Sustaining the attack of The Fullblast

After a 10 year break up, the men of The Fullblast has returned to the stage with brand new material. They grew older and more mature as people. Bringing this new found insight to restart something that they hold near and dear to their hearts. They spent some time working to craft and perfect a new EP titled Attack.Sustain.Decay, something the band can feel proud to call their comeback EP. Making sure to keep the new material as energetic and fast as they possibly can with a newfound mature lens on life. The EP is due out February 24, 2017 digitally. Editor Samantha Barrett sat down and spoke to vocalist Ian Stanger about the bands sustaining the attack of fast music while doing it yourself.

It has been over 10 years since you guys put out anything new. How different was making this album than previous The Fullblast efforts?
It is the same in that it is Darran, Andy, Bri and myself which it has been that way since Contagious Movement Theory. It is different in that we are all older, we all have other life responsibilities now. I do this music industry thing as a job now. My understanding of how to execute this kind of stuff has been a little bit better than it has been back then.

It was interesting because we have never written or recorded as a 4 piece, we always had a 5th member. On Contagious Movement we had a guitar player, Ray (Tombran), he left shortly after the record came out. On Short Controlled Bursts, we had our guitar player at the time Ryan Pod (Podlubny), who was involved in the earliest incarnations of this EP, when we started this EP 2 years ago. The beginning of the EP, it was Andy and Darran, eventually me and then eventually Bri. Bri was on tour with A Wilhelm Scream for some time and was not living close by. It came together differently than before.

When we were a 5 piece we would write together, it was very strategic and planned. This one was very organic. We did it whenever we found the time when the inspiration struck us. This sort of changed the atmosphere around it, I think. We did it because we wanted to and we have been wanting to do it for a while unlike the feeling of we have to do it or you gotta follow up your last thing with your next thing. That was sort of what our mindset was back in 2004 when we were doing Contagious Movement Theory and in 2005 when we were doing Short Controlled Bursts.

What made you decided you wanted to go back in and do this again?
We broke up in 2006, it was very abrupt, Andy left to join Boys Night Out and Bri went to A Wilhelm Scream. In 2008 we did a show with A Wilhelm Scream and Living With Lions in Toronto at the Opera House. It was a reunion show/final show. The show was sold out, there was like a thousand people there. It was a great way to cap it off but at the same time, it sort of planted the idea in all of our heads that we meant more to people than we gave the band credit for. I think that we had our ups and downs together, throughout the years but we have always stayed close friends. 2012 came around and we had the opportunity to go and play in Guelph, Ontario with Grade, Belvedere and Moneen at this big show. There were 1400 people at that one. We got back together after years apart again. I do not think any of us were on a project that meant this much to us as much as this one. 2014 came around and another opportunity came along to play another really cool show, this was sort of the third time we were getting everything back and running again. We started talking, we were like if we are going to do this then we should write some new music. We did not want to keep trotting out the same reunion shows over and over again. It's fun for us and it's fun for our local friends.

Let's see what we can do now, we were going to write and record a new EP. As we started down that road we got three or four songs done and it kind of fell by the waist side. Ultimately the catalyst of going in and getting it done was Andy and Darran winded up moving close to one another in the suburbs of Toronto. They lived closer than they ever really had before. That gave them the opportunity to spend some time together as friends, watch basketball together and write music. Everyone was really excited about the stuff they were doing.

What we were trying to accomplish was make songs we were really proud of, we have albums we were really proud of as bodies of work. We really wanted something that we can have to show us, our kids and our friends, something that really captures us as a band. I think coming at this as mature dudes, we sort of knew what we were trying to chase with it. We really wanted to go and write some great songs, have it sound real good, and sort of prove to everybody and to ourselves that we can still do this as well as we ever did before. I think in my opinion and obviously, I am biased, I think we did that with this EP.

I believe you guys announced you were recording about 2 years ago. Did you anticipate it taking 2 years to make this EP?
Privately we probably did, which is why we never put out a timeline in when it was coming out. We always knew it was something we wanted to do. We put in the effort of putting the groundwork of these songs in the fall of 2014. We sort of knew, Darran has 2 kids and runs a company, I run my own company, Bri was always on tour with A Wilhelm Scream and Andy got his own graphic design business. It was never going to be a number one priority for us. When we finally got the recording done and it all started feeling real, we thought it was a good time to let people know it was coming out in 2017.

When we started, I had a feeling it was going to take this long. We had a conversation one day, it was Bri’s birthday and everyone was wasted I had this hair brain idea to write 5 songs as fast as we could and record them as fast as we could just to see what it would be. Not trying to rush it but just don't overthink it, let's just sort of go, write and record, do some stuff and see what happens. That was quickly shot down, rightfully so. The guys really wanted to spend some more time on it especially since this is the first thing we did in 8 or 10 years. I am glad they talked me out of that. I think the time that we took with it is reflected in the quality of the songs.

This album seems to have a lot of personal lyrics to them. Do you use writing these lyrics as a way to explain where you and the band are right now in life?
I think so. I have always written from a really personal place. I think Short Controlled Bursts was not an easy record to write. I think I have always tried to write from a personal place but do so in a way that makes it accessible and relatable to as many people as possible. A lot of people have no idea what Short Controlled Bursts, for the most part, was about. Almost that entire record is about a specific moment in my life, it is about my relationship with my dad. A lot of people come up and tell me what their interpretations of it are. It is amazing that people can relate that to their own lives.

The new record, I wanted to bring a bit of the maturity in the subject matter. A lot of musicians out there live and breathe writing, some people cannot go a day without picking up a guitar and write a song or quickly grab a phone to record a voice note or something, they are constantly living in it and for me, and I get that through my professional life. I have not really been inclined to write outside of the band or play with any other band. These are my guys, this is why I do it. I am not inclined to play with anyone else, it would just be different than what I have with these guys. I haven't written in a long time, which meant that I had to think about what I wanted to write about. I don't have my dad to write about anymore and that was the main theme from before. I had to think about what is the theme moving forward. I think looking back on the elements of my relationships, these guys are what I want to talk about. Not just with these guys but all of the bands/friends that I have made over the years, on the road, that has become my lifetime friends. For some reason, the comradery and the closeness that you get with people while you are on the road is a different thing that you will not get anywhere else. Sometimes those relationships sort of fade and that is totally understandable but there is a number of people in my life right now that I can trace my relationship directly back to this band. There are personal stories that were told from a different perspective, older with a little bit more context and perspective on life.

Just in the song “Redemption” and “Brothers” that just explained everything you just said right now.
I think those was the two obvious ones. I think there are relationships that are discussed in two of the songs. In the song “Stay,” that one was written from a pretty dark place. Not necessarily something I had to deal with personally but people close to me or close to the band at some level had to deal with. I think it deals with personal demons. You need to be able to be open enough and accepting of the stuff that people go through. You need to be able, to be honest with one another, be open and I think that this is a theme that everybody needs to embrace. I don't think that people necessarily need to be ashamed of the stuff that they go through silently and that was something I felt was important to talk about. Whatever those demons are whether they are mental health, substance abuse if it's physical or sexual from present or years past all kinds of stuff. You do not know what someone else's story is unless they sort of tell you. If it is something important to you, you will feel better if you have a conversation with somebody. The message that I am trying to put out with that song is that I think you will be surprised how many people will be willing to hear your story if you just tell it. We put it out for Let's Talk Day in Canada. Some people think it is corporate whoring of Bell Media but realistically they are donating millions of dollars to mental health and issues in Canada. I think it is important to keep the conversation going, not stigmatize them. As I get older and I see the people around me dealing with those things, I see people around me that I thought were good, it never occurred to me that that type of thing was going through their head. The longer you know somebody the more you get to see that side of them. The first verse of “Stay” was written 2 years ago, at a moment when something traumatic happened to a close friend of the band. It's not my story to tell necessarily but it influences the song for sure. The second part of the song is again a very personal kind of experience but it was written in 2016. It's weird that the 2 verses were written 2 years apart and they're so similar. The topic is as relevant today as it is two years ago as it probably was 10 years ago, or 100 years ago. People are starting to get it. The stigma is starting to wear, people are starting to loosen up a bit and I think that is a great thing.

What is the reasoning behind titling the album Attack.Sustain.Decay?
I think, Andy and Darran really want the theme of this EP to be fast. Typically on our albums, we would probably break it up with some mid-beat kind of stuff, on this one it was sustaining the attack the whole time. I think Attack.Sustain.Decay captured the energy of the songs, it captured the lyrical themes of the things we were touching upon. It is fitting. Initially, there was a conversation of multiple EPs and we would name them Attack, Sustain and Decay separately. I don't think that is the case anymore. As we started to hear the EP come together musically and lyrically, it made sense that would be the title for this one.

It seemed very fitting, all of the titles on this EP are one-word titles in comparison to the titles on your previous efforts…
That was a conscious choice. For years honestly, we always used working titles. Working titles were usually some kind of inside joke that happened on the road or something. To the point that “All I Need Is a Jet Pack and Rollerskates” that was an inside joke and it winded up in the song. I don't know how that sort of came about but they were always long. They were always inside jokes.

These songs, in my opinion, are the well-crafted. They are direct and to the point, they are simply structured, they are not a meandering 7-minute punk songs. The whole idea was let's simplify, let's make this direct and to the point. No mess, no fuss, no weird inside jokes that people are not going to get. We are going to keep this simple and let the music speak for itself.

You guys recently played a few shows with your buds Moneen. How did it feel to return to the stage?
It was awesome! We started talking about these shows in late summer/early fall. Just bouncing around this idea. I was talking to Moneen camp about their 10 year anniversary and they were struggling to build a package for these shows. They had no idea we were planning to record. Like I said, we have been keeping that generally under wraps until we were done. I sort of thought to myself that would be a great opportunity to make a comeback moment with new music. I sort of mentioned it to them that we would be interested in doing it. Moneen has given us more opportunity than anyone I think in our history. They are our best friends. We owe so much of who we are as a band to those guys. With Moneen, it goes back to the hall shows in southern Ontario. It goes back to our very first tour, we were 17 years old and we were touring in a Ford Windstar. We went across Canada basically following this band called Moneen. Not literally following them, we managed to be in the same cities a week or a couple weeks after. They were always the buzz of these basement shows or these DIY shows we were playing. That is how far back we go with them in those early formative years.

It was amazing sharing the stage with these guys again. We played 45 minutes for each of those shows. I felt pretty good but was a little gassed. The crowd reaction was good, it got better every night. Friday and Saturday night was great. It was great to play with Alexis On Fire, Matt Pryor from The Get Up Kids, The Flatliners and Dead Tire. It was nostalgia week.

What made you decide to self-release this EP?
In this digital world, the distance between the artist and the fan is minimal. I do this for a living for other artist and see that direct relationships are possible. We like the idea of doing it ourselves, we got longer term plans for how we are going to eventually release this physically. It is only going to be a digital release for February. We have plans to record again and we have plans to do a couple EPs. There are longer term plans that we can handle ourselves. I obviously appreciate the support from anybody but we are not going to be out there road dogging it for like 6 or 8 months. I know from the label perspective what it is like to have a band that cannot do that. If it is not going to be a number one priority for us as a band then I don't expect a label to make us a priority either. We are going to do this ourselves because we can and because I don’t want to ask somebody for help if we are not going to be holding up our end of the bargain in a meaningful way in terms of touring and all of that stuff.

We can probably find a label situation where there will be an understanding of that I just want to be accountable to nobody but ourselves. That goes for the writing and recording, to making sure it sound as good as it can. We sort of did this on our own, with some great help from our friends and support from our family. We can do all of that on our own and look at that with some pride.

What is next for you guys?
The EP come out on February 24th. We are playing Hamilton, Ontario on Feb 25th as a bit of a release/party close to home. We won't be touring. I can say that pretty categorically. There is too much going on in our lives right now. We are really excited to have John Meloche from This Is A Standoff on guitar with us, he has been a really great addition to have for these live shows. I think we will probably play before the end of 2017. We will probably play a couple of more shows, maybe in Canada. In terms of a formal national tour, probably not. It would be great but it is real expensive and logistically a little bit more difficult. I think if we want to invest time in touring, time off and time away from family and dogs, we would probably do something in Japan or South America. I think if we were going to tour we should turn it into a pseudo vacation and tour places we have not gone to before.