Fireworks are not content with being pigeonholed. Six years into their career, the band has garnered a sizeable following on the back of constant touring, disregarding the traditional pop punk formula and developing a sizeable niche within the alternative community. Their latest album, ‘Gospel’, is a step forward artistically for the band, garnering worldwide critical acclaim. Frontman Dave Mackinder recently spoke with Kill Your Stereo about the new album and the band’s upcoming Australian tour as part of Soundwave 2012.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your role in the band?
My name is Dave, I sing in a band called Fireworks, and we’ve been doing this thing since 2006 and couldn’t be happier. We’re just trying to be as honest as we can as a band and hope people are into it. I’m 25, turning 26 in February and work part-time at a coffee shop when I’m not playing with the band.
How did the writing and recording process for ‘Gospel’ differ from the band’s previous album?
Well first of all, the first record was created with Chad Gilbert, and that was really cool because we’d never had a producer or anything like that before. It was something new to us and it was a cool, collaborative process working with Chad. He’s a smart guy and he came up with a lot of cool ideas and that was fun. I think in the period between ‘All I Have To Offer Is My Own Confusion’ and ‘Gospel’, we’ve learnt a lot about our band and the direction we want to go in musically and all that. I think that by the time it got around to making a new album we were just more honest with ourselves, and we just started writing with no particular thing in mind, just whatever came organically. By the time we were returning to the studio it was a really open, creative process. We had a lot more time, a month of pre-production, which is crazy. There was much more freedom this time around.
The album seems to source its musical ideas from a wide spectrum of influences. Was this a conscious decision to differentiate from the generic pop punk formula?
I think that would be the easier answer to say, you know? Some might argue that pop punk has a formula and has a certain style of songwriting, and by rights, with the music that you’re making you’ll be put under the title of that genre. I think that we’re super proud of the idea that people think we’re a pop punk band, because even though we might not think that, we like the idea of people liking our music in general. They can call it whatever they want, they can call it pop punk or even western/country, so long as they like what we’re hearing. We just write music, and I don’t think that’s to a specific sound. Like you said, we have a variety of influences and I think that we can share that in our music, while growing apart from pigeonholing into a certain scene.
Much of the album’s lyrical content deals with comradery and past experiences. Was it your intention to make a nostalgic and personal record?
Yeah, definitely. Chris is the main lyricist in our band, but it’s more of a collaborative process. The ideas are definitely there to focus more on the past and personal struggles, showing a pessimistic look on things but also finding some comfort in that. I think that’s always been a theme in our band, that even if you may be uncomfortable, it’s okay to be down on yourself sometimes. I think a lot of the themes are about embracing the unwanted time and being proud of who you want to be. I don’t know how to explain it, but we definitely want to reflect a lot on our personal past and our band.
What was the inspiration behind the music video for ‘Arrows’?
Funny enough, our friend Tom, who released the video and filmed it, he actually had the idea and envisioned it. It was kind of interesting because our first video for ‘Detroit’ was a very collaborative effort, and it was the longest two days ever, but we weren’t in the video at all this time. Tom had this great idea , we loved it and we told him to just go for it. I think in a music video, it’s good to pass over the formula of pop punk bands or rock bands. When you see a rock video, there’s usually some common themes in there, and I think we’re not really the kind of band that wants to touch up on the, “We’re a rock band, check us out,” video. We wanted to make an experience for people who watch the video, and the song isn’t necessarily the video, it’s a separate entity that people can watch again and again and enjoy it for what it is. I think that music videos are an artform in itself, and we just wanted Tom to do his thing. He was basically the brains behind it, and we really liked it. He sent us a few pictures of the costumes, but it was a mystery up until it came out.
Well it sounds like it paid off, because it was very well-received.
Yeah, we’re all very happy with it, and it’s cool. It’s a huge accomplishment for our band, and for Tom as well.
The band recently headlined a Japanese tour with After Tonight. What was that like?
That was amazing, we had no idea what to expect. We’d been working with Ice Grill$ for some time, and we’d released our first record in Japan through them, but we had just never been there. It was so different culturally, but all the kids that were there at the shows were so stoked and happy and it was just a great experience. It was too short, but it was a great experience and I’m sure we could come back soon. They’re not much different to shows in America or Australia, people talk about how crowds in Japan are always silent between songs and that’s true, there was very little heckling and we were kind of just like, “Hey, what’s up?” It’s so amazing going to a country with a different language and seeing people singing your songs perfectly. It makes me feel like an idiot because I wouldn’t even be able to have a proper conversation with them. I think music is kind of universal, and everyone appreciates it for the same reasons, which is really cool.
The band is set to return to Australia is part of Soundwave 2012. Are you excited for the festival?
Yeah, extremely excited. We’ve never played Soundwave, but we’ve always wanted to and we’ve always been jealous of the people that have. There’s so many great bands there and so many great people there, and we’re going to a few different cities that we’ve never fully emerged ourselves in. I’m really excited to go to Perth, because I’ve never been there before. I fell in love with Australia, you guys have such an amazing place, and when we came over with New Found Glory and then had our own headline tour after, it was a great experience. We met a lot of people and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again.
How does a 50,000-strong festival compare to the 300-capacity club shows that the band played on their first Australian headline run?
I’m hoping it’s gonna be something new and exciting. Obviously there’s gonna be tons of people, thousands of people, so that’s gonna be really cool. We’ve never really played a proper festival before. We’ve played Bamboozle in the states, but we’ve never really been part of a travelling festival, so it’s gonna be something new. It doesn’t matter if there’s hundreds or thousands of people, we just love playing shows in other countries. We could be playing in some living room and we wouldn’t care. It’s gonna be really fun.
Who has been your favourite act to tour with so far and why?
Um, that’s a really good question actually, because I have a few answers. I love touring with New Found Glory, because they were a really cool thing to witness, like with production for a band. We’d never seen anything like that, all the banners and guitar techs and everything, and it was kind of a cool experience being introduced to a band touring professionally full-time. It was the other end of the spectrum where you’re growing up and just thinking about playing in a band. Balance And Composure are good friends of mine, and I think the band is really amazing, they’re a young band and they’re doing something that’s really natural to them and people appreciate that. Four Year Strong are good friends with us, and I think we’re playing a couple of sideshows with them and we’re stoked for that. There’s a whole list, it’s like picking favourites and I can’t do it. Basically, anyone who you’ve seen us tour with in the past three years are my favourite people in the world.
Tell us about the craziest thing the band has ever done?
Um, let’s see, craziest thing… Touring in general gets kind of crazy, going to different countries is always new. One time, we played a show in Russia, and there was this restaurant we went to, a Subway or something like that, and the wall in the ceiling was leaking and it just collapsed and the whole store filled with water. We were just laughing and it was amazing. We do the craziest stuff and we meet the craziest people and I can’t just pick one. I could fill up a whole storybook.
What does the rest of 2012 hold for Fireworks?
Hopefully a new record. The new year just started and we just started writing again, but hopefully a new EP later this year. We want to bring some new music to people. Hopefully more touring this year, we’re going on Warped Tour this year, and just keeping things fresh and new for people.
Are there any comments you’d like to finish on?
Thank you very much for the interview, and I hope that anybody reading or listening is gonna come to Soundwave and say hello!