As the clouds creep in on a less than clear night in Los Angeles, my mind wanders to the east towards Maryland. More specifically, Baltimore. In the background, dissonant chords remind me of why this window is open and why I’m typing these words. I’ve just completed an interview with Danny Nicoletto from Nashville based band, Fires, who released their EP, Echo Sounds, this past June. A year in the making, Fires has much to be proud of.
Having completed working with J. Robbins (Jawbox), I caught up with Nicoletto to discuss the macabre sounds emitting from my speaker. As I write this, I imagine a candelabra in the distance, floating. If that doesn’t prepare you for what this interview entails, then I’m not sure what else will. Perhaps you should imagine those strange Los Angeles clouds with a strobe of lightening and my maniacal laughter pouring over Danny’s vox.
ASHLEY JEAN: Echo Sounds is an eerily sounding EP, which got me thinking about your music…If Echo Sounds was released as a movie, what kind of horror flick would it most resemble? Would it be gory? or Suspenseful? Overwrought with unnecessary sex scenes?
DANNY: Absolutely suspense. I’ve always been a fan of movies that keep you on the edge of your seat and Echo Sounds was sequenced and created with written dynamics to accent such moments. [It] starts off very aggressive with “Execute,” and ends on a creepy, almost climatic finale at the very end of “Amour.” The film would be laced with blood and gore and various moments of dark and light to leave the viewer hopeful of a positive resolution. But sadly enough, everyone dies. Zombies take over.
ASHLEY JEAN: Quick! Before we move on, what is the scariest movie you’ve seen to date, and do you think you would be able to make it out alive?
DANNY: 28 Days Later was actually one of my favorite horror films that had scary moments but in a very tactful way. The cinematography and soundtrack in this film made you feel alone and vulnerable to anything. Yes, there were zombies and blood, but you never knew what was going to happen as they searched for a way to safety. If it was I in the movie, I’d make it out alive. I’ve seen Survivor and am a big fan of MacGyver.
ASHLEY JEAN: What is the scariest thing about recording a live album on 2-inch tape? I’m guessing no one is really claustrophobic, here.
DANNY: This was new to us and has always been a goal of ours to use a tape machine to get the warmth and saturation onto tape. I think when Ryan and I listened to Superdrag’s, Head Trip In Every Key, we both realized one day we want our music and drum tones to sound like what they had captured. So when we tracked the EP, we played together as a 3 piece in 1 room with J. Robbins behind the board. We all were able to anticipate each other’s next move and dynamically make this EP unlike anything we have done. It really taught us to play together. It’s a collection of songs that is not perfect, and the imperfections add to who we are as a live band. Rock isn’t perfect, that would be boring.
ASHLEY JEAN: Aside from technological drawbacks, are there really any negatives to recording that organically?
DANNY: We did not encounter any drawbacks from the way we recorded this. All of us were really stoked to be working with J. Robbins and we knew his skill level as a musician and producer is nothing but pro. He made us work to get the right takes and not rely on the latest plug-ins for the easy fix.
ASHLEY JEAN: A lot of bands release on vinyl. Considering you recorded primarily analog, would you consider releasing a full-length on cassette?
DANNY: One of our goals was to release this EP on vinyl and still is. With this EP being self funded and released, we have been back and forth with the idea of physical product without a proper tour mainly because of the expense. If vinyl goes near extinction again, I suppose the almighty cassette is next up…suppose I should’ve not thrown away my dads old realistic tape deck with that quarter-inch mic input.
ASHLEY JEAN: What cities do you plan on visiting this fall? Any of them have some particularly strange stories to tell?
DANNY: No tours have been confirmed at this time, however, we do frequent Nashville and Chicago clubs quite often. Both have very large yet very different music communities. Nashville is our home and the music scene here is so supportive in all styles. Transplants to Nashville like the Black Keys, Jack White, and Kings of Leon have all helped establish a more respected rock scene in Nashville over the last 5 years.
ASHLEY JEAN: Being that your recorded in Baltimore, and because I’m a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe and the game Clue, what weapon (rope, knife, poison, bat, trophy, pistol, candlestick, etc.) would best describe your musicianship?
DANNY: Baltimore was quite the adventure during the tracking process. We spent 8 days and nights dodging bullets (not really) and got real familiar with the downtown inner harbor area. The first day we showed up and someone had stolen J. Robbins front right wheel of his car in front of his own studio. Just ONE wheel! Regardless, I’m always down for an adventure especially living on the road. If I had to choose one weapon that described our musicianship over this project I would most likely rely on a flamethrower. Pun intended.
ASHLEY JEAN: And finally, it’s mixtape time! The Halloween candy is out and I can’t help but to know, if you were to give out songs as treats, what are the top 5 tracks trick-o-treaters would have in their bags?
DANNY: Keeping with the Halloween / creepy feel – TRICK OR TREAT FROM FIRES!: