By Michael Lello
(Photos of Daniel Rosler: Jason Riedmiller/ Band photos: Submitted)
If you see a van crammed with seven passengers and a load of instruments heading down the highway, don’t worry, that’s just A Fire With Friends trucking to their next tour stop.
Starting with a kickoff show at The Keys in Scranton Friday, Aug. 2, the group will hit Washington, D.C., Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Nashville, Chicago and Charlottesville, Va., before returning to Scranton to release “Ghost House,” its third EP.
Having already released “Happily Haunted” in 2010 and “Like Giants Sleeping In Basements,” the prolific indie collective – which features Daniel Rosler (vocals guitar), Chelsea Collins (piano), Eric Foster (synthesizers), Scott Jordan (guitar, vocals), Brian Errigo (drums), John Husosky (bass), and Dan King (cello, guitar) – will then focus on releasing a full-length album, of which they already have eight songs slotted for.
Rosler recently sat down with Highway 81 Revisited to talk about the tour, the recordings, where A Fire With Friends has been, and where it’s going.
DR: There’s a few new places that we’re going to that we never played at, so you always have a little bit of anxiety of where you’re going to end up, but that’s exciting at the same time. We never played Chicago; that’s one of my favorite cities. We’re playing St. Louis, we never played there before. We did a really cool show at The Basement in Nashville, and we’re going back there. It was really weird, we met Hanson at that show.
I guess we’re just hoping for what you always hope for when you go out: make some connections, hopefully make some fans and spread the music.
H81: A seven-piece band isn’t a very cost-effective operation to take on the road. How do you make it work?
DR: We have a fan that I just had to get inspected and put money into. The van is a 14-passenger van. I took rows of seats out of it. It fits all of us, our equipment and our luggage. It’s not very cost-effective in the sense that you don’t get a whole lot of miles per gallon, but when there’s seven people, you make less money but you spend less money because everyone
H81R: How has the band developed since it started?
DR: I think the songs are better, which is what you hope for. That’s my biggest concern, developmental growth. Even as a songwriter looking back, I feel like I have better ways to say what I was trying to say. We’ve had a lot of people coming in and out of the band, but I feel like we have a pretty solid lineup now. Dan King is our newest member, he plays guitar and cello.
H81R: How and why did you add members? Did you have musician friends you wanted to work with, or was there certain instrumental slots you were looking to fill?
DR: I knew I wanted something that had a lot of musical options. I kind of did the four-person rock band for a while, and I wanted to try something different. I have a side project now, Esta Coda, that’s a four-person rock band, and that’s a lot of fun, we’re just finishing up some recordings right now. So it’s fun to write songs for both.
H81R: What challenges have you found booking shows in NEPA, especially since Café Metropolis and Test Pattern closed?
DR: It’s very limited. It’s kind of depressing, because a lot of my youth was spent in those venues you mentioned. When you’re really young it’s so fresh and fun, and you have a lot of memories attached to those places that ended up getting shut down. We are limited, where we can play in the area. In Scranton, as far as all-ages venues, we really only have The Vintage Theater and New Visions, which, thankfully we have, ya know? But at the same time you don’t want to run yourself into a rut playing the same places.
DR: Lovedrug, did you ever hear of those guys? They played at Metropolis. Anthony from Bayside played there a few times. When you’re like 16 years old – I lived in Archbald, it’s closer to Carbondale – it felt like this trip to go play music or go play a show. It was a really exciting time. You could’ve been playing with a bunch of other bands that no one’s ever heard of, and you’re in the same boat.
H81R: What are your long term goals for this band?
DR: Just to make more fans. It would be great to make some sort of money off it. When I was younger, I was like “I don’t care if I make any money off it,” and I still feel paid in experiences. But the older you get, there’s more serious things. It would be absolutely wonderful to make some sort of living off it. I don’t know if it’s realistic, but is that going to stop me? No. I just want to write songs and play music, and just have a sense of purpose, in a certain way, not to sound overdramatic.
H81R: If you could tour with any artist, who would it be?
DR: There’s a band out of Indianapolis called Margot & The Nuclear So and Sos, I love that band to death. I’d love to play some shows with them. It’d be cool to play with some bands from the area that have gotten out there and show some hometown pride. There’s probably a ton of bands that are unobtainable.
H81R: That’s OK, you can name them, too.
DR: I think Band Of Horses. I’d like to play with Guided By Voices, Jimmy Eat World.
DR: We’re trying to finish up our new EP. It’s called “Ghost House.” All I have to do is get it to these guys to get it mixed and mastered.
We have eight songs for a new album. I would really like to make a full-length. I think the last few times I had it in my mind that we would cut it down to an EP.
H81R: Why have all of the A Fire With Friends releases been EPs so far?
DR: I think some of it was I don’t want to release something that feels inconsistent. In retrospect, I’m happy. Looking back at some of the songs that were in contention to be on the last EP, I’m kind of happy we just crossed them out. Sometimes, time, too. You don’t want to wait too long, and I feel like, we’re already pushing it. When you’re an independent unsigned band, you have to stay relevant somehow.
Summer 2013 Tour Dates:
Aug 2nd- The Keys (Scranton, PA) Tour Kick-Off Show
Aug 3rd- Treehouse Lounge (Washington, DC) w/ Zach Parkman & DJ NIRO
Aug 4th- Stanley’s Pub (Cincinnati, OH)
Aug 5th- Indy’s Jukebox (Indianapolis, IN) w/ Let Me Fight in Peace
Aug 6th- The Basement (Nashville, TN)
Aug 7th- The Red Line Tap (Chicago, Il)Aug 9th- The Heavy Anchor (St. Louis, MO) w/ Edgefield C. Johnston & the Known Haters +A Big Sad Whale
Aug 12th- The Twisted Branch (Charlottesville, VA) w/ Endless Bummer + Positive No