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Destined: Fireball

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Dusted's Britt Brown profiles Brooklyn firefoxes, Fireball.

Destined: Fireball

Listen to "The Arsonist" by Fireball.

2005 was a lot of things to a lot of people (aren't they all?), but from any perspective it was a heavy year. Politically, things stayed blanketed in basic Bush bleakness, while musically it was the year Sunn 0))) became a household name, and Boris' collective discography went gold (practically). Maybe the two phenomena are linked? Or maybe they're not. It could be just a healthy return to the original vision of rock as a force of crushing destruction. In any event, 2005 was a fitting year for burning Brooklyn quintet Fireball to be birthed.

Despite all the headline-grabbing talk of over-driven amplifier fire, witch/Wiccan lust lyrics, and occult pentagram album art, Fireball's origins are anticlimactically whimsical. According to mundane local lore (i.e. - MySpace), Jennifer Black (vocals), Rebecca Ross (guitar), Lisa Garrett (more guitar), Etain Fitzpatrick (bass), and Sue Piechalski (drums) actually formed the band because they were "persuaded to" by two mutual male friends, Fitz and Erik. The allegedly "light-hearted talk” regarding their shared adoration of progressive psychedelic music somehow led to the ladies agreeing to perform a "fun, one-time project." This project was Fireball.

Then, or so the story goes, they played the show (a January 28th closing party for the beloved NY space Mighty Robot), and everybody in earshot (and eyesight?) was floored by the potent magic of their alchemy. Five charismatic young women pummeling out Sabbath-style, in-the-red stoner pop – like The Runaways for the Southern Lord set. The purely conceptual metal-boogie party band had accidentally stumbled on to something real, something worth pursuing. So they did. A couple of key NYC shows later Fireball were approached by a friend, Andrew (no last names), with access to and knowledge of studio equipment. He proposed they make a record. The tracks became Blessed Be, their debut 12", which sparked a firestorm of glowing critical acclaim and mentions in scores of widely-read year-end top ten lists (Dusted Magazine among them). Most of the praise has focused heavily on Fireball’s evident sonic debt to the James Gang/Hawkwind axis of good-times cosmic devil-rock, but their own words on the record are oddly dead-pan and mannered: “We wanted to see how much dirt we could kick in the fire without putting it out. We believe the result is sacred and ever-burning, a phosphorescent testicular mammogram for which we stand proud.” Which is to say, they like it, because it rocks.

Like a lot of unique records, the rarest virtue of Blessed Be may be its distinct production quality, more than even the songs themselves. Everything is totally blown-out and overdriven, giving the impression that every track was recorded at some unimaginably deafening volume. The guitars shred and melt, the drums lumber like 16-rpm Zeppelin, and Jennifer Black’s vocals burn slowly up out of the fire, consumed in the heat of it all. Fortunately, the production decision was a deliberate one, and whoever masterminded the idea definitely deserves a fair share of credit, as it transforms what could be regular, riff-driven rock songs into unholy, phoenix-rising psych-storms.

Fireball claim they have no current peers, but they confess a kinship with a diverse lineage of wild out-rockers, ranging from the predictably heavy (High on Fire, Comets on Fire, Dead Moon) to the unusually fringe (Woods, Rusted Shut, The Boredoms). Some of these make sense (all the ‘fire’ bands), and others don’t, but it’s nice to know Fireball’s influences/ambitions extend beyond devil-horns and loud rock and roll. Sort of. Actually, they allege to have just four goals, but only half of these seem at all easily accomplished: one, to make more records; two, to buy more records; three, to further blur the line between good and evil; and four, to meet the devil. Here’s to hoping the focus stays on number one.

By Britt Brown

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