The upcoming Front Line and Delerium albums mark major changes in direction for the group. While not being so different as to alienate old fans, the releases show Leeb and Fulber pushing their music into unexplored territory.
With the Nettwerk Delerium release, the group is moving into more structured music with sung vocals.
"It's written in more of a traditional kind of style, verse-chorus, vocals on some of the songs," explains Fulber. "The other Delerium stuff is more just sound scapes and ambient stuff. There's some of that on the new one but for the most part it's more song oriented this time. We've done that kind of stuff for so long, since 1986, and wanted to try something different. Another thing is that we've always found it kind of interesting how groups like Engima and Deep Forest have had all this success and we've been doing things similar to that for a long time. We thought we'd try doing something more in that vein and it worked out really well."
To handle vocal duties, the group enlisted Nettwerk label mate Kristy Thirsk of Rose Chronicles. Originally, Kristy was only supposed to appear on three tracks, but Leeb and Fulber decided to use her voice to replace some samples they couldn't get clearance for on two other songs.
With the next Delerium LP, the group plans using more vocals and incorporating real instruments into the music. They've had several tour offers, but don't know how they would go about doing it right now, since the majority of their material does not have sung vocals.
The new Front Line Assembly LP, which should have been out several months ago if it wasn't for sample clearance problems, also represents a big change.
"It rocks," proclaims Fulber. "There's a lot of guitar in it. Personally, that's all I listen to really. I'm a complete metal head and have been for a while. I just like that sound. Our record still sounds like Front Line Assembly, it still has the big string pads and stuff like that. We just added on some heavy guitar sounds. It doesn't sound anything like Ministry or KMFDM or anything like that, so people don't have to worry. It still sounds like us, just with the added guitar."
For most of the tracks, a guitar player was brought in to play onto tape. This was sampled into chunks and then incorporated into the music. In addition, Fulber and Leeb sampled a few metal bands, such as Pantera and Sepultura, and had to get clearance to use them.
The group plans on touring as Front Line Assembly once the new LP hits the stores. This time around, they will have a guitar player and sit-down drummer on stage with them. The visuals are going to be toned down a bit, as the bank and TV monitors used on the last tour proved to be a headache for the band.
With the new Delerium and Front Line Assembly albums, the duo has been slowed down by problems with sample clearance. Most of the time, Fulber and Leeb use spoken word samples from movies, and Fulber says that trying to clear samples with film companies can be particularly difficult. But early in their career, clearing the samples was not a major concern.
"When we used to do music, we just went wild and nobody ever cared," explains Fulber. "Now people think there's some money to be made and it's a whole other ball game. Anything that is remotely recognizable, everyone is all over that now. Our record companies have people that go through all the new releases to spot uncleared samples. It's pretty out of control."
With the Front Line Assembly project, some samples from the film "Bad Lieutenant" are proving to be particularly hard to clear because there is a legal dispute going on as to who actually owns the rights to the film itself. In addition, there are still some legal problems with samples on the song "Mindphaser" that are delaying plans for a Front Line Assembly home video collection.
While the upcoming releases mark new sounds for the group, both "Spheres" and "Strategy of Violence" represent Fulber and Leeb's older styles. For "Spheres," the duo just set up some of their older equipment and jammed. Fulber says that he is very happy with the results and hopes to see it re-released domestically.
"Strategy Of Violence" consists of a few Front Line Assembly out takes and some new ideas. Stylistically, it is very similar to older Front Line material. The LP originally came out on Dossier last year before being re-issued by Cleopatra several months ago.
"They should put dates on it so people don't think we just did it, because it's not really reflective of what we're doing now at all," says Fulber. "It's more from that older school. But a lot of people want the stuff, and that's why Cleopatra is releasing it. There's not a lot of music coming out like that and I think there's a lot of people who really like it."
While there is a connection between the latest Noise Unit LP and Front Line Assembly, Fulber and Leeb generally keep each project completely separate.
"Usually when we do something, that's all we're doing and we don't really cross collatorize ideas very often," explains Fulber. "We usually just set our minds into one kind of head space and work on one thing. The whole concept of each thing, we like to keep it pretty separate from everything else. The only thing is that we play the really ambient Delerium stuff before Front Line shows on tour. That's as close as we get"
In coming months, Fulber and Leeb will be as busy as ever. Nine songs have been written for a new Intermix album, which should be out by the end of the year. In addition, the group will be doing some remix work for Penal Colony. There will be a video for the title track of "Millennium" in addition to a Delerium clip. And once all the sample clearance problems are worked out and "Millennium" is out, the group will be embarking on another tour.