Alongside rapidly aging legends such as New Model Army and Bullet For My Valentine, Camden Rocks festival was also home to a swathe of bands no one has heard of yet looking to make a splash.
One such band are fresh-faced metallers Fallen To Flux, four wet behind the ears students with an EP and rapidly expanding fanbase under their belt who’ve been saddled with a potentially unenvious festival opening slot. Excitable bassist Luke Walley, however, insists that this is the best billing they could hope for, “We don’t drink before we play, so being able to perform this early means we can actually drink and watch bands and stuff for the rest of the festival” he beams before the band start to chat about their itinerary for the rest of the day.
One band figuring hugely in their collective consciousness are aforementioned Welsh colossi Bullet For My Valentine, who Fallen To Flux still can’t believe they’re sharing a bill with. “Without going too far into a cliché, Bullet For My Valentine are the reason I started playing music,” admits band leader and singer/songwriter Oli Clipsham, “They were announced on Monday. It was insane, we had literally no idea!” “We had smiles on our faces all day long” Luke adds. Dodging the Bullet, I try and steer the band away to discuss the rest of the evening awaiting them, leading them to wax lyrical about the influence co-performers Heaven’s Basement, While She Sleeps and Sonic Boom Six have had on their sound.
Speaking of their sound, Fallen to Flux are the kind of band that sound immediately familiar as soon as their interlocked guitars and syrupy vocals judder into action. The end result of a batch of solo songs were written by Oli before he enrolled at Imperial College London and found the rest of what would go on to be the band through the deceptively named Jazz and Rock Society which “is actually completely just for hardcore metal,” Oli explains. The quartet were then drawn together by their admiration for Oli’s songs and shared love of metalcore and the rest is (a brief) history. “At the time there was one record I’d recorded by myself, and so the idea was to recruit a band to play these songs live. Then when we recorded them again together we just felt the chemistry was good, we worked well as a unit… so let’s just keep on being a band!”
Their recent release of the isolationist EP From The Outside Looking In has started to get them some real attention, as well as a bizarre host of new fans. “I don’t use Facebook often,” confides drummer Chris Trem, “but over the last month I got 35 friend requests from strangers who were fans of the band.” “I spend a lot of time on social media as you have to as a small band nowadays,” Oli tells me, “some of the people you end up talking to is incredible. I end up chatting to loads of people from Germany,” which is just one place where the band seem to have conjured a passionate fanbase out of nowhere like four metal Merlins. All of this is a far cry from the more low key release of their first EP in 2012, “At least it got us recognition from mates who saw us and were like ‘Oh you guys are good musicians? That’s… nice,” Oli recalls, “In the way that nice is the pretty sister of shit, you know?” Luke chips in.
One of the more striking features of their new EP, besides the jerky attack of ‘Relapse’ and the proto-anthemic ‘Living With The Pain’ is the instantly iconic band symbol on the sleeve design consisting of a reverse ‘F’ and a normal ‘F’ attached to a central ‘T’ like a falcon’s wings. The inspiration apparently came from While She Sleeps, though the legacy of such mirrored lettering can be traces back through Nine Inch Nails all the way to J.R.R. Tolkien and his distinctive acronomical design. “While She Sleeps have this fantastic logo with the crowning ‘W’ and the backwards ‘S’, which they’ve used since they started,” explains Oli, “Now you don’t even have to see their name, you see that symbol and it’s like a statement of intent. We wanted something other than our name in a fancy font, we wanted something synonymous with the band,” “And it looks fucking cool!” adds Luke.
Another arresting point about OTOLI is its neat balancing act between two extremes of the wide metal spectrum. On the one hand the band have the propensity to be incredibly cerebral, some of their off-kilter timings and guitar interlocking evoke the overwrought approach of some of the more listenable parts of djent. When questioned whether they would try and follow an increasingly highbrow genre down the intellectual rabbit hole it’s currently tumble down Luke laughs, “Well two of us are physicists, and I’ve seen in my physicist friends that there’s a noticeable correlation between physics and metal, a lot of physicists are into it I think because of the technical elements.” But Austrian guitar whizzkid Björn Gugu isn’t so sure, “I suppose that is just one niche of the genre: here all the people who like to be really intellectual, or at least pretend they like to be really intellectual, are just going to make mathcore. I think the rest of the metal scene still has a taste for the fun.”
Oli points to bands such as Mallory Knox as “people at the other end of the spectrum pushing the boundaries Knox who have taken the rock and metal genre and made it as melodic as possible and have achieved success that way.” Ultimately he’s content with the balancing act Fallen To Flux have achieved. “Not to blow our own trumpet,” Luke adds, eager to blow his own trumpet, “but what we’re going for and what I think we’ve achieved is a nice midpoint between the two. A specific vocal range with catchy, hooky lines and also intricate instrument part, which I think works pretty well as a balance. We’d never be happy to just be one extreme or the other.”
Though the band individually hail from Kent, Doncaster, Leeds and Austria, they have all taken to London’s massive interconnected musical scene like gnats to blood. London advantage? Chris is impressed by what can be achieved solely within the confines of the city, but also wary of the unique challenges this offers, “I’d been in a couple of bands in Doncaster and we had to travel to the nearest big city or come down to London. But on the other hand there is this idea that when a band starts out they have to be in London, but then you’re at a disadvantage being a very small fish in a very big pond where it can be quite difficult to get out of the smaller venues. But if you can stretch out of that then London’s the place to be, definitely.”
For Björn it’s an even further world from the environment he grew up in, “London’s got a good scene for our kind of music. Back home in Vienna it’s fun and you can reach a lot of people, but if you’re not playing either classical music or ska (made up of the surplus brass players who don’t want to play classical) it becomes really difficult.” Nor have the band found time to head to Europe to try out their burgeoning fanbase over there, as they’re finding it difficult to escape the venus flytrap that is London and gig elsewhere. “We’ve played two shows outside of London: Manchester and Birmingham, so at least we’ve done the big three,” Oli points out, “They were too spaced out to really be a tour though. We will be actually touring in late July this year though to try and get to as many of our fans as we can.” This tour will see the genesis of Fallen To Flux’s attempt to reach towards the big time, as successful shows could herald invitations from Sonisphere, Download et al. Until then the band are content to be excited for the small things, “The bit I’m looking forward to is arriving back from holiday at Stansted airport and having these guys pick me up in a tour bus blaring ‘Judas Rising’ by Judas Priest,” Luke admits. For the time being Fallen to Flux are keeping it real.