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Fuel debuts new album Puppet Strings at The Loft in Lansing

Brett Scallions
Brett Scallions
Photo by: Eric Direzze of 6of6 Photography

Fuel at The Loft in Lansing, MI

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1998 was a good year for me. I was a year out of high school and in college trying to decide where my life was going and oh yeah! Sunburn, by Fuel debuted that year. I must have played that cd repeatedly. It gave us the radio hits such as “Shimmer”, “Bittersweet”, and “Sunburn”, but I also loved the songs that did not get as much radio play like “Untitled” and “Jesus Or A Gun”. There is just something magical about Brett Scallions’ voice that has and always will move me. When I asked him about his background, it did not surprise me to learn that he grew up singing in the church in his small town of Brownsville, Tennessee. Next up for Fuel was 2000’s Something Like Human, which introduced the world to the massive hit “Hemorrhage”, which is their highest grossing single to date, “Bad Day”, and “Last Time”. They kept up momentum releasing 2003’s Natural Selection which introduced me to my favorite song by them “Falls On Me” and also” Won’t Back Down”, which was the lead single to the hit movie “Daredevil”. I was devastated when I learned that in 2006 Brett decided to leave the band stating, “The last Fuel record we did, no one was into it, at least not in the band. Speaking for myself, there was no fun in it because there was no activity within the band. It was kind of a one-man show and what is really the fun in that? The word “band” doesn’t even really come into play in a situation like that. It wasn’t an enjoyable environment for me, and I don’t think for any of us really, except for Carl maybe because Carl’s mind was set into his songs, his music, and that’s the way it was. For me growing up and being a fan of music and being a fan of creativity you actually want to be a part of things, you want to actually feel like you are in a band, and it just wasn’t feeling like that anymore." Fuel tried to regroup without its original voice adding Toryn Green, who was chosen from over 1000 applicants for the job. Originally, American Idol alum Chris Daughtry was asked to join the band after his rendition of “Hemorrhage” during his time on the show but he declined. The album Angels and Devils released in 2007 was not only Fuel’s fourth studio effort but was also the last album for original guitarist Carl Bell and bassist Jeff Abercrombie. This was the first Fuel album that had outside collaborators credited on the album and was kind of a failed attempt at reviving the band. The sound was not the same, the energy was not the same and to me, it just was not Fuel. I believe the rest of the world agreed with me as well considering it is the lowest selling record to be released. So to say that I was ecstatic when I heard that after all of these years, Brett was toying with the idea of getting the band back together going under the moniker “Re-Fueled” would be an understatement. I knew that no matter what lineup he chose, with his voice and energy, it would be a re-emergence. This was announced in 2010 so I was eagerly anticipating whatever was in store to come. During this time, there were several lineup changes. “There is only one original of anything”, stated Scallions when asked about the reformation. Originally, the lineup was Brett Scallions on vocals and guitar, Yogi Lonich on guitar and vocals, Jeff Abercrombie on bass and Ken Schalk on drums. It was during this time that Jeff decided that he no longer wanted to tour and was replaced by former Shinedown bassist Brad Stewart. There were a few more glitches to work out with guitarists as Yogi left and was replaced and then returned only to be let go by the band again after his lack of commitment. This was when Brett began to tease about a new album and introduced us and the rest of the world to new lead guitarist Andy Andersson. In April 2013, Ken Schalk decided to leave the band citing conflicts between tour life and family life and new drummer Bryan Keeling was introduced. In June of that year, it was announced that Bryan Keeling was going on tour in Europe and had been permanently replaced by former Puddle of Mudd drummer and Detroit native, Shannon Boone. With the lineup complete, it was time to work on the release of the album, which had already been recorded at that point. This album, Puppet Strings, was produced by Eddie Wohl and mixed by Ben Grosse who produced and mixed their most successful album Something Like Human and a release date of March 4, 2014 was announced in December 2013 in Guitar World Magazine. The first teaser "Yeah", “not a single” said Scallions, was released for free download and the first single “Soul To Preach To” was released late January 2014. When I first heard this song, I remember thinking “Finally Fuel is back!” and actually my first words to Brett when we were on the phone last week were “Welcome the FUCK back!”

When I found out that they would be performing at this year’s Rock On The Range, I was super excited to see them but I will admit that I was more excited to see the smaller show in Lansing at The Loft on May 23, the week after ROTR. I love arena shows and they really excite me, but I am also a huge fan of the smaller, more intimate shows where the band can interact with the audience and it has more of a laid-back vibe. Speaking to Brett about making the album, he spoke about being in a different place and it being the right time to get back together with the Fuel sound. He has said that with Andy and Brad, he has found the unity that he craved.

You could feel the energy as people took their places in front of the stage (me included) and as the band took the stage, you could see the smiles on people’s faces to have this band back and in my opinion better than ever. They quickly launched into “Untitled” which I wondered if they would play and it was time for the show! They played some favorites like "Bad Day"and "Sunburn", which was played after an amazing solo intro by Andy Andersson. They added some new ones like "Puppet Strings" and "Cold Summer", which is quickly becoming a favorite of mine and then went back into the older repertoire playing “Shimmer” and “Falls On Me”, which I can listen to any day at any time. Then, after some heavy requesting by a fan, they decided to change up the set list and played “Headache” and “Hey Mama” from Puppet Strings. They of course played "Hemorrhage" and ended the night with the foot stomping high energy “Soul To Preach To”

I could not have been happier with the turnout of the night and was even more excited when I was able to get a few photos from Rock On The Range signed and talk to the guys even though they were drained from the show about the tour and what was next. They told me that after this show, there were two days left and they were headed home for a much-needed break seeing as they have been on the road for a solid month. They won’t have much time before they are back at it again.

I have always been a Fuel fan and do not see myself deviating anytime soon but it makes a big difference when a band is so willing to talk to the fans and take time out from their busy schedules for interviews and just to say thank you for coming, which is what the whole band said to me. If you have not had a chance to listen to the album, do yourself a solid and pick it up on iTunes. For more information and to keep up with their tour schedule visit www.fuelrocks.com or www.facebook.com/fuelofficial