Rock. Rock. Rock. Sometimes that is all you need, some well-executed, straightforward rock music. Badass Band 99 does that damn well, meet Los Angeles’ Fire The Animal.
I saw Fire The Animal for the first time a few months back at a show I sponsored featuring badass band Black Belt Karate. The pairing of these bands was impeccable. High energy, raging rock n roll was what I experienced that night. This may seem like nothing special, as there are a million rock bands in LA, but my issue is that 999,995 of those are carbon copies of each other who stand up there with no energy spouting off unintelligible lyrics while playing the same guitar riffs through eight songs. FTA is not that. It’s on stage that they live up to their name best, igniting audience members and turning heads within seconds of taking the stage.
Currently, FTA has one self-titled EP out and a few singles. A couple of standouts include:
“The Crawl” (EP Track)- The harmonies really ease you into this one. The slow build with dirty guitar riffs (along with some stellar drawn out solos), deep bass lines, and drum beats that really glue this whole track together, complete its big sound. The title perfectly describes the instrumentation, it crawls in the sickest way possible, being pushed along with lines like, “I’m going down and there’s no stopping ya.”
“Beast Eater” (Single)- The guitar riffs are at full force right from the start, with the rhythm section pushing right into your core. Vocals are rough, but clear, belting out lines the chorus “Ah, you never know, I’ll be the beast eater. I’ll be the beast eater. When they told you, I’ll be the beast eater. I’ll be the beast eater. ” This is the perfect anthemic tune to get you absolutely fired up to face anything, beasts included.
I got to chat up ¾ of the guys of FTA, David – Vocals, Jason – Guitar/Backing Vocals, Brian – Bass/Backing Vocals, when they stopped by our warehouse rager a couple of months back. Read on to find out how far back these gents go, what their name has to do with Bio class, and which one of them never gets tired of 80’s hair metal.
When and why did you start playing music?
Jason: When? I was fifteen. First started playing music was when I played saxophone in the school band when I was super young. But then when I first started playing guitar it was because Dave was really good at guitar when I was fifteen and I wanted to learn.
Dave: He’s still not as good as me, though.
Brian: I remember the first time music really hit me, I was like four and I heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit” come on and I lost my shit. That’s when I knew I needed to play music but I didn’t know what to do. Started with piano and then eventually started playing guitar. I used to live on a boat and my dad had a travelling guitar, like a little skinny Martin. I picked that up at like age nine or ten. Started playing like, “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and fucking “More Than A Feeling”. Those were the two songs that I played for like three years.
Dave: I just wanted to rock. I started around probably like nine or ten. I would watch MTV when they’d still play videos and they’d show Guns N’ Roses and stuff like that. I think “Welcome to the Jungle”, the music video, made me want to start playing guitar.
Brian: And singing? When did you start singing?
Dave: Singing. I started singing probably…weird story, I kind of influenced him to play guitar and he then he influenced me to be a singer. See, he got really good, so we kind of switched places. So I figured I had to find something else to do and I started singing. He kind of influenced me to sing and said, “Give it a try.” And here I am. A shitty singer.
Brian: I guess I play bass now too, if you think about it.
Dave: Brian plays bass.
Brian: I started about two years ago because we needed a bass player and couldn’t find one, so I was like, “Fuck it. I’ll do it.” Megadeth this shit.
How did all of you guys meet? Sounds like you guys have known each other for a while.
Jason: I met Dave in middle school. The first thing I remember seeing of Dave is him running across the basketball courts wearing bright red pants. I was like, everything I hate about people in this school is right there.
Dave: I had red Dickies on. Me and Brian and Jason met via a previous drummer in a previous band we were in. He met him at a party one day just kind of shooting the shit, hanging out. And Brian became the guitar player. He’s now the bass player for our new band.
Why the name Fire the Animal?
Brian: I had a biology teacher back during freshman year of high school. He was asking us questions like, “Can you prove to me that fire isn’t a living thing? It breathes, it multiplies, it grows, it dies, and it’s born.” And two years ago I was driving home from work and I was singing about that randomly. I was like, “Fire the animal. That sounds kind of cool.” Then I told these guys and they were down, so that’s where it came from.
When people ask you what you sound like, what do you tell them?
Jason: I think just to throw names out when people are asking us, names that are universal and people can understand real quick. I think a lot of our sound you could even say is like, there’s some Strokes element. Dave’s vocal approach is definitely like Led Zeppelin that would be like guitar solos. Lots of drumming based movement going around, but …
Brian: A little bit of harmonies as well.
Jason: Yeah, but our main goal when people come to our shows is just to have fun and dance around and have a good time.
How does your creative process typically work?
Brian: Drinking. Drinking whiskey and jamming on guitars.
Jason: Pretty much, yeah. It’s really grassroots.
Dave: That’s how the process works. A lot of the times, thank God for technology, I live kind of far from these guys, so we’ll write music and then we’ll send it. I’ll use my iPhone and be like, “Hey, check this idea out,” and I’ll send it in a text even to Jason or Brian and that’s how sometimes some things start.
Brian: Or we’ll be jamming to guitar or stuff with an idea, and Dave will come in and drink some whiskey and sing out some random melodies. It doesn’t really add up and then we’ll take it apart and be like, “This one’s kind of saying this, let’s do that.” Carry that theme forward. And three out of four of us, so Brian, our drummer Marshall, who’s not here right now, we all live together so it’s pretty easy for us to jumpstart ideas. Then we get it tracked, and get everything recorded. J mixes and engineers in-house. He’s recorded everything in our kitchen basically.
As an L.A. band, what do you find is the biggest challenge for a band here in Los Angeles?
Brian: Definitely the biggest challenge is trying to keep enough time to be creative as well as enough time to do what it takes to pay rent. The cost of living out here is rather high. So if you have a good job it means you’re working a lot too. If you have enough to live then your time is precious. And traffic. It sucks.
So if you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Brian: Maybe bring intellectuality back into it instead of just glorifying money and bitches and cars above all, and that whole thing. Ideology would shift, but there’s that everywhere. Every different genre of music has its own ideology. More radio space for kind of stuff like what we’re doing, or just rock ‘n’ roll in general. To kind of have a place to live.
Dave: More other kinds of bands on the radio instead of just the same ones over and over.
Jason: I’d like to hear better bands. It seems like there’s catchy stuff on the radio but it just doesn’t have that…
Dave: Imagine Dragons only goes so far.
Jason: A while back you kind of had to, well you had to be good to be in a band. You had to be good. Seems like these days there’s a lot of people that are just…
One song you never get tired of listening to.
Dave: “Spoke in the Wheel” by Zakk Wylde.
Jason: Right now a song that I’ve been playing over and over again is something Brian showed me, this guy named Barton Carroll. He’s kind of like a folk singer. His song called “Poor Boy Can’t Dance.”
Brian: Fucking amazing.
Dave: I don’t get tired of 80’s hair metal.
Brian: After six shots, it’s Winger all night.
Dave: Def Leppard and Whitesnake.
Best live show you’ve ever gone to?
Brian: I was talking about this earlier. Dude, Peppers at Coachella last year was pretty fucking impacting.
Jason: I’m going to do a best and most fun because I think they’re different. Maybe a few years ago when I seen Aerosmith at the Bowl. I mean, great band honestly, and then the venue just ruled. But most fun was Fidlar at in the middle of L.A.’s historic park. I lost my shoes like three times.
Dave: Speaking of Aerosmith, I’m about to go see them soon, but Maiden. I’ve seen Maiden three times. The best concert I’ve ever been to was ’07. It was Maiden at Irvine Meadows. The stage and the props were great. They played all the old songs. It was called ‘Somewhere Back in Time’ tour, so they played everything you’d want to hear. I would have to say that Maiden took it for the best show I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen hundreds of bands, but that’s number one.
Favorite things to do not musically related?
Jason: Me? I can’t right now because my ankle’s busted, but skateboarding. Cooking, just long walks anywhere. It doesn’t even have to be the beach. Any of those three.
Brian: I like to get down on some art, whether it’s drawing or whatever.
Jason: We do all of our art in-house. Brian and I usually tackle that. He usually illustrates everything and I’ll help with transferring it onto the computer.
Brian: We make it look extra dark. Art, and then, I don’t know. Just going out and talking to people and it’s so much to do and I can’t even think.
Jason: Usually we’re so busy. It’s just like, work, music, and the art stuff with the band.
Dave: I’m into reptiles. I own snakes and lizards, so I’m real into that kind of stuff. I like going to the zoo. Stuff like that. I like skating, yeah. Skating’s really fun. I haven’t been doing much of it lately because we seem to be getting hurt at our older age, when we fall we don’t get up as fast anymore.
If you ran Badass Bands Blog, what are some bands that you would feature?
Jason: Our friends in a band called Delta Rose. They’re a great band. Our friends, Diamond Lane. Future Villains. Those are all our buddies. Ever since we’ve been out here in this city, they’ve kind of been our closest band buddies. It’s cool because they’re different genres, too, so it’s not like we’re competing or anything like that.
FIND FIRE THE ANIMAL HERE: