Fuel have undergone a few lineup changes over the years, but with their next release they’ll have the guitarist and principal songwriter of their first four records, Carl Bell, back in the band for the first time since 2010. Bell is also joined in Fuel by returning drummer Kevin Miller who played on the first three albums and a trio of new musicians helping push the band’s legacy forward. Today the band is taking the next step in their career by premiering “Hard,” the first taste of new music from their upcoming Anomaly album, right here at Loudwire.
The track is a positive first step forward as Bell and Miller show they still have the feel for the sound that helped keep Fuel a favorite on the airwaves in the late ’90s and early 2000s, but the track should also appeal to today’s rock radio listeners as well.
In advance of the premiere, we spoke with Bell about his return to the band, how they filled out the current lineup of the group and he offers some insight into the new song as well their Anomaly album title.
Check out the lyrics and new song “Hard” below. If you like what you hear, the track is available at this link. And take a look at the chat with Carl Bell below the new song player.
Fuel, “Hard” Lyrics
Staring at the bottom and the memories of long ago
Try to pull yourself up loose that all time low
Still it wants to bring you down
Wants to steal your crown
Try to wrap it up and just give it all some place to go
Staring at a photograph of everything we used to have
and memories of long ago
Hard to shake them now, hard to shake them now
Looking back at the past, and why we couldn’t make it last
and why you ever had to go
Hard to take it now, hard to shake it now, it holds on
Somewhere down the road and the things you learned along the way
All you won and lost, and all you had to pay
Still it wants to turn you round
Wants to steal your ground
Try to wrap it up and somehow just put it all away
Carl, I had read your quote about being “surprised” that you were back in Fuel, so how did this come to be? What sparked your interest in returning to Fuel after all this time?
Life’s a weirdo trip, my friend. About a year ago pretty much to the date now I realized that I was now back in Fuel full time. I was not anticipating it and had no idea this was coming but a year later here we are. It’s been odd and a little bit crazy.
I was laughing with someone the other day that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So I guess we’re somewhat insane over here, but here we go. It’s been really interesting.
Part of what drew you back is the fact that you and Kevin Miller connected over what you had done previously in Fuel and how special that was. If you can talk about the desire to recapture a bit of that spirit.
With Kevin, probably about eight years ago I guess, a long time, but I got a phone call and I’m in my garage and it was an unlisted number and for some reason I took the call. You never answer an unknown caller number but I picked it up and it was, “Hey dude, it’s Miller.” And I was like, “Why did I pick this up?,” but he said, “Wait a minute, before you hang up I just want to apologize.” And I was like, “Wow.” I hadn’t talked to him in years and years and years.
But he basically said that he apologized and that he had done some stuff that he wished he hadn’t have done and I apologized. And then he said, “Dude, I know you were good to us as a band,” and I said, “I tried,” and he said, “You shared your publishing with us on songs we didn’t write and we appreciate that and you did that with all the guys as well,” and I said, “Thank you, I did. I tried, and I wasn’t perfect all the time either.” But anyway, we just kind of talked about that and that was it. And we hung up and literally didn’t talk again for a few more years really.
There would be a phone call here and there really and he’d say, “I’m in your town, let’s go have a bite to eat,” and I didn’t want to do that either. (laughs) But reluctantly I agreed and it was great. I think when we saw each other it was like we really reconnected and we really began talking about the great times we had in Fuel. Fuel was a cherished thing for he and I and why wouldn’t it be? But we reconnected and laughed about the good times and old times, but there were some bad times as well. It’s just a band and that’s how it happens. So we were able to clear the air and move forward.
So when I found out a year ago that I’m back in Fuel full time, he was basically my first call. I said, “Dude, what’s happening? This is crazy.” And he said, “Maybe it’s meant to be cause I have the band.” And I asked what he meant and he said, “I’ve got the band. I have all these guys I’ve been playing with around Pennsylvania here and I’ve had all these guys for a long time. I’ve had other members and kind of weeded out the people, and these are the guys that I really like and you’re gonna love these guys, so let’s do it this way.” And I said, “No” (laughs) cause I still wasn’t sure I wanted to do this. Just when I was out they pull me back in.
But we talked and talked and he said that I just had to meet these guys and so I went out and met them and as I’ve said since, they were “as advertised.” They’re a bunch of great guys and everybody seems to have the right mindset and they just want to have quality of life and enjoy the ride and as I talked to them more and more that became more evident. They’re super hard workers and they want this to work and it’s great. So we decided to give this a whirl and that’s kind of where we’re at now.
But that was before the record was written. At that point we thought we’d go play some shows and mess around, but then we had the idea to start writing a record and that changed a lot of things.
Speaking of writing a new record and coming back into the band, do you start with a blank slate thinking of this as a new group or do you feel you have to hit certain things to keep it within the idea of what Fuel is and has been?
Well there is a history of what is Fuel and you can’t diverge completely. We’re not going to put out a dance record. So you have to be mindful of the history that was established and at the same time for me, I was going, “Well it’s 2021, and what should Fuel sound like in 2021?” So it’s a bit of a blend of those sounds that ends up being this new record Anomaly.
It’s been a really cool project and I was pleasantly surprised. I hadn’t written a rock song in 10 years, I’m not even really sure. It’s been a long time. I had just lost the flavor for it as I did that and it was fun, but I was moving on with my life and not counting on doing this again. But the opportunity came up and so here we go.
“Hard” is the song we’re premiering here at Loudwire and I have to say this feels right in the wheelhouse of what I would hope for . Can you offer some insight on where that song came from?
I’ve been writing songs for so long and my brain clicked right back into full band mode and I just started writing. You know how you used to keep a recorder by the side of your bed, but now you’ve got your phone there? “Hard,” I still have the recording and I just listened to it the other day.
It was late August [when I wrote it], but I just went back to hear cause it’s interesting to see now that it’s completed where it started. So in my head, the original idea, I recorded it in the middle of the night. I’ve trained myself that when you’ve got a song idea, you put it down cause you never know.
I’ve also learned during writing that you try to grab in that moment of inspiration as much as you can and try to get a working title. There’s a bolt of lightning situation for me as a writer that happens. But as I went back and listened to it, I’ve got little pieces of lyrics already, I know what the guitars are gonna do and what the bass is gonna do and what the drums are gonna do, and even on “Hard,” I sang the solo into the phone cause I heard the solo in my head too. That’s just the way I write and the way I work and that’s how “Hard” came out.
One of the first things that hit me on that song is that John [Corsale] sounds like a great pick for vocalist. Obviously he’s a different voice to write for, and you add in Mark [Klotz] and Tommy [Nat] as well bringing in a different dynamic. Can you talk about what your new bandmates have brought to what we now know as Fuel?
With all due respect to everyone else I’ve played with, I think this is the best band I’ve been in. When I first heard John singing the old stuff when we first met, I wasn’t even planning on playing cause I didn’t know the songs really …But they got me up there to play with them and I was listening and trying to remember how to play some of these songs and I caught myself about halfway in thinking, “I’m not even listening to John because he’s that on.” It was not, “What is this guy sounding like?” He just sounded so natural that I completely was just trying to figure out what I was supposed to be playing without worrying what he was doing.
John was a fan of the band and he has said to me, “I want to honor what you guys did before and I think it’s my job to honor the past of Fuel as well as bring us into a new chapter here with Anomaly.” That’s one of the greatest things the guy can say. I don’t have to prod him and tell him, “You’ve got to do it this way.” He’s done his homework and he wants this to happen because he was a fan of the band as well. Plus, and I don’t know if you’ve seen the video on the Fuel Facebook but the guy can rip on guitar. He’s a ridiculous guitar player and he’s also a drummer. So he’s amazing and just one of the coolest guys on top of that.
And we’ve got Mark, the guitar player, he can sing all the ‘80s stuff like Whitesnake and Journey high notes with this crazy voice on top of being a great guitar player. I’ve never stood in a room with someone singing “Still of the Night” from Whitesnake and he can hit that high note. It’s crazy and I just laugh in amazement.
And you’ve got John and Mark and Tommy’s a great, incredible bass player and of course, Kevin. He’s back where he belongs and I think that’s where he should have been for a long time. So far, I’m completely blown away by these guys.
Anomaly is the title of the record and I wanted to check to see if you could tell us how the title plays into what we’ll hear on the rest of the album.
Well I had my hands full out here writing and producing the record so I asked Kevin to come up with some ideas for a title. Miller came back with a laundry list of names and one of them was Anomaly and was started talking about how it really applies to our situation. It’s really unexpected. The literal definition of anomaly kind of fits where we’re at right now. So Kevin came up with it and it sounds great so we just decided to roll with that.
With jumping back into this, and I think I saw tour dates are in the works. What are your thoughts on returning to the road after all this time?
[laughs] It’s been a while. I haven’t done it in so long and I didn’t miss it necessarily because I was over the whole band thing and moving on but I think it’ll be great with these guys in particular because as I said, I think it’s the best band that I’ve been in and I can’t wait for people to see and hear what this is gonna sound like. These guys are players and they’re fun guys and serious about what they do.
I’m just really stoked to get this all up and rolling and get this band in the shape that I know it can be in a very short time. That part is probably the least worrisome part in some ways. They’ve got the goods and Miller is playing the drums so it’s gonna be great.
Scrolling through some of your social media and like many Eddie Van Halen was a big influence for you. I saw the comments you’ve shared online about what he meant. I wanted to get a little background on your introduction to Van Halen growing up and if you had a favorite song or favorite memory of Van Halen as it relates to your life.
Eddie was the man. Especially when I was growing up, that’s the guy! But back in the day when I was growing up you could join a record club for a penny or a nickel and I got the entire Van Halen catalog to date at that time. That’s how blown away I was from what I heard from Eddie and I wanted all of that music.
I just sat and listened to him over and over and over and I’m still amazed at what Eddie could do. I know it’s hard to categorize somebody as “the best” guitar player of all-time cause it’s so difficult, but Eddie was so inventive. He could step out of a chord progression and play shapes and the sounds that he could get to come out of a guitar were just amazing. And to watch him play live, he was always smiling and having a good time and he was just an absolute icon on guitar.
He’s probably the reason I play guitar. I still can’t play half of what Eddie could play, but he’s the inspiration for why I picked up a guitar pretty much all the way down the line. There’s a lot of other guys who are great but Eddie just holds a special place in the lexicon of guitar players. He’s got to be at the top pretty much for me. Nobody did what he was doing and nobody still does.
Thanks to Fuel’s Carl Bell for the chat. As stated, “Hard” is the first single from the band’s forthcoming album ‘Anomaly.’ You can pick it up here.