Don’t look now, but we’ve got an imminent breach of our northern border by the guys in Last Bullet. Bring a sixer with you, eh?
Bryan Fontez, Brenden Armstrong, Michael Silva, Will Shannon, and Christopher Galaz make up a very promising band from north of the border in Last Bullet. They are beginning to ride the tide of attention coming to them for their video support of their first single, “Sin.” This DIY Toronto band is the closest thing to an Americian sound without your passport. So, let us go over the talk we had with Bryan, together. We touched on the video, the prospects of dream US tours, and a few other juicy tidbits of Jeopardy class useless knowledge unless you’re a born again fan of the band. Then go with Grace, eh?
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NRR: Thanks for taking some time out to answer some questions for National Rock Review, it’s been a minute since we talked to you guys last. What’s been going on with the band, Last Bullet, so far in early 2016?
Bryan Fontez: It has been a while thanks for having us on again! To be honest we’ve just been playing shows out of town a lot on weekends, focusing on the marketing, promo and tracking of our new single “SIN,” and planning out the rest of of our year.
NRR: Okay, I have to ask about your video at the hotel. Did you guys not realize there were no elevators or was someone trying to make up for skipping leg day at the gym?
Bryan Fontez: (Laughing), what we went through would have put most people’s leg day to serious shame. It was a serious test of will and endurance. The hotel was built in 1929, so the construction was a little odd as far as the elevator system. They only reach floor 19 which is the floor that the suites stop at, and then there’s about 5 more floors of engineering room, catering, water tanks, heating, and then the attic on the 24th floor.
We knew going in what we were up against we just had no idea that it was going to be that difficult. It was about ten to twelve flights of old wooden stairs between the 19th and the 24th floors. It looked a lot like that church Batman was walking up in the original movie from 1989. We had to do to about 25 trips or so up those twelve flights of stairs to load in and then another 25 or so down to load out. It was ridiculous, but worth it, given how the video came out.
NRR: With a single now out having video support, is there a time table for the rest of an album to drop for a few more songs to get a feel for the band?
Bryan Fontez: Well, we’ve already released two EPs that you can grab on iTunes. Last year we recorded three new songs and had intentions of releasing them on a new EP but decided to just release them as singles instead. We haven’t blown up yet, we’re not signed, we do everything ourselves and as awesome as our fans are, there aren’t a ton of them yet so until there’s a demand for more music we’re just going to throw out a few songs here and there for the next little while and see what happens. “Sin” was the first, and then the other two should be released in the next few months. But we’ve got a lot of new music we play live that we haven’t recorded yet and are very much looking forward to doing so.
NRR: When you’re a DIY band from Canada, how daunting is the prospect of taking the band south and trying to gain a foothold in another market, in another country, and developing a fan base?
Bryan Fontez: It’s pretty scary considering we don’t know much about the market other than what kind of music you guys typically like to listen to. We feel like we’d be very well received there, in some ways we’ve seen more support from the US than we have from Canada. Going to the US has always been high on our list of priorities as a band, we just haven’t found the right timing yet. We want to go when it feels right and that feeling is slowly becoming a reality, so let’s hope it happens sooner than later.
NRR: We’ve recently lost a few big names in music starting with Scott Weiland and Lemmy to Bowie and Fry passing as well among others. Did any of those very talented artists have any influence in your own careers?
Bryan Fontez: Scott Weiland is by far my biggest influence as a vocalist. In fact I was at his very last show in Toronto two days before he died. I attribute a large portion of who I am as a performer, a frontman and a singer to him. STP in general have been such a huge influence on us as musicians and songwriters. I wouldn’t be who I am without him and I try my very best to channel his energy when I’m on stage. He had this aggressive, sexual, charismatic energy that no one in rock has right now and I do my best to keep that persona and demeanor alive. David Bowie I respect immensely but I didn’t grow up on his music like I did Scott’s. Although I know that Scott was hugely influenced by Bowie so I guess indirectly I’m influenced by Bowie as well.
NRR: With the mindset of the band being what it is, what would be the perfect summer festival(s) to cut your US teeth on if the offer came your way?
Bryan Fontez: An opening slot for the new Guns N’ Roses reunion. There could not possibly be a more well-suited band to open for them than Last Bullet. It would be a match made in heaven. We would absolutely obliterate that crowd. Stone Temple Pilots would also work really well. That would be a huge honor. Both would.
NRR: Being in a band is like being a pro athlete, you need a certain amount of confidence in your sound or ability. What would be one or two things that you’re really proud of in how your vibe comes across?
Bryan Fontez: My favorite thing about this band is our energy and our charisma. The attitude and confidence we play with is contagious. We take no prisoners, we have no mercy, we walk onto that stage like fuckin’ rockstars and then we spend 45 minutes melting your goddamn face with nasty riffs, screaming vocals, and bone shattering drums until you have no choice but to enjoy yourself. I promise you, there isn’t a band on the planet Earth that can out play us on any stage. I’m not necessarily talking about musician-ship or songs but straight energy, passion, and charisma. Nobody can touch our stage show and I’d put my life savings on that.
NRR: Tell me about the band. How did you guys get together and what’s the skinny on your band name?
Bryan Fontez: Long story short, Brenden, and our original drummer, Leo, went to high school together. They met our rhythm guitarist, Mike, through friends and started jamming for fun in 2008 with no specific aspirations of starting a band.
After writing and jamming a few songs they decided to put an ad on Craigslist for a bass player, the first and only guy who answered is our current bass player, Will. Then they posted up flyers all over Toronto looking for a singer. Nine months and a handful of horrendous auditions later I called, they answered, we were together for about five years. Our drummer Leo decided this career choice wasnâ€™t for him, Chris took his place in Summer 2014 and weâ€™ve been together ever since.
As far as the name, it was decided upon early when three of the original members had began throwing around some words and ideas with a few friends. They decided on Last Bullet because they liked how it sounded and the way it insinuated that you only had one shot. And so the name took on a very literal meaning for all of us because we truly began playing every show as if it was our last. Itâ€™s basically our version of the Latin phrase Carpe Diem which means â€œSeize the day.â€ Do all that you can today because the future is uncertain.
NRR: Is there a moment, that thinking back on it now, in your rather nice career, with the band now, that you can’t help but still feel a tad bit embarrassed about, makes you laugh about despite yourself, or just still makes you shake your head in disbelief? A Spinal Tap moment if you will, that you’d be willing to share with me?
Bryan Fontez: You know I can’t really think of anything that I’m really embarrassed about because any mistake we’ve made in the past helped us grow and become who we are today. I remember in the beginning the guys didn’t have quite as much live/stage experience as I did, and so I used to over compensate with my energy and yell a lot and move a lot and lose my mind. Looking back it was a little too much, and thankfully the guys all became much better performers which allowed me to tone it down and stop scaring people with my aggression and energy. Looking back now we’ve all learned to really dial in our energy and focus it more like a laser as before it was like a shotgun blast with scatter fire going in all directions, (laughing).
NRR: How does the group go through the writing process, is it all one person doing the lion’s share with help or is it a group effort from start to finish?
Bryan Fontez: Brenden and I are the primary songwriters in the band. Ultimately, we usually end up firing off all of our current ideas from best to worst and weâ€™ll bounce them off each other and try our best to explain how we envision the song sounding or coming across until one of us becomes inspired enough to really want to hear how that song is going to sound finished. That’s usually how a song goes from being just an idea to becoming a finished product.
Brenden typically comes to me with a great riff idea, melody idea, or rhythm idea or Iâ€™ll come to him with, lyrics, melodies, a drum beat, subject/theme, or even sometimes a guitar riff I may have heard in my head that Iâ€™ll just sing and air guitar for him or play on piano, (laughing). The rest of the parts we either come up with ourselves and relay to the other guys how weâ€™d like to hear it played or sometimes we give them some generic guidelines and let them put their own spin on it, so they can make it their own.
There are no rules really. Whatever works works. Iâ€™ve written a song from a title, a drumbeat, a poem, a melody, a phrase, or even just an attitude. Itâ€™s up to you to figure out how to get the craziness that you have in your brain out and into the world. Thatâ€™s ultimately the secret of good songwriting. Letting the song present itself to you and then finding the most efficient and concise way to translate it into reality.
NRR: What stereotypes do you think, we the American rock fans, will see or think about a Canadian band before you blow us away with the awesomeness of your sonic best shot? I.e. Molson Ice in the green room, hockey scores announced between songs, etc (laughing).
Bryan Fontez: (Laughing), that’s a great question but I’d have no idea what to expect. We’re pretty much the same as you guys, we just love hockey and it gets a lot colder for two to three months out of the year for us. In my opinion, and the opinion of many of our fans, our music is very American sounding to begin with. That and I think us all being a part of Rock N’ Roll culture together makes us much more similar than we are different.
But there is one thing that American bands have always had that the Canadian bands have lacked individually and musically, and that’s effortless cool. So many of our favorite American musicians for the most part have always exuded this charismatic confidence that we’re really drawn to. I believe that we also have that element and I think that’s what separates us from all the other Canadian bands.
To be honest if an American crowd saw us play and didn’t know who we were, I think they’d be EXTREMELY shocked to learn that we’re not American. People ask us all the time if we’re from L.A. or sometimes Texas because we do have a little southern influence in our music as well. It’ll be really interesting to see how American audiences react to us, but I can’t imagine it being anything other than overwhelmingly positive. That’s what I’ll go in hoping for at the very least, (laughing). But I promise we’ll earn it.
Just wanted to say thank you so much for featuring us, had a great time answering these questions and we hope to meet you in person at some point. If anyone wants to get a hold of us or keep in touch, buy merch, look up show dates, etc just go to our website!