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With name issues in the past, Flashbulb Fires looks to the future

Flashbulb Fires_by Todd Roeth.jpg

If a band is going to change its name, one of the best times to do so is before releasing its debut album. Sometimes, though, making such a switch is not a smooth and simple process.

Fiance, which already had the EPs Girl From the Ivory Coast (2007) and Please, Ambitious, Please (2008) under its belt, got to a point after about four years where it felt like the name didn’t fit anymore. So around April 2009, the Denver-based Fiance changed its moniker to The Atlantic, only to find out a few months (and a few gigs) later that another group had already trademarked the name.

Around July 2009, the problem was solved with the announcement that the short-lived Atlantic had become Flashbulb Fires.

“We liked the image that the phrase put in our heads,” explains guitarist/singer Michael James. “In addition, it speaks to the lyrical content of our music to a certain degree — kind of this burnout of American pop culture and sensationalism — as well as evoking a sense of nostalgia that we feel is an element in some of our music.”

As for any public confusion his band may have caused with its name switcheroo, James says, “We were still relatively new in the eyes of Denver … so even though we were all over the place for a few months, it ended up not making a big difference in the long run. People know us as Flashbulb Fires for the most part; there are very few Fiance holdovers these days.”

Prior to the whole name-changing process, the band had been hard at work recording the majority of what would be its debut album, Glory, in a rented Denver house.

“One of the most important things for us was to have a space we could call our own and spend hours and days at a time recording in without having to worry about the constraints of typical studios,” James says. “We could experiment and try different things without feeling pressure to be productive and get the most out of our ‘studio time.’ The point was to foster creativity as much as possible. Recording that way also gave us the chance to do some writing in the studio. Songs like ‘Heavy Hands’ and ‘Rope and River’ were all completely written in the studio during the recording of Glory.”

Since the release of Glory in late 2009, Flashbulb Fires has changed bassists, replacing Tyler Reschke — “his priorities changed and he decided that he needed to move on to other things,” according to James — with Brett Schreiber.

Word of Reschke’s departure came as a bit of a shock. A piece of news that the group was hoping to hear arrived in June, when Flashbulb Fires learned it was voted by the public as the best indie-pop band on the 2010 Westword Music Showcase ballot, finishing ahead of 10 other Denver-area nominees in the indie-pop category.

While James says his band is proud of the Westword honor, he’s not entirely comfortable with the indie-pop tag, which he feels “seems too one-dimensional to encompass everything we do. Some of our music probably leans more toward the ‘pop’ side of things, yet some of our stuff is much more experimental.”

That pretty much sums up Glory, which James goes on to describe as “brooding, dark and melancholy. Both lyrically and musically it is tortured, but it has an underlying hopefulness to it.”
A good portion of the follow-up has already been written, says James, who adds that the album will have a different feel from Glory.

“We will still do quite a bit more writing when we get back from our tour,” he adds. “The bulk of the recording will probably take place later this year and early next year. We want to get something out as soon as possible because we are very excited about the new material.

“There is this energy that is driving and stirring in a lot of the new music — a sort of caged animal trying to get out. From a lyrical standpoint, I think the satire remains, but with a different take than on Glory. It will be interesting to see how the full story of this second album evolves over the next several months as we continue to shape it. The truth is, what the album ends up being will probably be different from where we thought it end up at the start. That’s usually how these things work out.”

— By Chris M. Junior

Flashbulb Fires on tour (schedule subject to change):

* Oct. 23: The ATC – Woodbridge, Conn.
* Oct. 25: The Trash Bar – Brooklyn, N.Y.
* Oct. 26: The Saint – Asbury Park, N.J.
* Oct. 27: Mojo 13 – Wilmington, Del.
* Oct. 28: The Cave – Chapel Hill, N.C.
* Oct. 29: The Evening Muse – Charlotte, N.C.
* Oct. 30: Diversity Den – Concord, N.C.
* Nov. 1: LiveWire – Savannah, Ga.
* Nov. 2: The Golden Bough – Macon, Ga.
* Nov. 3: Soho – Columbus, Ga.
* Nov. 4: The Independent – Auburn, Ala.
* Nov. 5: The Apollo – Murfreesboro, Tenn.
* Nov. 6: The 5 Spot – Nashville, Tenn.
* Nov. 8: The Coup – Clarksville, Tenn.
* Nov. 9: The Buccaneer – Memphis, Tenn.
* Nov. 11: Shreveport Music Collective – Shreveport, La.
* Nov. 12: The Green Elephant – Dallas
* Nov. 13: Fassler Hall – Tulsa, Okla.
* Nov. 14: Kirby’s Beer Store – Wichita, Kan.

Photo by Todd Roeth