Brian Fair Hopes Shadows Fall Reunion Show Is Springboard for ‘Little Something’ More
Shadows Fall released seven studio albums between 1997 and 2012 and their song "What Drives the Weak" was nominated for a Best Metal Performance Grammy in 2006. The group went on hiatus in 2014, with several of the members landing gigs in other groups. Jon Donais has played guitar for Anthrax, Jason Bittner is the drummer for Overkill and guitarist Matt Bachand has been a member of Act of Defiance. As for Fair, the hiatus gave him the chance to be a family man, and he shares with Jackie how the experience of being a dad isn't too much different from being in a metal band.
Fair also delves into the expectations that came with Shadows Fall's success back in the day, what it's been like getting back in the band mindset and what his hopes are for the group beyond the upcoming reunion show. Check out the chat in full below:
Shadows Fall had some big news recently. There's a reunion show Saturday, Dec. 18 in Worcester, Mass. It's a very cool bill with you guys, Unearth, Darkest Hour, Within the Ruins, Sworn Enemy and Carnivora. Brian, it's hard to gauge the entirety of something when you're at the center of it. Now with hindsight, what do you recognize about Shadows Fall that maybe wasn't so obvious at the time?
I think it was that we were really at a point where there was a shift in sort of underground metal that at the time. We were kind of swept up in it and just enjoying what we were doing and trying to make the music we wanted to hear. But now looking back, you can almost see where we were at a point where things kind of diverged in a different direction and got, kind of with a lot of other bands, that more traditional, and heavy side of metal back in the spotlight.
So at the time, you know, we just were doing our thing and you don't really pay attention to that sort of historical context, but looking back, some were really proud that we were part of that sort of dynamic shift at the time, especially in the U.S. where it kind of was shifting away from radio rock metal, nu metal stuff to kind of get back to something a little bit more down and dirty and heavy. So it was definitely cool to see the impact you have, even if at the time you don't realize it.
Shadows Fall Reunion Show Teaser
Shadows Fall were regarded as a band leading a new wave of heavy metal. What was positive and negative about having such high expectations placed upon you?
Sometimes the pressure can be a little crazy when your label puts out a press release, comparing you to someone like Metallica or Iron Maiden or something where you're just like let's slow the roll there, you know? [laughs] So you feel that sort of pressure, but at the same time being kind of part of a movement that included such amazing bands like Lamb of God and Killswitch Engage, All That Remains and Hatebreed, it was just such a cool thing to have a tight-knit scene where everyone was really supportive of each other and riding that wave together.
It was always funny to have the word "new" in it. When most of the bands at that time had already been together for almost a decade. [laughs] It felt like the new, old thing to us. We're super honored to be just kind of thought of in the same way as those bands we were coming up with. Just to be part of that movement, there was also that kind of pressure where you're like, "Man, we're just trying to have fun, party and play metal." And next thing you know, it was a business, it was a movement, it was all these things. But man, I wouldn't trade any of it for anything.
Shadows Fall, "What Drives the Weak"
Jon, Matt and Jason have all continued performing and recording with other bands. What sort of readjustment has life been for you over the last several years with Shadows Fall being dormant?
It's pretty crazy how suddenly everyone else in the band was in a classic thrash metal band. Suddenly whether it was Overkill, Anthrax, and you know, Matt was playing with guys who were in Megadeth and I was waiting for my call from some other old thrash metal band to see if they wanted me to hop in. Just kidding.
But for me, it was a pretty big adjustment to go from being on the road for pretty much 20 years straight, nine or 10 months out of the year to being at home constantly, but I also had just started a family. So the chaos of having two young kids and getting settled in, that was just about as crazy as starting a metal band. They're very similar things, especially when they're little. I was used to people screaming at all hours of the night on the tour bus, possibly throwing up on themselves. The only difference was now they were babies instead of long hair dudes in my band, so I think I was prepared for that.
I slipped into this life pretty quickly though, where I really enjoyed kind of resting and setting some roots and just spending time with my wife and the kids and at that time too, I was pretty burnt out from the road. I really did need some time physically and just mentally to just slow down. But now, the idea of playing shows is such an exciting prospect. I get to get up there and scream my heart out again and run around like a maniac. I just, I can't wait.
I think if we would have done it any sooner, I might not have been as excited, but now having five or six years away from it really has got my fires burning man. I'm ready, simply ready at this point. I just want my kids to see that their dad was cool at least once before it's too late, before I get too old to do it. So I'm glad there'll be a show and you get to see me, see the other side of dad.
Brian, there's an intuition that develops between musicians when a band is together onstage night after night. How much of that stays ingrained and how much needs to be relearned for the reunion show?
We're going to find that out when album rehearsals starts. That is one thing is we were definitely a well-oiled touring machine for a long time, but these guys have all kept up their chops. Jon's been shredding in Anthrax, [Jason]'s playing in Overkill. All that stuff has kept them definitely on the top of their game.
I've already been in training since I knew this was happening. I've been getting myself ready, but getting back in the practice space is when I think a lot of that will kind of click back in. We used to be able to read each other's minds practically at that point, so hopefully that comes back in quick. There's definitely some relearning. I was listening to some tunes and you think you know what's coming next until you realize, "Ooh, I don't remember the next line." So I'm doing my homework, getting ready. I have to Google my own lyrics. Occasionally it's a little embarrassing, but Hey, you know, you do what you gotta do.
Shadows Fall, "Inspiration on Demand"
Brian, everyone's lives are different. Not like before when the band was constantly touring and recording. What's the likelihood of Shadows Fall continuing in some fashion after the reunion show.
I hope it's a springboard for at least a little something, but I doubt it'll ever be a full-time touring entity again. We used to be road warriors. And like you just mentioned, everyone's got different things going on. Even scheduling this single show between everyone else's commitments to their bands, as well as family and work commitments for myself and Paul it, it was a difficult balancing act.
We finally had the plan and the time to get everything together, but hopefully, maybe it'll lead to some festivals or some long weekends. But right now it's just the one show. And honestly, we just want to get through this one. We tried to do it last year and we got knocked out of the opportunity. So we're just really focusing on this show right now, getting it as good as we can making it.
That was the other reason we wanted to be slamming from top to bottom. We wanted to throw the ultimate Shadows Fall party. Then from there, if things go well, I mean who knows? We've all stayed super close. We've always loved playing together. That was none of the reasons why the band kind of slowed down. So the idea of doing more in the future, we're all very, very open to it. It just kind of has to be the right opportunities and honestly the right scheduling. That's always the biggest problem these days.
Shadows Fall, "Redemption"
Brian, it was so great to catch up. It feels like no time has passed. And I'm looking forward to what might come with Shadows Fall. You never know.
Indeed. Indeed. Thank you so much as always for having me and helping to spread the word. You've always supported the Shads from the beginning and it's most appreciated.
Thanks to Shadows Fall's Brian Fair for the interview. The band's reunion show, as stated, will take place Dec. 18 at the Palladium in Worcester, Mass. Tickets, VIP packages and Shadows Fall merch are available right here. Stay up to date with the band via their Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram and revisit their music on Spotify. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.