The Californian five-piece Fallujah put out its debut full-length The Harvest Wombs in November 2011. The music is death metal in the vein of Death and Decrepit Birth. The songs rely on many of the traits that are common for the genre, but do have the needed personality to be exciting. The band is currently on tour in the U.S. along with Hate Eternal, Goatwhore and Cerebral Bore. A few days ago I had a chance to chat at bit with vocalist Alex Hofmann. It was an interesting talk about the band, the music, and many other things.

Alex Hofmann interviewed by PSL

What's the story about the bandname? What made you name the band after a city in Iraq?
The name Fallujah held a bit more relevance when the band first formed as we had a more forward political message. Fallujah and the larger Al Anbar province at the time was the region sustaining the harshest fighting and most casualties of the Iraq war as well as being the site of significant human rights violations with the use of white phosphorus on civilians. We thought the name represented the tension and hostility between east and west, Islam and Christianity, occupiers and rebels that chat characterized our social period.

The Harvest Wombs is a departure from your earlier style. What motivated the change in direction?
I think the main motivation was that we had matured significantly over the two years since Leper Colony. We had been and still are unfortunately tagged and regarded in a light that we found irrelevant for a very long time. We also had significant dissatisfaction with the hardcore scene and the characteristics it was developing. I couldn't be happier with the choice of distancing ourselves on a scene that has now become polluted with elitism, herd mentalities and exhausting genericness.

Do you feel you've matured as song-writers?
Infinitely. You realize after a while that being the heaviest, fastest and most instrumentally intense band really has nothing to do with writing good songs. Much of metal today has lost its tastefulness. Being heavy, fast or intricate is counter-productive if the appropriate application isn't the first concern.

How do you go about writing music? Do all of you contribute?
Our system these days involves most of us writing at home with computers and simple direct-in interfaces. We don't really gain much ground sitting in a room with some weed trying to come up with riffs. We appreciate our time alone then send tracks back in forth of work on them together after structures and foundations have been established.

I hear bits and pieces of Death, Decrepit Birth and Animals As Leaders in the music. Could you say something about what inspires you and what kind of music you like?
Death is a huge influence on us, we like Decrepit Birth a lot but don't really take direct influence from them and the same goes for Animals As Leaders. We find most inspiration in structure of songs more so than melodic or tonal influence. We have progressed to the point where we can come up with our own original ideas most of the time without having to play other bands simultaneously while writing. Once you can broaden your horizons and see that different music forms all can be constructive in writing your own music, you can then take interesting inspiration from pretty much anything.

Just like the debut EP Leper Colony you recorded The Harvest Wombs in Panda Studios with Sam Pura. What made Sam and Panda Studios right for the job?
Sam is a great friend of ours and makes the experience really fun and interesting. He really pushes the band to get the best takes and performances instead of relying on technology to make you sound good. I see us working with him in the future.

In terms of production, did you end up getting the result you were looking for?
The album came out quite a bit differently than we anticipated but we are happy with the results yes. In the future we may go back to a more organic sound, but I love the way the drum tones and solos came out. The album is very precise and mechanical which compliments and obscures the music in a way that makes it quite a bit different compared to how they sounded in the pre-production phases. We can at least pride ourselves on the fact that we can match the quality of the album live, and honestly even top it. We could really care less about someone listening to the album, I'd rather they come to a show and see it played live to truly appreciate it.

Could you say something about the artwork?
I had the idea of having some forms of collection of beings conjuring energy or attempting to transcend physical bodies. I worked with the designer on the initial layouts and renders, which ultimately gave me lots to work with for the rest of the artwork for the album.

Do you think it's central that the artwork fits the music and lyrics?
Yes absolutely. I directly associate albums with the aesthetic visuals associated with the album. Artwork is infinitely important to me especially as a graphic designer and wish that bands would push the envelope a bit more as many metal covers evoke the same imagery.

Who writes the lyrics and what type of issues do they deal with?
I write all the lyrics for the songs. Each album or writing period tends to deal with different themes. We started more politically based and then moved into more atheistic/anti-religious themes. Since then we have taken on a more psychological and philosophical theme dealing with nihilism, pantheism, transcendentalism and occultism. I see our next project taking on a way more personal theme as I've begun to feel a bit disconnected emotionally from our topics. I see more personal ideas on isolationism, misanthropy and indifference being where I take things.

What's the death metal scene like in San Francisco nowadays?
There are lots of bands, a decent amount of venues and the fans are for sure there. What is difficult is getting kids to come out to shows. The area is undeniably spoiled, and while larger bands have great turnouts, it's very difficult for smaller bands to gain notoriety on local shows. I always encourage bands to tour as soon as they can as I believe that is the most beneficial endeavour one can partake in.

I'm aware that you're about to go on tour with Goatwhore, Hate Eternal and Cerebral Bore in the U.S. Do you plan to tour Europe later in 2012?
Yes the tour kicked off yesterday and things are looking great for the next two weeks. We had been trying very hard to get over there for the summer but encountered some difficulty, so I believe we are focusing on North America for summer and possibly get over to Europe around winter time.

When you're not playing music what do you all do for a living?
We all go to University and work in various fields outside that. I work as a graphic designer and tutor. Scott works in coffee [as Rob Morey and I also did for years prior] Rob Maramonte and Rob Morey currently work retail and Andrew has had to focus on his current diagnosis with cancer, so he will be recovering for a few months.

Anything you'd like to add to conclude this interview
Be sure to check out our album The Harvest Wombs out on Unique Leader Records, come to a show and say hello. Turn off your television, read a book, liberate yourself.

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