MY questions to Firemelon…
were sent out before their album, King Leisure, arrived - so it seems like a perfect opportunity for people to hear their latest work. I have been talking with the American band about the single, Before Goodbye; they discuss King Leisure and what inspired it – I was eager to know how they all came together and what the music scene is like where they.
The guys each choose a song to end the interview with; I learn whether the guys have collective and common tastes and what their touring plans are – they tell me whether they are coming to the U.K. and playing here anytime soon.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Well, hi! Our week’s been great so far. We’ve been spending time writing and working on fresh material - which is always a blast. The best way to spend a week in my opinion.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
Sure. The short answer is: Firemelon is a little ol' Rock ‘n’ Roll band out of Southern California. People tell us what we play is called ‘Americana’. I don’t know. From our perspective; it’s music that grew out of all the things we love listening to. There’s old-school Country in there, mashed up against Rock ‘n’ Roll; twangy guitars and grungy guitars; pedal steel and a lot of drums. It’s Country and Rock and heavy all at the same time.
I’m Matthew Samia - I’m the singer and guitarist and I’ve been writing most of the tunes. We also have Matt Bailey on guitars, who has also, lately, been stepping up and contributing tunes. Jeff ‘Packy’ Cassens is on drums; Chris ‘Harv’ Harvey is on pedal steel and Ron V. Larson is on electric bass.
I guess that’s not actually such a short answer...
Can I ask how your name, ‘Firemelon’, came to be?! Is there a story behind it?
There is, kind of...
I had a band in college that needed a name. We decided the best way to choose a name would be to get really plastered, write random words on slips of paper and, literally, pull them out of a hat and combine them in random ways…seems totally obvious that this is the best way to choose a name (sarcasm). But, that’s what we did. There were a few other contenders that came out of the hat – ‘SunTooth’, ‘CowPaste’; ‘BrainFrog…but, somehow, ‘FireMelon’ won out.
We found out, later, that there’s a thing called a firemelon in a video game – but, by then, it was too late to change. We had decided to forever be known as ‘FireMelon’. Or ‘The Melon’ for short.
Before Goodbye is your debut single. How did the song come together? Does it hold personal significance?
Before Goodbye is a song about the breakup of a relationship and the melancholy musings that come with it. It’s not really about any one particular relationship or breakup, but rather the feeling everyone has experienced when things fall apart. It came together pretty fast. Sometimes, things pop in my head as I’m driving or noodling on the guitar or whatever. This one was a driving song.
The opening guitar riff and first few lines sort of appeared in my skull as I was cruising down Pan Coast Highway. I brought the skeleton of the tune to rehearsal that night and it just sort of formed itself…it’s nice when a plan comes together.
Do you have any more material planned for later in the year?
Yes! The album that Before Goodbye is off of, King Leisure, is set to drop in a few weeks. We’re pretty excited about that. As I mentioned earlier; we’ve been writing and working up new material for the past few months - that we plan to record in the fall for the follow-up to King Leisure.
How did you all find one another? Did you all live in Orange County at the time?
We’re all from Huntington Beach, in Southern California (in Orange County). We met in high-school and have all played together in various bands at different times in the past. Firemelon is the first band we’ve all played in all together, though. It’s been great to have guys who are all on the same page, musically, and are also great friends. Except the drummer. We don’t care for him much.
Your music has a lot of honesty and emotion working away. Is that a result of your collective experience and musical tastes?
Thank you. I think it grows out of our collective musical tastes, for sure –also, having created music for quite a while; which I think tends to lead you down the path of least bullsh*it. As a songwriter, the people whose songs and performances I most connect with are the ones who take the simple, heartfelt approach. Like Lucinda Williams. She’s all about simple arrangements, heartfelt lyrics and powerful delivery. So good…
Where are you heading on tour? Where can we catch you?
We’re getting our summer tour dates together at the moment. Currently, we have a show upcoming at The Mint in Los Angeles with Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on July 11; a show at The Coachhouse in Southern California on July 20 and we’ll be at our favorite local music dive, The Karman Bar in Orange County, on July 28th. We’ll be fleshing out the rest of the summer and into the fall A.S.A.P.!
Do you reckon you’ll come to the U.K. and perform this year?
We would love to! Can we stay at your place?
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
Complete World Domination! As a starting point...
But, actually, we’re looking forward to the release of King Leisure and getting the next album recorded. Also; we’re looking to reach listeners in the U.K., and would, in fact, like to get a U.K. tour together.
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
So many I don’t know. In recent memory; we did a great show with Mike Campbell at the Coachhouse last year - that one definitely stands out. Mike is a great guy and one of my personal musical heroes, so it was a kick playing with his new band, The Dirty Knobs. The Coach House is a great mid-sized venue: not too big, and not too small, so the sold-out crowd was close-by to pump us up with their energy. A memorable show all-around!
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Father John Misty. He just did a great show at the Hollywood Bowl supported by Gillan Welch and David Rawlings, who I love. But, I’d kick them off the bill in a second and take that slot!
The rider is always ‘no brown M&M’s’. It goes without saying...
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Write your own music. Play it. Keep playing it.
IN THIS PHOTO: The War on Drugs
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Well. I tend to unwind by sitting around playing guitar and noodling on new songs - or singing old ones. So, I guess it’s not really time away from music. But, it’s what I always gravitate toward if I have a free minute. I always have.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Harv: I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail by Buck Owens
Matt Bailey: Black Grease by The Black Angels
Packy: If It’s the Beaches by The Avett Brothers
Ron: Unsuffer Me by Lucinda Williams