Alex Hofmann (Fallujah) interviewed

Fallujah may not be the most metal name on the planet. But then again, it might just be the most metal name on the planet. Named after a city in Iraq, where brutal fighting between American and insurgent forces put the city in popular view, the Californians sought a name that conveyed a certain atmosphere. One of intensity, one of atmosphere (warlike and exotic). Now, after two well-received albums on Unique Leader, Fallujah have moved over to Nuclear Blast for their third full-length, titled Dreamless. Where The Flesh Prevails set savage rhythms to heavenly interludes, Dreamless flips the formula, expands upon it, and ends up an album that’s at once Fallujah but the beginning of something else entirely. We catch up with Fallujah vocalist Alex Hofmann for a quick chat.

Fallujah signed to Nuclear Blast after two albums on Unique Leader. Do you think the world is ready for Fallujah?
Alex Hofmann: I think the metal scene is immeasurably lacking in bands that offer emotional and atmospheric material. Metal can’t remain as single serving as it is and hope to keep relevance. Bands need to bring a knockout live show and make the audience actually feel something other than mere impulse; it is for this reason that I think the world (or the metal world for that matter) has already been waiting for a band like Fallujah. Now we have the team to make that come to life.

You have a new album coming out called Dreamless. Tell us about what separates the new music from the songs you wrote for The Flesh Prevails?
Alex Hofmann: The aim of the album seemed a lot more focused this time with what we wanted to achieve. With each album we write it becomes apparent that we get better at actual ‘song-writing.’ Parts and layers compliment each other more seamlessly and our ability to harness emotive response with an album front-to-back is no different than how we do it with the first chord of a progression or the last one. We chose to take a different route with this album focusing on crushing groove as an engine driving the atmosphere’s; where as The Flesh Prevails was more about speed and wall of sound.  

Does the term ‘technical death metal’ mean anything to Fallujah?
Alex Hofmann: That term was what we were lumped into for a long time. In my opinion, the term has stuck way past its relevancy with our music. When you put on a lot of tech death bands I have a hard time understanding why we are considered amongst their ranks. The Leper Colony and Harvest Wombs era makes perfect sense, but now? I think we offer so much more to the musical pallet, so when that term comes up the first thought that comes up is ‘irrelevancy.’

What were the songwriting sessions like?
Alex Hofmann: The songwriting sessions involved painstaking months of Scott with his guitar in his room getting things done as if it was a day job. The rest of us come in throughout and help orchestrate parts and various changes throughout. We are not very productive as band if we simply get in a room and jam. We use full advantage of technology, we loop the same part over and over again until things are exactly where they need to be.

What do you guys do to keep boredom from setting in while in the studio?
Alex Hofmann: Anyone who tuned into our live studio stream probably saw endless hours of us on our phones or messing around with the instruments and equipment in the studio. We spent a lot of time talking to kids in the live stream chat. Honestly though, our attention has to be unwavering as overlooking details can derail the whole process. It is heavily taxing on the brain to stay on it all day, but you have to treat it like work because in a lot of ways it is.

You recorded the new album Sharkbite Studios with Zack Ohren? What was that like?
Alex Hofmann: Working with Zack is always interesting. The man has a mind that races at 100 miles a second and his focus seems unwavering. The man has such a deep knowledge of technology and workflow that making things happen, changing parts or getting weird with effects is never an issue of efficiency, simply your own creativity. The man was made for this job and has been pivotal in crafting these records with us.

Lyrically, will you be exploring new topics? Will there be a central theme?
Alex Hofmann: The album took a totally different angle this time around. Instead of focusing purely on my own life experiences as The Flesh Prevails did, I wanted to look at things through others’ perspectives. The main theme of the songs revolve around various films and the emotions they evoke from my own past. Each song manifests not only the themes within dialogue, but the colors and cinematography as well. I found it refreshing not to have to dig deep back into my own head and try to force a sense of artistic flare on ideas or experiences that in many ways are not grimly poetic. Telling a story about the struggles of characters in an environment that is real and down to earth was so interesting because there is no sense of insincerity. You are in many ways retelling a story from your own perspective, one that is driven by empathy and common experience. The real treat will be seeing if the fan base can decipher the themes of the lyrics and figure out what films correlate with which songs.

You have yet another killer cover. The Flesh Prevails cover was striking in every respect. Tell us about the new cover art.
Alex Hofmann: The album cover we have is amazing. Painted by Peter Mohrbacher, we spent a considerable amount of time locking in what we wanted. As someone who has had a personal hand in crafting the bands artistic aesthetic, its incredibly difficult to find artwork designed by others that I think properly represents the band and the consistent theme as a whole. I couldn’t be happier with the result.

What do you want kids to think/feel after they hear the new album?
Alex Hofmann: The issue of ‘which’ or ‘what’ emotions is not exactly the right question. I want the kids to be able to put the record on and actually feel something real. I think if I had to direct their emotions it would be those of nostalgia, memories and someone of blissful ignorance. I want a fan to put on a song from a new record that he’s never heard before and have it take him back to a time or place that the song has no attachment to. The melodies and atmospheres on this record are powerful in that way for all of us.

** Fallujah’s stunning new album, Dreamless, is out April 29th on Nuclear Blast Records. Pre-orders are available HERE. And, yes, the art of Mohrbacher is on CDs and 12-inches.