The last time that I spoke with Fuel I was a skinny 16-year-old standing in front of a beer-drenched stage in a tiny New Haven bar called Toad’s Place. They were the opening band for the opening band, but they played like they were full blown rock stars. I was impressed enough to buy the album for six bucks after the show and subsequently ended up chatting with them in line for the restrooms. I’m happy to say that although they’re now opening for the likes of Kid Rock and Aerosmith and have maintained a standing on the Billboard Music Chart’s top 50 albums for 31 weeks, Fuel’s Carl Bell, the man behind the band, is still a nice guy.
My advice to Fuel fans is to not panic. Bell most definitely has a few hits left up his sleeve, even though things are already looking pretty good for this up-and-coming band.
daze: So how has touring been in 2001?
Carl Bell: Good. We started the year off with Kid Rock. That was great, man. I mean, Kid Rock was just awesome. It was a real open door policy back stage. We went in and out of each other’s dressing rooms and just hung out. You know, just really cool, so that was really fun. Now we’ve got Aerosmith lined up for the summer. We’re supporting Aerosmith for the whole North American leg of the world tour, so that should be fun as well. I mean, they’re living legends and it’s the same line up they’ve had since the beginning so that should be cool.
D: Yeah, I really like their new song “Jaded.”
CB: Yeah, it’s still some of the same, but with a little bit of a different tweak. It sounds like Jellyfish to me or something.
D: What’s it like touring with Kid Rock, who has a very different sound from you? Was it influential at all?
CB: I think it was great. It worked well because it was a little different. I mean, the audience response was really great for us. I had the same doubts myself when we started the Kid Rock tour. They’re really different with that whole rap side of things and you know, we’re more the melody and singing type thing. But, it worked out great. It was really cool with them. I think for some reason our audiences were somewhat the same as them and we just got a great response.
D: Do you do your writing on tour?
CB: The whole last record was written on tour in the back of the bus and hotel rooms around the world basically. We only had a month off the road before we went back into the studio. We came off the road last November and then in January we were right back in the studio. And, there was no time to write a record. I mean, we had to write it then.
D: How has the band’s dynamic been with all this lengthy touring?
CB: It’s been good. We’ve been playing and it’s fun. What we do, I mean obviously, is pretty damn cool, so we hang in there. I mean, there’s days when you get tired of seeing the same guy every day after eight or nine weeks of being out on the road together and you’re like don’t even look at me, man [laughs]. But, for the most part, it’s kind of like brothers. You just end up in a brotherly kind of relationship where you have your spats and stuff like that, but for the most part you’ve got to get along.
D: How do you go about songwriting? Do you focus on specific themes ever or just let it flow and come to you?
CB: I think you have to just let it come to you. I mean, sometimes you might be a little shocked that you may have been thinking about something like that, like something was in the back corner of your mind and you didn’t even know it. But, for the most part, I’ll just let out a stream of consciousness when I’m writing. I’ll try to get some kind of working title or catch phrase. Sometimes things just come out and then you’re like all right I guess that’s what I was thinking. I didn’t know that that was bothering me, but obviously it was because it came out and then you jut develop it from there