Good Monday, Loudoun! This is your friendly reminder that you have roughly 24 hours left to buy tickets to tomorrow’s Tally Ho concert featuring 90s alt-rockers Fuel! Go to tallyhotheater.com for ticketing details—read below for some insight into what Fuel has been up to since their heyday!
Renewable Resource: No signs of shortage as rockers Fuel take the Tally Ho stage
The only constant in life is change. Set fire to a pile of wood, it becomes smoke, ash and heat energy. Matter is transmogrified. The energy quietly pulsating within the wood never disappears, it only rearranges itself into some other formation of atoms.
Such is the saga of ’90s alt-rock band Fuel, which has seen its membership altered more times than most bands, however elemental their original composition, could endure. Operating under four different monikers before arriving at “Fuel” in 1996, the then-Harrisburg, PA-based group enjoyed a solid decade of stability before its next major evolution would be triggered by the exodus of Fuel’s lead singer, Brett Scallions.
[It should be noted Fuel has employed the talents of several different sticks men over the decades, including original drummer Jody Abbott (1994-1998), Kevin Miller (1998-2005), Tommy Stewart (2005-2010), Ken Schalk (2010-2013), Brian Keeling (2013) and Shannon Boone (2013-present). It would seem, however, that this particular area of change within the group was so commonplace as to render it simply a logistical function, rather than a fundamental alteration of sound or style.]
The voice that made “Shimmer,” off the band’s first full-length 1998 album, “Sunburn,” and later, “Hemorrhage (In My Hands),” off its biggest record to date, 2000’s “Something Like Human,” into huge hits, walked away from the act in 2006. “It’s hard when you’re with people day in, day out, for years and years and years. … It’s only a matter of time before you start driving each other crazy, you have a difference of opinion, different ideas on how things should go, and ultimately I thought it was best for me to get out of situation and do other things for a while,” Scallions said in a recent interview with Loudoun Now.
Original bandmates Carl Bell (lead guitar) and Jeff Abercrombie (bass) soldiered on for four years after Scallions’ departure, before moving on to other projects themselves. Scallions returned to reform Fuel in 2010, again making frequent adjustments to the band’s lineup before settling in 2015 for the current permutation of himself, Andy Andersson (lead guitar), Brad Stewart (bass) and Boone. Fittingly, before reassuming the title of Fuel, Scallions, Andersson, Stewart and Boone were operating as heavy rock outfit, “World Fire Brigade,” which released one album before Scallions’ decision to revert back to Fuel.
Scallions reflected on the impact of all this tumult in personnel on Fuel’s sound and artistic output, saying, “It’s positive and negative. Most of our fans know the original [Fuel] and only the original and that’s fine and I respect that. I’ve had infinitely talented players with me over the years and we’re going to come out and destroy it no matter who is on the stage as long as I’m singing. … We’re four guys on a stage, and we’re as live as live gets.”
Area Fuelies (as the band’s fans are known) will have an opportunity to put Scallions words to the test Aug. 1, when the band is slated to rock Leesburg’s Tally Ho Theater. Get Out Loudoun had an opportunity to speak in depth with Scallions—following is our conversation.
Get Out Loudoun: You left Fuel in 2006—what experiences did you have while apart from the band and what made you want to put it back together?
Brett Scallions: If you’re not happy with what you’re doing then do what makes you happy. I did that. I took a moment to reassess my life, I played with other musicians for a long period of time there, and that was incredibly educational for me. That was something I didn’t really get to do much while the original Fuel was together. We were always busy constantly touring, in the studio—I wasn’t able to sit down and write and play and record with other people. It was really nice to be able to play with other people.
Within that time I played with Ray [Manzarek] and Robby [Krieger] from The Doors [on a project called “Riders on the Storm”]. I made a number of other records and other projects with friends.
I decided to do Fuel again—to change up the gears on it. Instead of going to my former bandmates, I chose to replace everybody and start a fresh thing. We’ve been having a blast, writing music and having a great time.
GOL: While you were away from Fuel your musical style became much heavier. With World Fire Brigade, you were bordering on metal. Was it difficult coming back to and incorporating Fuel’s older, more pop-like, alt-rock sound after that?
Scallions: It all pertains to who’s involved. With the World Fire Brigade record, that was me and [musician] Sean Danielson and [producer] Eddie Wohl, who also [produced Fuel’s 2014 album] “Puppet Strings.” He has a bit of that heavier background working with Anthrax and bands like that. When we made the World Fire Brigade record, we chose to go into a heavier sound, and Sean and Eddie and myself started writing the best songs we could, and they ended up being the heavy songs that exist now.
[World Fire Brigade’s “Spreading My Wings”] is a pretty cool record and by far the heaviest record I’ve made, but that’s not necessarily what I’m doing now—that’s what World Fire Brigade sounds like. The latest Fuel record has a bluesier, almost country flair, dare I say, to it.
I enjoy writing good songs, whether it’s a heavy metal riff or a sexy blues riff. I want to continue on with that and form it into a completed body of work.
GOL: How do you stay sane on tour?
Scallions: You gotta occupy your time so you don’t get bored. After sound checks [the band has] exercise time—we’ll go through maybe a 30-minute exercise program. It keeps you mentally and physically healthy, and that’s very important out here. It’s easy when you’re on a bus stuck in a bunk—you’re limited on things you can do, you can get stir crazy, the walls closing in—you have to get off the bus, explore and occupy your time with positive things.
GOL: What are your plans after this tour concludes in October? What will Fuel be doing next?
Scallions: I’ll take some time to work on some ideas I have going on, be a dad—I have two kids, a 6- and a 9-year-old and an amazing wife who puts up with me—I’m going go home and spend time with them, be a normal dad and work on new music. Then in December we’ll finish out the year in Australia and New Zealand for a couple weeks—see all the Aussies out there—that’ll be the finisher for the year and next year is the 20th anniversary tour [of Fuel’s debut album, “Sunburn”].
GOL: What keeps you in the music business?
Scallions: I’ve been fortunate enough that I have a brand that has been successful for well over 20 years. I can sell a ticket and I can book a show—it’s a profitable way for me to survive and I love being a musician. I love playing and I would miss it if I stopped. I don’t think I could ever completely stop playing music.
Experience Fuel’s “bare bones” sound, as Scallions describes it—“two guitars and bass and drums to melt your face a bit”—perfect for a hot summer night. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1—ticketing information is available at tallyhotheater.com.
—Samantha Bartram, email@example.com