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Just A Fire cont’d

| March 30, 2006 | 0 Comments

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That’s not to give the impression Just A Fire’s songs even approach such levels of the vanguard. Chaotic on the surface, where Chris Daly (ex-Check Engine) probes with asymmetric guitar figures in between staccato power chords, Erskine and Adamson play stop/start, left/right but never venture off the map. For effect, Erskine howls above the din like trying to control a riot without a megaphone.

“I’ve sung before in a few other bands,” he says, “although I’ve never been the only singer in a band. It’s tough on me. I’m sure that I don’t sing right — meaning the way that a vocal instructor would tell you to do it [All Music Guide chides “his hideous caterwauling”] — I can tell just by the strain on my throat. When we tour, usually the first couple days are rough before I really get everything stretched out, feeling good. Like anything, it takes practice. But it’s a different responsibility. I like the challenge. I feel like I’m up to it; I try to pull it off. I’ve always had stagefright, from day one of playing shows no matter what I’m doing.”

Another thing that worries Erskine is time. As he said, he gets “unsettled,” leading one to think sitting on the same songs for a couple years would have led to mutiny.

“I’ve always been that way, I think, very time-sensitive,” he says, but acknowledges not everything must go. “The lyrics changed a little bit here and there. I make changes to those. It’s more like the body of them that I like that I’d want to re-use. It’d be like, ‘Oh, we’re gonna scrap this song because I just can’t deal with playing this. We can’t work it to where I like the arrangement.’ But then I’ll be like, ‘Man. I really like those lyrics.’ I would just, at that point, just try to write something around them.

“I just kind of lost perspective on it,” Erskine continues. “I listen to tons of improvised music and I love spontaneity. I guess maybe that also goes with feeling time sensitive about things. I just feel like it really worked, and then later [felt] I thought about it too much.”

In the end, though, his sensibility won out. It just took a couple years.

“Well, to get it right, when we went in for this record we had a pretty definite amount of time to work with J. It was just kind of buckle down and get it right, but get it done. A couple of those songs we did a fair amount of [takes] because Scott’s a perfectionist and I’m glad [he is]. If you ask him, he’s probably still not happy with some. Some of ’em came right out. We definitely wanted to get it right, but also get that right feel. I’m certainly willing to live with mistakes if the song gets the right feel. To me that’s just part of the character of the recording.”

Seems ironic something with so much build up could possibly come off unrehearsed. Maybe they really do need to work on the scheduling.

“I would liked to have done that from the start, but I realized it doesn’t work with these guys. You just kind of take things when they come. I found that if I try to force it into a schedule, I just get frustrated. I’ve actually been pretty happy just to take things as they come. I had a kid five months ago, so it’s been a relief of pressure for me. Those guys haven’t been breathing down my neck to get stuff done right now.”

He’d best mark his words — nothing sticks with Just A Fire for too long.

Steve Forstneger

Category: Features, Monthly

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