Brian Fair just can't get used to it — even after six weeks.
The dreadlocked frontman for Massachusetts metal act Shadows Fall said he'll be bouncing ideas off his bandmates, when all of a sudden, a rock-and-roll powerhouse strolls in with a bottle of Icelandic schnapps, looking to party.
"It still blows my mind when, randomly, Dave Grohl pops in with a bottle and he's like, 'Hey dudes — we're partying,' " Fair, a huge fan of Grohl's pre-Nirvana band, Scream, explained. "It's cool just sitting around, talking old D.C. hardcore. And he's just stoked to have a metal band recording in his studio. He comes by and hangs out, and rocks out to what we're doing."
Shadows Fall have been working with producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Stone Sour) at Grohl's Studio 606 in Northridge, California, recording the 13 tracks that'll comprise their forthcoming major-label debut, Threads of Life — the follow-up to 2006's Fallout From the War.
But Fair said he hasn't approached Grohl for any creative pointers or tips. Instead, Shadows Fall is concentrating on sticking to what they know, and making punishing sounds the way they always have.
"We didn't write a safe record," he explained. "It's such a natural step that we're heading in, and it's going to push our sound into new places that I think our fans are going to be stoked about. We're just trying to write great metal songs and make sure that the five of us are all super stoked on what we're doing — that we're all on the same page. And [Atlantic Records] has given us a lot of freedom to write a good metal record.
"It's been a great experience out here, and it's the first time we've been immersed, totally, in an album," Fair continued. "We're all living in the same area, and focusing on the record 100 percent. There are none of the distractions from back home, and we're far enough from Hollywood that those distractions are gone too. It's really been a perfect situation."
Fair said the band overwrote for this effort, but wound up bringing 13 songs into the studio with them, though he's not sure all the tracks will make the final cut. "It's the first time we've had more than just enough for the record," he said. "This time, we've been able to demo a lot of ideas, and go back and really find the ones that we're feeling the strongest."
And Shadows Fall haven't softened their sound for the sake of album sales. Fair's voice is still as menacing as it's always been, and several new tracks truly test his pipes. "There are songs on this album that are just all screaming," he said. "There are some acoustic interludes, some clean singing and vocal harmonies. But the screaming — that's just part of our sound, and it has been from the beginning. To eliminate that and go clean with my vocals would really be taking away from what we do."
Fair is also fully aware of the recent success other metal bands have experienced, like Lamb of God — whose latest, Sacrament, debuted at #8 on the Billboard albums chart in late August (see "Alcoholism, In-Fighting Couldn't Derail Lamb Of God's Top 10 Album"). But that band's huge opening week didn't create added stress for Shadows Fall.
"To see the success bands like Lamb of God and Mastodon are having putting out incredibly creative and heavy albums on a major without having to compromise in any way was really inspiring," he said. "You're like, 'See, it can be