Having taken an almost 5 year hiatus, Fightstar are back to celebrate their 10th Anniversary with a headlining tour. We had a chat with bassist, Dan Haigh, before they head out on their Grand Reunification Tour.
It’s really good to have you guys back for your 10th Anniversary Tour, how does it feel to be playing together after almost a 5 year hiatus?
How does it feel…it feels pretty damn good. It’s like knowing you have a really good friend and you don’t see them for a long time but they’re the kind of friend that it just doesn’t matter and when you get back into the same room, it doesn’t feel like any time, at all, has passed. Do you know what I mean, do you have friends like that? That’s exactly what it’s like, it felt like, there has no time away.
Yeah, you can just pick up from where you left off.
Yeah that’s exactly right. With some kind of renewed enthusiasm, because it has been a while since we’ve played together. All these ideas and things start coming out, I think you get into the fun of playing again.
What was the process like, getting to this point? Deciding to get back together and to do this tour.
Well, we all hang out together socially and I was on holiday in Portugal. We did this “Mad Max buddy-buddy” thing were we go through deserts and mountains . We drove up to the top of some mountain and we’d been chatting about doing it and just said “Yeah why don’t we just book some shows. It’s coming up on the anniversary, why don’t we just do something?” and then we just did it.
That’s pretty cool.
Yeah, it was kind of a mountain-top epiphany. But we’ve all been kind of busy with other things but it’s pretty cool to get back into it.
Awesome. I was lucky enough to get a ticket for your December show in London. It sold out really quickly..
Yeah I think it sold out in 15 minutes!
How did you feel when you heard it had sold out that fast?
Like it was time to order a pizza [laughs]. It was a relief because we had no idea. This was kind of a “let’s just see what happens” and after 15 minutes, we were like: “Yeah! People remember us.” [laughs]
And how was that show for you?
A lot of fun. It was awesome. A little nerve-wracking. To see you could remember how to play your songs but yeah, it was just so much fun. It was unbelievable. The best part about it, in fact the best part about all shows, is the crowd. The crowd reaction was just unprecedented. I’ve never heard anyone sing back the lyrics this hard but people were also singing the guitar parts and I’ve never really seen that before. The guitar part singing was as loud as the words.
What are your favourite tracks to play live?
Well, I tend to like the heavier tracks. So for me it’s “Tannhauser Gates” and “Deathcar”. War Machines is a lot of fun to play. I like to see a good crowd reaction going to the heavier song tend to be that.
I think the crowd definitely plays a part because you bounce of each other..
Yeah the energy goes back and forth.
Which track gets the biggest response from an audience?
Usually it’s stuff that people are familiar with, things like “Paint Your Target” and “Palahnuik’s Laughter”, they’ve been positively received. Those ones are always classic, everybody knows the words and everyone goes mental.
What have you been getting up to during the hiatus? I hear you and Alex (guitarist) have been working on something together?
I’ve got many irons in the fire. Today I’m working on some visual effects for a horror film called “The Hallow“, it’s being directed by Corin Hardy, who is a good friend of ours who, in fact, directed our “Waste A Moment” music video in the subway. It’s his debut feature film with micro-bacterial type animations of this evil entity that takes over various living organisms.
That’s quite cool, that could happen..
Yeah, it’s been quite fun to animate these beasties out and work out what their life cycle is. It’s literally putting finishing touches to that and do you remember a film called “The Crow” with Brandon Lee? Back in time it was one of the first big features to come out of Hollywood that had a real alternative soundtrack, so like Nine Inch Nails , Korn, Deftones and all the usual suspects were on the soundtrack. Well, they’re remaking it and Corin is going to direct the remake which is pretty awesome. So hopefully we (Dan & Al) might be involved in that somehow, maybe with a few bits and pieces.
Al and I have a new project called “Gunship” which is a new band which is a future retro-synthwave, very cinematic project which we have made an album for. It’s a ten track album which is probably going to come out in the next few months. The first single is out and it’s called “Fly For Your Life”. The video for that is doing the rounds now, in fact it only came out a week and a half ago; we premiered it on Sunday Brunch, which was cool. So far people seem to be digging it, which is really cool. It’s probably different thing, it’s all electronic, there’s no guitars in it whatsoever. I had to go and learn how to use synthesisers and drum machines etc. but it’s been massively rewarding.
That’s good, it must have been fun to kind of, get out of your element a little bit.
Yeah exactly, just do something completely different because I think I’d see a lot of people who do side projects in rock bands – it tends to be a natural off-shoot, like vaguely similar in some way. We wanted to do something batshit insane to be honest [laughs] completely different! We have a box set on sale right now, super limited, which comes with a poster and comes in an old video game box including sunglasses, retro t-shirt and some other stuff inside (find on gunshipmusic.com).
What’s the usual song writing process in the band and how was it for Grand Unification?
Well, there is no fixed formula for us when it comes to song writing. I’d say the majority of tracks happen spontaneously in a rehearsal environment. Someone will play something cool and someone will say “oh shit, that’s cool! Play that! I’ll do this!” and it builds, organically. On other occasions it will be that someone has been playing at home and come up with a part, bring that or send a demo and then we play it and add on bits. Sometimes whole songs are constructed that way and are modified. With Grand Unification it was fairly organic, I think we were playing in Al’s barn, just jamming ideas and building it that way.
It’s interesting to see how bands come up with their songs and whether they have a set way, it’s cool that you’re just letting the creativity happen.
It’s a different approach. Charlie is very traditional and a very talented musician. I’ve played in bands since I was 9 maybe? I’ve played in a lot of bands; Charlie is the most talented musician I think I’ve ever come across. He has a natural ability, a raw talent that is just quite amazing. When he creates songs he focuses on the lyrical hook, the melodies and making a cohesive song. I know that’s the “right” way to write songs but for me, I never do it that way; I tend to start off with a sound, a feel and an atmosphere, and then let that be the guiding thing. It’s almost like I’m visualising a film or a place or an idea and I build sounds around that concept and it flows from there, as opposed to making a overall song with lyrical content. So maybe that’s the key difference in myself and him. When we come together it’s a gift because I focus on the atmospherics and the feel and he has the primary melody and arrangement in mind. Parts come together well that way.
What are your main influences? I know you listen to Nirvana, Deftones, The Cure…
We all have very varying tastes which get wider as we get older, when I was younger I was a real metal kid and nothing else. I think Deftones is a classic case of all members of the band we like but then there are more extreme things on the side. Like, I’m really into the industrial music at the moment, I never was until previously, so that might be a new influence going forward.
How do you think you’ve grown as a band in these 10 years?
Good question. I think maybe it’s a case of, you gradually work out what your strengths are as an individual and you try and structure your input to make the best of what you’ve discovered what you’re naturally good at. It may be a case of everybody fits into their place a bit more naturally. If anything, it’s a smoother process to create now as everyone is fairly accustomed to what the other person can and can’t do. We’re a more integrated creative force as time goes on.
Nice! Can you tell us a little bit about the support bands you’re bringing on tour with you? (Moose Blood, More Dangerous Animal & Shvpes)
Moose Blood, these guys we just came across they seemed like cool guys, what they’re doing is cool and we just asked them and they said yes. It was really that easy. More Dangerous Animal has Will (Charlie’s brother) and we’ve played with his previous band (Brigade) numerous times and we go on tour without Will and it’s a bit like “Where’s Will?” so it’s kind of like a family thing. If we’re going out, we’re going to take Will. We’re excited to see what their record is going to be like. Shvpes are the newly branded, our manager, his son is the drummer in the band. In fact, Harry was in one of our earlier videos for “Paint Your Target“. We’ve grown up with him and he’s a cool guy and his band is cool so it was a natural fit.
Worked out really well for you! What’s next for Fightstar, are there any possible records happening or anything you’re working on after this tour?
Yeah, we’re going to write new material. So exactly what that turns out to be, how much of it and when it comes out, will get to be decided. But that stuff is going to come.
What are you most looking forward to on this tour?
Always a tricky question. I just love playing to and seeing fans basically, and hopefully bringing some entertainment for them and some good times.
That’s wicked. Thanks so much for your time, really looking forward to seeing you at your Brixton show.
Cool. See you there. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
Be sure to grab a ticket for Fightstar’s Grand Reunification Tour: