a lot of time working on the dynamics of that. Initially when we played it out we went to a clean section with just the lack of distortion making the contrast. But then we focused on playing it as soft as we could, making that transition from the heavy into really-really soft, and then building it back up… it was far more dramatic and appealing, but took a little extra attention to get right.” ~ Greg Williams

Lyrically, the songs and their titles are somewhat intriguing. Song titles like ‘Amorphous Filter’, ‘Deathbed Universe’, ‘Andromeda Inbound’ and so forth; each captivating an idea of some kind of science fiction, come across as something which could be quite figurative in meaning, yet upon closer inspection refer to quite literal interpretation. We asked about the title track for the EP, for example:

“‘Balancing Machine’, one can think of it in terms of human society, like with the system of capitalism and all that which comes into the song a lot. Each song title sort of encompass the essence of the entire song.” ~ Nicholas Kerr

“The thing which I quite like about the lyrics is that they are actually quite open. They encompass the feeling of a core idea, but in the way that it’s phrased it’s quite open to interpretation.” ~ Greg Williams

Balancing Machine 2016 artworkThe artwork presented for Balancing Machine – and the band so far – has also been a clean break away from stereotypical styles usually associated with death metal genres. Furthermore, all artworks associated with the band are the work of bassist Greg. The guys describe the artwork process as being similar to the songwriting process, where Greg delivers a virtually finished product, but must be ready to take it apart to refine after some input by band members.

“I’ve grown a very thick skin! Nic, in particular, has a very high standard for everything. In terms of the artwork, quite a lot of it is just my personal style which is quite layered and textural, but it does reflect the music.” ~ Greg Williams

“We’re also looking to push our own style. We weren’t trying to say ‘oh, what is everyone else doing? Let’s copy this'” ~ Joshua Cole-Mitchell

“And I think – speaking for myself – I tend to find a lot of the metal stuff tends to be a bit cliched, and derivative, and we’ve just seen a lot of it; so I appreciate it when metal bands don’t fit into the metal mould.” ~ Greg Williams

With that, we find ourselves in eager anticipation of the release of the full and final product this weekend at 18 Till I Die, an all-ages shows taking place at ROAR on Saturday 02 April. The band will then take the launch across country over the following weeks, performing eight shows in total at venues around the Western Cape and Gauteng.

Band photograph: by Iggy Bester

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Fuera: Balancing Machine tour details