We had a chance to connect with Bryan Fontez, the lead singer for Toronto based hard rock band Last Bullet. He shared his thoughts on directing, his earliest experience with music and how his favorite bands impact his writing, his thoughts on the music industry, how he defines success and more.
Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions. I would like to talk about your budding directing career. You’ve already directed a couple of Last Bullet videos. Have you thought of directing a short film style video that tells a story vs just a regular music video?
The thought had very briefly crossed my mind. The truth is, I kind of started directing out of necessity more than interest. Hiring a director is one more expense added to a long list of expenses that are included in a video shoot and we don’t have that kind of money to be throwing around. After our first video, having seen how it was done, I felt really confident about being able to do it myself. I absolutely love film, I love music, and I take everything the band does, makes and releases very seriously, so I knew that my standards for a video would be very high and that I’d try my very best to make it look as good as possible. Being musical in general really helps when it comes to editing because you get a feel for timing, I’ve been playing the drums since I was 12 and I think that really helped as well.
Truthfully, before our video for “Runnin’ Out Of Time” I had never taken a single course, lesson or had even been given any sort of advice regarding directing or editing, it’s just something I tried and did everything in my power to figure out from scratch. Like I said before I have thought about the idea of shooting something that isn’t a music video, but that involves a lot more variables and elements that I know nothing about and would have to look into greatly to become knowledgeable about. Shooting something that isn’t a music video kind of scares me a bit lol, because in a video you have no dialogue or audio to worry about, just visuals. But we’ll see, who knows what will happen in the future.
Are there directors you look to for inspiration or directors you admire?
Definitely there are tons. I’m a huge fan of film and I really appreciate a beautiful shot or a well edited scene. Some directors that have completely amazed me by showcasing the absolute magic that they can create behind a camera lens are J.J. Abrams, Christopher Nolan, Neill Blomkamp and Quentin Tarantino just to name a few. Everything any of those guys touch has their signature all over it. Their films have a quality, a character and depth that makes anything they’re shooting much more interesting and engaging to watch than anything else. That inspires me greatly, and I try my best to steal anything I can from their films and styles of filming.
If you were to ever stop playing music, would you consider directing as your next career move?
If I were ever to stop performing music and being in a band – which I VERY highly doubt – I would probably still be involved with music on some level whether it be as a songwriter, producer, or a DJ. But if I stopped performing live and being in a band I’d have a lot more free time on my hands so I’d probably try directing some more, and if I gave it a try, who knows what would happen. I won’t say never but at the same time a lot of things would have to happen for me to consider using my free-time to pursue directing. But you never know!
Can you tell me about your earliest experience with music and what about it caught your attention?
My earliest experience with music that I can remember was when I was about 2-3 years old. My mom would blare Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Phil Collins, Madonna and any pop music that was on the radio back in the late 80’s. Whenever she did I’d take out every pot, pan, dish, ladle, anything I could get my hands on that would make noise and I’d just bang away and yell to the music. I’d grab the rolling pin, climb to the highest surface of the kitchen that I could make it up to, in this case the table and I’d use the rolling pin as a guitar while screaming to the music lol.
Who were some of your favorite bands growing up and how much of an impact do they have on your writing or singing style today?
Growing up I listened to a lot of different music but the bands that stuck with me the most were Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, Guns N’ Roses, Lenny Kravitz, Jamiroquai and Black Sabbath just to name a few. They’ve all had a huge impact on me as a songwriter and creator of music, both lyrically and sonically. If you listen carefully to most of our music you’ll be able to pick out dozens of influences in everything from our lyrics to our melodies, guitar tones, drum parts, etc. As far as singing goes. I think the best way to create your own style as a frontman is to steal all the things you love about a variety of performers and put them together to form your own style and spin on it. Steven Tyler and Scott Weiland both had a mysterious sexiness that I try to emulate on stage in some form, Robert Plant had a feminine quality to his movement, Axl Rose was filthy and aggressive, Kurt was completely unpredictable, Lenny and Jay Kay were filled with groove from their head to their toes and Ozzy was a workhorse who was rough around the edges and could command a crowd like a televangelist on network television. I am who I am as a frontman because of all of these people ins some from or another. I take what I like and I use what works for me.
Any new bands you’re into these days?
TONS. A lot of them are not necessarily new, but they’ve been around for at least 4-5 years and they’re not as well known. My favorite bands right now are Rival Sons, The Parlor Mob, Orchid, Truck Fighters, Royal Blood, Ghost, The Temperance Movement and Heaven’s Basement
I don’t believe you have played the U.S. before. Would you consider joining a tour with a U.S. band to get your feet wet in some smaller clubs/theaters here?
We have not played the US yet but I can assure you that we REALLY want to. It’s just a matter of timing. We’ve never felt like it was the right time to go just yet, we never had any music released there until recently and we have always been so busy focusing on creating a following here at home before venturing out to other countries. But we definitely want to go and will go. We have a few Canadian tours scheduled for this year and then the US will be high on our list of priorities.
Would we jump on a tour with a US band? Hell yes we definitely would. It depends on the opportunity but if a band like Buckcherry called us up and said, “Hey! Wanna open for us on 10 dates in the US?” We’d probably drop everything and go because that’s a great opportunity. But if some smaller, newer band was looking for someone to tour with and asked us, we’d probably have to say no. It’s really just a matter of timing, opportunity.
You’ve released some EPs in the past. Have you thought about releasing a live album or full concert video?
I can’t say that we’ve ever thought about doing a live album. That would be interesting, but I don’t think there’d be a huge demand for it. Live albums seem to be something reserved for bigger more established bands with fan bases who want any content they can get their hands on. I don’t think we’re at the live album stage of our career just yet. A full concert video we’ve kind of done. We’ve had some older concerts filmed start to finish that we gave to a bunch of friends and family. We’ve filmed a lot of shows from start to finish but we’ve never really been blown away by the footage enough to consider packaging it and selling it to our fans just yet. Our stage show and live energy is really hard to translate without being there, but hopefully we land some footage that we really like one day so we can share it with our fans.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what do you feel would make life a whole lot easier?
Courage. I want to see all of the big record labels and even the radio stations take a chance on a promising artist or band by investing in them and helping them develop, rather than ignoring them until they’ve established their own brand and then sucking them dry for everything they’re worth. Labels used to invest millions in bands not knowing if they would turn out a profit based on sheer potential, and because of that we were gifted with some of the best bands and artists of all-time, who were given an outlet and the freedom to make some of the most beautifully timeless music in our history. The Beatles, Zeppelin, Queen, Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses… They aren’t all more talented than today’s musicians, they succeeded because they were given a chance. Even if they were loaned that chance and had to pay it back, the freedom was still given to them to create art and music they believed in. That’s what’s wrong with the music industry today and that’s why mainstream music is turning to shit. Greed fuels everything, so they don’t take chances. They only produce artists and bands that are financially guaranteed to succeed. All they want is revenue dollars, they don’t care about integrity, art or creativity, they care about dollar signs. And that’s how you kill music.
Based on your experience in the business so far, how do you personally define success?
When you can pursue your biggest passion and create something you’re proud of, I would consider that the definition of succeeding. As far as ultimate success and what my goals are based on all the experience we’ve collected from being around the music industry, I would say that we as a band would define success as being able to be a musician full-time. The day we can quit our jobs and stop delivering items, fixing trucks, cleaning teeth, renovating houses and just be musicians, is the day that we’ll consider ourselves a success. We love music, we love making it, playing it, listening to it. We want to do it full-time all the time and we want to live off of the music that we make and perform. That’s our ultimate goal.
Thank you for your time and best of luck with everything.
Thanks so much for featuring us! We really appreciate the support!