I got the chance to interview Dave and Chris from Fireworks before their show at The Talent Farm in Pembroke Pines, Fla., on May 4. The guys talked to me about the Manscout Jamboree, their goals with their upcoming release, Gospel, and about some more general but interesting stuff about the scene and how kids approach record that they download. It's a long but worthwhile read and I hope everyone enjoys it. Many thanks to the guys for taking about half an hour to talk to me while the venue played ICP and people kept walking in and out of the room we were in. Also, everyone in the room (including me and my friend) were wearing white Forever The Sickest Kids shirts that the entire tour donned for the day.
So I guess if you could just say your name and what you do in the band?
My name is Dave and I sing in the band Fireworks.
My name is Chris Mojan and I play guitar.
So how has the Manscout Jamboree been since you guys re-joined?
Dave: It has been amazing, obviously a really hard time for us to leave but re-joining the tour has made it really comfortable, we're around great bands as well as even better people so very, very cool tour. We had some really fun times thus far; the shows have been great and the kids have been awesome. Chris: This is one of our last tours really off of the last record cycle we've been playing, besides a couple of new songs from the EP, we've been playing the same songs forever so we were a little like, "Alright, this tour's gonna be fun but it's gonna maybe drag," but it's just been awesome and we actually haven't got burnt out really at all yet so I think that's due in part to so many amazing people. I can't stress that enough how awesome everyone on the tour is.
So I guess last night you guys sort of re-deﬁned the term co-headline. Can you talk about the show last night?
Chris: Both bands - even prior times we've played together have always thought about how cool it would be to do a tag team set, and then that's what we did, we each played one song each for like five songs or four songs and then we just started doing blocks of two and it was awesome. I don't know if I'll do it ever again because I think it weirded people out a lot and that's kind of a thing our band tends to do...not so much The Wonder Years, more us; we tend to think things are funny and like "Yo, let's do it!" Like everyone is wearing these Forever The Sickest Kids T-shirts today...and then after a while it ends up being like a, “This is so stupid, why are we doing this?” type of thing. Dave: Key detail, though, John James Ryan as a moderating warlock. He had a septor and a black cloak and he came out and Nick was playing some eerie chords on the keyboard. I mean, I'm not talking shit about Pensacola but it was a smaller show. So I think it definitely just added to the weirdness of the show. In the back especially, people were just watching like, “I don't even know what's going on." Chris: Yea, it was awesome. It was fun. You kind of need a change of pace sometimes I guess is bottom line of why we really did it. It was just kind of like one of those days where everyone's got this long drive so being able to do something different, that we thought people would maybe appreciate in some way. It was cool.
And I guess talking about the bands on the tour, you and The Wonder Years are pretty similar genre-wise and Living With Lions as well but Make Do and Mend leans toward the more punk side. I thought End Measured Mile, their latest full length, I thought that was a really good record but how have fans been reacting to them?
Dave: I think very well. I think that this tour's lineup has been really complimentary. I think that both Living With Lions and Make Do and Mend can attract a similar demographic even if they've never heard of Wonder Years or Fireworks or vice versa. I think it just makes sense, I don't think there's been any weird problems or anyone's ever been bored of the band. They're awesome live and that's a great record, End Measured Mile, so I think that people appreciate the music for what it is. Chris: I think everything's awesome right now. But a problem I have with stuff is that now that it's gotten to the point where now there are bands people actually like...you know for a while there everyone was like, "Everything sucks, I hate everything." Now that there are more bands people now are becoming more genre specific and they're kind of like grouping bands into cliques. If you look at the grand picture, if you listen to a Wonder Years record or a Fireworks record and then listen to a Make Do and Mend record, in the sea of all music I guarantee everyone would say those three bands sound a lot alike - you know those bands are in the same genre. But then when you keep narrowing it down more and more it's like "Oh, Make Do And Men's pretty hard and they're a punk band." I mean they have melody, they have harmonies, it's just kind of like - I don't think it's a bad thing but I do think some kids sometimes need to realize that nothing that they're listening to is that different. Everything should be appreciated for what it is and enough of putting the labels on stuff. I think, if anything, the reason I'm saying this is, if anything I think once people start doing that it starts driving people away from certain bands. That's my views on that.
That's actually a cool different view on that. So you guys and The Wonder Years both have records coming out this summer. So how has it been co-headlining and both of you guys are supporting upcoming releases?
Dave: It's been awesome. We've been playing one song off the new record we've released.
Dave: "Summer," yeah. We've been playing that song at the shows and it's been nice to have new material and we have some merch sort of like themed at the new record which is very cool. Very exciting for our band to have a new release out because we put so much time and effort and love. So it's nice to be able to start getting the wheels in motion for the record release.
I've had the new record for a while and I think that it definitely shows a progression with you guys. Personally, I think it's a little bit less straight forward pop-punk and there's definitely some other influences in there so how would you guys describe the progression?
Chris: We always said with the last full length as kind of [a transition] from the EP, you think we probably wrote that thing when we were 17 and 18 and stuff and younger maybe. And basically from the EP until when we recorded the full length was quite a while. Obviously with a label - having to find a label, all that crap, so for us the last record kind of was more or less like a collection of songs and ideas we had and then with our time recording and pre-production being so low we didn't really have time to execute something we really, really wanted that we were really happy with. And that's why, like I said before, we give Paul and Chad that much more credit that they could actually, in that little amount of time, actually put something like that together and help us out. The new record, I think it's just more or less what we really aspire to be as a band. Everything came naturally and we just wrote the songs and that's about it and then we took it into the studio. Dave: I think a lot of it was you know, since we wrote We Are Everywhere when we were so much younger that like, just through the natural progression of things that obviously our writing and everything, I think kind of growing into it something different and evolving into something.
Aside from your pop punk sound, I think that's the core of it, there are definitely a lot of other things mixing in on the record. Can you list any influences? Because as a reviewer I was just trying to come up with a sort of "recommended if you like" and it's tough for this album.
Chris: We never have really been much about the whole pop punk thing. I mean I don't mind that people refer to us that way, we don't deny it. We don't really aspire to sound a certain way, kind of just going back to the label thing, that is just what naturally comes out when we write, whether people believe it or not. I mean, it's hard for us - I don't want us to sound like we're cool or anything but I don't really know many pop punk bands that we're currently always listening to as an influence. You know, we grew up obviously on all that stuff. Direct musical influences though, I don't even know... Dave: I mean, I know it's cliché but it's definitely a hodgepodge of bands just because there's certain ideas that were expressed by an artist that really spoke to us collectively so it's hard to pigeonhole like "Oh, I want this to sound like Nada Surf..Oh I want this to sound like Fall Out Boy." It's hard to be like, we sound like this now. I mean, it's such a subjective thing for listeners so I think people are going to listen to our record or any of our music and they're going to put it with something and connect it with something. So for us, I think it's just a platform for us to write the songs that we really want to write.
And so, unfortunately, it leaked a couple of weeks ago. What were your guys'reactions to the leak?
Dave: At fire we were like, "Damn it!" But personally, the more I think about it, it's more or less that the people who do have it, who have already downloaded it, really enjoy it - hope it speaks to them a certain way and I hope it inspires them to come out to a show and get the record maybe? If not, just come to the show and sing along I mean, that's all that you can hope for as an artist. Chris: We found out after the Midland show, we walked off stage and I was going to the back and Bologna, our merch guy came up and was like, "Your record leaked," with this weird face. It's one of those things where, I don't want to sound cheesy but real fast in your head think about all those nights spent writing it. You know, Dave and I, being the main writers, Dave and I being up until like 5 a.m. in this freezing storage unit writing songs and being fucking annoyed and, sure, being happy, but at times getting frustrated then living in Baltimore for a month and all that shit. Dave: I don't think people truly understand what kind of effort you have to put in to write a full length when you're given a certain timeline or a frame. It becomes everything. Chris: That's what I was saying, right when he [Bologna] said that, for a second I thought of all of that and recording and even after recording and getting all the mixes and then the fact that someone can just be like *click* and hear it, to me it's hilarious. I will say, when I first heard, I can honestly say I was like "Fuck, oh well." It's just more like knowing - it's almost like you found out a picture of yourself naked just leaked on the Internet and people are going to judge you...yeah, you feel kind of naked. Because like on that record are your feelings, your musicianship. Dave: Not only that but you prepare for it... Chris: Yea, you prepare for it... Dave: May 24th, it's coming, I'm gonna be ready for it. Then boom, beginning of May everyone has it. Chris: And it just kind of comes to a point where you almost feel naked. And you're just like, "Shit, well I hope people like it," but then you have to deal with all the fucking idiots who don't understand what it means to a band and they kind of use it to better themselves. That's the only stuff that makes me mad. Dave: That's the only thing that bums me out. If someone writes off the record right away or refuses to listen to it or doesn't meet their expectations it just bums me out because given the efforts put into the music from bands they should at least give it a chance. Chris: We had people tweeting at us the night it leaked like "Here's my review of Gospel!" Itʼs like "Word." Like, really dude? You probably had time to listen to it maybe twice.
As a reviewer that's never something that I could never understand.
Chris: Right? I'm with ya. That's the only stuff that, I can'teven say it makes me mad, it just makes me laugh. Man, these kids are growing up in a terrible age and sure, there are the people that go further with it and rise above it all but I mean, I even fall victim to it. Like you can download 10 new records at a time and you listen to three songs. Obviously in my head I'm like, "I need to listen to this more," but you can honestly say "I don't know if Iʼm really feelin this." We're all guilty of that in this room.
When you get it for free, it doesn't really make a difference.
Chris: Exactly. Dave: That's what really sucks. Is that, I hope that tangible value of records still holds true with people. Because growing up and going to shows, that's what I was excited about - seeing a band and buying their record because you liked their set. I mean it's as simple as that, so I don't know. Chris: I guess what the mainframe of what we're trying to say is the only thing that bothers us with the leak is the whole thing that bothers us with any sort of download with music. The fact that we just hope that people can still, although they downloaded it not seriously - got it so not seriously, they could still hopefully listen to the record seriously and digest it and that's another reason why bands put lyrics in their packaging - that's a whole part of it and the fact that people so calmly just overlook it - I mean, I could go on forever I guess but yeah.
And I think that's something that keeps this scene alive I guess, is that the kids who download the record, if they're already into your band they're going to buy it regardless whether they have it beforehand or whatever.
Chris: And that's the cool thing, that's why kids are so awesome and people are so great because the night that record leaked, Fred from Triple Crown, I mean I won't say how many but he was like, "I got a shit load of pre-orders last night." Because I think it kind of finally made people realize, wait, it's official - it's out now and I told myself I'd still buy it..I have to do it now. So that's cool. It's cool that people still support bands and crap.
And I mean, heading into the release and future touring what are your guys'goals with the record? Kind of just referring to just general goals not sales wise.
Chris: We just hope people who even have never listened to our band before and, you are like, "Oh I don't like that kind of music," actually listen to it because it might not be that kind of music. We just kind of hope that as many people hear it and love it as possible. Dave: Yea, I agree. My goal is, if someone ever saw us say, open up for New Found Glory or something, I wouldn't want someone to remember that and be like, "Oh yeah, Fireworks, that's that shitty pop punk band." I'd like them to give the new record a chance because maybe there's something that may spark their interest. Even new listeners who have never heard of our band. I know a lot of people that have been coming to shows these last couple of years have been the same people. Which is awesome, it's great and I love playing shows but it would be cool to reach a new group of people who would like to hear our music. Chris: Which I think goes for every band really. Dave: I know that's an optimistic goal for every band but I don't know... Chris: Basically as many people hearing it and liking it as possible. I mean, not to get cheesy, but I know so many records and songs that like, to a band that's funny. A band would be like, "I wonder what those guys are doing now?" They're literally probably working at a bar or have a job working at an insurance company or try and sell real estate and they have normal, what people may now be like "That's pretty shitty," but I still listen to one of their songs or records on a regular basis and I love it. And words from that song taught me so much. That's basically all I really care about. I don't think anyone from this band ever set out to be like "Man, we're going to get successful, living off this band." I think we're all realistic and know shit doesn't really work out a lot for people. So, for us we just want as many people possible listening to and liking our record. Dave: And also having lasting value. I think it's important for bands to be able to create records that people listen to 10 years down and be like "Oh this is really cool." Like this was important back then and still is. It wasn't just like a trend that was cool at the time.
So is there anything else you guys would like to add? Future touring plans or anything like that?
Chris: We're doing a really cool tour in the fall. I guess it's not announced so we can't really say it but it's going to be really cool. Like the bands that are involved are just so awesome. Dave: Some of my favorite bands are on it. Chris: Yea, we're really, really stoked for that. And we're gonna try and do a week, hopefully, because we're not doing Warped Tour or anything and the record comes out in May so we're going to try to do a week to 10 days of release shows in bigger cities and then be back in the fall full time, doing shit. That's about it though. Both: Oh yeah, and we forgot to mention that we're wearing Forever The Sickest Kids shirts...