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Interview with Dan Chandler (Fight or Flight)

Just one year after forming, Fight or Flight are set to release their debut album, A Life By Design?, next month via Warner Bros. Records. A collection of fourteen original tracks, ushered in with the lead single First of the Last, Fight or Flight is the brainchild of members from such acclaimed metal groups as Disturbed and Evans Blue. Already gaining media attention from the likes of Blabbermouth and Loudwire, Fight or Flight features guitarist Dan Donegan and drummer Mike Wengren of Disturbed, bassist Sean Corcoran of Never in Vegas, guitarist Jeremy Jayson of Bellevue Suite and Dan Chandler Evans Blue.

The seeds for Fight or Flight were first sown last year when Donegan approached Chandler online to discuss a potential project. It had been two years since the release of Disturbed‘s last album and frontman David Draiman had begun to experiment with a new project called Device, allowing both Donegan and Wengren to pursue other musical avenues. Evans Blue, meanwhile, had recently released their fourth studio offering, Graveyard of Empires, an album which one site had described as ‘Aggressive. Poetic. Personal.’Working with Warner Bros. filmmaker Lester Cohn and assistant director Chuck Brueckmann, whose résumé includes shooting promos for Juliette Lewis and Thyateira, the video for First of the Last made its debut early this month via Revolver and was, as Chandler explained to the website, about ‘our right to stand up and ask questions.’

Dan Chandler talks about the evolution of Fight or Flight and his designs on the future.

Supergroups have become rather common over the last few years. Does this come with baggage, with critics and fans instantly drawing comparisons to your past work?

I’d have to say yes, but that’s probably a natural thing. It’s all they have to go on. While some will compare it to your past work, some will understand and embrace the idea that it is a new creation. You can’t compare a new band to anything other than what you know of them. If you aren’t familiar with their past, you have no expectations…you just listen. I don’t mind the expectation really. We are all very proud of where we come from and I think it places a magnifying glass on us. It may come with more critics this way, but you know they are listening. Whether they are listening to compare, or because they are just curious to hear what else you have in you.

With guitarist Dan Donegan having first approached you about working on a project together via Facebook, would you say that social networks have played an important role in the evolution and marketing of the band?

I think it goes without saying that in this day in age, it’s as important an ingredient as everything else you need to market yourself, probably the most important. As for Fight or Flight, or anyone for that matter, it played a big role in finding and staying connected to each other.

How has the time you have devoted to Fight or Flight affected Evans Blue?

Both guitarists in Evans Blue just had babies, so as it could appear like the new band interfered. It has actually been great timing for my brothers in EB to spend time with their families. I’d like to think that every song you write just gives you more experience and helps you zero in on your sound personally. I’m sure every record I work on will help in one way or another to creating the next.

Having joined with musicians from other bands, who have their own methods and goals, how challenging was it to find mutual ground, both creatively and in terms of drawing out a masterplan?

I have to say, I have been extremely fortunate in that aspect! We all share the main goal…Making music that we will enjoy playing forever. There are so many things you learn from being in this business. Most importantly, that there are no rules. Obviously, there are things that can help you or hurt you, but if you get your mind turning and brainstorm with someone equally as passionate as you, it’s not only beneficial but fun! Thinking outside the box is key in my experience. You can’t play it too safe all the time. You gotta give it everything. As long as you’re not drunk. Those ideas are usually amazing at the time, and not so much when you re-visit them in the morning.

With you joining Evans Blue on their third album after the departure of original vocalist Kevin Matisyn, do you feel that Fight or Flight has allowed you the chance to create a band from scratch, instead joining an already-established group?

In a way it totally does. But to be honest, after being in the band over four years now, I don’t feel like the new singer anymore. With that being said, I absolutely love being in a ‘band from scratch.’ Sure, we have other bands for the fans to see where we came from, but it feels good to be a part of something from the ground up.

Is there a central theme, message or concept to Fight or Flight?

The only central theme I can think of on this record, as with every record, was to write songs with meaning. People need to believe what you’re saying. Give them something they can relate to or stand behind.

None of the songs on Fight or Flight’s debut album runs for over four minutes. Was it a conscious decision to keep each track short and sweet?

Not necessarily. It just happened. I’m sure there will be some longer, more experimental songs in the future. It’s not something planned.. If it happens, and we love it.. We will track it! I ain’t afraid a no goats!

Other than metal, what other types of music are you inspired by and how would you describe your approach to songwriting?

I shouldn’t say I grew up to country music because I still listen to it. Can’t say it inspires me when I write, but it just feels good sometimes! I listen to everything really, always have. I don’t really have a rule to go by when approaching a new song. Sometimes a melody pops in my head when I’m driving, or when I’m trying to sleep, and have to drag my ass out of bed and record it, or it is gone…forever. A lot of times it is inspired by a guitar riff and a mood. However it happens, it can’t be forced. Your mind finds a way to move the pen and tell you how you’re feeling. Very strange how it works, but very true as well.

A Life by Design?

A Life by Design?

If you were to give advice to those wishing to succeed in the music industry, five tips that you feel are integral in forming a band and making a name for yourself, what suggestions would you give?

1- Make music you love, and don’t be afraid to put your own stamp on it. As weird or shitty as it may seem at first, you are just discovering YOUR sound. You will grow into it.

2- ‘Wear it like you meant to.’ Meaning, don’t make excuses for your sound. People want to believe you, and if you don’t have confidence in it. That’s what they will believe. You can tell them you’re proud of it, or that it doesn’t sound right, they will believe you.

3- I think it goes without saying that you need to team up with players that believe in each other and share your passion. Keep a level head. Don’t get an ego and become a dick. You’re not a superstar and when or if you become one. Still…Don’t act like one. You are just a person like everyone else, just be thankful you have the opportunity to share your thoughts with whoever will listen. I believe you can sell yourself. If people like YOU, they are excited to help you and root for you.

4- There are no rules. Do whatever it takes to get it done. Remember your product is your MUSIC. Always push yourself to grow and become better. Too many bands focus on getting their name out there, but forget about getting better, or creating better music. Everyone will know your name, sure, but if you didn’t focus on making great songs, it won’t matter. If the goal is to get ‘famous’ or ‘rich’ you’ve already lost, or never had it. Longevity; think about a career with music. Not a song, or record. Unless that is all you want. Otherwise, it’s gotta be your life, if you want to reach your potential.

5- “If you don’t get what you want it’s because you didn’t want it bad enough”. -Mom

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