Multi-platinum rockers Fuel release new album ‘Anomaly’ with Lehigh Valley singer John Corsale
From a press release:
Destiny unfolds unexpectedly. However, it pushes us exactly where we’re supposed to be at just the right time. In this respect, the 2021 rebirth of the Grammy Award-nominated, multi-platinum-selling alternative rock band Fuel was simply meant to be.
After rebuilding their brotherhood, founder, guitarist, and songwriter Carl Bell and longtime drummer Kevin Miller didn’t just celebrate their history together. They rushed into the future joined by new blood – John Corsale (lead vocals, guitar), Mark Klotz (guitar, vocals), and Tommy Nat (bass, vocals) – and armed with their first album together in 18 years, “Ånomåly,” released today via Moon Chair Media/ONErpm.
Much like the title suggests, it serves as the aberration rock music needs.
“We’re excited to start a new chapter,” Bell smiled. “We wanted to honor those fans who have been there since day one, but progress forward and ask ourselves, ‘What would Fuel sound like in 2021?’ We found a mix of the past and the present, and we looked into the future. By definition, an anomaly is something peculiar, different and, most of all, unexpected. A year ago, I had no idea this would happen. Now I’m in a band with Kevin again and a bunch of hungry guys. It’s an interesting time.”
So how did it happen? Well, Bell’s phone rang out of the blue one day. Despite an almost-religious aversion to answering unknown numbers, he picked up. It was Miller. Over a few years, one phone call led to another before they finally agreed to meet in person in 2018. The two longtime friends understood one another like never before.
“We were just patient with each other,” Bell observed. “From the first conversation, I recognized the same feeling in Kevin’s voice. Fuel was huge for us. It was a great moment in our lives, and Kevin was as grateful for the opportunities that Fuel gave us as I was. We bonded on that fact. I would’ve taken a bullet for him – I still would. Kevin had been jamming with John, Mark, and Tommy and he was like, ‘I promise you. You’re going to have a great time with them.’ I’m proud to say these dudes were as advertised,” Bell grins.
“I vividly remember placing that first phone call to Carl,” Miller recalled. “I was sitting in my kitchen and thinking about all of the memories I had with Fuel. I was so proud of everything we accomplished. I thought of the early days in an RV. We spent hours playing video games and laughing so hard we had tears in our eyes. Shortly after, I remembered some situations and realized I didn’t do a great job handling them. I felt compelled to call Carl and tell him how sorry I was. He was very surprised it was me. I said my peace and apologized. He offered the olive branch, which I graciously accepted. We would periodically call each other and check in until we met up in person, laughed, cried, and made amends. The rest is history. We picked up better than ever.”
Starting in 2020 and into 2021, “Anomaly” was recorded out of Bell’s personal studio, as well as vocals being recorded at Soundmine Recording Studio in East Stroudsburg and King Studios in Allentown. Bell’s songwriting had sharpened in the past decade, while Miller, Klotz, Nat, and Corsale reignited Fuel after performing together in a pop rock party band called Kevin Miller’s Smashed. It also marked the first time Bell took full reins, as the album was written, produced, and even mixed by him.
“It’s crazy because Mark, Tommy, and John were all fans,” Bell said. “That was fun to watch from our perspective. Most importantly, they were all up to the task. It’s probably the best band I’ve been in. John is an amazing singer with a great range and delivers this incredible finesse, as well as being an amazing guitar player. Kevin is the guy you always want by your side. I wouldn’t be doing this without him.”
“Kevin came to me with a life-changing opportunity,” Corsale enthused. “I had to step up to the plate, and I knew it was my opportunity. Without telling me, Kevin had me record a demo of a classic Fuel track ‘for a friend.’ I could only bite my lips knowing what it could potentially be. On July 4, 2020, we took the steps forward in reigniting Fuel. We got the whole band together, jammed, and smiled at each other. I was content to see Carl and Kevin so happy to be playing these songs together.”
They introduced this era in July with the single “Hard.” A bludgeoning riff dissolves into fragmented delay before the guitars seesaw back and forth. It culminates with a rapid-fire hook, “Staring at a photograph of everything we used to have of memories of long ago… hard to shake them now.”
“I’m always putting down riffs in the middle of the night as voice messages,” Bell went on. “It started like that. Lyrically, it’s an experience of wondering what could’ve been in a relationship. You have to live with your actions, and those actions have consequences.”
“I was dialing in a mix of all of my biggest influences and blending them with a modern touch,” Corsale said. “I wanted to deliver the darker lyrics in a powerful, yet fun format. It ties into my personal experiences in life, which helped the song fall into a more personal level. This track will hopefully introduce fans to a new side of Fuel that still resonates with the old side as well.”
“Keep It Away” tosses and turns under a chantable refrain. Elsewhere, “Landslide” hinges on a head-nodding beat and the echo of post-punk guitars before a fret-burning and fiery solo.
“I wanted to do something a little different for us,” Bell stated.
“It’s about the uplifting side of a relationship. The lyric ‘caught in a landslide’ is about being overwhelmed by your feelings for someone. Musically, the entire record is like an unintentional homage to so many great bands and references so many influences – Def Leppard, The Cure, Duran Duran, Zeppelin, the Fixx, Journey, and even KC and the Sunshine Band,” he laughed.
Then there’s “Give.” The ballad showcases yet another dimension of the quintet as it inches towards a skyscraping refrain from Corsale. “Lyrically, ‘Give’ is like a personal letter to myself,” Bell noted.
“For ‘Don’t Say I,’ everyone has been in a relationship that isn’t working out,” he elaborated. “The other person says you never attempted to make it work when you’re like, ‘No, I gave everything for the situation. It just isn’t working. Don’t say I didn’t try.’ That’s ‘Don’t Say I.’”
Just before the turn of the century, Fuel quietly emerged from Harrisburg with a melodic brand of hard rock rooted in eloquent songwriting and heavy guitars. 1998’s “Sunburn” not only went platinum, but it also yielded enduring anthems such as “Shimmer” and “Bittersweet.” Its 2001 follow-up “Something Like Human” earned a double-platinum certification and elevated them to arenas. The lead single “Hemorrhage (In My Hands)” would reach No. 1 for 13 weeks and would even become the No. 6 alternative rock song of the past 25 years according to Billboard’s Alternative Chart 25th Anniversary: Top 100 Songs, making it “one of the Top 10 most listened-to alternative rock songs for the past 30 years.”
Their music appeared everywhere from TV shows like “Prison Break” to movies like “Daredevil” and “Scream 3” to WWE pay-per-view events. Fuel’s 2003 album “Natural Selection” bowed in the Top 15 of the Billboard Top 200 and garnered a Grammy Award nomination in the category of Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. At that point, the band had sold over 3.5 million records in the U.S. alone, headlined their own sold-out tours, and supported the likes of Aerosmith and Kid Rock.
After Fuel released “Angels & Devils” with new vocalist Toryn Green in 2007, original singer Brett Scallions took over the moniker for the 2014 album “Puppet Strings.” Now that the name is back with Bell, Scallions is working on a solo album and singing the classic hits live on tour.
The Fuel catalog also continues to resound throughout popular culture. Daughtry famously covered “Hemorrhage” on “American Idol,” while modern platinum rock juggernaut Red also released their own rendition, and Hands Like Houses notably performed “Shimmer” on Australian radio station Triple J.
After 11 years away, Bell and Miller brought the band, now largely based in the Lehigh Valley, back to life in 2021. In the end, their return may have been unexpected, but it couldn’t be more welcome.
“Fuel meant the world to me, and it still does to this day,” Miller agreed. “I’m incredibly proud of what we accomplished. I’m excited beyond belief to do it with Carl, John, Mark, and Tommy. If you are a hardcore fan, there will always be a special place in your heart for what was. I’m very confident that older fans and newer fans will embrace the new lineup and music. Carl did a fantastic job of reaching back to Fuel’s roots with a little flare of today. The band delivered.”
“This band has always been everything to me,” Bell left off. “I’m super stoked to be back. This record was a lot of work, but it was fun and rewarding. I hope people think, ‘That’s not just a solid Fuel record – it’s a solid record in general.’ That’s all we could ask for.”