Well I don't know about the rest of you, but I have still been holding out hope for the announcement Charlie Fell (ex-Abigail Williams, ex-Lord Mantis, Cobalt) made many, many months ago about his next project, 'MISSING'. A lot has happened since then, but I am always excited at the prospect of more of the consistently solid material Charlie puts out across the various projects he has been involved with. I caught up with Charlie during his Cobalt tour in Portland, and have touched base a few scattered times since then, but now he has graciously found time in his busy schedule to complete a formal interview. Keep reading for some new tidbits about Missing as well as his thoughts on a number of other topics.
FlightOfICarus: You just finished your tour with Cobalt not that long ago. Any closing thoughts on that experience?
Charlie Fell: The European tour was killer. Actually i think i can say without a doubt that it was the best experience I have had on the road with any band I have done. We had a great crew with Josh Lozano from Fashion Week playing guitar, my old roomate and Chicago metalscene vet Jerome Marshall on bass, and a dude name Guilleme Winandy tour managing and teching. We were out with Orannssi Pazuzu, which me and Eric are huge fans of, and they couldn't have been better dudes to travel with. There wasn't a dud the whole tour and Poland was just incredible. Saddly I broke my foot at the end of the tour wich is kinda putting a damper on the plans I had when I got home.
You’ve moved to Colorado now. How are you acclimating to Denver?
I moved to Colorado so it would be easier to do Cobalt and also I just needed to get out of the South. I would have loved to have gone back to Chicago but it just wasnt in the cards. I've been trying to do as much music as i can down here but the scene is pretty tight knit and everybody is already stretched thin so it's been hard to find people to work with locally. I have been working with a guy named Shane Mcarthy here who does an awesome band called Wayfarer. He's been helping me flesh out the stuff for Missing. Then I am working on some other kinda more punk in the vein of Killing Joke material for another project I dont have name for. Other than that I work in the kitchen at a restaurant and just hang out at home alot.
There’s quite a scene developing for extreme music in that area. Got a new band to shout out? Favorite venue?
Yeah theres a ton of metal bands here I mean Blood Incantation are really doing a ton and are really talented and so is Spectral Voice. Primitive Man, Wayfarer, Khemmis and Call of the Void; just a ton of bands here. There's a band called Tollend Men that my friend turned me onto that I really like. Really strange stuff. And another group called Pueblo Escobar that has a sort of Jesus Lizard thing going and doing a style that you dont see all that often. Unfortantely with my broken foot im not getting out that much and havent seen much of anybody recently.
Getting into the new material, you announced recently that it’s finally time to hit the studio for that mysterious and elusive MISSING demo. Has it changed since you originally announced it so long ago?
Man its been a mess getting this done and a lot of it was out of my control, although some of it was just not having my priorities straight. At first I had the dudes I was playing with in Abigail Williams lined up to do this. I thought ya know I do these tours for them on drums and one hand washes the other. Eventually Jeff just straight told me that he had no intentnion of doing the project because he thought it would be a waste of time. He didn't think it would be a financial success, which I'm sure it wont be but that's not the reason you do this.
We really didn't have much down time betweent tours, and I was also just a mess at that time, so what downtime I did have between Abigail tours I just didn't want to think about music. Those tours were also very taxing. We were touring most of the time on an album that was 3 years old and the band had gone thorugh multiple drastic style changes. The people who came to the shows were wanting to hear old stuff and the poeple who would like the new stuff weren't gonna come see Abigial Williams because metal fans are sheep and if your band's not in the cool club, even if it's something they would probably like, they're not gonna come to your show or listen to it unless its been given the stamp of approval by fuck all cool kid metal club.
I stand by the album i did with them, though. There's some quality moments on it; but as a whole it was an exhausting band to be in. Those dudes were super upset about me joining Cobalt and the communication between us had just come to a halt. I was treated as a lesser member of the band so eventually I just stopped giving a shit and it was evident. In retrospect, I probably should have just bowed out and I think it would have saved my relationship with some of the guys. Me and Ken were really close for a while and ya know I regret how our relationship is today. He's a great musician and we did some great stuff together.
So after all that went down I had to do a total reset finding a new job, a new place to live, and write for the Cobalt album. So once again it was pushed to the side. It wasnt until i got to Denver late 2016 that i was really able to start writing, and it's only been possible between tours, but i finally have some demos and about 40 minutes of music in the bag. As for the lineup, it's gonna be mostly the same as it was first planned excpet the Abigail dudes.
What is the inspiration behind this material?
I let my experiences and how I experience the world inspire me: how I'm really feeling and what I'm really going through, not so much a fictional approach. I'm not really a great story teller. I let the instrumentation decide the direction of the music and I try not to control or steer it to much. I think there's a lot of great metal artists who were afraid to follow the natural evolution of what they were doing and ended up making really shitty metal. Danzig should have stopped writing metal songs and just kept on his path that was leading him to doing dark americana. I think he would still be making good records if he wasn't always trying to recreate his past.
You’re performing all of the instruments this time around. What can we expect sonically?
Naturally it's gonna have alot of the qualities of Lord Mantis. That was the band I had the most creative control over. Some of the riffs I have had since Death Mask was recorded . I think maybe in the last couple years I've gotten a little more economic with my songwriting and don't feel the need to have a million riffs in a song so some of the material is a bit easier and has a bit more groove. Death Mask also had a ton of synths and I'm planning on really utilizing electronics a lot more for this record than I did with Lord Mantis.
A bit of an aside here: I had the opportunity to hear a rough demo of one of the tracks Charlie has been working on, currently titled "Black Walks Eternal." While it was just drums and guitar recorded on a cell phone at this point, I could definitely hear the raunchy grooves of Death Mask as well as some Cobalt-sounding riffs that may have rubbed off during touring. In any case, I can already hear his trademark wretched vocals in my mind, and am excited to hear the finished product.
You’ve mentioned in conversation some potentially high profile and exciting future collaborators when you move into future material. Are you able to share with our readers who whose are and their level of commitment is at this point?
Not sure at this point who is gonna be invlovled 100 percent due to schedules and babies and marriages, but I'm planning on working with some friends on the record
Where do you see yourself in the lineup if you take the material on the road?
I would most likely be doing bass and vocals if this becomes a live thing.
Do you see this as just another chapter in your music career, or are you hoping this will turn into a more long term project?
For now it's just this record that I'm thinking about. I had originally planned on starting with a demo, but a certain label has agreed to backing a full length album with recording in either October or February. Watch for a formal press release in the near future
Anything else you’d like to share on MISSING, or anything else for that matter?
I think that's good. I'm doing my best to get this record done between getting money behind it, scheduling, and shit like breaking my foot ya know it's a bit like wrestling a bear: you're not gonna win until that fucker falls asleep. Its taken a while for my life to chill enough to be able do it. But looks like this is happening in the near future.
Well I know for myself and many of our Metal Trenches readers out there, we will continue waiting with anticipation. I'll be sure to continue posting updates as they come through. In the meantime, you can enjoy Charlie's solid catalogue with the bands we've already mentioned via the embeds provided an beyond.