Fehler are a band I discovered through my contact with one of our dedicated readers (You're all great BTW), Markku, who kindly pointed me to their website. After a brief exchange on facebook, Fehler kindly sent me their record to review and little did I know but Fehler are also signed to Hammerheart Records, who also released the brilliant 2nd full Length by SardoniS.
Anyhow, following the awesome review of Dissona by our newest scribe, John Slaymaker, which you can read here. I contacted the band to see if they would be interested in answering some questions. Unfortunately for Demian (haha), he drew the short straw and kindly agreed to answer my questions. So, here is my interview with Fehler. Enjoy!
|Dissona Album Release Show|
Hey Demian, How are you? I appreciate you taking the time to talk to talk to us, here at the Sludgelord.
Q) Where are you guys at the moment and what are you doing, in terms of the band at the present, having released you new record, Dissona on Hammerheart records?
A) Thanks for taking interest! Well, this week we´re playing two gigs with the likes of Manatees, a UK sludge/postcore band. Aside from that we´ve had a short string of gigs around the time of the release of ´Dissona´ but it has been pretty quiet since. As far as the promotion of ‘Dissona’ , we did a couple of interviews and received some favourable reviews in online and printed press, mainly in The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.
But to be honest, I would lie if I would say that ‘Dissona’ is receiving enough attention.
Q). I’m a big fan of your band and your latest record, however for those people who are unfamiliar with your music, can you tell me little a bit about the history of the band and some of the bands you've played with? Where you’re from? When Fehler first formed? Current band members?
A) We started out as a 4-piece band at the end of 2007 and recorded a demo CD. Then we parted ways with the vocalist (Tim) and continued as a 3-piece: Freek (bass/vocals), Ruud (drums) and me (guitar). In this formation we recorded the ‘Adharma’ EP (2009).
Feeling that we needed to be able to handle more intricate guitar parts and to increase our dynamic range we asked Twan (guitar) to join us. But the funny thing was that when he was with the band for just a couple of weeks, he got invited to play with Legion Of The Damned, which is a band that plays pretty big tours and festivals. So at the same time he had to get familiar with the entire back catalogue of two bands. I think his fingertips can tell you the rest of the story.
Through all these years we’ve been lucky to land some cool gigs. To name a few, we’ve played with Amenra, Kruger, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Kickback, Minsk, A Storm Of Light, Black Breath, Misery Index, Kylesa, Red Fang and Coffins.
Q). Is Fehler a full time project, or do you have other bands?
A) No, not at all. We all play in other bands, some of which require far more time and energy than Fehler. Especially Twan, who has to put a lot of time into Legion and also plays drums in Bunkur (drone/doom metal). And then we have Freek who’s also playing in a ‘80’s hardcore band called Sex Drive. Ruud is playing drums in Razorblade, a very productive punk band. And I am playing in Terzij de Horde, a black metal collective.
Q) What made you start the band? Did you all know each other before you formed?
A) To speak for myself, I was really looking to start playing with people from outside my usual network of friends. I´ve always been in bands with people I knew very well and despite the fact that it’s loads of fun to play with friends, it can become difficult to seriously criticize each other. Or to think outside the box just because you’re trapped by the habits of those people you´ve always played with.
So eventually we ended up meeting each other through the classifieds section on www.asice.net which is (was actually, as of last month)a Dutch punk/hardcore e-zine. The first band meeting took place at a High On Fire show at 013 in Tilburg. Still one of the loudest shows I ever attended.
Q) Probably a stupid question, but are you or would you like to be full time musicians?
A) The idea of becoming a full-time musician has always been very appealing to me but to be honest, I think such a profession would get very tedious and in the end, even killing creativity. In my opinion music is an outlet for creative and physical energy to flow, but this energy has to come from some place. So to be constantly involved with music actually defies its purpose. Or maybe this is just my lack of talent and persistence theorizing.
But if someone would gladly indulge in this then it would most definitely be Twan.
Q) Are you big fans of rock/metal, if so what are you listening too at the moment?
A) Well, I just had a conversation with Twan about this and we came to realize that we´re both slowly moving away from metal. That is, it´ll always be a part of our musical diet, but in the last few years so many other genres have creeped their way into our playlists.
I think that as you progress in life you´ll automatically seek out music that resonates with your current state of mind. In doing so it´s pretty natural that you´ll be keep adding things to the mix.
But I’ve noticed that you´ll always keep cherishing the records that started it all (and I shamelessly claim Pearl Jam – Ten for that matter haha) and strangely enough, again and again it goes to show that those records suffer very little from the ravages of time. Like it’s hardwired into your brain to keep responding to them like every time is the first time you’re spinning the record.
And to answer the last part of the question, Twan and I were actually discussing The Twilight Singers, and especially the latest record Dynamite Steps when we came to the subject mentioned above. Great record!
Actually, there aren’t many new heavier/extremer albums that are really sticking to my brain. But I do remember liking the Tempest – Solace 7” very much, as well as the Thou – Summit LP.
In addition to that, for the last few months I find myself resorting to some long-time favorites like Songs:Ohia, 16 Horsepower and Dinosaur Jr.
Q) When you started Fehler, what were your hopes for the band?
A) As with any new band: putting out records, playing cool gigs, putting out better records, playing cooler gigs etc... We´re aware that being far removed from the mainstream means that there´s a limit to this ´growth´ but since we´re all motivated to go on, it must mean that we feel that there´s enough room left for improvement.
All in all we´re undoubtedly motivated by the same ideals: playing live, creating music that matters and keeping the financial damage bearable.
Q) If someone was unfamiliar with your band, how would you describe your sound? Has it evolved because I have only heard your latest album?
A) That´s normally the question I´ll gladly pass on to the other dudes in Fehler. I feel that I always fall short in describing the sound, only coming up with tags like sludge, Crowbar, Entombed and Cursed. I think one of the major hallmarks of our sound is, and will always be, variety. We´re drawn towards dynamic and elaborate guitar tapestries but we want to keep a strong edge to it. Like a swiss army knife we want to be cutting edge but in as many ways as possible. I think that will be clearly the objective of the coming record.
And as far as the musical progression goes, the new material will obviously involve more songs that are arranged with two guitars in mind. On Dissona, a couple of songs already feature guitar parts that play off of each other, but pretty much half of the record was already set in stone when Twan joined us, limiting room for fully integrated guitar layering.
So, at the moment we´re developing the first new ideas since recording ´Dissona´ and it´s immediately noticeable that we´ve completely departed from the blueprint we set out for us when creating the demo CD and ´Adharma´ EP. Most of the time we just start out jamming, Twan often lays down a riff which Freek and Ruud fill out with bass and drums. Then I’ll be adding the complementary guitar parts. For me it’s a total reversal of how thing go in the creative process because I don’t have to come up with the ‘groundwork’ riffs anymore and instead, am able to contribute in a more reactive way.
A) There´s not much to it, we just had a hard time coming up with an English name, so we took up the German dictionary haha. ´Fehler´ has a nice ring to it and represents a kind of general framework to fit our lyrics in.
And of course there will always be other acts bearing the same name, I also recall seeing an acoustic singer-songwriter called Emily Fehler, but I don’t think we will be in each other’s way .
Q) What is the scene like in your hometown?
A) I’m happy to say that in Utrecht, where I come from, we have a couple of venues that are booking good bands and are very supportive of new initiatives.
For example, together with my other band Terzij de Horde we organize a monthly evening of black/doom/drone under the moniker ‘Footprints In The Void’. And thanks to the venue dB’s for helping to facilitate this project we’ve managed to make it pretty successful already, drawing regular crowds of people that are attending the evenings regardless of knowing any of the bands that are playing.
On the downside however, the Dutch crowd is used to an abundance of shows that are just within 30 minutes travelling and therefore, they tend to get very selective. So that makes it hard for those new initiatives to survive.
Q) Would you consider yourselves to be an underground band? If so, is it a struggle and is their great camaraderie within the scene in the Netherlands?
A) The scene is pretty small. When you’ll be playing in a band like Fehler you’ll most likely know any of the other bands in The Netherlands operating in the same genre. And you’ll be fighting for the same gigs much of the time.
Q) What are your views of blogs such as the Sludgelord reviewing your records, as opposed to mainstream music magazines? Has your music reached the mainstream mags, at home or around the world?
A) I get most of the new bands I listen to from blogs, so more power to them. I really like DIY aesthetic and that bloggers, writing on their own or in small collectives, are able to establish a strong personal signature. It really shows their love for music, which is often compromised in the bigger, more mainstream music magazines.
I think most of the reviews for our records come from blogs although we do get a fair bit of attention in some Dutch printed magazines(e.g. De Aardschok). But unfortunately no Metal Hammer, Decibel or Terrorizer yet. Would be cool though.
Q) Does it surprise you when people buy your music and merch?
A) Yes indeed! It keeps suprising me. Actually, I see it as the most undistorted act of acknowledgement. People can tell you that they like your band but when they’re even willing to spend hard-earned money you’ll know for sure they mean it.
Q) To date the band has released 1 full length album an 1 EP, what are some of your highlights so far? What are your aspirations for the future?
A) Some of the highlights were obviously playing with Dillinger Escape Plan, Kylesa, Kickback and some other bands I mentioned earlier. Aside from that, I remember a quite memorable gig in De Heksenketel in Roosendaal. The place had a bar that took most of the space so we ended up playing just in front of the bar and it was so ridiculously loud. Which was only enhanced by the tiled floors. And we (at least I was) were so ridiculously drunk. Sweet times.
For the future we most definitely want to do some small tours around Europe, to begin with, since we’ve only done some small weekend tours within The Netherlands. But due to work and other obligations I don’t see Fehler embark on full-blown nightliner tours. To think of it, the only gig we played abroad was in Antwerpen, Belgium. This really needs to change haha.
Q) You released this record through Hammerheart records, who have released other amazing records by Cult of Occult and SardoniS. How do you feel about the digital era of music and people downloading music for free? You’re using a band camp page, would you or have you ever considered releasing your music for free or ‘pay what you like’ to raise the profile of the band?
A) I think you can’t stop people from downloading so why keep resisting? Things change and I think musicians and bands will get their chances to adapt to the ever-changing condition of the music industry. In order to find ways to make their work profitable they need to stop clutching on to the same old solutions that have worked before.
But then again, it’s easy for us to say because we don’t have to make a living out of it. For us, releasing music for free on bandcamp is just a good way to make promotion. With the ‘Adharma’ EP we ourselves created a zip file containing all tracks in the best quality, the artwork and bio, and uploaded it for the blogs to spread it around. For bands operating in the metal this is a good thing to do because metal fans are most often very loyal to the bands and many of them tend to be record collectors. So if they like what they hear, they’ll be buying.
However, with ‘Dissona’ it’ll be a somewhat different story for us because we have our obligations towards Hammerheart Records. But I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d be easily able to find a complete download of it.
Q) Thanks for answering my questions, but one final question, you got anything you like to say to your fans?
A) You’re welcome, it was my pleasure! Well, if anybody knows a cool place for us to play please do get in touch with us!