Rhys Fulber of Front Line Assembly talks about “Wake Up The Coma”

Throughout their long career, electro-industrial band Front Line Assembly has consistently re-defined their style and musical approach, and their latest release, “Wake Up The Coma” is no exception. The album makes extensive use of guest vocalists, with Jimmy Urine (Mindless Self Indulgence), Robert Gorl (DAF), Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost) and Chris Connelly (Revolting Cocks, Cocksure) making appearances. And while most of the music leans toward the darker sound Front Line Assembly is most known for, they have included a cover of the Falco classic “Rock Me Amadeus” that retains the song’s pop edge. In an email interview, member Rhys Fulber discussed the making of the album.

You’ve worked with guest vocalists in the past with Front Line Assembly, but never this extensively. Could you discuss how the use of guest vocalists on “Wake Up The Coma” came about?

Rhys Fulber: I think after we finished the Amadeus cover with Jimmy, Bill thought it might be cool to try a few more. They are all friends of ours, so it wasn’t too complicated. Also, Bill had recent collaborator Ian Pickering write some lyrics on a few songs, and after hearing them, he thought they were great but might benefit from a higher range delivery.

What made you decide to cover “Rock Me Amadeus”?

Rhys Fulber: This was an idea Bill had been kicking around and we actually started working on this way before the rest of the record, and it morphed into a few different versions. Again, Bill thought bringing Jimmy in would give the vocals the right vibe (Bill is singing the low lines in the chorus), and I had worked with Jimmy a lot before and knew he would be the right man for the job.

This album marks your return to the band. To what degree have the gaps in your involvement with Front Line Assembly been due to other commitments vs. perhaps creative reasons?

Rhys Fulber: It mostly me just wanting to do different things and get new experiences. I had a lot of other opportunities I wanted to explore, and it would have been hard to do it all. After I played a few live gigs with FLA a few years back, it seemed like it would be fun to do more studio work. I will say I work on the records now in more of a “producer” way than I did on the earlier ones, especially because this record has so many contributions from different people that needed to be pulled together.

Having been involved with many different projects over the years, are there any in particular that you feel have impacted your work with Front Line Assembly? (in terms of perhaps inspiration, or production techniques, etc.)

Rhys Fulber: It’s a combination of everything. Your collected experience ends up in all the work you do. It’s hard to pinpoint one thing. You just get better at lots of little things over time. I mixed two songs on this record which wouldn’t have happened in 1992. It’s the experience over the years that gets you to that point.

Front Line Assembly has changed quite a bit stylistically over the years. With the internet making it easier than ever to provide feedback, I’m wondering fan response has provided any influence on the sound of your current work?

Rhys Fulber: I personally don’t worry about outside opinions that much, it can inhibit your creativity in my opinion. If we listened to online comments, something more fun like Amadeus would not have happened.

When I interviewed Bill Leeb about “Echogenetic,” he was saying how they set a deadline and worked much more quickly than usual. How did the process of making “Wake Up The Coma” compare to previous releases?

Rhys Fulber: Everything is different now because Bill and I live in different cities and lots of final touches get done remotely. We did spend some time together in the studio, but the gaps do make everything take a bit longer. We made this record like we made the last few Delerium records. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just different from the old ways and the way a lot of records are made nowadays. The endless options technology offers you today, I feel it is the main reason records take longer now though.

For more info about Front Line Assembly, and to purchase the album, visit the Front Line Assembly Bandcamp page.

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