Decline the Fall. Five dudes from Malta, who came together to form a band that isn’t quite your traditional Metalcore per se. The Underground Sound team had previously heard these guys play at Malice in Wonderland a couple of months back, it was only natural that they were added to the list of bands to chill with.
What looks like KISS and Bullet for My Valentine had an unholy child, actually turned out to be something much more entirely. Five enthusiastic and down to earth locals, that really stand behind their music and love to send a little message out there – even if that message comes with a balled fist and a growling punch to the gut. I’ve met said friends in their dungeon in Birkirkara and asked them some questions to take apart what Decline the Fall is all about.
Alright, guys. Let’s start off with the band name – Decline the Fall. Tell me the story behind that name.
John: Well, when we started, we had a completely different lineup – 4 different people. But you know how it is, people started to leave and I was giving up. But that’s exactly the meaning behind the phrase, “Decline the Fall”. Basically never give up, decline your fall.
Sweet. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty right away. What are your influences? And how have they influenced what Decline the Fall does today?
Kris: The good thing about our band is that we have so many different influences. While we might not always agree on everything right away, we always somehow find the middle ground and create a unique mixture of influences that everyone’s happy with. As for what got us into music…everything from Papa Roach, Linkin Park, The Offspring, Iron Maiden and Metallica. So the typical stuff that every metalhead sort of grew up with.
This wasn’t a question I prepared, but the dynamic within the group here led me to this: Who clashes with who the most? Musically speaking?
(unanimously): I think it’s us four with Matthew.
Matthew: Nah man, I disagree. At the start maybe, but I think we’ve grown as a band and as friends, so that certainly isn’t so much the case anymore.
John: To be honest, it’s Ehren and me against Kris and Matthew. But I think we always find a common ground in the end. Fabio is always somewhat in the middle I think.
I’m gonna tell you what I thought when I heard your songs initially and I sincerely hope you’re not insulted. I watched your music video for “Composing Madness” and it definitely gave off a strong Bullet for My Valentine vibe. Thoughts on that?
(everyone): Yeah, for sure. It’s very metalcore indeed, so we don’t have a problem being compared with them whatsoever. It’s also not the first time we heard that. We don’t like labelling ourselves really, but if it would have to come down to it, the comparison wouldn’t be a bad one.
Cool, I’m glad I got that out of my system. Let’s get back to your music, or rather the band in particular. The whole band dynamic itself, how would you describe it?
John: We just came back from a holiday together. So that should tell you everything you need to know, we’re very much friends. Best friends, really. Some of us know each other for 10 years, so we’re definitely a small family if you will. Malta is a small place, so some of us even went to the same school.
Directed at John as a vocalist here; What’s your secret behind songwriting? Do you write the lyrics first and then tie it into the composed music or vice versa? How does it work with you guys?
John: It depends. Sometimes both, sometimes I write the lyrics or take some that I wrote before and adjust them to the riffs Matthew writes, it really depends on the song and the situation, I guess. When we start a new song, if it gives me a certain feel and we have a verse written for example, I will see if the words fit and then we take it from there. The chorus is what I focus on the most, the hook has to be on point. The rest I’ll sort of fit around the song, but as I said – it never really stays the same.
What’s your favourite song you’ve written so far personally and which one do you think flies best with the audiences? Why?
(everyone): While we’d love to choose just one song, it’s really impossible to do so, since everyone has a different opinion on that. The Darkest Side of Love for certain is a banger, it’s also the newest one we have. Think Twice has a very deep meaning to it and the first time we played it live certainly had a very emotional feel to it. We cover a lot of topics and this one is about suicide, a topic that isn’t talked about nearly enough. So as you can see, our choices vary a lot in that regard, but really we love all our songs equally.
That’s crazy good to hear, I’m glad that there are still local heroes out there sending out messages with their music. John: Tell me something about your band members. Each one and what’s unique about them musically and personally.
John: Let’s start with Ehren our drummer. He’s probably the one I’m the closest to, so personally, he really is like a brother to me. Musically…I have to say, he knows how to keep things simple. I love that about him, a lot of drummers over-complicate things and muddle the experience, he always knows what to play and when to play it.
Kris – who plays rhythm guitar – is sort of our “Dad”. Being the oldest in the band and he always looks out for all of us. Musically speaking for a chorus, he’s always able to find the right notes to help me out.
Our lead guitarist, Matthew, is probably the most complicated guy, we barely agree on one thing, but we’re still best friends. There’s also no one I can imagine who could write better melodies, at least not for this band.
And Fabio, our bassist, is the guy we pick on *laughs*. Jokes aside, without him the band would be fucking boring, he always makes us laugh. As a bassist he’s definitely underrated too, he’s pretty good at what he does.
You’re a bunch, I can tell. My first gig was KISS in 1999, so I’m used to dudes in Makeup playing heavy music. What’s the story with the symbols on your faces? Who came up with it and does it have a meaning?
John: It’s our warpaint. That’s literally it. The idea of the uniform is, Decline the Fall – when we’re on stage, we fight and we have to have our warpaint. We all do our own makeup, so everyone chooses the design for themselves.
Let’s focus on you for a little John. You’re the vocalist, so tell me a little about that. What’s your role model when it comes to shouts? Do you practice every day, what’s your pre-gig routine?
John: To be honest, when it comes to shouts I would have to say ex-vocalist of Killswitch Engage, Howard Jones. I don’t really practice every day, I try to but sometimes it doesn’t happen, work, etc you know yourself. My pre-gig routine really is just vodka lemon, I have no idea why – but it just works.
Well, what works, works I guess. We’re coming to an end here, so one last thing; what would you give as an advice to the younger generation of metal fans in Malta? What are the best places to go and how do you get acquainted with the scene here?
John: The expectations are lowered nowadays, so my advice would be: If you want something, like starting a band for example, fucking work hard for it. If you don’t work hard enough, you won’t achieve anything. Some people have the mentality of staying in Malta, when really we have to compete with the rest of the world. Think big. Ambition is lacking. As for getting acquainted with the scene, I’d say just check out the gigs that are there and start talking to people. I’m sure you’ll find it easy enough to find like-minded people out there.
Thank you so much for your time guys, pleasure talking to y’all.
And a pleasure it was, Decline the Fall are definitely a gem of the Maltese metal scene and after the interview, I had the pleasure of listening to some of their punchy songs myself, played live in front of me. Damn, I should’ve brought earplugs. Those guys are loud, energetic and just the right amount of melodic, be sure to check them out. If you’re a fan of sick riffs accompanied by beautiful melodies and jumpy hooks, you certainly won’t regret it. Check Decline the Fall out on Facebook to stay up to date with what they’re doing.
Words by: Ced Schulte
Photos and videos provided by: Decline the Fall