I recently caught up with Toby, Alex and Jon of Flashfires, a five piece band from Basingstoke who have made a name for themselves in the Southern music scene. I spoke to them shortly after their trip to Sacremento, California during which they recorded their forthcoming debut album with independent label Angry Badger Records.
Who would you say are your main influences?
Toby: We’re all pretty into the Arctic Monkeys at the moment. We’ve been compared to a few bands like Arctic Monkeys and Muse. We like a bit of Kings of Leon and Franz Ferdinand, maybe a bit of The Strokes.
Alex: For me it’s pretty much the same, but for me the biggest influence for writing music would be The Beatles because they are the best at doing it.
Jon: I’d say it’s not one main influence, it’s loads of different things. We’ve all got different styles that we like but when we come together to write stuff it seems to gel quite nicely.
Toby: We don’t try to copy anyone, we just bring our own style to it.
So you’ve just come back from America. How was it working with producer Brian Wheat of Tesla fame? [Tesla are American rock band formed in Sacramento, California, who have sold 14 million albums in the United States].
Jon: Brian’s a great guy in and out of the studio.
Alex: Yeah he was sort of like a father figure to us in the studio.
Jon: He was the first person to say to us ‘this needs changing’ about some of our songs, which at first was a bit of a shock but after that…
Alex: Yeah he was a great producer to have. He sort of crafted us into stronger musicians.
Toby: He is a great guy, we became good friends. He was really generous. For four days we got to go on the road with Tesla. They were playing in front of thousands of people, it was crazy. You look at them and you think, if we could do that one day that would be amazing. Just going on the tour bus and meeting music industry people, it was amazing.
Alex: Yeah we met some really interesting people, like the photographer of Kings of Leon and Arctic Monkeys. We met so many industry people out there, and to have them enjoy listening to our music was amazing, quite surreal really! It’s really down to our manager [Jules Aplin] and our record label [Angry Badger] that we were able to go.
Was there a particular highlight of the America trip for you?
Toby: I would say, one unforgettable moment, was walking in with the band to the studio, opening the door and looking at everything, thinking ‘we’re going to be here for the next month with all this to work with’.
Alex: Yeah definitely, we got to work with some really great equipment. We wrote three songs out there in America in the studio with the help of Brian’s production. They’re quite different to our normal songs, they’re kind of like ballads, they’re powerful.
Do you think that’s because you were in the studio?
Alex: Yeah I think making those songs in the studio, with someone like Brian alongside you is a great advantage because you can pick up all the equipment around you.
Alex: Yeah, yeah we did experiment in the studio; new sounds, new effects.
Toby: We played a bit of sitar!
Alex: Yeah, it was just an excellent experience for us all.
Is there one show in particular that has stood out for you?
Toby: Yeah, Basingstoke Live this year. It’s nice to go out and play to new people, but the Basingstoke Live show was particularly good; everyone was having a good time and we were playing in front of loads of our mates. It was nice, before everyone went to uni, to have a kind of send-off in a way. We did a couple of covers of songs that everyone knew, there was a really good feel to the night.
Alex: It’s good when the crowd sing at you, there was good audience participation. All the gigs before America… I think as a band we kind of upped our game. Everything’s progressing forward nicely.
Do you have a dream venue that you would want to perform at?
Toby: I’d go for Earls Court. It’s somewhere that everyone can get involved.
Jon: I really love the connection with the audience in smaller venues. It gives the crowd the chance to get into the performance and get to know who we are.
Alex: Yeah you kind of have a stronger connection with the crowd. You can see the faces of the audience and interact with them.
What’s next for you?
Alex: We’ve got loads of really good shows lined up around Southern England. The main gig will be the 22nd of November at Lennons [Southampton]. We want to use Southampton as our home turf, we really like the music scene here. We’re looking to hit a venue once each month in places like London, Swindon and Brighton. We’ve also got some merchandise coming out and a new website is being designed. We’re still trying to decide on the first single and we’ve got a music video to be filmed as well. There’s loads of stuff in the works!
Toby: We’ve got the tunes, now we just want to present them!
Catch Flashfires performing in the next few weeks, with a date at Lennons, Southampton on 22nd November and Edge of the Wedge, Southsea on 4th November.