With two members living outside the city, Philadelphia-based indie-punk quartet Fire In The Radio are no strangers to rehearsing remotely via Skype.
“You could say we’re well-versed in social distancing when it comes to band rehearsals,” vocalist and guitarist Jonathan Miller says. “We’re in touch via text on a daily basis and we’ll jump on a Zoom or Skype at regular intervals. We collaborate on all aspects of a record release, so each of us has been doing press and making sure records are getting shipped out. This gives us lots of opportunities to connect and collaborate.”
Their new album, Monuments, is a hard-hitting and voracious collection of guitar-rock, meticulously riding a wave of diverse influences that make the band a true sum of its parts.
“We said, ‘what would happen if you took the chorus style guitar elements from bands like The Cure or Turnover, overlapped it with a JCM 800 distortion sound à la Jawbreaker or Hot Snakes, and then sprinkled in some Document-era R.E.M. jangle,’” Miller says. “We tweaked on those kinds of ideas and that led us to a sound that was retrospective but still modern.”
The result is an air-tight album that makes its presence known with a timeless energy once reserved for acts like The Replacements or emo punk pioneers Samiam. In fact, Sergie Loobkoff (Samiam/Knapsack) designed a t-shirt for the album.
Monuments was recorded at the Gradwell House in New Jersey by Jesse Gander (Japandroids, White Lung) prior to the travel restrictions, but its official unveiling on April 15 came with its own set of challenges with no live show to celebrate its arrival. As a result, the band has opted to host a series of live streams; their next one via Instagram on Thursday, May 7 at 5 pm PST/8 pm EST.
“An additional wrinkle is that we’re a loud live band with two singers. Figuring out how to reconstitute these songs in a stripped-down solo setting requires some additional considerations,” Miller says. “Rich [Carbone, vocals/guitar] and I are both taking turns doing live streams and featuring certain songs. Where possible, Adam [Caldwell, drums] and Ed [Olsen, bass] have joined as curators to field questions and keep us on track. Everyone’s obviously seen a lot of these. We’re trying to make ours stand out by making sure the audio sounds good. We’re all fortunate to have some home recording gear and this has been really helpful. I have also been playing with my loop pedal and using it to layer tracks over each other in the performance to give it a two and three guitar feel. Sort of like Andrew Bird does with the violin, but more punk rock.”
Prior to the live stream, Fire In The Radio are excited to premiere an acoustic in-studio version of “Tulare” via BeatRoute. One of the more punchy and energetic tracks from Monuments, the video sees Carbone and Miller standing six-feet apart from each other in the studio, providing a tender take on the raucous single.
“Learning how to do the stripped-down acoustic thing is new to us,” Miller says. “That session, however, definitely helped to prepare us for the current climate.”
Tune in to the band’s Instagram on Thursday, May 7 at 5 pm PST/8 pm EST to say hello and listen to a stripped-down but equally powerful Fire In The Radio. RSVP here.