By Michael Lello
Photo by Jason Riedmiller
Scranton band A Fire With Friends is dealing with a truly 21st Century problem — its online profile has been wiped out. No Facebook, no Twitter, nothing. It’s essentially career suicide for an up-and-coming band. But while the band might not exist in cyberspace right now, it very much exists in the real world, with some new members and new recordings in the works.Concluding our Arts on the Square interview swap series, we chatted with AFWF’s Daniel Rosler about the Internet drama, the new recordings and the band’s favorite places to play. AFWF plays the Summersteps Records stage at AOTS, which is Saturday, July 26.
H81R: For starters, what is the current lineup?
DR: It’s myself (Daniel Rosler), Chelsea Collins, Eric Foster, John Husosky, Dan King, Karl “Butch” Rucker and our friend Mike Iorio is playing drums with us.
H81R: There seems to have been some recent drama in which the band lost its Facebook, Twitter, etc. pages. What happened, how did it impact the band’s efforts to promote itself, and what have you done to remedy the problem?
DR: Yes, it’s been a really infuriating experience. I don’t want to go too much in detail as it involves people’s personal lives, and regardless of how agitated I am I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus. We basically don’t exist on the Internet, and have been unable to regain access to our stuff. This has made promotion impossible. We’ve had little to no help from Facebook, and Gmail. It’s really depressed me. If we have to, we’ll start over I guess.
H81R: On to happier topics….What is the band working on currently? When can we expect a new album?
DR: We’ve started writing a record, and we’re all very excited about it. I think we’ve needed this chance to take a breather. To step away from playing out for a little while, and focus on making something we think is special. We’ve been on a path of playing catch-up with our music and never really allowed ourselves this focused down time in the six years we’ve been a band. I don’t know when people can expect it. That’s part of the beauty of it. We’re making progress, but want to take our time–don’t want to rush it.
H81R: How do you feel the band has grown over the years? How do you think the sound of the band has developed?
DR: We’ve all learned how to work together better. Everyone in the lineup right now is very open with each other, and the communication is probably the best it’s been. Which makes a world of a difference. I think we’re really giving ourselves the chance to experiment with this new record. I just sat with Dan and Chelsea this weekend and they were arranging this orchestral section I want in a song. It was neat watching them sort of pick each other’s brains and write all of these ideas out on sheet music. I have a great group of friends helping me achieve these ideas I have in my head. I can say that about both bands I’m in and all the musical friends I have otherwise. I trust them to help shape a record that feels consistent. They help with objectivity and putting things in perspective. When you’re trying new things, sometimes you throw a bunch of paint at a wall and make cool patterns. Other times you just get mud. It’s great having a solid team help you realize when you’re playing in the dirt.
H81R: What type of challenges come along with having a larger-than-usual band lineup, either logistically or musically?
DR: Scheduling is honestly the hardest. Everyone still has to work a day job. Several of us have other musical outlets. People have obligations. But I think the reason we even continue as a band is because the people involved make the band a top priority. This is what we all want really: to write music and play to people who might really care about it.
H81R: How would you describe the band’s writing process?
DR: It varies. A large percent of the time I have a song, or riff, chord progression, or simple piano part, and melody to go along with it, and we build it from there. I’ll eventually finish the lyrics, and melody, and we sort of tackle the song as a small group, or as a whole. Sometimes we just make stuff up on the spot, and if we like it we’ll expand on it. Other times, Chelsea or the guys have their own idea and we turn them into songs.
H81R: How do you feel about playing Arts on the Square?
DR: So excited. I’m actually really nervous because we haven’t had a ton of time to prepare a set with some of the newest members, but I think we’re just going to try and have fun. We’re not going to be playing much until the record is finished, so I’m glad one of the few shows we are playing is Arts on the Square. I just love the idea of it so much, and I’m so happy that it’s been successfully organized once again.
H81R: What are some of your favorite places to play, local or otherwise?
DR: The Vintage, The Keys, The Bog. I’ve really liked some of these DIY spots popping up. There’s some cool places coming up in Wilkes-Barre as well. Outside of the area, we’ve had a really warm reception in Vermont, North Carolina and South Carolina. I think New Jersey has one of the best music scenes I’ve ever seen. There’s a place called The Batcave, and the guy who runs it is Christopher Stillmank. He’s one of the best dudes I’ve had the pleasure meeting in awhile. Otherwise, I really like Nashville and Chicago. Those are some great cities. I like playing in Philadelphia and seeing some of our friends who live there as well.
H81R: How have you gone about building and expanding your fanbase?
DR: Honestly, we’ve just played shows. Done some traveling. We’ve tried our best to promote ourselves in a DIY fashion. The music business is always changing, and you have to do your best to keep up with it.
H81R: Is there anything else going on with the band now, or planned for the near future, that you’d like to mention?
DR: Just a little bit about what we spoke about earlier. We’re writing with the intentions of recording and hopefully putting together something we’re proud of. I like the songs we are writing now a whole lot. I’m really excited. I think the band has a new life to it.