This summer everyone in South Jersey seems to be stepping up their game when it comes to bringing in big, national acts.
Joining the fray of headliner hotspots this season is Laguna Grill & Rum Bar. Performers like Soul Asylum, Rusted Root and G. Love are slated to play at Laguna in the upcoming months, along with the rock band Fuel, which will make a stop at the beach bar 5 p.m. Sunday, July 16, with opener GoodMan Fiske.
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Fuel exploded onto the post-grunge scene in the 1990s with their hit song “Shimmer” from the “Sunburn” album. Now, nearly 20 years later, Brett Scallions is keeping the band alive as the only remaining original member. Before they hit the Laguna stage, we talk to Scallion about the freedom that comes with being “four guys onstage playing as loud as we can play.”
A.C. Weekly: Your album “Sunburn” is almost 20 years old. How are you paying homage to the old albums in your work this year?
Brett Scallions: To be honest with you, we were talking about doing the 20th anniversary of the album this year, but technically it’s not the 20th of the actual release, but the 20th of the making, so we’re going to hold off. Next year we’re going to do the whole album top to bottom. This year we’re out, we’re playing the hits — from the “Sunburn” album all the way into the “Puppet Strings” album.
ACW: How has performing changed for you since “Sunburn” first came out?
BS: I think that the outfit that I have with me right now has changed (laughs). We’re a much rawer band. We’ve always been a high-energy band, but in the past we’d have things on ProTools, like shakers and rhythm stuff. That’s not the case anymore. We’re not using click tracks or anything. We’re just four guys on stage playing as loud as we can play. It’s the purest type of freedom on stage that I’ve ever experienced. When you’re not a slave to a click track or anything, you’re just four guys playing, and it’s so much fun.
ACW: Has your fan-base changed over the years with you?
BS: A lot of them are 20 years older. The beauty of this music and this band is that we have young and old in there. We have doctors and lawyers and accountants that are in there, but we’ve also got college kids. They’re all ready to party and have a good time together. It’s always good to see the newer generation out there with the people who have been with us for 20 years.
ACW: There have been a few different lineups for Fuel in the past. What is it about these particular musicians that are touring now that’s so successful?
BS: These guys just know how to play. Not to discredit any of the other guys that I’ve played with — I’ve always been surrounded by amazing musicians. No matter how good you are, though, sometimes you don’t completely lock in correctly. I’d say that right now, the guys who are with me right now, we know exactly how to play together.
1. He’s a versatile performer.
ACW: You’ve been playing a lot of cool venues lately, Laguna being one of them. Does playing at venues like this change the feel of a show, as opposed to a typical concert venue?
BS: I think for us, we walk on the stage and play. We play for ourselves first and then we give it to the fans. I’ve been on the largest of stages that are just like, “holy crap.” I’ve been on the tiniest of stages, which are like “holy crap” (laughs). It doesn’t matter where we are, as long as we’re on the stage together, having fun playing.
ACW: What’s next — are you guys planning on making any new music?
BS: We’re working on some new stuff. We’re kind of tooling around with some ideas on the road. Once this tour is over, I can sit in front of my ProTools rig and start fleshing out some ideas. The plan is to have some new material out next year to go along with the 20th anniversary.