Fraught With Peril: The Final Strand

by Tamara Styer

Fraught With Peril is a group that’s hard to pin down to a particular genre. With their roots firmly grounded in heavy metal, the band has since broken new stylistic ground in recent years. Formerly known as Tainted Angel, Shelby Heger (guitar/vocals) reformed the group as Fraught With Peril for the 2010 album Shame of a Nation, recruiting Justin Larkin for lead vocals, with Alexander Hines on bass and Zac Otero on drums. The guys sat down with us to talk about their upcoming album The Final Strand, and on walking the tenuous line between genres. By Ryan Colvard.

Deitra Mag - How long have you been playing as Fraught With Peril?

Larkin - Early 2009. They (Shelby and Zac) had played a couple shows without me as their lead singer, and Shelby was still singing and playing guitar with a different bass player. And before that, well Shelby should probably tell it…

Heger - I was in a band called Tainted Angel for about three years, and one day I got a random MySpace message saying, ‘Hey, I’m a guy from a 90’s band called Tainted Angel – you need to change your name or we’re suing you,” and I was like, ‘Oh! Okay…’ So after I figured out that I had no legal recourse, since this guy had his music up on iTunes from day one as Tainted Angel, I decided to go ahead and change it. We were Fraught With Peril after that. At that point we had Drew Bauer playing bass for us, and we had just met him (Justin) a month or so before that – and he chose to be a huge pain in the ass and not say yes for quite some time because he wasn’t sure if he wanted to do hard rock or not. He was also a solo acoustic artist. We had to woo him over to our side for about a month and a half, but we finally got him to join the dark side.

Larkin - I texted Shelby, with ‘You know what, I think I’m going to do it,’ and the response I got was, ‘Don’t you fuck me, Larkin, don’t you fuck me.’

Heger - And as you can see it worked out for the best.

DM - So you all knew each other before then?

Larkin - We’d seen each other at a lot of local shows, but he (Shelby) looked really scary, and I didn’t want him to beat me up, so I just didn’t talk to him.

Heger - Well we were in the same music scene for something like three years, at least…

Larkin - Yeah. Shelby’s two years older than me, and I was still in the early stages of high school. So I was playing my really…bad…acoustic teenage music, and he was playing metal by that point. So we were in the same scene, but had very different styles for sure.

DM - Was there a big change in your sound after going from Tainted Angel to Fraught With Peril?

Heger - Adding Justin in as a vocalist changed everything, because I’m not an especially melodic person when it comes to my vocals. I’m more of Gavin Rossdale type of singer, or with the distorted vocal kind of thing…

Larkin - Or being Satan…

Heger - Or Satan, yeah. But our sound has changed a little. Zac and I have been playing together for quite a while now, and the more we mesh, the more it changes every time we sort of come to a revelation between the two of us.

Larkin - I come from a completely different stylistic origin, which I think complements the overall sound really well. If the four of us were to pick an (influential) band, it would seem really random.

Heger - Me and Alex are both big metal heads. Justin, here, more of an alternative style. And Zac listens to a lot of swing. A lot of his drum style comes from that.

DM - So does everyone bring these different influences into the finished product?

Heger - When you hear one of our songs, that’s usually not what it sounded like at all at first. I write a lot of the music, and how it is in my head is not where it ends up, once it’s kind of gone through the process.

DM - Describe this process. Does a song evolve more organically, or do you all sit down together and say, ‘Okay this needs to happen here or we need to change this?’

Heger - It’s a pretty democratic process. Usually I’ll write the guitar parts out and record them. Zac will listen to them, and I sort of tell him roughly what I think it should do, and he’ll add to it. Alex will come in, with bass, and he might say, ‘We can tweak this here,’ or maybe ‘Half time it here,’ and we’ll try it that way. Justin usually will help block out the words, because my verses get a little wordy. Once we get it locked down, we’re ready to go from there.

DM - When do you expect to release your upcoming album The Final Strand?

Heger - To be an optimist, we’d like to say by the end of summer. But to be a realist, probably more like the end of September.

DM - Will there be any changes from your first album Shame of a Nation to The Final Strand? Is there a new direction you would like to explore?

Larkin - It’ll be totally different. With Shame of a Nation, I joined after it was already recorded. We just went over and replaced Shelby’s vocals with mine. This next album is a lot more meshed together – everyone’s sort of put their word in.

Heger - As far as stylistically, it’s changed entirely.

Larkin - With Final Strand, I can say there’s definitely a song for everybody. There’s a song that’s primarily banjo driven, and then there’s one that’s more in the realm of TOOL and one that’s sort of a hard-rock blues song.

Otero - There’s a lot of different flavors on this album.

Heger - We’re definitely trying some new things, but the whole album does tie together really well.

Otero - We showcase a little more on this one. The last album had a little more of a common thread stylistically.

Larkin - The last album could be considered just straight up hard rock/metal, and with this one I think calling it “metal” would sort of cheat out all that it is. It’s more than just metal. I don’t even know what genre you could call it in general.

Otero - We tend to be too soft for metal heads and too hard for radio listeners, (laughs) depending on the night.

Larkin - For live shows, we’ll look at who we’re playing with, and it might be like, ‘Okay, these are all metal bands, so we’re going to play our balls set-list.’ Or ‘We’re playing with more alternative bands, so we’re going to play our panty-dropper set.’

DM - With all of you bringing these various influences to the group, does that help with making those kind of adjustments to who your playing a particular show with?

Otero - It’s good to have some tricks like that. Especially when it comes to some hard rock or metal bands, that only have one style, and we can easily adjust what we do depending on what show we’re playing.

DM - Have you run into any obstacles booking shows that way, not having a really set genre?

Heger - Not necessarily. A lot of times you’ll get a hold of a venue and the first thing they ask is, ‘Do you scream?’ Well, kind of, yeah. I mean there are songs where we do, but it’s hard to get around that screamo moniker. And we’re not that extreme.

Larkin - But sometimes people don’t know what to do with us because we’re not a Saving Abel cover band, you know what I mean? And a lot of local bands try really hard to sound like what’s on the radio, and that’s not us at all either.

Otero - And that puts us in a weird quandary, because there are the ones that cater to the more radio sound and the one’s that cater to the extreme, and we kind of fall into the cracks where you might like us, you might hate us – depending on what you’re expectations are.

Larkin - We’d be lying if we didn’t say we have some really radio-friendly material, but for every radio-friendly song we have two songs that people who mostly listen to the radio won’t know what the hell to make of.

Heger - It’s kind of the blessing and curse of writing music that means something to you. When you write form the heart, it’s going to sound different depending on the mood you’re in. That’s the danger of this new album – it’s a little moody.

DM - How do you think this new album is going to be received by fans of your previous one?

Otero - We’re kind of curious. I mean this is what we do and this how we want to present it, like it or not, but at the same time of course we want to do this for living, you know? It should be interesting because there’s been a little more of a resurgence in more melodic “hard” music. There are bands like Sovereign and Assembly Line Gods, who are huge right now. Videovamp isn’t real over-the-top, they have a more melodic sound. It’s starting to come back. I think with the right kind of placement it could do really well.

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Copyright 2011, all rights reserved
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Copyright 2011, all rights reserved

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