FUEL's second CD SOMETHING LIKE HUMAN (Epic) skillfully blends the ingredients that make for a heady rock & roll mix: subtly poignant lyrical musings, explosive rhythms and what the Boston Herald's Sarah Rodman called "crunching power chords and high-drama vocals" (12/1/00). It's a 12-track collection overflowing with unbridled fury and melodically rich hooks that songwriter/lead guitarist CARL BELL and his FUEL bandmates--guitarist/lead vocalist BRETT SCALLIONS, bassist JEFF ABERCROMBIE and drummer KEVIN MILLER--created following the overwhelming success of the band's 1998 Epic U.S. and Australian platinum-selling debut SUNBURN, which featured the hit single "Shimmer" (named Radio & Records' #1 Modern Rock track of that year) as well as "Bittersweet," "Jesus or a Gun" and "Sunburn."
Composed of equal parts belligerence and beauty, SOMETHING LIKE HUMAN--gold-certified in five short weeks after its September 2000 release--features the muscular, multi-layered single "Hemorrhage (In My Hands)," a song that came to writer CARL BELL "like a bolt of lightning." Radio program directors across the country agreed, making "Hemorrhage" a #1 Modern Rock track for no less than eight straight weeks. The single is accompanied by an MTV "Buzzworthy" clip lensed by esteemed director Nigel Dick (Guns 'n Roses, Oasis, R.E.M.). Dick returned to the director's chair for the video for "Innocent," SOMETHING LIKE HUMAN's second single.
While SUNBURN resonated as an exercise in desire and perseverance for Pennsylvania-based FUEL, SOMETHING LIKE HUMAN--produced by Ben Grosse (Filter, Vertical Horizon) and co-produced by BELL--signals a new chapter in the band's creativity. "There's a real difference between our first and second albums," continues BELL. "It's about growth and maturity."
SCALLIONS agrees. "The first album had a lot of songs that had been with us for years," he explains. "Songs dealing with struggling, trying to reach goals, becoming one with yourself and the frustration of relationships. But I think lyrically, our second album isn't as frustrated or as depressing because we've had a good two and a half years. We've grown as a band and we've become more stable in our lives."
But SCALLIONS is quick to point out that SOMETHING LIKE HUMAN--which ricochets from ferocious rockers like "Last Time" and the chaotic "Down" to more ruminative tracks like "Bad Day," "Innocent" and "Slow"--isn't necessarily a brightly-hued rock album. In roof-raising tracks like "Down," SOMETHING LIKE HUMAN bristles with darkly aggressive textures and frenzied tones. "We've become more aggressive in spots," says SCALLIONS. "We've also broadened ourselves sonically on this album," citing the eerie soundscapes of rockers like "Easy" and "Knives."
"That's something that Ben brought to the table," SCALLIONS continues, "and we added little trippy things like samples or cool, little drum loops to flip around." BELL also explored more experimental territory. "I wanted to get into a lot more sounds with the guitar, using pedals and different techniques," he says.
SOMETHING LIKE HUMAN marks the first album to feature all four members of FUEL in the studio (MILLER didn't join the band until after SUNBURN was completed). "Being on the road with Kevin for two years has made the band more solid," says BELL, "It's made us all better players."
"Better players" may be an understatement. FUEL's unrelenting, two-year world tour--encompassing a mind-numbing 425-plus gigs--transformed the hard-charging quartet into a razor-sharp staple of the road. They opened for the likes of Creed and wrapped 1999 with their own headlining tour, selling-out venues across the country with such support acts as Buckcherry, Vertical Horizon, Nickelback, Local H and P.O.D..
"When we finally finished our world tour back in '99, I was pretty worn out," SCALLIONS laughs. "It was such a good feeling to get home, walk into a kitchen and make something to eat or go outside and ride a bike! It was like, ahhh!...the simple pleasures of life!" But with a taste for the road, FUEL wouldn't be hanging around the house for long. With barely enough time to relax after recording, the guys hit the ground running with some serious headlining road-work for SOMETHING LIKE HUMAN, highlighted by a three-night sold out stand at Los Angeles' Whisky A Go-Go, of which the Los Angeles Times noted, "There was an undeniable energy on stage, with the occasional punk and metal flourish. The band was easily at its best when it was loudest...They were a rocking band connecting with its audience."
"I've always said that Fuel makes records so that we can play live," SCALLIONS explains. "I think it's our passion. There are a lot of bands out there that get signed on their demos and have good songs but they don't know how to play them live. Fortunately, I don't think we're one of those bands."
SCALLIONS pauses before once again collecting his thoughts. "You know there are times when I wonder, "Why the hell am I doing this?" he says through a wry smile. "It's a Catch-22 because with the good comes the bad. There have been so many nights when I've had a sore throat and I think, 'Am I going to be able to sing tonight?' But as soon as you walk onstage, everything goes away. The adrenaline takes over and it's a beautiful feeling."
--- from the official Fuel website