Talk Show Host: 037: FIRES

As well as talking to the legends of our wider industrial scene (see yesterday’s interview with Bill Leeb, for example, among others), I’m also keen on hearing the voices of new and younger artists. As Alex Reed of Seeming noted the other week, we can’t always look at the past.

This is very much the case with our scene. There is great new music coming through, despite what some may tell you, and in fact there is so much of it at points that it can be difficult to keep up.

But persevere, and you’ll find some proverbial diamonds. Interestingly, I’d seen the name FIRES kicking around on promo e-mails and upcoming releases information for a while, without registering that it might be something I would like. So on one of those evenings where I was sorting out new promos and new material to check out, and I found that FIRES sounded quite a lot like the kind of thing I wanted to hear.

Now, with the album due for release this week, I caught up with Eric Sochocki, for he is FIRES, to talk about this new project and find out more. This new project FIRES is quite a change from your previous work as Cryogen Second. How did FIRES come about, and was there a particular spark (excuse the pun) for it?

Eric Sochocki: I had a lot of frustration to deal with, honestly. After I buried Cryogen Second in 2015, I laid all of my focus into Becoming The Devourer (my post rock project). It’s a really cool project, I’m proud of what I continue to accomplish with my sound design chops and conceptualization, but I kept feeling the draw back to writing more traditionally dance oriented tunes. So I decided to sit down and try a few new directions, which resulted in five tracks being written in about two weeks time. It was a serendipitous moment to realize that I could write dance tunes again, let alone half of an album of them in less than a month. All kinds of influences seem to come to the surface across the album. Did you have any particular aims when writing this?

Eric Sochocki: I had three hard and fast rules to this album:
1. It has to make me want to dance
2. It has to make me feel something
3. It has to be pop
Everything else was kind of luck of the draw and taking from a huge pallet of influence. I’d been listening to a lot of more that synthwave adjacent stuff like CHVRCHES, Kate Boy, Iamamiwhoami, and AURORA, so that was my primary influence, but I also have a love of sound design acts like Roly Porter or Comaduster, and metal like Katatonia and Russian Circles. Taking all of the pieces of different things that I like and putting it together in a way that makes sense to me is the way I work. Once I made the constraints of the project, it started being a matter of how to put the pieces together, vs. how the whole should sound. The album has been preceded by an EP with alternative versions (I’m a particular fan of the Live ReWork of Red Goes Grey) and quite a variety of remixers. Was this intended as a taster, or as an alternative take on the album?

Eric Sochocki: Aw thanks! I debated on putting that live rework on the album, because it felt “too good”, like people would hear the original and go “YEAH BUT DAT LIVE VERSION THO”. But really, I knew that I wanted to have a single precede the album, so I had contacted three or four people directly that I knew I wanted to have remix tracks. After I started getting those mixes back, I decided to put the kits up to the I Die: You Die/Talking to Ghosts slack channel. I ended up putting every single remix up that I got, solely because every remix was so original, which is ostensibly how I ended up with a fourteen track single. What was your first exposure to what we call industrial music, and were you a convert immediately?

Eric Sochocki: Three Albums come to mind as my first exposure to industrial as we see it: OhGr’s Welt, Assemblage 23’s Contempt, and Apoptygma Berzerk’s Welcome To Earth. But I wasn’t really an immediate convert, as I had been really involved in the Connecticut Ska and Hardcore scene in the early 2000s. There was this weird animosity between punks and anything relating to electronic music, so it took a bit of time to really become fully invested in the sound, but when I realized that I could actually write music all by myself and not be invested in having two or three other people writing with me? I was all in. There seems to be a groundswell of pop-influenced – i.e. concentrating on songcraft rather than “spooky” effects – music in the industrial sphere right now. Are we all just tired of “goblin” vocals, or is there more to it than that?

Eric Sochocki: God I hope we’re collectively over the goblin vocals. But yeah, there’s definitely more to it than just being past a thing in the scene. Generally, I think we’re starting to see the emergence of new influences from all over the map, and with the emergence of new influences, comes the obscurity of others. Producers are less afraid to try new things and push boundaries. But I think that’s largely in part to the homogeneity of the terror EBM movement in the mid to late 2000s. People got really into it, it became ubiquitous, and then people got sick of it, which forced a lot of producers (myself included) to reach past supersaws and spooky lyrics to be interesting. I believe you’re based in Nashville? What’s the scene like there at the moment?

Eric Sochocki: I think that the scene in Nashville is surprisingly solid. We’ve got a lot of electronic acts that are starting to come up here, Like PreCog (who is putting out an album on Advoxya soon), HR_Lexy, Silk&Suede, TAN, Essential Tremors, and Makeup & Vanity Set. Lots of producers who are on their A-Game and producing some cool stuff. Beyond that, our regular goth night (Fascination Street) is consistently bringing in new talent to play at their nights, and having that backup and willingness to dedicate to the live component of the music is wonderful. In a wider sense, there is a dedication to the scene in North America that still amazes me – artists work together on tours, releases, remixes and promoting each other, and many remain friends across great distances. Do you think it is important to how the wider movement continues to thrive?

Eric Sochocki: oh absolutely. Not that I am either of these things, but it seems that very few of us are “famous”, even fewer are self-sustained. This scene is as much a network of friends as it is a bunch of bands dedicated to a wide arch of sound, if that makes sense. We all want to see our friends thrive in any way possible, which means that we lend hands doing all of the stuff you mentioned. How do you see the future for FIRES. Are there plans for live shows?

Eric Sochocki: Of course! I love playing live. If I could do it all the time I’d be a happy camper. I’m writing this on a Monday, but this Saturday I leave for a short run of shows with Panic Lift around the northeast, then I’m back for a week or so, then I’m playing with another local Nashville act in my favorite bar (The Crack Fox in St. Louis), then a few weeks after that I’m going to be going on a short tour with Stoneburner (Steven Archer from Ego Likeness’ sideproject). The next goal is a spring tour, which will hopefully hit a lot of the places I missed this fall.

The new FIRES album Red Goes Grey is out on Friday 08-September on Metropolis Records.

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