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Homer’s The Odyssey is an ancient, epic Greek poem that follows hero Odysseus on his perilous ten-year journey home from the Trojan War (that’s enough Wiki cut and pasting – Ed). Now The Anchoret, new Canadian titans of progressive metal, deliver a musical odyssey of their own.
As we continue getting to know Toronto’s Last Bullet and frontman Bryan Fontez, we touched on topics such as song writing, cover songs, keeping true to one’s artistic vision, selling out, their local music scene and the future plans for the band.
On the earlier EPs, I felt the lyrics were more fun and “young band” type of material. On the last EP and the new track, there is a definite change. What is changing about the band to push out new ideas?
It’s a combination of things. Ultimately the first EP was written before I had joined the band, when everyone was in fact much younger lol. Brenden had written most of the music and then Mike our rhythm guitarist had written all of the lyrics. So if the songs sound a little more party oriented it’s because Mike’s influences are more along the lines of Motley Crue, AC/DC and Bon Jovi.
The only lyrics I wrote were for the song “Can’t Move On” and ultimately that was the audition that landed me the gig as the frontman. At the time Mike had vague idea’s about the vocal melodies for his lyrics so I had him hum and sing them to me the way he envisioned them and then I moulded them to my style and personality to make it feel more genuine when I sang them live.
The Love.Lust.Illusion. EP was the first time I had an opportunity to write songs from scratch with the band. So in a way that’s the first time you’re hearing the real/full Last Bullet with all the members. Mike wrote the lyrics for the song “State of Confusion” and I wrote the rest. I have a lot of similar influences to Mike lyrically but I think I naturally gravitate towards themes that are darker, edgier and a little more aggressive, so that’s probably why you noticed a difference in the lyrics and melodies.
But like I said before, we are all growing as individuals so you can expect our lyrics, music and themes to change constantly based on the experiences we have through life. It’s just a natural progression for us and you’ll definitely be able to hear a lot of our personalities in our music.
Bands just don’t rock much anymore, free from gimmicks. It is tempting to jump on a bandwagon and join a scene in order to be more successful?
Never. I mean money is great because it helps you open opportunities and do things you wouldn’t be able to do without it. But I’ll never understand a band that jumps on a band wagon or a scene in order to find success. That’s disingenuous and pathetic. You’re lying to yourself as an artist and you know full-well that nothing that you’re creating is coming from the heart.
Money means nothing to me. If it did I most certainly wouldn’t be a musician I can tell you that much. There is no money in this, and if you’re getting into it or writing music because you want to make money, then you’ve completely missed the entire concept of being a musician. I make music because I enjoy it, it might sound harsh but I don’t write music for anyone but myself first. I mean I hope people like it, I really do, but I don’t write it for them, I write it for me. And my standards are so high for the music that I create that hopefully the average person will dig it as well.
I’m also a professional DJ on top of being a songwriter. I’ve seen a lot of my peers and fellow musicians abandon their bands and start a solo career making EDM. Why? Because it’s quick, cheap and easy to do. It’s also way more popular right now and extremely easy to make a name for yourself in quickly. And although I appreciate some of that music and the people who make it, but what sounds more exhilarating and interesting to you…
Sitting in a bedroom and pressing buttons to make synthetic sounds and then pressing play live and mixing songs together for a bunch of people on drugs that will make you love anyone and anything OR singing lyrics from the heart, screaming at the top of your lungs and developing a chemistry with your band on stage during a 40 minute live set where anything can go wrong at any point in time, on any given night, where we’re all fighting, sweating, losing our minds and are completely focused on giving people the best live show imaginable.
In my opinion, they don’t even compare. I love shit that rocks, and I’ll die to keep it alive.
I really dig your acoustic cover of ‘Feel Like Making Love’ from 2012. Any other songs you have covered or would like to in the future?
Wow you really dug deep into our SoundCloud eh? lol. I really appreciate you taking the time to listen to our music and do your research. It’s refreshing most, people barely listen to our single before they interview us lol.
That cover was a lot of fun to do. It really get’s to show our skills vocally and as dynamic musicians. We love going acoustic and a lot of our songs start off that way. As far as covers go, we have quite a few we’ve done that we draw on from time to time. We normally only do one in a set, MAYBE two. Recently we’ve been doing our own version of Vasoline live. But the list of covers we’re known for doing are as follows…
Slither (Velvet Revolver)
Jailhouse Rock (Elvis)
Show Me How To Live (Audioslave)
Mr. Brownstone (Guns N’ Roses)
Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be (AC/DC)
Bounce (Danko Jones)
What is the Toronto music scene like right now and who are some other up and coming bands we ought to check out?
The Toronto music scene is pretty damn good. There’s a lot of great music coming out of here, and there’s a great community of musicians who are super supportive of each other and come out to all the shows, festivals and events. Toronto is very eclectic and probably the most multi-cultural city in the world, so you’ll hear a lot of different styles and genres of music as well as a lot of different sounding types of rock bands.
As far as some bands that we enjoy playing with and are similar to in sound and attitude, there’s a bunch that we are really good friends with and would suggest for you to listen to. Fallen Heirs, Diemonds, The Lad Classic, Glass Ampp, Head of the Heard, The Standstills, just to name a few.
Bands we love and have played with outside of Toronto? Our boys in The Wild are from Vancouver and are a GREAT band. Open Air from Calgary are awesome. Monster Truck from Hamilton, The Sheepdogs from Saskatoon, I could go on and on. There’s a lot of great Rock N’ Roll coming out of Canada right now.
What touring or gigs if any is lined up for the near future?
Right now we’re in the middle of planning an East Coast Canada tour in May and we have plans do another tour sometime in September. Right now we are booked to play April 2nd at The Bovine Sex Club in Toronto.
Toronto Canada’s Last Bullet are rockers on the rise. With several EPs under their belt the last few years, they have been honing their style in clubs and bars from coat to coat. They just released a new music video for their new single, the track ‘Sin’. We caught up with frontman Bryan Fontez via email to learn more about this young, but improving act.
Congratulations on the new video for ‘Sin’! It looks like a lot of planning and production value went into it. Let’s hear more about it!
Thanks! I really wanted the video to convey the grit and heaviness of the song, so I began looking for some really decrepit, abandoned, broken down places to shoot. I stumbled upon a particular spot online that looked old, beat up, and full of character. We soon found out that it was actually the attic of the 87 year old historical landmark in Toronto known as the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. The song has a lot of darker socio-political themes so I wanted that intensity reflected visually.
Society has become more ignorant, naive and lacking in common sense than ever before. The lyrics depict a world that is choosing to ignore the consequences of their actions and would rather continue shooting themselves in the foot then be a part of the solution.
Shoot day was EXTREMELY exhausting. It was one of the most tiring things we’ve ever done as a band and had we not had the help of even one of our friends we could not have done it. The attic was on the 24th floor, the elevators only went to 19, so we had to do 8-9 elevator trips to the 19th floor and then about 50+ trips up and down 12 flights of stairs hand-bombing individual pieces of equipment. We started at 7/8am and didn’t begin filming until 1pm, we finished at 6pm and then tore down and repeated then entire process again but in reverse.
As far as the ending when I light myself on fire lol… The song is about the perspective of a person who has cynically given up on the word, because of all the bullshit that is taking place in society and how people are choosing to just keep destroying the planet, be horrible to each other and ultimately choose to simply exist rather than truly live their lives. The fire/suicide ending is a visual metaphor of this “person” giving up on the world.
The track itself represents a meaner, more mature sound for Last Bullet. Is this a signal of change to come in your new music?
Definitely. We are constantly changing as human beings and our music is a reflection of our accomplishments, failures and experiences as people. As we grow our music will do the same. I wouldn’t say that you can expect all of our music to sound like Sin going forward, because we’re much more dynamic than just that one song, but it’s definitely a vibe that we’ll be tapping into more often going forward.
While we love writing and playing songs about having a good time, we’re sick of not seeing any bands or artists with anything relevant and meaningful to say. There’s a lot of really incomprehensible and messed up shit going on in the world and no one is using art to speak out and make a difference anymore. Music is so powerful that it’s changed the course of human history with words, emotions and melodies. We have aspirations to light your blood on fire as much as Rage Against The Machine does, and you’ll definitely be hearing more music from us with that being the goal. But at the same time we’ll never stop playing raunchy, filthy tunes that will make you want to down your glass and shake your ass.
Is there a full-length Last Bullet release in the works, and will we hear it in 2016?
Unfortunately there are no immediate plans to release a full length album in the immediate future. When we went into the studio late last year we recorded and finished 3 new tracks. We were going to release them as a short EP, but we believed that each song was strong enough to be a single, so we decided to focus on each one individually and give them the attention and effort that they each deserve. The next single will be released next month and the 3rd sometime after the summer.
We’ve got about 4-5 new songs written that we currently play live. a few of them are already crowd favourites and you can bet your ass that we’re extremely excited to get back in the studio at some point this year to record them and get them out to our fans and lovers of rock n’ roll all over the world.
The tentative title for the EP was going to be “Long Story Short” because each of the 3 songs are so drastically different from each other and are a great representation of how dynamic this band truly is. We really cover the entire spectrum of rock with these songs. It’s interesting to see how we’ve managed to make it work. As far as a full length, we would absolutely love to but we don’t have the time or the money to get something like that done, nor is there a demand for it yet. But the moment we’re able to quit our jobs and focus on music full time, that’ll be the first thing on our list, followed closely by a massive US tour.
The raw, rock sound of the band is complimented very well by the vocals. How much work goes into the writing of melodies and vocal parts?
Sometimes a lot and sometimes not very much at all. It depends how naturally and instinctually the melody, lyrics and phrasing come to me. When I hear a guitar riff, a chord progression or a drum beat I’ll usually put it on repeat and let the phrasing come to me. When I say phrasing I mean the particular moments where my ear wants to hear vocals and then I really try to pay attention to what my brain is telling me to do, or what it wants to hear as far as tone of voice, syllables used, grunt, rasp, vibrato, and then I usually start turning this melody of sounds into words that fit the gaps and phrasing I’ve kind of mapped out.
Mind you that’s just one way I like to write vocal melodies or lyrics but ultimately every vocal part I write is like a big square block of stone that I’ll slowly chip away at until I’ve left with a sculpture that I’m happy with. And then you have moments where you write vocal parts in 2 mins without even thinking and you’re done lol. That’s happened to.