Bound For Success: Silas Burke Of Fall To Grace
Los Angeles, California's Fall To Grace is a metal band that doesn't rely on any kind of formula. This is a band that seems to understand that at this point they really are onto something good here. Most bands on the famed Hollywood metal scene right now that try to do what Godsmack does or what Alice In Chains did, never quite seem to distance themselves from the original source of inspiration. FTG is a musical unit that flatout has the talent on stage and I see so much potential for success. I had FTG's guitarist, Silas Burke, answer some questions recently.
Rocket: You are the founder of this band, correct? Tell me how you brought everyone together.
Silas: Yeah, I guess you could say that. I mean...I had a general concept of what the band should sound like, and a pipeline of specific musical ideas that I had been playing around with. Soon after I was introduced to John by a mutual friend with the intention of starting a band. If I remenber correctly John had kind of lost interest in playing with bands, the whole L.A. scene had left him a bit jaded in some respects. I personaly felt that those feeligs had everthing to do with the people he was in bands with. At any rate, I was able to help him get excited about playing (in a band) again. At first he really just wanted to handle the vocals...but it didn't take long for him to pick up a guitar. At that point I realized that he was a monster player, and had a completely different approach to the instrument in comparision to say...my style of playing. But musically, it was a good fit. We began writing and recording our initial songs with Jonny Tempesta (Rob Zombie, Helmet and current The Cult) on drums. Tempesta went off to play with Helmet and Testament so we began the process of auditioning drummers and bassists to become full time Fall To Grace members. We ran through a few different guys (John and I can be pretty demanding at times), before finding Kane and Christophe. We had a bunch of drummers who wanted the gig, but the truth is Kane was the only guy who could keep up with what Tempesta had laid down. He's a really hard hitter, with chops and an unbelievable sense of meter. Christophe is no slouch either...he's brings alot to the table in regards to live peformance, plus he's committed and has a great attitude.
Rocket: When did you first start playing guitar?
Silas: Well I played drums in several punk/hardcore type bands back in Boston, before embracing metal and getting hold of a guitar when I was um,...about 20 years old. I think my ego was simply too big to be in the backgroud any longer, and I really wanted to have more imput into the overall direction of the musical projects I was participating in. In this type of music the only way to accomplish that is to write guitar riffs or sing...and I cannot sing.
Rocket: Did you ever take lessons?
Silas: No...never, the reality is that I can't tell you the difference between A flat and D sharp. I learned to play guitar by listening to music. I think there were a couple of times I kind of asked John to show me a few things pertaining to proper cord progressions, scales, music theory and such. His concern was that if I learned the "right" way to play it would change the sound of the band...and he was probably correct in that assumption. My playing is pretty unconventional and probably does not make much sense to a trained musician. In retrospect, I really should have continued with the piano lessons my mom sent me to as a child. It's the best instrument to be farmiliar with when attempting to develop a sense of composition and tonality. But she (my mother) knew the piano just was not a good creative outlet for a hyper-active kid with ADD, witch is why she had the good sense to buy me my first drum set a couple of years later. My parents are very creative people and really encouraged me to persue music...and I am so grateful for that.
Rocket: Who are the top three guitar players that had the biggest impact on your playing?
Silas: That's a hard question just because there are so many important players out there, but I can narrow it down to Jerry Cantrell (Alice In Chains), Tommy victor (Prong) and Robb Flynn/Logan Mader (Machine Head). I would also mention Tony Iommi, James Hetfield, and Kerry/Jeff from Slayer...but at this point that kind of goes without saying.
Rocket: What kind of guitars are you playing on stage and in the studio?
Silas: I'm an avid gear head and own a ton of equipment, but when I play live I pretty much stick to my ESP/LTD baritone guitars with EMG 81 pickups. They are really solid and can take a serious beating. The baritones have 27" scale neck witch allows me to tune very low (most F.T.G. songs are tuned to B...or so I'm told), while projecting a tight, punchy sound. In the studio...well, I used a bunch of ESP's, a couple of Schecter prototypes that were made for Robert Smith of the Cure, and a Gibson or two.
Rocket: What kind of amplifier?
Silas: Live?...stock Peavey 5150 series amps with no effects, always.Nothing can touch them in terms of aggression, and they are VERY durable. In the studio?...it's kind of a funny story. I began using Peavey 5150s because I loved Logn Mader's guitar playing and tone on Machine Head's "Burn My Eyes" record and it was all played through a Peavey 5150. Fairly recently, Logan ended up recording and producing the initial Fall To Grace demos. To my surprise, he wanted me to use Mesa Boogie gear (which ended up sounding huge)...so now when I'm in the studio I use a Mesa Triple Rectifier mixed with a modified Peavey 5150 and some Line 6 original Flextone heads...all running through Mesa oversized cabinets loaded with Celestion vintage 30 speakers. Peavey 5150s, Mesa Boogie Rectifiers and the Line 6 Flextone
stuff make up 99% of the band's overall guitar sound.
Rocket: What is the songwriting process for this band? Is it pretty much you write the riff and everyone just builds to that?
Silas: Yeah, that's really pretty much how it happens. I will sit down with John at his home studio and lay down a set of riffs that sound like they could flow together in some fasion, John will pick up his guitar and contribute to the vibe of what I'm doing... and before you know it, you have the foundation for a song. John will let the feel of the song kind of sink in and begin to work on vocal phrasing and melodies...kind of do his thing mentally, and then we bring it into the band and let Christophe and Kane add some new energy and a fresh perspective. It's really fairly simple and effective.
Rocket: What is the song Hatred In Alibis about?
Silas: It's about whatever the listener gets from it. I know that sounds like a cop out, but it's true. John lends a certain sense of ambiguity to his lyrics...kind of leaves a lot of open space for the listener to speculate and figure out how the theme of the song relates to his or her circumstance. Having said that, there are some constant themes that seem to come up in our songs, anger, struggle, hope and the darker side of religion.
Rocket: Has Fall To Grace been approached by any records labels yet?
Silas: We are on the radar screens of a few labels...and yes we have been in talks with some people. The fact is, F.T.G. material has not not even been submitted to most of the labels out there. In many ways we are a brand new band. This project is still in it's infant stages, we just nailed down permanent members about six months ago. I mean...we have only played a hanful of select shows. But we are in the process of securing management and promotional personel right now. I can be quite the pesimist, but honestly feel that the future of this band is extremely promising.
Rocket: How often does this band rehearse during the week?
Silas: We hit it hard about two or three times a week, with John and myself working on new material together in between those rehearsals. We absolutely love playing.
Rocket: What's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you while performing on stage?
Silas: Oh man, I don't know. There really isn't alot of humorous stuff happening up there. We have a tendancy to come across as pissed-off and maybe a little arrogant when we play live...that's really just because we are using the band as an outlet for frustration (and a host of other negative emotions), and believe very strongly in what we are doing. Having said that, we actually do have alot of laughs in this band...each one of us can be very funny in different ways.
Rocket: I know you guys have a big Las Vegas show coming up in May. Can you give us more details?
Silas: I sure can. We are going to be playing on May 27th at the Mandalay Bay Expo center in Vegas. It's this huge three day extreme sports and music festival type thing...and were going to go down there and kill it!!!...there's a bunch of solid bands on the bill, including Rob Zombie and Bad Religion...there was some talk of Godsmack playing, but I don't think that's a done deal. We don't have tickets to sell, but there easily obtained at the mandalay box office or online. We are really stoked to show up and give it 100% , throwdown and enjoy ourselves.
Rocket: How valuable of a marketing tool has MySpace been for Fall To Grace so
Silas: I really have no idea, I kind of let John handle the MySpace stuff.In fact, Kane and Christophe are also really active in the MySpace comminity. Do I have people come up to me and say that they saw/heard my band on MySpace?...yeah it happens. I really should get more involved because the rest of the guys feel it's a very valuable tool for promotion and networking, and they are probably right. I personally don't even maintain a MySpace profile, but I'm glad that the band does. I want the band to be widely known, but I get a little uncomfortable with people having personal information about me as an inividual. I can see MySpace becoming more and more important to this band going forward, I'm sure our new management will have alot of imput on this subject as well.
Rocket: Do you ever take time out to answer some of the fan mail?
Silas: Of course!!!...I will talk with, write back to, hang out with anyone who is into what we are doing. I actually like to talk to people at the shows more about what other bands they are listening to...I am a huge fan of a variety of diffenet styles of music, and a few of those people have turned me on to some unbelivable underground bands that I was unaware of. So yeah, contact me (or us) about anything at any time!!!
Rocket: Go ahead and give a shoutout to your biggest supporters.
Silas: My biggest supporters have always been my family and I love them for that. Aside from that, I'd like give a sincere thank you to every single person that has ever seen us live, checked out our MySpace page, or took minute to appreciate what we are doing...stay with us we need your support!!!
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