Destiny unfolds unexpectedly. However, it pushes us exactly where we’re supposed to be at just the right time. In this respect, you could say the 2021 rebirth of GRAMMY® Award-nominated multi platinum 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.
Much like the title suggests, it serves as the aberration rock music needs.
“We’re excited to start a new chapter,” smiles Carl. “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 Ånomåly 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, Carl’s cell phone rang out of the blue one day. Despite an almost-religious aversion to answering unknown numbers, he picked up. It was Kevin. 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,” Carl observes. “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,” Carl grins.
“I vividly remember placing that first phone call to Carl,” recalls Kevin. “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, the album was recorded out of Carl’s personal studio, as well as vocals being recorded at Soundmine Recording Studio and King Studios in Pennsylvania. Carl’s songwriting had sharpened in the past decade, while Kevin, Mark, Tommy, and John reignited Fuel. It also marked the first time Carl took full reins as the album was written, produced and even mixed by Carl.
“It’s crazy because Mark, Tommy, and John were all fans,” Carl says. “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,” says John. “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 introduce this era 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,” Carl goes 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,” John says. “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,” Carl states. “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 laughs.
Then, there’s “Give.” The ballad showcases yet another dimension of the quintet as it inches towards a skyscraping refrain from John. “Lyrically, ‘Give’ is like a personal letter to myself,” Carl says.
“For ‘Don’t Say I’, everyone has been in a relationship that isn’t working out,” he elaborates. “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 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 #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 Ten most-listened to alternative rock songs for the past 30 years.” Their music appeared everywhere from Prison Break, Daredevil, and Scream 3 to WWE Pay-Per-View events. 2003’s 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.”
Their catalog continued to resound throughout popular culture as well. Daughtry famously covered “Hemorrhage” on American Idol, while modern platinum rock juggernaut Red also released their own rendition of it and Hands Like Houses notably performed “Shimmer” on Triple J in Australia.
After 11 years away, Carl and Kevin brought Fuel 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,” agrees Kevin. “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,” Carl says. “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’.”