When Summer Fires leader J.P. Welsh reached a verdict to bypass law school and pursue a music career, the first person he spoke to was his mother, who didn’t change his mind with a practical cross examination.
“She was extremely supportive and definitely made it easier for me to follow my dream,” Welsh recalls.
What began as a solo project in 2013 became a band when singer-guitarist Welsh and bassist Seth Bellon, a friend since their freshman year at Texas A&M, moved to Austin, Texas. They added drummer Scotty Barnes to the Summer Fires core before bringing in guitarist Jeremy Stein and singer-guitarist-keyboardist Matt Gilmour (son of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour) in summer 2017.
With his band’s debut EP, Without a Word, arriving later this month, Welsh fielded a handful of questions about music-related firsts.
First album you bought with your own money:
J.P. Welsh: “That’s pretty tough; ‘my money’ might be a bit of a gray area. But if you include a childhood allowance, the first CD I remember purchasing was Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park. I used to pop it into my JVC boombox and jam out in my bedroom. It was an equally hyped-up and angsty energy that I really enjoyed at the time. Looking back, it’s pretty funny to think about my 12-year-old self thinking he was tough, but I still have found memories of listening to that record.”
First concert you attended:
Welsh: “The Beach Boys [in the mid-1990s] playing at a Six Flags theme park [in Arlington, Texas] with John Stamos on drums — as in, Uncle Jessie from Full House. It was interesting.”
First words that come to mind when you think of Austin, Texas:
Welsh: “Live music.”
The first Summer Fires gig in Austin:
Welsh: “Our first show was at Cheer Up Charlie’s in mid-2015. We played on a bill with Booher, this killer rock band that we’ve had quite a few run-ins with since then. The audience was mostly just a group of our friends, and they had a great energy and excitement that definitely helped launch our start in town.”
First song written for the EP:
Welsh: “ ‘Last Four Hours.’ I wrote it back in college when I was pretty deep in party mode. It was written about a relationship riddled with poor communication and a little too much drinking and just highlights how things can come off the rails without you realizing. Things seem good through the haze you’ve created for yourself, but when the smoke clears, there’s only a shell of the relationship you once had.”
— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior
Summer Fires will celebrate the release of Without a Word with a show Jan. 18 at Stubb’s in Austin, Texas.
Left to right: Scotty Barnes, Seth Bellon, J.P. Welsh, Matt Gilmour and Jeremy Stein