Monday, March 28, 2011

Interview with Daniel Rosler of A Fire With Friends

How did you guys meet, how long have you been writing music together?

It's difficult to answer this question without going in to a really long winded explanation about how the band came together, but I'll do my best to give a short, accurate answer. I started writing songs a few years ago and "A Fire With Friends" was this three piece acoustic side project that I guess I accidentally started. Eventually, the amount of members grew with several people coming in and out of the band until we eventually ended up with the lineup we're working with now. This lineup has been together for a little under a year, and is what I believe to be the strongest we've had. Most of us have been in other local bands around the Scranton area before this one and that's how we met. Otherwise, we've met through mutual friends.

What was the first musical experience that made you want to be a musician and the instrument you choose to play?

I can only speak for myself with this question, but my Dad was the first to push the idea that I should pick up an instrument. He's a really great musician. At some point or another I decided to listen to him and then it took over my life. I don't know if he expected that.

If you could have a super power what would it be and why ?

My brain is a little fried and I don't know how to answer this. I just called Eric, who plays the synthesizers and some percussion in the band, and asked him what he would pick. He said he'd like to to be able to never sleep so he could conquer the world in the twilight hour...or be able to spit fire. I guess I agree with that.

What are some of your favorite venues to play outside your home area and why?

We played this venue in South Carolina called "Homemade Genius." The people who run the venue actually give a damn about music and the musicians that come through their town. They also have local art displayed on the walls, which reminded me of a venue we play a lot in our hometown called "The Vintage Theater." I love the atmosphere at both of those places. We played last night at "Main Street Museum" in Vermont and that was one of the best experiences I've ever had playing music. From what I could tell, there's a really strong scene there. The bands were great, the owners were nice, and the people who came to the show were respectful, responsive, and supportive. Met a lot of nice folks there, and we shared beers and good stories. What more could you ask for? Oh, and there's a place called "The Empty Glass" in West Virginia. We showed up like eight hours early for that show and they fed us copious amounts of free alcohol. The bartender that night was a sweetheart. I wouldn't mind playing there again.

Could you tell us a bit about the songs on your cd happily haunted... Are there any stories or themes behind them?

Most people's criticism about "Happily Haunted" is that it lacks a flow, and feels more like a mix CD than a complete thought. I can't really disagree with that. Don't get me wrong, I'm very proud of that EP, but when I listen back to it, I can hear the differences in where we were as a band with each song. There was a lot of growth during the recording of that EP. So I can't say that "Happily Haunted" is a very thematic album outside of the fact that "Not As Amused" and "Pat U Pat (U Pat)" were both born out of relationship anxiety. But even they are different in that sense. I don't know. "American Standard" was a song written by Ed Cuozzo, who has since left the band, and "Picture You Picturing" was a song we all wrote together one day in a garage at like 2:00 AM in the winter. That's a memory I'm really fond of. "Caliente!" was the last to be written for the EP. I guess that's more of the direction we've been heading in. There isn't necessarily a story behind that song, more so putting together several images that are intended to sort of convey a feeling of disappointment, regret, and frustration. I suppose it's a bit misanthropic as well. Other people might listen to it and hear sunshine though. So who knows? If anything, I'm proud of our arrangement of that track and I think that's something we've been focusing on a lot since.

How would you describe your music to someone who never heard it before?

I never really know how to. Plus sometimes people hear influences in your music that you never intended or don't even agree with. I suppose we're an "Indie" band, whatever the hell that means these days. I don't think we're afraid to wear our influences on our sleeves, but at the same time I hope we come across as an original band. If you put Arcade Fire, Margot & The Nuclear So and So's, Weezer, and Modest Mouse in a blender then the loud, seven piece shake you've created might be us.

In closing tell us what's been on your mind as of late? Also what are the plans for A Fire With Friends this year?

Aside from normal life drama, the record we're working on has been on my mind a lot lately. I think everyone else would agree with that. The working title for the album, which will be our first full length, is "Like Giants Sleeping In Basements." It's been making me lose my mind in the best of ways. We've been recording it in a studio, a trailer without operating heat in the woods, and Chelsea's Dad's house. There's a lot of DIY spirit behind it. When it comes out I think people will deny it's conceptual at all, and instead tell me that it's lack of flow and poorly thought out track listing makes it sound more like a "Hipster: Best Of" mix you'd play at some bar where everyone is judging each other, then a record. Or people will get it...I hope. We've also been planning out a tour. Both weekends and an extended one in late summer after the record is finished and released. We can only hope for the best, but the hard work we've been putting in to the band seems to have been paying off as of late. I'll keep my fingers crossed that it continues.

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