Brian Fair is the dread-headed lead singer for metal band Shadows Fall. Though the group has referenced Rastafarian ideas in their lyrics, including on the song "Wasteland" off their upcoming release Fire From the Sky, Fair says based on his hair, "everyone assumes we're a rasta band anyway."
That's not the only religious perspective he touches on in his music. "My lyrics cover a wide gamut of different kinds of spiritual vibes." This includes Tibetan buddhism, Rastafarianism, and Biblical themes like apocalyptic imagery from the Book of Revelations. Fair took a lot of theology and philosophy classes in college and he says, "I've had an ever evolving personal belief system," taking ideas from here and there, avoiding dogma. "I'm trying to keep my eyes and my ears open and view the world as it is."
Religious themes aren't uncommon in metal, and not just mentions of Satan. "This music is so personal and it takes so much energy, that I think people need to express what's inside themselves to make it have that impact and that usually involves spirituality or some sort of world views." Fair points out. "That's how you're able to connect through your songs, screaming your lungs out every night."
The band is originally from Springfield, some of the members still live there though Fair recently relocated to Saint Louis. On their way west from Massachusetts where they kicked off this trip, they headlined a few shows before meeting up with Fear Factory with whom they'll be touring the rest of the way.
"It's still a grind." He says of life on the road, which they've been pounding for over ten years, "When we were younger and it was all new, it was probably more exciting, but it's still just as much fun."
The trip so far has been mellow, but he remembers of past years, "I've seen it all, from wheels tearing off the buses going 70 miles per hour on the highway to fans in a wheelchair crowd surfing. If it'll happen, it'll happen on the road." And of course, one of the wildest shows they've ever played was right here in South Florida, OzFest 2003. "A straight hurricane storm just busted in mid-way through the set," he says. They were lucky enough to have been one of the few able to finish their set. "After the storm stopped, the parking lot became a trash free-for-all, with everyone just throwing around broken bottles. I think it was one of the craziest shows ever."
Away from the wildness of the road, at home, Fair makes what he calls mellow spacey music. He takes the distortion petal off, and makes songs akin to old Radiohead. Shadows Fall's new album Fire From the Sky however, maintains their melodic thrash metal sound. They do show off their range on it though, "from metal to classic rock." Fair says, "There's definitely a wide variety on this record. I think production-wise, songwriting-wise, it's a huge step forward in the evolution of the band."
Shadows Fall with Fear Factory on May 6 at 6:30 at Culture Room, 3045 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $25 at the door.
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