INTERVIEW: Fixed fate – “Rock is not dead…”

Fixed fate is an American rock band based out of Lake George, New York. Formed in 2012 by singer/lead guitarist Jon Bessette, the band features an eclectic sound drawing influence from acoustic ballads all the way to thrash metal. Fixed fate’s first single “Raining Again”, a mellow ballad with the digital B-side “My Letter to You” was released in October 2014. The band continued with a slightly different offering in 2016 with their “Unplugged” EP. After 7 years and hundreds of shows across New York State, the band began promoting the release of their first full length album “A Year in the North”, released May 10th, 2019, featuring 14 brand new original songs. Following the success of their debut, Fixed fate immediately began recording their sophomore effort “Icarus”, a 7 song collection featuring a wide range of emotion released on December 15th, 2020. The lead single “Route 29” was released worldwide on Halloween and the album has brought a wider audience to the band while receiving both commercial and critical acclaim.

  1. How long have you been performing and recording as Fixed fate, and how did the project come together?

Fixed fate: The band formed in 2012 when I was a freshman in high school. Initially, we performed covers at any local shows we could get, but by 2014 we were ready to go into the studio and record some original material. Since then, we have continued to release new music steadily. 2016 saw the release of our EP ‘Unplugged’, and then after that we recorded 2 albums worth of material in 2019 which culminated in our debut album ‘A Year in the North’ in 2019 and ‘Icarus’ in 2020.

  1. Who have been your major influences in your writing and playing style?

Fixed fate: First and foremost I would point to Tesla, Alice In Chains, Metallica, and Jani Lane. I’m always finding new music and adapting my taste, but I have always had an ear rooted in 80s and 90s rock. Tommy Skeoch is my all-time favorite guitar player and I lean towards singers that use the upper octaves and have some rasp to their voice. Jeff Keith, Layne Staley…guys like Steven Tyler that has always, in my mind, been the type of vocals I pursue.

  1. If I was to turn on your media player right now, which artist/song would I most likely hear on your recently played list?

Fixed fate: I’ve been listening to the metal band a lot lately called Trouble. Manic Frustration is a monster of an album with a ton of great riffs and cool melodies. There’s the mainstays of course too that I mentioned as influences, but I’m constantly looking up new music trying to find something new to my ears.

  1. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?

Fixed fate: I think part of the allure of our songs is the honesty in the lyrics. I try to write about a lot of personal experiences, I sing about what I know. I try to make music that I would enjoy listening to if it wasn’t mine and I think having music about genuine emotions is something that comes across for the listener.

  1. With the music industry rapidly changing and evolving, what are the things you like, and don’t like about it currently? And if you could change one thing about how the industry works, what would it be?

Fixed fate: The first thing that comes to mind for me is the possibilities independent artists have now to take their career in their own hands. Record companies and radio stations used to be the gatekeepers for what they considered to be good music, but now with the onset of the internet and streaming it’s just become the Wild West. If an artist is motivated enough, they can record and release albums at the speed of their creativity, the trick now is to convince people to pay attention! I see a lot of artists point to the lack of money in creating music now, but if you’re an independent artist who grows a listener base you keep ALL the royalties your music makes. It may be a smaller pie, but I’d rather eat the whole thing than get half a slice of the bigger one after the label takes their cuts. If I could change one thing in the industry, it would be that we need a better system for promoting and finding new artists. Everything in rock music is just sort of thrown out there online and if you don’t have a major label behind you to promote it, most people will never know it exists. We need an MTv that plays music again!

  1. What’s your view on the current state of rock in general?

Fixed fate: I’ve heard a lot of people throw things out there like “rock is dead.” That’s trash. If rock is dead how was Guns ’n’ Roses playing stadiums last year? Or The Rolling Stones? Sure these are legacy acts, but all I see when I see that is that the fan base is still out there, we just need to make music that gets their attention and work on our craft so we can present the best live show possible. The pendulum always swings the other way.

  1. Do you ever write a song with current musical trends, formulas or listener satisfaction in mind, or do you simply focus on the band’s vision and trust you will find an empathic audience?

Fixed fate: No. I have never worried about current musical trends because most of them are horrible and recycled anyways. The only goal I have in mind when I write a song is to have a feeling when it’s finished that “wow…that’s a great song.” That feeling of self-satisfaction is all that matters and if no one else on planet earth agrees with me when they hear it then I guess they go listen to the radio all day.

  1. Could you describe your creative processes? How do start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Is it a democratic process between the members, and who does what?

Fixed fate: I write all the songs, but occasionally I’ll collaborate with people and see what happens. I’ve had a really good writing partner in a guitarist named Kieran Carberry. We used to just sit down and jam until we heard something that made us smile, miss ya buddy! Typically when I write, it starts from some type of progression on guitar. Once that comes together I try to imagine where it sounds like the song should be going and then sharpen it from there. After all the guitar work is done I move on to the vocals. Usually by the time all the guitar work is figured out I have a pretty good feel for what I think that song is going to be about and once I decide on a melody it’s all just writing poetry from there.

  1. Where do you do most of your recording and production work, and do you outsource any of these processes?

Fixed fate: I have my own studio set up now so I’ve been working on album number three there. Before that though I worked with a guy named Kelly Kintner who had a home studio set up. I can never thank that guy enough for essentially allowing me to start my music career. He produced A Year in the North and Icarus, both of those were a lot of fun to make. Before that I did the Unplugged EP on a home setup and my first single Raining Again was done in an old church at a place called Cathedral Sound Studios. At this point I outsource all the mixing and mastering while I slowly teach myself how to do it. Icarus was actually mixed by a producer in Africa.

  1. What would you consider a successful, proud or significant point for yourself or the band so far?

Fixed fate: There’s been a lot of milestones along the way. Putting the first single out there was definitely a proud moment. Back in 2015 when I went off on my own and carried the Fixed fate banner I really didn’t know how to present the music without a full band. But some of those formative shows were really great and reassuring that this was something that had legs. Seeing the streaming numbers steadily increase now to span every continent and the effect that’s had on the crowds at live shows has also been something I will always cherish.

  1. If someone has never heard your music, which 5 keywords would you personally use to describe your music?

Fixed fate: This might get pretty dark.

  1. Is there a particular song in your catalog, in which you feel you delivered your best performance, on all levels, to date? And is there maybe one song that you keep thinking you should have done a little differently in some way?

Fixed fate: To be honest I think there’s a lot of songs in my catalogue I would have done differently, but not for the way they’re written. The biggest challenge I’ve faced in releasing music is getting high quality audio so that can definitely have some negative impacts on the listening experience…at least for a perfectionist like me. I would say that so far if I had to pick one song that was the best performance though I would pick something off of Icarus. I had a lot more time to work with those songs and correct tiny mistakes in the instruments and vocals that would have driven me crazy. A Perfect Circle came out really solid but it would be hard to pick just one. Route 29 was cool for the fact that I stacked a ton of vocal harmonies over it somewhat on a whim and that worked out great. Pennies is another one.

  1. Do you have a favorite track in the band’s catalog that has a specific backstory and/or message and meaning very special to you personally?

Fixed fate: That’s a tough one too! Let me ramble a little bit here and pick one from each release.

Raining Again/My Letter to You- My Letter to You. I really love the switch over to heavy half way through that one. The lyrics are pretty dark, it’s set up to initially appear as just a breakup song but in the final lines it reveals itself to be a suicide note.

Unplugged EP- Frostbite. The rest of that EP is pretty upbeat sounding, but this song closed out the release and definitely hinted at the direction the songwriting was going. The lyrics are a cautionary tale about drug abuse, but it can also be interpreted in a way that warns against destructive decisions in general.

A Year in the North- Birds in a V. AYITN essentially follows my life in Plattsburgh the first year I went off to college. Birds in a V has a cool instrumental progression and the lyrics are mostly talking about wanting to be my own person without the opinions of outside parties. The title is a reference to the impending winter and the fact that a good friend of mine named Val was graduating at that time and leaving. I wrote the song in her room too so it was just one of those small details I really liked.

Icarus- I’m having a tough time with this one, but I think if I had to pick one I would go with The Degenerate. The riff in the chorus for that song is mean as hell and I really like the way that whole track came together. It wasn’t really written until I went into the studio, but once the Icarus sessions began that whole track came together in a day. The lyrics are really dark. There’s lines in there referencing self-harm and hard drug abuse. I was living with a close friend at the time and he was in a really bad headspace. I remember overhearing him downstairs talking to his girlfriend about how he felt like he was living in a house with a bunch of ‘degenerates’ and the rest is history. I still love that guy, but that one really hurt at the time. “Call me degenerate, how’d you spend your day?” Basically, you’re calling me out for being a POS, what are you doing with your life?

  1. Do you think is it important for fans of your music to understand the real story and message driving each of your songs, or do you think everyone should be free to interpret your songs in their own way?

Fixed fate: It can go either way for me. If someone doesn’t know exactly what was in my head when I wrote a song then that just leaves the lyrics open to interpretation for them which can make the song a lot more personal. However, there’s some super fans out there that I know really get a kick out of hearing those stories behind the songs and how they came together. Looking at you, Cass!

  1. Putting aside the accolades or criticisms that fans or the media may afford your releases, what’s the one thing about your music you think people overlook or misinterpret most often?

Fixed fate: That it’s all just sad songs. I definitely write a lot of darker stuff, but there is beauty in darkness. Sometimes half a song is depressing while the other half is looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. As dark as many of my songs get, I want there to always be a sense of hope in it whether that’s explicitly written in the words or it simply comes out of the feeling you get from listening to the music.

  1. What’s the most exciting part of the process of putting a new song together for you?

Fixed fate: Definitely the recording part. Writing songs is one of my favorite things to do, but that feeling you get when you hear those ideas start to get layered together into a finished piece is tough to beat.

  1. Creative work in studio environment, or interaction with a live audience? Which of these two do you ultimately prefer and why?

Fixed fate: I’m a bit of an introvert so I would go with the studio environment. Songs I’ve written can go years being performed onstage before they finally get recorded and that’s all fun but man that is just the most satisfying feeling on Earth to go into a studio and walk out with something I crafted for years in a finished form.

  1. Can tell us something about your latest project, and which highlights to look out for?

Fixed fate: I’ve got a few up and coming right now actually. I’ve been doing songwriting and a little bit of recording for my third record and that’s going to have a lot of really cool stuff on it. On top of that, I’ve been getting ready to do another EP. This time though, it’s going to be mostly songs written and performed on Piano, it’ll be called Black and White, get it? *eyes roll*

  1. Do you have a favorite motto, phrase or piece of advice, you try to live or inspire yourself by?

Fixed fate: Never apologize for the way you feel. You get 100 years here if you’re lucky, do something you have a passion for, and then do it better than everyone else!

  1. Do you have a specific musical vision or goal that you want to achieve in the near future?

Fixed fate: Too many, my thoughts are too big for my head a lot of time. I have a lot more music that’s been written that I really want to get out there. One of these days I want to write an album and simply title it “Fixed fate”, the catch being that the whole album is just one song with all the different styles of the band in it. Sort of like the X Japan album “Art of Life.”


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