In 2011, a band from Detroit, Michigan released their second divine full-length pop punk opus Gospel, which I listened to religiously. It was immediately apparent that these dudes had tons of heart, which Run For Cover Records and Triple Crown – two labels whose flawless ears and output have yielded me many favorites – thankfully picked up on and translated to support for the band. But, it was at the 2012 Warped Tour where the band permanently endeared themselves to me. In addition to turning out a flawless set, the band mentioned the London Olympics and lead the significant crowd in the timeless chant of, “U-S-A! U-S-A!”.
With the Warped Tour in the rearview and sights set on their next full-length, Ghettoblaster jumped at the opportunity to talk to Fireworks guitarist Chris Mojan about Detroit, their next album, and to get the truth about TRUTH. Here’s what he told us…
I know a few bands from the Detroit area. Do you happen to know Scott or Ryan Allen who used to be in Thunderbirds Are Now!?
I know them a little bit. They’re actually from the same town as us. I’ve always liked their bands and respected the fact that they were a hardworking band who actually toured and put out records. On a tour last year, our TM had some new songs Scott had been a part of and they were excellent. I don’t remember the name unfortunately.
With Ohio being so close to Michigan I imagine you’re pretty familiar with like-minded bands from our home state? In fact, I noticed some of the folks from Mixtapes were checking out your set at Warped Tour in Cincinnati. Have you been to Ohio a lot and made friends here over the years?
Definitely. Some of our first bands first out of state shows were in Ohio. I played in a band when I was 18 that played with Ryan from Mixtapes’ band and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.
Detroit has taken a significant hit due to the economy in recent years. Even ritzy areas like Royal Oak aren’t what they once were. How has the change in economics in your home state affected you personally or the band?
Well, personally I feel that Detroit is on the upswing. And to me, that is more inspiring than anything else. The physical evidence may be hard to identify, but the attitude and spirit is there. And I think that’s what produces the best music, art, etc. Tough times don’t last, tough people do.
Is it hard to continue to write fun, upbeat music when you see things in the world that bum you out or is pop punk and escape from those things?
Our lyrical themes can be fairly dark at times, and I think that is our main outlet for expressing our discomfort with certain aspects of life. We’ve always wrote rock songs that people can sing along to because it feels good. It’s like listening to Tom Petty while driving through Skid Row.
You guys did two music videos for Gospel songs, right? How did those come about? Are you pleased with how they turned out?
We actually only did one and that was for the song, “Arrows”. Our label put us in touch with a guy named Thom Glunt from Pittsburgh. After playing a show in Pittsburgh we met up with Thom and talked video stuff. All we really told him was that we didn’t want to be in the video and that we didn’t want any performance in the video. He then pitched us the idea and we fell in love with it. I think its hard to focus on both a performance and a storyline in a music video when they’re going on simultaneously. I also hate fake playing and singing. Check out Thom’s stuff at thomglunt.com. He does amazing work.
Why did you guys move from Run For Cover to Triple Crown for Gospel?
We get asked this a lot and are always a bit puzzled by it. People seem to get the impression that we left Run For Cover in a very permanent way. We decided to have Triple Crown release All I Have To Offer and Gospel because at the time, Jeff and RFC were a growing label and we were a growing band. There were certain things that we felt would benefit us by having Triple Crown release our full lengths. In the same light, there were also certain things we felt Run For Cover could benefit from the decision as well. Run For Cover released All I Have To Offer on vinyl and since then has done a couple releases for us. We’ve never really left, and are always throwing ideas back and forth with Jeff. Run For Cover did something really special for this band and it will always be our home.
Have you begun writing the follow up yet? What direction do you anticipate the band following in the future?
We don’t really like beginning to write just because its “writing time”. We always try to write together and come up with new ideas. That being said, if there was a time period to label “writing time” it would probably be right now haha. We have some time off and are really trying to tie ourselves down a bit more than usual. As far as direction goes, we just write what comes out and really try to ignore any sort of outside expectations for our records. I think once a band starts trying to write a certain way, or please a certain crowd, it usually comes out pretty poorly. This will be our most dynamic record to date and we’re real excited about it.
Is there anyone in particularly that you’d like to produce the record? Why? Will you return to Brian or Chad?
There’s a lot of people in the production/engineering world we’d love to work with it but it really all comes down to time and money. We really clicked with Brian and I’d love to work with him again in the future, whether its with Fireworks or with something else. He’s the best.
How was your time on the Warped Tour? Any beefs? Did you build any new friendships?
No real beef’s, we were tattled on by the Truth truck for a tweet sent out by our merch guy. He just tweeted his honest opinion of them, nothing crude, and they couldn’t handle it I guess. As a long time sponsor of Warped Tour, it seems like they can really do whatever they want with no repercussions. Not once did I ever hear them talking to kids about cigarettes or the effects of them. They mainly just made kids feel uncomfortable and teased them until they participated in one of their activities, when they weren’t on their smoke breaks that is.
Who was a band on the tour that just totally blew you away? Why?
One of my favorite bands is Polar Bear Club. Before we became close friends I was a huge fan of theirs, and still am. I really think they are one of the most consistently great live bands I’ve ever seen. I also found myself watching Title Fight every day. That band has just found a way to keep everything they do so interesting and cool.
Is it something the band would consider doing again?
Definitely, especially after doing it once and really understanding what its all about. Warped Tour treats their bands so incredibly well, whether you’re on main stage or a smaller stage. It’s really awesome to see.
Were you on a bus or in a van? If a bus, did you share it/who did you share it with?
We were on a bus that was primarily ours, but we rented out 5 bunks to make it slightly affordable haha. Four of the bunks went to a clothing company called, “Umbrella” and the other went to No Sleep Records. We actually all ended up getting along quite well which was a relief.
What are Fireworks’ plans for the rest of 2012?
We are really focusing on writing and recording demos for everything right now. We have a few one off shows including Riot Fest in Chicago and a couple college shows in the Midwest. We love doing holiday shows every year so hopefully something fun comes together.
What are your loftiest goals for Fireworks?
Loftiest? Hmm, I don’t really have any reason to consider myself a lofty person so this is hard for me to answer. I honestly just feel fortunate that I can write music and play it around the world with my best friends. It won’t last forever, so I’m really trying to make the most of it for right now.
If something happened to the band tomorrow, God forbid, what is your plan B?
I would probably finally finish school and try to find a teaching position. No other job in the world seems to make much sense to me.
Would you ever consider doing “The Wild Bunch; part two” where you talk about the recent ups and downs of the band?
I’ve never liked “part two” songs, especially if I really liked the first one.