Having recently dropped their Acoustic Vibes EP, Austin-based rockers Fire From The Gods also celebrated Black History Month by teaming up with Living Colour vocalist Corey Glover on the Texan’s single “Thousand Lifetimes.”
Following the release of the single, V13 spoke to Fire From The Gods vocalist AJ Channer about the track, what it meant to work with someone like Corey and what it is like being a black musician in the hard rock and metal scene in 2023.
For more information on the band, visit their website.
Thanks for your time. How is life treating you today?
AJ: “I’m great, yo! Maintaining! Thank you for having me.”
I want to talk about your choice to rework the recent single “Thousand Lifetimes.” Can you talk us through why you chose that song?
“That song has such a deep meaning. I been through a lot of shit in my life. I’ve always given my all. so I wanted to write a song about these experiences. We felt that was the strongest song on that record. I really put my heart and soul into that song.”
The single was released in time for Black History Month. Can you talk about how you made that connection between the two?
“Yeah, of course. I wanted to honour my family, their sacrifices and struggles. My family are descendants of slaves, and black history month means a lot to us, and that song is dedicated to them.”
You obviously collaborated with Corey Glover on the new version. Firstly why Corey, and what was it like working together?
“First off, he is a legend, and we were so honoured to have him. When we first signed with Better Noise the label brought up a connection to Corey Glover, and my eyes lit up. I think initially, he held back, but when he felt the vibe of the tune, his natural gift took over. What an incredible voice, and his insight on our music was spot on and inspiring.”
You’ve talked about Corey and Living Colour being trailblazers. How much of an influence were they on you both musically and personally?
“They were doing something that the rock scene had not seen before. The funk era touched on the extreme side of music, but they didn’t cross that line. Living Colour did that. The message, the look, it was all rad, man. Cult of personality was one of the greatest rock tunes of all time.”
Away from the music, what was the most important thing you took away from working with Corey?
“His voice and consummate professionalism. We’re just this band from Texas trying to pave our way, and he agreed to jump on a track with us!”
You’ve talked about the influence of black people on rock & metal not being an afterthought. Which other artists would you put in the same influential bracket as Corey?
“We could get into the history, but just to brief, some of my heroes in metal are Mike Smith and Terrence Hobbs of Suffocation, Doc Coyle has always been a big bro and inspiration. Lajon of Sevendust really influenced me. The brothers in Ill Nino. Benji from Skindred, Skunk Anansie. The list goes on, but I value and appreciate each and every one of them and their contribution to our sound.”
What have your own experiences been like being a black person involved in rock & metal?
“First off let me say this rock and metal has been a place for me to find peace and acceptance. Ignorance rears its head in many forms. I have had the occasional run-ins with trash racist people, but the wider world of fans has embraced my message of unity and inner strength with open hearts and minds. The few times someone used nasty words or made ignorant statements around or towards me, I just brush that shit off and keep going because that’s not what metal is about. And fuck those bands that try to push that shit.”
For a young black fan seeing you making a career in a notoriously white male industry, what would your advice be?
“I’d refer them to my answer for question 8 and remind them that music knows no race; art is for everyone. If you love your art and its metal music, keep fucking doing it, doesn’t matter what the colour of your skin is or who you are.”
What are your hopes and goals as a singer/black male in the music industry?
“Just to spread love and inner strength. People love this band because of our message. I want that to grow and leave a legacy that says I gave it my all.”
What about Fire From The Gods? What are your ambitions for the band?
“I hope that one day we are a respected, legitimate headliner that people continue to listen to. We’re already becomin’ a household name. I want to be timeless.”
We’ve talked about the music industry, but if we have this conversation in 12 months, what changes to black musicians would you like to see have been made across the industry?
“We are here and going just as hard as anyone else. I want people to respect the heavy RnB, rap, soul and traditionally black forms of music that is now prevalent in rock and metal.”
Thanks for your time. To wrap up, what are your plans for the rest of 2023?
“We are writing a few new tunes and ripping some festivals. Thank you, mad love. In Us We Trust.”