Hey Peter! How are you doing? Glad to have you back!
Good to be on Vents again! Always a pleasure.
For those who didn’t catch our last interview, tell us more about the band?
Surefire is an indie rock band from Boston, MA, USA. Currently I am the sole permanent member of the band, with some temporary outside help from some very talented session musicians. Last time I talked to Vent, Surefire was more of a post-punk/power pop sound, but now it’s more geared towards garage rock, blues rock, and West African blues.
What are your music influences?
Sonically, I always try to put myself between the sound of Arctic Monkeys and the Black Keys. Alex Turner’s perceptiveness pushes me to make my words more piercing, and Dan Auerbach’s soulfulness encourages me to be more open about my feelings in my music. Lately, the Strokes started to really influence me when I arrange the dynamics of lead and rhythm guitars in my songs.
Aside from the modern greats, blues from the 50s and 60s is an integral part of who I am. I’m a fan of Muddy Waters, Son House, and Elmore James. Through the Black Keys I also got to learn about Junior Kimbrough, who stands among one of the greatest riff makers ever lived.
I also love African music, especially West Saharan blues and Ethiopian jazz. Tinariwen’s performance on Colbert changed me forever as a musician, and I also love Ali Farka Toure and Bombino, among other legends from Mali. I also admire Alemayehu Eshete from Ethiopia. I often borrow melodies from his songs when I’m writing more soulful compositions.
What are the PROs and CONs of being an one-man band?
One great pro, as Anakin Skywalker once said, is that there is “less deliberation and more action.” Not that I endorse authoritarian governments or the Siths. In the context of a band, being able to make all the decisions makes things go faster. Thus far, the increased speed also meant more effectiveness. Things are happening once again, and that’s always welcomed. I also enjoy the fact that I have complete control over all aspects of my output and can put the sound in my head down in the records more faithfully. Before, I had to compromise with others in the band and constantly caution myself to not write things that others wouldn’t be stylistically comfortable with. Now I do whatever I want, and many people have told me that my music has improved a lot.
As for the cons, one immediate difference is that I have to shoulder more responsibility in terms of dealing with the business side of things. Musically I’m also on my own, and writer’s block becomes much, much scarier. I resolved the heavier workload by rearranging my life so that I have more time devoted to my music, and musically I have very talented friends who has been able to help and inspire me to put more things out.
Also, I miss all the good times and shenanigans with the ex-members. I don’t get that now that I’m on my own.
What’s your method now at the time of writing a song?
That hasn’t really changed for me. The better songs always arrive at my mind when its most unexpected. Sometimes when I eat breakfast, the crunch of cereal in my mouth can inspire a cool rhythm. Sometimes I get a new idea in the shower. Sometimes i hum something when I’m on the subway that’d turn into a full song. That’s why I always keep some sort of recording device near me, so I can keep these cool ideas.
Lyrics are created in the same way. I just walk around and these cool sentences come to me, or when I’m hanging out with friends and some funky things are being said and/or done and that’s worth writing down too.
Then it’s a fun game of mix and match. Does this sentence match with the guitar riff I came up with last week? Let’s see.
Your new EP. How it has been the recording and writing process? Any official release date, title in mind?
The new EP will be titled “Another Take of the Same Difference 2.0.” 2.0 because there has been a reboot of the band’s sound. It will be released on Jan 23rd 2013 through Surefire’s Bandcamp (surefirerox.bandcamp.com). I’ll probably send it to you guys for review when it comes out.
Every song on the EP are written by me, and I play rhythm guitar, bass, and sing on all the tracks. Lead guitar and drums are played by excellent Berklee session musicians Charlie Bloom and Steven Chen, respectively. Steven is also a highly gifted engineer, and he mixed the album. Mastering is done by Abbey Roads Studio in the UK, and Steven.
What’s the message you want to spread with your music?
I wouldn’t say I want to spread any message because I don’t think I’m qualified to lecture anyone about anything. I’m just giving you these pictures that I took out of my mind. You can chew it, frame it, tear it apart, serenade it… how you react to it is completely up to you and out of my control. That’s how it’s always been anyways.
Since we last spoke, has there been any funny moments you have been or took part while touring?
Well, playing with Cymbals Suarez, our last drummer, has always been a riot. He always drummed shirtless and came up with cool stage things to do. Once we covered a 60′s rockabiliy song “Rock Around the Clock” for my dad at a show, at one point he jumped off his drumset and started square dancing with his girlfriend while the rest of us jammed, that was pretty cool.
Are there any plans for the future we should be aware of?
Big ones. Keep in touch with me and you’ll find out.
Where can we find more about your music?
Facebook is always the best way (www.facebook.com/surefirerox), although I’m constructing a website.
Do you still feel you’re moving on the right direction?