An Interview With Fire in the Radio’s Rich Carbone

Fire in the Radio hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The band, who derives their name from the Charles Bukowski poem “Regard Me,” has a unique sound that has been appropriately described as an amalgamation of Jawbreaker, Tigers Jaw, Weezer and Title Fight. Last year, Fire in the Radio spent time at Inner Ear studios in Washington, DC, with engineer Don Zientara (Fugazi) doing a series of demos. The demos turned into the foundation for a full-length record that was recorded in the summer of 2014 at Miner Street Studios in Philadelphia (The Menzingers, Restorations) with producer Thom Flowers (Lagwagon) and engineer Matt Schimelfenig (Cayetana). The record was mixed by Jesse Gander (Japandroids) at Rain City Recorders in Vancouver, with additional engineering by Angus Cooke. It was mastered by Alan Douches in New York, and is set for release on May 12, 2015.

Bucketlist journalist Syd Ghan,  had a chance to discuss Pouzza Fest, upcoming plans, and more about the new record with Fire in the Radio frontman Rich Carbone.

First off, congratulations! It’s the eve of the release of your first full length record. Are you guys excited?

We are super stoked about it all. New album dropping on May 12th, upcoming touring, including playing Pouzza Fest —who wouldn’t be excited for an opportunity like this?! But we spent the last year working hard on this record, no doubt. Our focus is to have fun and play hard.

You guys have chosen short episodes of a web series as opposed to music videos to support this release, can you tell me where that idea came from? Have you faced any adversity to such a unique marketing strategy?

The genesis for these “webisodes” started by way of a phone call between the band. Adam, our drummer, had the idea of shooting a small vignette describing the trials and tribulations of a drummer finding his place and relevancy in a band. Though we are serious songwriters, we like to have fun and Adam is one of the funniest people I know. The whole idea just made sense and it took off. The band collaborated and Adam executed with the film team. The first one was released a couple weeks ago and garnered a positive response. The second one should be out real soon. As far as adversity, well, there’s always the challenge of public opinion and scrutiny. Did we connect? Will the response be positive? Personally, we wanted to ensure the effort didn’t seem like a gimmick. Plus, we didn’t want to lose the objective focus that we are still marketing “Fire in the Radio” and our new album, “Telemetry”. So, as part of the strategy the soundtrack to these webisodes includes a single from our new record. The first one included “Luna, I’ll be Home Soon” which is now available throughout our social media sites. The next one will be “Steve McQueen” from the record. Not only do our fans get a fresh perspective on a band / music video, but also have the opportunity to hear and stream a song from the album. In fact, the overall strategy is to tell the story through each song of the album. There’s an arc to the to the story of Donald C., the fictional drummer finding his place in a band. It led to a kickstarter project to keep this unique effort moving forward.

 

Can you tell me about your experience crowdfunding this project? Do you recommend crowdfunding to other up and coming artists and entrepreneurs?

We have never done this before but certainly familiar with the process. I think we have been very transparent in what we are trying to achieve as well as offering numerous rewards for any level of contribution. To that end, one reward is to be a part of these webisodes. What a great way for a contributor to be rewarded! “Hey, you can actually be a part of this!” I would recommend this effort to any artist trying to launch a project. Of course, you may or may not succeed in a successful 100% funding but at least you tried and had the word out there. It’s better to keep moving forward and act than sitting still doing nothing at all.

For the demos that led to the creation of this record you guys worked with Don Zientara, who has worked with Fugazi, Minor Threat, Rites of Spring and John Frusciante, just to name a few. How was your experience with him? He’s known for working with bands that have a very DIY ethic, do you guys share this ethic? How so?

We spent a few days at Inner Ear with Don and it was a great experience. He is a super nice guy that offered input here and there on the songs in terms of sound, how we should mic and record an instrument, as well as structure. A positive experience all around. We didn’t record our actual record with him. That effort was done with Thom Flowers (Lagwagon) and Matt Schimelfenig (Three Man Cannon) at Miner Street Studios in Philadelphia, PA. We spent a week with them tracking out the album and it was a great time. Thom is highly talented, creative and offered a lot of insight into the process. Matt worked the boards like a ninja. I, personally, learned a lot during the process. In terms of the DIY ethic–yes, we share in this ethic. Oddly enough, even though the evolution of the internet and social media has opened up many pathways to connect with fans and the public-at-large, you still have to work hard to spread that word. You still have to find new ways to market, new strategies to execute, and consistently be responsive. So DIY still is the foundation to our ethic, I just think the ways in which we do it have evolved with the times. One must adapt, if you will.

fire in the radioWhere did the title Telemetry come from?

This whole album started through the trading of demos and ideas over email. Of course we got together to practice and work ideas further but initially we pushed this effort through technology. And, it worked. It worked really well.  It gave everyone the time to think and reflect about how each song should go. One day the email came through to discuss album titles. I thought about it and wanted the title to have meaning towards what it took to create it. “Telemetry” came to mind. It totally connected because it’s how we wrote this record. The guys were on board and so it became the title.

I’ve heard how others describe your sound, but I’m curious as to your own musical influences. Don’t skimp.

A combination of our influences include new and old. Stuff like Fugazi, The Replacements, R.E.M., Superchunk, Jawbreaker, Gorilla Biscuits, Quicksand, Hot Snakes, Lifetime, Promise Ring, Knapsack, etc. Current bands we spin to include Cloud Nothings, Cayetana, Beach Slang, Iron Chic, La Dispute, etc., etc. The list could go on. We have such an eclectic, diverse taste that we couldn’t really pigeonhole it. 

Your band name comes from a poem: a poem by Charles Bukowski. Has he been an influence on you? How so?

I, personally, am a huge Charles Bukowski fan. I’ve been reading and have been influenced by his work for years. He’s just honest. He lays it all out there for everyone to read and there’s nothing pretentious about it. When we write our music, we are also very honest with each other. So in a sense, we are laying it out there too–to each other as a band when we write and to the public when we play live. Our process is very honest and I think it’s what helped us to get to this point. We take constructive criticism seriously as well as our writing process. But conversely we like to have fun and that balance has always been consciously maintained.

You guys only have two Canadian dates so far this year! Can we expect more?

Expect more. I don’t think anyone wants to stop what we have started. We’ve built and will continue to build the momentum for this record and future efforts. A lot of things are in the works. Right now, we’re focused on bringing a solid performance to this tour and most importantly, Pouzza Fest.

Can’t wait to see you at Pouzza fest, can you describe your live show?

I highly encourage you to come see for yourself. I think the above answers, while very honest, will really make sense in our live performance. We are a highly energetic band and have a lot of fun playing our songs live.

Compiled by Syd Ghan
Header photo by Brandon Dexter

About Syd Ghan 190 Articles
Syd Ghan is a Montreal media man, born and bred. After spending his formative years playing music on stages big and small across the city, he transitioned seamlessly into a career as a full-time writer, editor, and content manager. He has reviewed numerous bands both in concert and on record, written for a number of different blogs and online publications, been both a host and featured guest on various local podcasts and radio shows, and has even logged time judging live music competitions. In his spare time, he enjoys engaging in spirited debates over the finer points of pop-rock radio and he’s never met a chicken wing he didn’t like.

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