Fire Sale is a punk rock supergroup comprised of Matt Riddle of Face To Face and No Use For A Name, Chris Swinney of The Ataris, Pedro Aida of Ann Beretta, and Matt Morris. The band released a couple of singles this year, such as A Fool’s Errand and We Dance For Sorrow, so I spoke with Chris about the band, the songwriting/composing process, musical influences, and much other fun stuff. Enjoy!
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. How have you been?
Chris: Excited to answer your questions! I have been great. It’s my kids last week of school…no more getting up at 6am…yay! I stay very busy. I teach guitar full time for a living and I mix and master projects for bands in my studio.
Can you tell us about the origins of Fire Sale and how the band came together?
Chris: During the pandemic I was going stir crazy and started writing songs. I hadn’t really written anything in the past decade, and I really liked what was coming out, so I sent my demos to my buddy Matt Riddle, and he sent me back bass tracks. I had worked with Pedro before…so we decided to try and start a band. My buddy Timmy from Protest The Hero was also in the original lineup…but PTH got busy so duty called. Tucker Rule from Thursday and LS Dunes played drums on the initial demos…but he is a busy dude, so our first two singles my friend Will handled the drum duties. Last year we recruited Matt Morris to be a full time member and solidified the Fire Sale lineup.
What inspired the band’s sound, and who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Chris: I am a nineties kid. Everything from Punk to Grunge to Metal gets me going. During the pandemic I had a lot of guests on my podcast, That One Time On Tour, from Epitaph and Fat Wreck bands. That sound really spoke to me when I was young…and I did a deep dive of all my favorites of the era. That really inspired me to start writing again…but I feel that our sound is also modern. My biggest influences musically are bands like Propagandhi, No Use For A Name, Face To Face, NOFX, Strung Out, etc. The band that taught me how to write a riff however was Metallica. I will always love that band…without them I wouldn’t have ever picked up a guitar.
A Fool’s Errand and We Dance For Sorrow have received critical acclaim. Can you tell us about the songwriting and recording process for these particular songs?
Chris: The writing process was a bit different for each. I had the intro riff for Sorrow in my head for years. I used to play it to warm up. It was just something I came up with one day jamming in my studio at 3am. One day I decided to record the intro and program some drums. After that the rest just kind of pour out of me. I wrote the bridge last. It is a NOFXish chromatic walk down riff…and it just fit the vibe of the song perfectly.
Fools was different. Riddle sent me the skelton of the song with that signature Matt Riddle bass intro…I was in love the first time I heard it. I recorded the guitars and that was that. I really like the melodic solo after the bridge too. Riddle actually wrote that with programmed trumpets…then I did my own interpretation on guitar. If you listen on headphones the trumpets are layered under my guitar.
Our recording process relies heavily on technology. We all live in different states…so we record everything in our own studios and send it back and forth. As long as it is all played to the grid…it works very well. So as the song is sent around to everyone…it gets more and more polished. Everyone writes their own parts. It takes a king time…but we get to analyze every little detail and it makes for better tunes…writing and production wise.
Was the songwriting process the same for your previous works, or you changed the way you write and compose your latest tracks?
Chris: It has pretty much been the same since the beginning due to our locations being so far apart. We have discussed in the future actually going to a studio together, but that takes a lot of money…and we have been super happy with how the songs have turned out. It helps having Jason and Bill from The Blasting Room on board for mixing and mastering 🙂
Are there any new music releases or projects in the works for Fire Sale, and can you give us a sneak peek into what fans can expect?
Chris: We are currently finishing up some tracking and editing in two brand new singles that will be out later this year. We are really liking the pace of releasing singles as opposed to an entire record. We are perfectionists…and preparing two songs is a smaller mountain to climb, haha. The plan is to keep releasing 7 inch two song singles…and eventually put them all together for a full length with unreleased songs. As far as the new singles coming next…I can say one is the fastest song we have ever written and one is a nice mid tempo number. If you like our other stuff…you will dig the new stuff for sure.
What has been your favorite song to perform live, and why?
Chris: We just played our record release show in Dallas, TX last month and all the songs were a lot of fun to play…but “Dark Hearts” was great! It was the first song I wrote for Fire Sale, and it was the first song of the set. If that song goes off…the show will be great!
Are there any particular lyrical themes or messages that the band aims to convey through its music?
Chris: We aren’t really a political band. I love a lot of political leaning bands, but that’s not really our thing. Pedro is our wordsmith…so it’s hard for me to say. We have a new song that deals with the school shooting issue our country is currently dealing with. But it can be related to on different levels as well. The only literal song we have is “Mercy Brown” which is about a vampire. Haha.
Fire Sale has an impressive social media presence. How important do you feel it is for bands to utilize social media, and what strategies do you use to engage with your fan base?
Chris: As a 44 year old punk rocker, I wish it wasn’t important…but it is. You can look at it as another way to connect with people that might dig your band. Most of our success has been on Instagram and Facebook. We have a Twitter and a TikTok, but I neglect those. I run all of our social media, and I bug the guys all the time to send me stuff to post. Like if you are going to track something, get some video. With a band like us that doesn’t get together in the same room very often due to logistics…social media is amazing! I try to post at least every other day…even if it is just some funny photo on a IG story. Just something to let people know we are still here! Make sure to follow us @firesaleisaband on all platforms.
What has been the biggest challenge that Fire Sale has faced as a band, and how have you overcome it?
Chris: The biggest challenge other than writing and recording remotely has been last month when we filmed our new video. We got the opportunity to film a video in Texas. Our amazing label, Negative Progression Records, bought our flights, but there wasn’t any budget left for the video. We kind of didn’t know what to do…we had a bunch of ideas and one day a friend of mine said, why not just start a go fund me. It felt really strange asking our friends and listeners for donations…but so many bands do it, so we tried it. People were so generous. Many people donated over $100. We hit our goal and got to film our video. It was amazing! We had an entire crew, lights, etc. we are releasing it in June…and we could not be more proud of it.
What advice do you have for aspiring musicians who are trying to make it in the music industry?
Chris: Thats a really hard question. At one time I made a good living from playing music…but I think those times might be gone. It takes so much to even tour these days. I started touring when I was 18…sleeping on floors, eating ramen noodles at truck stops using coffee water the heat it up. I grinder for many years. I hope young kids are still doing that, because it made me who I am today…and every little success I have had in this industry has been appreciated fully and not taken for granted.
I would say work hard on your craft, write the best songs you can. And don’t go into music with the intention of making a living. Do it for the love of music…the passion. We would be doing this even if cool people like you did t want to interview me. It’s all about the music…that the number one thing.
What bands you grew up with, and are some of them still your source of inspiration? Also, what news bands would you like to recommend to our readers?
Chris: For me there are a lot of bands I grew up with and current bands that inspire me. Like I said before Propagandhi, NOFX, No Use, Face To Face, etc. still inspire me daily…and as far as current bands…the most recent Thrice and Alexisonfire albums are amazing and totally inspiring! Awilhelmscream never disappoint! And I know it’s a polarizing album, but the new Metallica record is great! Not a lot of 60 year old dudes writing songs like that. I love it!
We have some awesome label mates on Negative Progression Records. Gone Stereo, Greyed Out, The Last Second Save, etc. There is also a great band out of Illinois that I dig called Blackcat Manor. Also Paper Arms from Australia. They aren’t active currently, but I absolutely love them. Their singer Josh was actually going to sing in the very early stages of Fire Sale…but it didn’t work out. Pedro’s other band Shotclock is pretty rad also!
Another band I really love that just signed to NPR is called Time Spent Driving.
In terms of musical evolution, how do you see Fire Sale’s sound progressing in the future?
Chris: I tend to make everything more precise and difficult, haha. Riddle tells me to play more loose. Kris Roe told me that when I was in The Ataris also. I try, but when I was young I practiced all my scales everyday with a metronome. I spent all my life trying to play tighter…and now everyone wants me to play looser. Haha. But honestly…I love writing and playing songs with Fire Sale. We have become a little family. I just want us to continue to become better songwriters and progress.
Are there any collaborations with other artists/musicians on the way? Anyone you would like to collab in the future?
Chris: Nothing currently planned. There has been sone chatter about some guest musicians on future songs…but nothing is set in stone. You never know!
In addition to music, are there any other creative projects or hobbies that Fire Sale members are involved in?
Chris: I host That One Tine On Tour Podcast. Been on a little hiatus lately, but new episode are coming soon. I also produce, mix and master for other bands. Pedro does as well. Pedro is also active in two other bands, The Iron Roses and Shotclock. Matt Riddle is an awesome graphic designer and artist. Matt Morris is is our own little dog whisperer. He owns a dog training and boarding place called The Balanced Canine. So when he isn’t playing drums…he is training dogs!
Lastly, what can fans expect from Fire Sale in the following years, and where can they keep up to date with your latest news and music releases?
Chris: We are going to continue to put out music that makes us happy and hopefully makes you happy as well. We are planning some short tours on the coasts, so come see us if we come to your town or close to it. New tunes will be out this year. New video drops in June. Listen to Faction Punk on SiriusXM…I will be guest DJing in June and “We Dance For Sorrow” was just added to rotation. To keep up with us, follow us on the socials: @firesaleisaband
That’s it. Thank you so much for your time. Anything you would like to say to our readers?
It would be rad if you checked out our two most recent songs “A Fool’s Errand” and “We Dance For Sorrow”. We worked really hard on these songs and are super proud of them. They are available everywhere you can stream music. Also if you like vinyl…you can get it on wax! Order the 7” HERE