“Ravaging the Saddle”
Interview & article by Adriana Rubio
Alex Lato is the lead singer of the London-based band “THE FUSE”. He was born in London on February 21st, 1980, the only child of Clive and Joyce. Alex plays piano from when he was 4, guitar from his teen’s years and studied singing with a well recognized opera singer.
“I was never great at either” (laughs). I studied singing with David Bacon, an opera singer who gave me lessons privately from the age of 25 - I think I'm just starting to gain real control of my voice; it’s been a long journey. I won the UK song-search rock category in 2004 - that's my biggest accolade so far”.
Alex and his band The Fuse went through difficult times, but they never gave up hope. And when asked about the band’s message to the world especially with the song “Phantom” he says:
“Phantom is about the female side of Divinity. When I was writing the lyrics my mum was researching the idea of Sun goddess and I think that's what was in my head when I wrote the lyrics. Myth is important to human identity. I prefer to think of a mystical concept of universal power, which has a yin / yang, or male female balance. I'm not into defining stuff too much. Freedom of ideas is what we like. We're into trying to preserve the environment, trying to assist the transition between old and new. I think our message is 'hope'. I always try and have a positive message somewhere in the songs”.
However, the band has recently recorded a new song “In Reverse”, and Alex says he’s been more cynical… less idealistic.
“The song is being mixed at the moment, but you can hear a demo of it if you want, it’s out on Jango for market research purposes, so it’s not really a secret. I guess the song is saying, ‘it’s complicated: enjoy it’. Kiki works on backup vocals. We started singing together in Bologna in 2001”.
In early 2007 Michael Varnava wrote the 3AM riff, which then the band developed into the song “3AM”. And in May of the same year the band heard that Russ Regan, CEO for the Record Company Velocity Entertainment, liked the song.
“That's the song that started it all off. 3AM is about cycling my bike at Oxford at #AM. I used to ride home after parties and stuff and I was often a bit drunk, (laughs) and my strategy was to ride as fast as possible because I figured if I rode quickly they wouldn't stop me”.
Alex assures he always got back home safe. He reveals the 3AM song meaning, finally!
“Yeah, I always did… (laughs). One time when I was really drunk I ripped the rear light off my bike and held it out in front of me using it as a front light. That was extreme… and that's the line 'ravaging the saddle” it means really nailing it, you know when you pedal as hard as you can and your butt moves around on the saddle. No one ever knows what I'm saying there. Until now!” (laughs)!
3AM is the song that made the band dream big and travel to Los Angeles, CA with funding for recording sessions. However, unexpected things happen, and there was nothing they could do other than face it after hearing the news that the owner of the Funding Management Company had died of a heart attack…, even with contracts-agreements signed off on their side, no record deal for The Fuse.
“These guys are speculators, but there’s something important to remember here, we were really screwed by the global economic downturn. California shut down half way through our record. However - there was certainly an element of opportunism on their part. Looking back it makes it all the more important to make it now... so we can tell that story as the prelude to a triumph rather than the exciting part of our demise”.
The obvious question to this was if the band had a legal representative, someone to take a deep look to the contracts, you know… a truthful lawyer.
“Do they exist? (laughs) My Dad is a lawyer” (more laughs)! But yes, everything was overseen by a lawyer…and there was nothing we could do”
Despite the hard times the band experienced in California years ago with a record deal, Alex loves Los Angeles. The song “Paint This Town” proves it.
“Paint This Town, that's about LA. When Jake and I first went out we hired a convertible Nissan 350 Z. To this day I love that car, and we had the best time ever, living the California dream and that was how it felt driving across LA. I love LA. I miss it to this day”
Members of The Fuse are currently recording an EP and will put a new album out in the near future. He talks about how recording sessions are for the band, their music producer, studio and more…
“Recording sessions are good. Actually I just got back the first mix this morning. We've been waiting for ages for it. We will put a new album out, sure - but we've been recording a new EP, because we need funding for the album so we've actually re-recorded “3AM”, “Paint This Town”, “In Reverse” but taking a long time over it in a big studio. The producer is a friend of the band, Ian Tompson. He produced The Christians, ages ago. He works on Jools Holland stuff every now and again and he is tour manager for Mannfred Mann's Earth band. But it’s taken FOREVER. Recording music is pretty hard; you never really know how it will turn out. We recorded stuff, and then left it to him. As the primary creators, it’s sometimes better to let someone else do the mixing. I sing and write lyrics and melodies... I'm not really a producer. We record at Helicon Mountain Studios – it’s owned by Jools Holland".
Saving money, the hardest part of art creation and touring… Alex happily talks about it.
“Recording recently has been given to us, because Ian is hoping we can crack it big time, and if we do, he will be tour manager and will also get a higher profile in the production world. Touring, it depends - we all work, so basically we pay for stuff when we have to, but if we're lucky, the Promotion agency, like DMC in Germany, will arrange for our costs to be met. It’s wonderful when you don't have to pay out money anymore...! It will be even better when we actually take something home… we still haven't made any real money in 5 years of trying… fingers crossed... “in bocca al lupo”, as we say in Italy.
Alex Lato respectfully talks about his band mates, music and lyrics including the people who are actually helping the band.
“I feel we should thank the guys we're involved with, Rob at Deuce, Ian Tompson, Mike Durrschmidt, for believing in us and opening the doors they've opened; and also we should mention Bear Brown in Holland, who got us on some amazing shows last year. Touring is the best. We've played around England a bit Holland of course and Germany in a couple of weeks”.
“For the music and lyrics, I think it’s all about what comes out of the speakers, and what people make of it for themselves - but I hope the tunes will get a few listens, so that the lyrics can start to come through. I just hope we get to convert our LA experience into a decent career as performers”.
“As a group, we have survived the highs and lows, and it’s brought us very close. That bond is probably the most valuable thing we possess. As individuals, they all bring something unique to the band. Jake is a marvelous drummer and an amazing producer - he's the most qualified out of all of us, he gained a scholarship to Guildhall School of music and drama. Mike has been with me from the beginning - since 1995. Mike has turned himself into one of the best bassists out there, and he wrote the 3AM riff - without him, we would never have got out of the blocks. Simon has worked harder than anyone to become the wonderful guitarist he is now. He has an inexhaustible supply of hooks, and is an inspiration to all of us. Kiki is the feminine touch - bringing soft tones to the sound, and also an intangible yet vital dynamic to the group. She also gets a special mention because she and I go back so far, and she was there when my songwriting really kicked on in Bologna. I think I should also add to Jake's summary, that he is the originator of many of our strongest works - In Reverse, for example, is a musical sequence dreamed up by him. He's immensely talented. From the first day I started working with him, I believed that one day we would make it. Jake and I started this band, so I can't say enough about him really. He's a genius. They're a top bunch”.
Thank you so much Alex and all the best!
“Thank YOU so much for taking the time to interview me, and for showing interest in us! It means a great deal. It’s been a real pleasure chatting to you”.
For further info on Alex Lato and The Fuse, please visit:
The Fuse full bio “The Ups and Downs of a Record Deal”, please read it here:
Last minute news on The Fuse:
The Fuse will be performing their first ever live event to a worldwide audience over the Internet on Saturday, June 25th.
The gig has been arranged due to requests from Fuse fans around the world in countries such as USA, Australia, Holland and Germany who have not had the opportunity to see the band perform live yet. It will be taking place at Café 1001 in Brick Lane, London with a scheduled stage time of 2.30pm (GMT)
The show will be in full HD and will feature a 30 minute set by The Fuse plus an interview. For information on how you can watch The Fuse live from your own home, please visit www.ilovemusiclive.com
Alternatively, you can be a part of this historic event for The Fuse by visiting Café 1001 on Saturday and seeing the band live in person.