By John Parks
Fight Or Flight is a band composed of members of multi-platinum rockers Disturbed, Ra and Evans Blue, and are beginning to make a lot of headlines based on their strong debut album, A Life By Design?, and attention-grabbing video/single “First Of The Last.”
While guitarist Dan Donegan and drummer Mike Wengren still provide a lot of the crunch that helped Disturbed rise from Chicago to worldwide status, there is enough of a difference in the Fight Or Flight material to differentiate it from the previous music the guys are known for.
The band will be performing Aug. 14 at The District (205 W. State St.) in Rockford, and I recently had the chance to ask lead singer Dan Chandler a few questions about the album, the upcoming tour and more.
Q: Your guitarist, Dan Donegan, followed your previous band, Evans Blue, and it almost sounds like the Fight Or Flight project came about rather happenstance. Is that somewhat true?
A: Yeah, that’s it exactly. We played a couple of festivals together and were fans of each other’s bands. We tossed around the idea of writing together, and one thing led to another. We decided to make a record and put a group together.
Q. Your new album, A Life By Design?, just came out, and there is a definite buzz among rock fans about the band. Does it feel good to be doing something new and reaching new people while also getting back to work playing music, something that has always been a part of your lives?
A: It feels great. It’s amazing how supportive the fans are … old and new. We are very fortunate to be surrounded by so many supportive people. We are excited for everyone to get the record and be a part of the birth of what we hope has a big future.
Q. I understand that Disturbed guys made a huge dent in the hard-rock world. The band’s musical chops were killer, and I liked some of the material, but was never particularly a big fan. I really like the new Fight Or Flight sound and the melodies and hooks on this album. Was it apparent early on that the music would be an altogether different beast than Evans Blue or Disturbed, and was that part of what attracted you to the project?
A: Yeah, it was a different approach to writing. Once we had the first few songs written, we knew it was its own thing. We ultimately wanted something that wasn’t either of our other bands. The idea of writing music with someone you share that hunger or chemistry with is what attracted me to this. It makes me a better writer when I learn a new approach, or see how it’s done by another writer.
Q. It seems there are a lot of eyes and ears on this project and that has been the case since the project was even whispered about. Has that type of attention been a help or hindrance in any way going forward?
A: It’s not really something we think about, I guess. I think it’s a great advantage to have players with backgrounds in such successful bands. That doesn’t just happen. You have to work your a– off to become something in this business. It should show people that the hunger and drive is still there.
Q. You have a very powerful, yet clean, voice and project a lot of energy performance-wise. What kind of music did you grow up singing and who inspires you these days?
A: I grew up listening to everything. From country to rock. I didn’t always think I was a singer. When I was turned on to Incubus’ S.C.I.E.N.C.E., I guess that’s when things really started to change for me musically. That album just kind of showed me that there aren’t boundaries when you are making music that you like. It really inspired me to get better. These days, it’s strange. I will listen to Korn Life is Peachy for weeks and have my mind blown every day I listen. I realize the more I am willing to step out and take chances, the more fun I have.
Q. How seamless was the transition from songwriting partnership and demoing with Dan to actually getting the finished studio product to all of our ears, and how did you enjoy the actual process in studio?
A: It was extremely painless. We both want to do what’s best for the songs. There is an awesome level of respect between us as well as being good friends. Creating music with someone who loves music as much as you do … That’s where you have to be.
Q. The songs “If it Hurts” and “Tragedy” are both very strong melodically and also seem to have a great deal of personal content to them lyrically. What inspired a lot of the lyrical content on A life By Design?.
A: Life in general. Situations that changed you into a better version of you. A lot of it comes as a result of actually learning from mistakes and seeing the world with your eyes open.
Q. The video for “First Of The Last” is bound to get a lot of attention and almost plays out like a mini movie. How did the concept come together for the visuals, and were you at all concerned that it might be too intense or graphic for mainstream exposure?
A: Dan and I both like to investigate conspiracy theories. We really just put our minds to work and like to figure out the angles on the subject. We knew it could be a bit intense or stir up a bit of conversation. That was the purpose. We weren’t preaching that all conspiracy theories are fact, but to keep your eyes open and find answers of your own, with your own brain. This applies to every area in life … think for yourself.
Q. The album release being timed for late summer primes you for a fall and winter of touring. What other commitments do you all have for the foreseeable future, and how excited are you to be taking this music into a live performance setting?
A: The goal is to hit the road running. We want to get in front of as many people as possible. It’s been a while since we’ve been on stage, and we are dying to get up there again!
From the Aug. 7-13, 2013, issue