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Interview with Ian Keith Hafner & Sonia Sauruk of Static Fuse

Static Fuse represents a joining of guitarist Ian Keith Hafner and vocalist “Redd” Sonia Sauruk.  The two independently released the self-titled debut of Static Fuse in the fall of 2008, an eighties influenced metal and hard rock project drawing upon the influences of Bride, Whitecross, Holy Soldier, X-Sinner, Rez Band, Ransom and Arsenal.  As follow up to my early 2009 review of the album, I interviewed Ian and Sonia to learn not only more about Static Fuse – both its origin and future plans – but their musical background and inspirations as well.

Static Fuse - Static Fuse

I would like to start by discussing your musical background.  Would you please name your musical influences.  And what bands did you listen to while growing up?
IAN - Man, where to start? Pretty much anything with a heavy emotional drive. I tend to wear my influences on my sleeve, so it’s probably obvious that I like hard rock and metal from the 70’s and 80’s. Stuff like Def Leppard, Stryper, T. Rex, Tesla, Kiss, Warrant, and Twisted Sister. But my all time favorite band is Queen. They were progressive and had all these intricate arrangements, but they never lost sight of the song. I learned a lot about arrangements from listening to their early records (especially Queen II) when I was a teenager.

SONIA - I think I was five when I received my first record player. I began a love relationship with music at that age.  I, with my little record box intact.  I listened to those records over and over again. I remember finding such a joy in music.  My parents were a big influence on me musically as well, through the music alone they listened to.  My mother listened to Elvis, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and anything popular on the radio during the "70's".  My dad, being a lover, listener and maker of music, brought artists into our home such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin and psychedelic rock such as Iron Butterfly.

I was seven when my parents became "saved"; born again, whichever you prefer to call it. (That was in 1977.)  At that point my dad cleansed the home of all "secular" music.  It was then that he started listening to Christian musicians such as Barry McGuire, Carmen, The Gaithers, Andre' Crouch, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Keith Green and this music was from the late "70's" to the early "80's".

Then I found myself into Christian music as a young teenager.  Not listening to the main stream radio.(Unless I was sneaking it, because I was not allowed to listen to it.) I soon discovered Amy Grant, Petra, Mad At The World, One Bad Pig, Julie Miller, White Cross, Stryper and Bloodgood.  I was beginning to see the Christian music scene finally "catching" up musically.

Through the "90's" to current day, many different types and genres of music have influenced me over the years.  I prefer these types of music and consider myself to have been influenced by these styles: rock, punk, hardcore, gothic, Appalachian mountain music, folk, metal, electronic, industrial, gospel,  jazz, hip-hip, rap, dance, metal, international music, opera and show tune type music.

What guitarists inspired you?  And when did you know you wanted to become a guitarist and why?
IAN - You know, for playing music that’s usually categorized as “80’s metal,” I tend to not like a lot of the lead playing from that era. You won’t hear me trying to cram a thousand notes into two bars.  I come from a more bluesy background, and love the players who played with grit and passion, like Steve Clark, C.C. DeVille, and Troy Thompson.

What vocalists inspired you?  And when did you know you wanted to become a vocalist and why?
SONIA - This is truly a tough question to answer, so I will keep it simple as possible of an answer.  My earliest influences as far as female vocalists would have to be Joni Mitchell, the Singing Nuns, Amy Grant and Sandi Patty...I know, I know!! At the time, they inspired me.  I have to include Nina Llopis (she really was ahead of her time!)  I like Susanne Vega and Annie Wilson, Carole King and Annie Haslan: these ladies have inspired me as well.
As far as male singers, I prefer a lead male on vocals. Funny coming from myself, a lead female singer.  Anyway, I will tell you which male singers have inspired me the most :My dad, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Keith Green, David Byrne, Jack White, Serj Tankian, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Tom Petty, Jon Anderson, Jeff Lynne and Steve Walsh.  All of these names are of course just a few of all the amazing singers I have heard over time.

I truly believe that I was born with the desire to sing. I sang my first solo in church at the age of seven. When I started singing with my dad(who'd accompany on guitar), it became evident that I had a natural talent and ability to harmonize. I can sing and hear any part. I remember when I recorded my first track, I wondered what it was going to sound like when I harmonized with myself. It was kind of weird, but actually sounded really good when all the voices were put together.  I really prefer to harmonize with other people though and prefer to actually sing the harmonies.  I have learned to take the lead and sing the lead as well.  That is another reason that Static Fuse has been a good learning experience for me.  It has certainly helped me to gain confidence in the gift that I have been blessed with.  I have always wanted to be able to just share it with others and now I am.

How did the name Static Fuse come about?  Does it have any special meaning?
IAN - I actually came up with the name Static Fuse before Sonia and I started working together.  It’s the idea that God is explosive (like a fuse), but hopefully we can stay static (not moving) and stay near to the power of God.  In other words, having a relationship with God is like plugging into a fully loaded Marshall stack!

You and guitarist Ian Keith Hafner recently put together a new band called Static Fuse.  What led to you and Ian forming a musical partnership?
SONIA - I met Mr. Hafner in 2004.  I was looking for some cool new Christian music to order and low and behold, I discovered Angry Little Freak (a “shock metal” project of Ian’s).  This is the same Mr. Ian Hafner that approached me in the Summer of 2008 about a music project he wanted to finish up- Static Fuse.  Sounded great to me.  So he sent over the first track and I knew immediately that this was "my chance.  "This music was me.  I loved it. I could relate to it and felt it!

What impressed me the most about Ian was the fact that even though he was a Christian artist that seemed to be going somewhere, he actually took the time to write me back when I had initially emailed him in 2004.  From that point on we developed a friendship and camaraderie over the years.

Musically, how would you describe Static Fuse?
IAN - Guitar oriented hard rock with lots of layered vocals.  Unashamedly 80’s metal with absolutely NO modern influences.

SONIA - Static Fuse is fully charged.  By that, I mean the music and the lyrics and the vocals are full of passion.  We have a strong rock base in our backgrounds.  A bit of heartfelt blues tossed in there.  Catchy hook lines and lingering lyrics that stick.  Guitar solos that won't quit.  This is Static Fuse.

How did the songwriting and recording process go?
IAN - Well, this was our first record, and I had actually recorded almost all of the music before we decided to work together.  I had been frustrated trying to find the right vocalist, and just when I had nearly given up, God put this thing together for us.  I sent completed tracks off to Sonia, who added her vocals and proceeded to blow me away with her talent!

SONIA - I have a certain process, I suppose when songwriting.  For each track that Ian sent me, I would ask him if there was a certain idea or feeling for (that) track.  Was there any scripture that stood out to him as truth at that particular time of the music writing?

I will then pray and ask for wisdom.  I listen to each track, over and over again.  I get a feel or a vibe for the song. Sometimes the lyrics come right away.  Usually each song will involve some type of scripture study which aids in the inspiration of the lyrics.

I would then go to do the final arranging of the vocals and recording and mixing of the vocals to the music track.  (Ian lives in Michigan.  I live in New Jersey.)  I would go to Steve Berger Music Studio to do this.

What are your favorite songs off Static Fuse and why?
IAN - My favorites are “Stop Throwing Stones” and “Not Forsaken, Not Forgotten.”  With “Stop Throwing Stones,” I think we really made a statement of who we are and what our sound is like.  If you only heard that song, you’d have a good idea of what Static Fuse is all about.

With “Not Forsaken, Not Forgotten,” Sonia just blew me away with the lyrics and the passion in her vocals.  I get listening to that song and I almost forget that I played on it or wrote the music for it, because the message really gets to me.

SONIA - “Faded Glass” is closest to my heart in this set of songs.  Described as "Prayerful and in a sense of worship" this song is my heart's plea.  “Stop Throwing Stones” is also a favorite.  It is so easy for us to judge others and we are all guilty of this.  It's time for us to just drop our stones already.

As the lyricist for Static Fuse, would you (Sonia) please go into detail about the meaning (and inspiration) behind the lyrics to each track:
“Stop Throwing Stones” (Matthew 7:1-2)
SONIA - When writing the lyrics for this song, I reflected on the woman who was caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-11).  They wanted to stone her because of this sin.  Jesus reprimanded them by saying, "Let him who has no sin throw the first stone."

We can all relate to being judged by another person or passing judgment on someone else.  "How long you gonna sit there?  Accuse me of the same thing? You're not the One to judge me.  You don't sit on a throne!"   We have no right to judge.  It will be given out according to you in the measure in which you have given...Only One can judge.
“Faith, Hope And Love”
SONIA – “Faith Hope And Love” was the first track I wrote lyrics for and recorded.  Taken right from the scripture, 1 Corinthians 13:13, this song is an encouragement: "No matter how many times, I've fallen on my face, You have shown me your mercy and everlasting grace". "These three remain, faith hope and love but the greatest of these is love".
“Not Forsaken, Not Forgotten”
SONIA - We have all experienced disappointments in life.  That's partly what this song is about.  The other part is in realizing that in our innermost parts we can know that we are NEVER alone.  This is a prayer to the Father above.  This is also a message from Him to us.  "He has nor ever will forsake or forget us” (Hebrews 13:5).  "He holds us by His right hand"(Isaiah 41:10&13).

“Faded Glass”
SONIA - “Faded Glass” is a personal confession of the struggle to find "self".  The way we see ourselves is often not the way God sees us.  Seems there is an understanding with others in this struggle.  It says in the scriptures, "For now we can see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12).  I will no longer be looking through that Faded Glass then.
“A Better Life”
SONIA – “A Better Life” is an up front, in your face song about the better life we can have in and through Christ.  Jesus Christ is the only way to a better life.  This song is HIS message to us.  It says in John 5:12, "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life".  Jesus said, "I came that they might have life and might have it abundantly" (John 10:10).  Without Christ, we are lost. Seek Him-find a better life.

SONIA - All throughout the Old and New Testaments God has chosen to speak to His children.  Sometimes he uses visions and sometimes He speaks to us through our dreams.  There is always a message regardless of the means He chooses to give that message.  The prophet Joel is shown this (to relay the message to us!),"I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind...I will pour out My Spirit in those days"(Joel 3:28-32).  "Dreaming" is about this.

What does the future hold for Static Fuse?  Are you planning to record another album?
IAN - Yes! We’re in the process of recording our next album now.  We’re really excited about it, because, for one thing, the production is really more like what we wanted the first album to sound like.  The first album sounds fine, but it was done on a much more limited budget than the new one.

The other major difference is that with the first album, I had recorded almost all the music before Sonia and I started working together.  The new album is much more of collaboration.  Sonia and I have spent a lot of time talking about what we want to do with the new album, what we want it to sound like and everything.

SONIA - Absolutely! Ian has already laid some amazing tracks!!  I am very excited and am looking forward to our next production.  I know the quality has already improved and we are planning for a full album this time!

I would like to close by asking a couple of questions about projects you (Sonia) have been involved in outside of Static Fuse:

In the late eighties you were a part of a Christian rock band called Straight Street .  Please tell me more about your experience in Straight Street .  Did you record any material while in the group?
SONIA - I was approached by Joe Santucci in 1987 about singing with his band called, "Straight Street".  This was a great opportunity for me and since I loved singing so much how could I say "No"?  We performed some original songs.  Joe was a big fan of Larry Norman, so we covered several of his songs.  I usually sang background vocals and played percussion.  I sang my fair share of solos as well.  I was always asked to sing the Julie Miller song called "How Can You Say No?". The band has not played together since 1990.  We never recorded any material.

Also, please go into detail about the My Darkest Time project (of Macedonian musician Zarko Atanasov) in which you recently participated.
SONIA - In 2006, I responded to a MySpace request from Zarko Atanasov.  He was looking for a female singer for his Macedonian project, "My Darkest Time."  I recorded four songs for this project including the songs, "Looking Within For Strength”, "Broken Life", "When We Leave This Earth" and "Vanity".  I wrote the lyrics for each of these songs as well.
Through Zarko I met some other Macedonian artists who asked me if I would be interested in writing and singing vocals for their music.  I agreed.  I also went on to write and record these songs with these Macedonian artists: "O Deus In Adjutorium" and "Isaiah 50:10" with Noverim; "East to West" and "Bought By Blood" with Richy Project; "Love Is" and "On the Wings Of Love" with D.J.Vele; "Best of Your Love" with Risto Apostolov.

It has been a total blessing  to work with each of these other very talented musicians. I believe I have been called to be a missionary to this country.  For this I am thankful.

Ian and Sonia, thank you for agreeing to do this interview.  Do you have any final words for the Angelic Warlord readers?
IAN - Thanks for checking us out!  I hope the people who hear our music are encouraged by it, and will see Jesus, not us!

SONIA - I hope that you find peace, comfort, healing, inspiration, and wisdom as you listen to the music that Static Fuse has brought forth.  God bless you, Andy for the interview.  God bless all who hear these words.

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Review by Andrew Rockwell


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