Hate Eternal guitarist/vocalist Erik Rutan has been known to be a perfectionist in the studio with his past recordings, but that almost seems like an understatement when he began to work on the band’s latest record Fury & Flames. After his former bandmate and friend Jared Anderson passed away in 2006 (just a few months shy of his 31st birthday), Rutan made it his personal mission to create somewhat of a musical tribute to Anderson.
Not every song is necessarily about Anderson on Fury & Flames, but the bass player was still the primary inspiration for Rutan, who revealed that his “whole life became about this record.
Rutan told Ultimate-Guitar that although his world was pretty much consumed by the record, he didn’t hesitate to provide new members Shaune Kelley (guitars), Alex Webster (bass), and Jade Simonetto (drums) with the opportunity to have equal time in the spotlight. Each of the players has a heavy presence in the final mix of the record, with Simonetto’s nonstop percussion standing out on each track. Although most of the new members didn’t come on board until Rutan was almost finished writing the record, the chemistry among the new quartet is evident from the first track on Fury & Flames.
UG: The feedback I’ve received about Fury & Flames has been extremely positive, with many people saying how impressed they are with the new lineup.
Erik: I put everything I had into this record. I had nothing more to give it than what I did. That’s the one thing I can say. I had so many reasons for wanting this record to be the ultimate. Literally I worked on it until the deadline came in. They said, “This is it. It needs to be done.” I could have worked on it forever. This record is so important to me. I just wanted to make a really epic album.
I’ve always, my whole life, had adversity to really fuel the mountain among the valleys. I’ve always seemed to rise to the mountaintop. That’s sort of been my whole life, my whole career. There were people who maybe had their doubts, but I never had a doubt. As long as I feel the music and I continue to write, I will continue on with the band and find people who want to be a part of that. I always have. I’ve somehow survived the storm. Through the hurricanes, you’re going to get the sunshine.
You’ve had a turbulent past few years. Were you constantly writing new songs during that time?
I started writing the record in August of 2006. I was on a European tour with Morbid Angel, and I hadn’t played with them in 5 years. When I got home from that, I just went into focus mode around the fall of writing the record. I had started some stuff in the summer, but not much. Before that, I was touring and my old drummer had left the band. Then we had 2 tours, a DVD, and I was just trying to salvage everything and keep everything together. During the off times, we were negotiating a new deal with Metal Blade and I also wanted to take my time to write.
Around October was when Jared passed away. That’s really what made a lot of the music just go on the natural course because I was producing a lot of records at the time. That’s really where a lot of the music came from. He influenced the album and he was the inspiration. It kind of became a dedication to him. It just made it that much more important to me. My whole life became about this record. I was totally submerged in this album.
I was trying to keep it all together, and that was the biggest part. I just love playing guitar. I’ve got amps everywhere, all over my house, every room! I’ve got a rig in my office where I’ve got this other recording room. I’ve got a little Pro Tools rig. A lot of the music just really came out during that time. For a while it was just me before I even had a drummer or anybody else. I was really just letting it all flow as a guitar player with no outside influence for a while because I wasn’t jamming with anyone. That’s really where I let it all go. I could let it all flow with just the guitar. I could write the music and now worry about anything in regards to it. I think that’s why the record has a really dark, expressive vibe to it.
Were you always the primary songwriter on other records?
|"I was totally submerged in this album."|
Pretty much for all the records, I would say that I’ve always written about 75 percent of the songs completely on my own. But with each record I contributed with others. The first record it was with Doug, Tim, and Jared. The second record, me and Jared wrote like 4 songs together. On I, Monarch Jared wrote 2 songs.
If people are in a band, then I always want to make it available for people to be part of the creative process. People write songs and they write good stuff, and it sits with them. To me, it’s like, “Let’s do them.” On the new record we wrote a few songs together and I wrote the rest, but that’s only because by the time Shaune got in, I had already formulated a big percentage of the album. We were just about to go into the preproduction process. On the next record, I think me and Shaune will probably write the whole record together.
I read the journal entry about Jared Anderson that you posted on the band’s MySpace page, and I have to say that it was a really moving tribute to him.
Thank you. This whole record and Jared passing away, it just made me say…I’ve always been reserved in some capacity or whatever, but I’ve always worn my colors on my sleeve and I’m a straightforward guy. There are certain things sometimes that you don’t want to reveal about what’s going in your life to anybody. We do what we have to do to.
In the meantime, I can deal with these situations of adversity. It’s really what counts, being expressive with Jared and the fans with what was going on, the complete new lineup and things of that nature. I definitely just decided, “I’m just going to lay it all on the table with this one.” It’s something that made it really more triumphant now to have this record done. The amount of work that went into this record, it’s beyond any of the records I’ve done because of what it took to keep it all together and write an amazing record.
How did you decide upon the new lineup of Alex, Shaune, and Jade?
After we had done the tours and I was home, I started having drummers contact me about wanting to join the band. I was just looking at different videos of people and some audio. Jade contacted me, and I contacted him back. We started talking a little bit, and I could tell that he had the right mindset. He was really intelligent and very dedicated. He knew all of Hate Eternal’s material. So I flew him down. We recorded us jamming every time at every practice. We worked together a bunch of times, and we got a good vibe. We worked a lot of months together on the songs and the dynamics. Jade really was the most open drummer that I’ve worked with, and he wanted to make the record amazing and wanted to texture it.
After Jared had passed away, I wasn’t really thinking about anything. I was doing a bunch of records and I wanted to focus on production. After a while I started to think about who I am going to have on bass for the record, and Alex came to mind first. I said, “Man, I’ve got to have Alex. He’s my best friend and he’s the best player.”
Shaune, we’ve been friends for like 20 years. Ever since I started Hate Eternal I always told him, “Hey man, if you want that second guitar part, it’s yours!” He was living up in New Jersey - that’s where I’m from as well, but I moved to Florida. He was like, “Man, I’m ready to get out of here.” I said, “Shit, man. I’m working on songs right now. I’m just wondering how come you’re not sitting on the couch learning them!” He said, “I don’t know why, either. Let’s talk! I want to do this and I want to join the band. I want to help whenever I can and be a part of Hate Eternal.”
Do you plan on having this lineup indefinitely?
|"After Jared had passed away, I wasn't really thinking about anything."|
Shaune and Jade will. Alex just played on the record. He’s in Cannibal Corpse and he’s writing the next record right now. I’ll be producing the next Cannibal Corpse record in the late summer. But for his contribution and his talent and what he brings to the table, it was worth it just having him be a part of the record. Touring, it lasts for a month or a couple weeks. A record lasts for an eternity, so I wanted to make that impact.
What kind of equipment did you use on Fury & Flames?
We used the Marshall 2000 DSL, and we had the Engl Powerball. There was the Laboga Mr. Hector, as well as the Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier. So we did a blend on the rhythms and a blend on the solos as well. I’ve been saying this a lot, but I wanted to have an epic sound. I didn’t want it to be like in the past. I wanted it to be a little more open and really let the drums and the bass breathe, and not have it so totally guitar dominant. I love guitar-heavy records as well, but there is so much going on with the bass and the drums that I didn’t want to bury that with a wall of guitars.
I was really trying to make a Ride The Lightning kind of sound or something like that. It’s ambient a little bit and open, so that everything was really legible with a good vibe. Not so sterile and not so raw, either. All of our other records are really raw, and this one I wanted to be a little bit in between - not super polished, but natural or organic as well. I wanted to have an epic production, but something very unique.
Interview by Amy Kelly
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