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Tender Validations recently had the opportunity to chat with Western Washington University's KUGS Beast Meets West Radio Host, Gabe Fauber. Here is what he had to say.

TV: Hello, Gabe. Thank you for joining us. I hear you’re big in Japan. Can you go into detail explaining exactly how that happened?

GF: It was 1997. I was in high school and my buddies and I found a shopping cart in an alleyway that was abandoned. We were high schoolers and we got to the point where I was in the cart and being pushed down hills. We were messing around with it and having a good old time. We ended up doing this for two days and on the second day one of my buddies brought a video camera, and on the first run of being filmed I got t-boned by a car, and the whole thing was on film.

TV: That’s crazy! Were you okay?

GF: I was fine. They type of car and the type of shopping cart were the perfect combination to protect me from injury.

TV: The stars were aligned. 

GF: The stars were aligned, exactly. So it looks really brutal on film, but it’s not. I didn’t get any injuries; I didn’t even break any skin. But it was all so fast, it looks really intense. That was ’97. I had it on VHS for a long time, and I sent into Real TV in the year 2000. From there I just kept getting calls from production companies usually about once or twice a year asking for permission to use this footage on shows. In 2007 the clip had been on numerous shows, and I got a call from a production company out of San Francisco that deals with Japanese TV. They called me up, and wondered if they could use my clip, and how much money I wanted, and what time I was available and all that stuff I said “yes yes yes”. So they flew a director from Japan to Bellingham, and they flew a translator up from their office in San Francisco, and those two guys met up with me here in town and spent two days interviewing me, and filming where I lived, and what I was doing, and even some re-enactments. It was really thorough, really in depth. They even hired kids from the town to play my friends.

TV: They filmed a re-enactment of your life with people who weren’t really your friends?! That is so awesome. Is there anywhere you can see the footage [of the re-enactments] online? Or is it lost forever?

GB: I have a DVD of it. They ended up using some of the footage and made their own narrative and it went onto a TV show that is apparently really popular in Japan.  It’s like a video contest show. You know #1-5 top videos and they have all these different categories, and I’m not sure what they are cuz I don’t speak Japanese, but mine was something like “Stupid Wacky Stuff that White People Do”cuz it was all stupid and wacky white people. They did a whole treatment and I’m in the process of getting it translated now finally, but ever since then I have been able to say that indeed I am big in Japan.

TV: I envy you. Is there anywhere on the internet you can see the Japanese show that got you huge?

GB: I ended up making a DVD compilation of all the shows that I’ve been on that I have copies of. So it’s on the DVD and it’s just a matter of putting it up online. The footage itself is on YouTube if you wanna just check out the clip. If you go to YouTube and look up “Idiot Kid Shopping Cart”.

TV: Speaking of Japan, do you think Japan or Scandinavia’s metal scene is better? Where is the metal mecca?

GB: The metal mecca…I would say the metal mecca is Scandinavia because there are more distinct styles of metal in a cultural geographic area. Like you have Norway, Sweden, Finland, and if you want to count Denmark just in the hinterlands area. And then you have midland Europe just a hop skip and a jump away. Japanese is definitely big and has a big influence. Asian metal is starting to emerge now but currently Scandinavia really has the best offerings.

TV: Which is gnarlier: Japanese or Scandandanavian metal?

GB: Gnarlier? OOOooh that’s a tough call. It depends on what you mean by gnarly.

TV: Like human sacrifice, cannibalism…like GNARLY.

GB: Scandinavia. The Japanese metal that I’ve heard is wild, it’s crazy, it unrestrained.  It's not necessarily violent or evil or with ill intent. There always seems to be an undercurrent of fun. And that just might be the stereotype of Japan, but it’s not coming from the same place as say the Norwegian Black Metal scene which is a response to Christianity and their loss of culture.

TV: Good Answer. Next question: Have you always been a metal head or do you perhaps know all the words to “on bended knee” by Boys II Men?

GB: I don’t know “On Bended Knee”, but “End of the Road” I totally got.

TV: That was a beautiful moment in time.

GB: It was glorious. I remember it like it was just a week ago. But I pretty much always have been [a metal head].  Every 5th grader gets a boom box--that’s just how it is, right? It’s like if you don’t have a stereo by the time you’re in 5th grade, you’re gonna get one that Christmas. And I didn’t have one, so sure enough (as I’m sure is required by law) I got one Christmas of 5th grade. There were there CDs I was given: U2’s Achtung Baby, Pearl Jam’s 10 and Metallica’s Black Album. I can tell you right now you know which one got the most play. It was Metallica and it was just because the guitar sound. The way it sounded.  I can’t explain it. I couldn’t explain it then, I can’t explain it now. But it’s the sound that resonated in my mind. It’s the closest sound to the one that’s going on in my head-the frequency that’s going on in my head.
It all started with that. And then I just needed more. So then Megadeth, Fear Factory, Corrosion of Conformity …anything I could get my hands on. This was before Napster and all that shit so I just had to go buy dubbed tapes. And then 1998 I discovered Scandinavian scene with In Flames. Hearing In Flames The Jester Race for the first time took my metal to a whole new level and I’ve just been riding that wave ever since.

TV: Would you say Metallica is the gateway metal band for most?

GB: Easily, easily.

TV: For someone who is just trying to discover the metal side of them, what band besides Metallica would you suggest they listen to?

GB: That is a tough question.

TV: Because it’s such a broad spectrum, right? I’m interested in delving into the metal scene a little more. I mean Metallica and all the big name bands like that I’m familiar with, but as far as Scandinavian and Japanese metal and all that stuff I have no idea.

GB: There’s a distinction to be made as far as American thrash metal versus Scandanavian and all the rest, and that’s the vocal style. You’ve got the clean vocals where you can understand what the guy’s saying; you can sing along. And then there’s the predominate vocal style of metal which is growl. The death metal, Cannibal Corpse kind of sound. There’s the black metal shriek and everything in between. And with the growl, that really alienates a lot of people which is unfortunate because the best metal bands are the ones where you can’t understand what they’re saying unless you read the lyrics. 

TV: Do you think people that are into that type of growl metal are sitting around reading the liner notes and trying to figure out what the hell they’re talking about?

GB: When I hear a new album from a band that’s growl, I look up the lyrics. Connecting with the lyrics is really important. Knowing what they’re saying is just as important as singing along to anything. The importance is still there, it just takes an extra step to get into it. So it’s almost like you have to earn it. If you know the lyrics, it’s not because you were high listening to the album and you just picked up on some, it’s because you went in and you read them, remembered them, and applied it. Metal, if you’re really into it, it’s a badge: it takes that extra step.  
For someone who’s not really into metal who’s looking to get more into it, I recommend more on the clean vocal side of things versus the growl, because the growl’s hard to get into. So I would say Iron Maiden, Metallica for sure, early Pantera (like Cowboys from Hell specifically). From there there’s kind of rock and metal bands like Down, Corrosion of Conformity, Eyehategod...those are kind of clean vocals, definitely metal guitars, definitely had their point in history for being really popular in the late eighties/early nineties. If you dig on that, then you can move onto bands like Exodus, Megadeth, and you can also try some of the Scandinavian stuff. That’s for someone who’s never heard anything before, and is not used to growling vocals.
Now if you really want to be adventurous, I would recommend listening to Opeth. They are Swedish and they are like a progressive death metal band. They have jazzy really complex instrumental interludes, and they mix up a clean vocal style and a real harsh growl. There have been a lot of people, women especially, I have seen get into metal through Opeth.

TV: That is really informative. On the subject of women and metal, it seems like the metal scene has a reputation for being a big sausage fest. I know there are a bunch of women that are totally into metal, but it seems like the people playing the music are predominately men.

GB: Oh yeah, it’s a total sausage fest. I’ve seen women at shows, and there are women fronted metal bands. They’re rare, but they’re out there and they’re successful and they’re good. So it’s not just a novelty. The two shows that I’ve seen the most women in attendance are Opeth and Gwar.
There are also bands that are female fronted that are really really popular. Arch Enemy is one of them. That’s a typical screaming, growling kind of thrash metal Swedish band.

TV: Out of all the metal shows you’ve ever seen, which one stands out in your mind as the best experience at a show in your entire life?

GB: Well, crap.

TV: I mean you can choose a couple; it doesn’t have to be just one.

GB: The top two….shit. The best was At the Gates in Seattle at the Graceland--well, El Corazon 2008. It was because at the time At the Gates had been broken up since 1996 and had never come to the US, and had never given anywhere in the US a chance to see them. They reunited for one tour in 2008 and it was awesome because everybody was there. All the old metal heads that I knew in high school came down from Bellingham, everybody came to that show, and everybody knew the score. They did an awesome set and the energy was just amazing. So that was big. That was probably number one just because it was so rare to see At the Gates. 

The other show was also at El Corazon, but back when it was the Graceland and that was In Flames the first time they came around in 2000. That was a monumental show because that was the first Scandinavian metal show to really make an impact. I was just out of high school and all the metal heads up here [in Bellingham] paraded on down there, and you could tell from the band’s expression that they didn’t expect that kind of following. They didn’t expect the people at the Graceland to know their stuff that well, to be so into it. And they fed off of it, and it created this once in a lifetime show. It’s so intimate at the Graceland, and everything we wanted to hear, they played it. So that was truly amazing.
I guess the third one is I went to Europe in 2003 and I got to go to the Wacken Open Air festival which is the biggest metal festival in the world. The concerts themselves weren’t necessarily the best that I’ve ever seen, but to have that experience.  It’s three days of camping, metal from 10AM-2AM every day, giant fairgrounds out in the middle of nowhere… it was truly truly amazing.

TV: Those all sound like great experiences. I wanted to ask you about your radio show. How long have you been doing Beast Meets West? Is this your first radio show, or have you done other radio shows before this?

GB: It’s not my first radio show. I had another metal show up at the same station here at the school [WWU] back in 2000. I was 19, didn’t know my head from my ass, went on and wasn’t the best DJ but I had a lot of fun. I co-hosted with a buddy of mine, didn’t take it seriously at all. But now, I’ve had Beast Meets West for a little over a year, and I’m trying to take it a little more seriously. Trying to get something new to play each week, trying to find stuff other people haven’t heard, stuff that I haven’t heard, and just trying to be a good introduction to metal. 
If someone turns on the radio during my time slot and catches a song that gets them caught up in that same guitar sound that hooked me back when I first heard the Black Album...the chance the song I’m playing is the one that is going to have just the right sound to hook them…because as a metal head I know that once you hear that sound, whichever guitar tone it is, whatever vocal style that’s gonna get you, as soon as you hear it you can’t un-hear it. You’re forever on that train; you’re forever on that track. If I can be that person who puts it out there for someone to get on to their own metal track, the train’s already rolling after that. I don’t have to do anything. BUT it’s all about hearing that one sound, that one note, that one tone. That’s what keeps me going. I have a really shitty time slot this quarter and it sucks to sacrifice this much sleep and my time for it, but that’s what drives me is that I can introduce that one person to the sound that they’ve had in their head forever.

TV: You’re a good man. It’s nice to hear someone so inspired and driven by music. So what is your time slot, what is the radio station that you’re on, and can you hear it anywhere online?

GB: You can hear it online. The time slot is Wednesday morning from midnight till 2AM. It is on 89.3 KUGS FM here in Bellingham. You can stream it online at

TV: That concludes our interview.  I appreciate and thank you for your time. Rock on!

GB: Totally! Thank you!

You can keep up with Beast Meets West on their Facebook page, or tune in on KUGS online to hear Beast Meets West streaming live.

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