I Set My Friends On Fire
I Set My Friends On Fire, hailing from Miami, FL, are the end result of a sonic mind-meld of Nabil Moo and Matt Mehana. After a couple of years playing together as We Are The Cavalry, Nabil and Matt formed ISMFOF in late August 2007, but don't be fooled by the years under their belts. These are decidedly not old music vets, but rather uber-precocious teens who started their musical journey around the same time they started high school. The duo records thusly: Matt does the singing (fueled by "plutonium and Wheaties") and Nabil does everything else, and while this division of labor may seem unfair to some, Matt and Nabil are united by their genre-defying take on music and their desire to f*ck with people.
In the beginning...
September, seemingly on a whim, Nabil and Matt decided to record a rock/screamo version of Soulja Boy's "Crank Dat" which they called "Crank Dat Cavalry Boy." Once the track hit their myspace page, it became apparent that I Set My Friends on Fire had stepped in a big steaming pile of hit. The song got upwards of 50,000 plays A DAY, so many in fact, that Myspace deleted the band's account, thinking they were using software to artificially increase their spins. In the time it took the band to remedy the situation, dozens of imposters set up phony I Set My Friends on Fire pages, and the song found its way to Limewire. To date, the track has been played over 1 million times.
ISMFOF followed up "Crank Dat Cavalry Boy" with two original tracks: "ASL" and "Beauty Is in the Eyes of the Beerholder," and recently released the new song "HxC 2-Step," which they recorded "just for fun." Total plays on the band's myspace page? Over 4.2 million and counting...and all without the benefit of a physical CD release or a record company's promotional efforts.
Being the superheroes that they are, Nabil and Matt so far have been able to write and record a song in a few days. No writers block here! Their efforts are made that much easier by the fact that they do all their recording in their house, by themselves.
The band writes: "the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive as we find out that our music is reaching all over the country (and even the world): one kid today even emailed us today and said that I Set My Friends On Fire was voted "favorite band" in his high school's 2007-08 yearbook! Others have said that our songs have been played at homecoming rallies and have spread all over their towns."
I Set My Friends on Fire so far have been the face of the new DIY movement in the digital age. On their own, Matt and Nabil were able to secure a cover story for their band in the Aquarian Weekly, and were booked on Bamboozled 2008. It is their creative self-promotion and undeniably catchy songs that caught the attention of Epitaph label owner Brett Gurewitz, who inked the band to a partnership of sorts in spring 2008. With the backing of one of the largest independent record companies in the world, whose ethics and aesthetics jive perfectly with I Set My Friends on Fire's, the sky is the proverbial limit for these two kids from Florida.
The band's debut album, You Can't Spell Slaughter Without Laughter, melds the band's unique sense of humor (as evidence, simply read the song titles and lyrics) with an onslaught of thrash angular guitar riffs, pulsing dance beats, brutal breakdowns, sassy screams and lush melodic choruses.
"Our album is very eclectic and we feel that it will give the people something completely new," explains Nabil. "It has all kinds of styles woven in. The album is like a typical relationship gone wrong, spanning emotions that include joy, uncertainty, anger, hate, confusion, alienation, and everything in between."
ISMFOF ambush listeners from the get-go with the tumultuous track "Beauty Is In The Eyes Of The Beerholder," which pairs metal riffs and hardcore breakdowns with melodic sing along choruses. A virtual workout, physically and aurally, the album continues its relentless electro-grindfest with tracks like "Ravenous, Ravenous Rhino," "WTFWJD" and "ASL," which will have everyone spastically convulsing towards the dance floor. "Fans will find the tracks they've come to know us for, including "Crank Dat," and "ASL," but the album has many new tracks which continue the energy and songwriting that fans to come to know us for," says Nabil. "There are also more mellow tracks, including the "Interlude," which is a very chilled out instrumental break from the intensity of the rest of the album."
The five young men in Phoenix, Arizona's post-hardcore outfit Greeley Estates have accomplished the near-impossible in their brief time together thus far – when the band formed in late 2002, none of the three original members (vocalist Ryan Zimmerman, guitarists Dallas Smith and Brandon Hackenson) had been in a band before; a little more than a year later, Greeley Estates has earned a cult following that stretches from Arizona's Valley of the Sun to the listening parties at Austin's South by Southwest conference, and released a slickly produced and packaged album, Outside of This, to wide acclaim.
With new drummer Brian Champ now keeping time for Greeley and new bass player Josh Applebach, the boys are gearing up to spread their driving screamo stylistics to further reaches of the nation.
Outside of This brims with introspective (and often pummeling) odes to heartbreak ("Tear My World Apart," "Without You"), existential angst ("Glimpse," "Sheltered"), and hope ("Not Alone," "If Words Could Say"). Greeley Estates' strength at songwriting – primarily the boys' flair for dynamics and emotive musicianship – is the reason that audiences at their shows crowd toward the stage to sing and scream along with Zimmerman as he and the band wail through their set lists.
Greeley Estates is a descendant of first-wave screamo outfits like Clikitat Ikatowi and Heroin, with the melodicism of emo-poppers like Braid and early Get Up Kids, and the band holds it's own against contemporaries like Poison the Well, the Bled, and Thursday.
Perhaps Greeley's most distinctive contribution to the post-hardcore pantheon is its infectious positivity – even the most wrenching tales of lost love are, in the end, optimistic. "If we can do something with our music that has an effect on people's lives in the limited time that we're here, and able to make that effect a positive one, we just feel very blessed for the opportunity to make that happen," Hackenson says with characteristic humility.
A Bullet For Pretty Boy
Is it possible to spread a positive message to an audience jaded by violence and apathy? "Yes!", answer Derrick Sechrist, Josh Trammel, Bryan Bingham, Danon Saylor, Chris Johnston and Joshua Modisette, the members of Christian hardcore ambient band A Bullet for Pretty Boy.
Founded in late 2006 about two hours east of Dallas in the town of Longview, Texas, the band quickly set out on a mission to spread the message of Jesus Christ. With over one hundred shows played in the past year alone, despite two members still attending high school, they are well on their way. Formed by several close friends, the band decided to name themselves after infamous bank robber Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd. By December 2006 the band played their first show, which drew a surprising turnout. A Bullet for Pretty Boy hasn't looked back since releasing their first demo in the spring of 2007, followed up the following year by the self-released EP "Beauty in the Eyes of the Beholder" , which has sold over 1,000 copies through itunes, bigcartel, and other various online stores.
With some solid experience at their back, and clear road before them, A Bullet for Pretty Boy finally feels like a complete set. They've poured all their energy into this project and absolutely love writing, recording and especially performing their music. "We've had our struggles in the past, what band hasn't?" says guitarist Derrick Sechrist, "But every time we get up on that stage and feel the energy of the crowd, we know we're doing something special. That energy, that's our fuel, that's what drives us to excel." Spreading the amazing message of Jesus Christ among a traditionally disenchanted youth certainly merits at least a second look. "We understand that the message of Jesus Christ is complicated," adds keyboardist Joshua Modisette, "But we also understand the need for his message. It's an uplifting, inspirational message and a critical balance to the violence and nihilism that dominates the scene today. We feel it's time people started caring about that message again, and we know that with His help we can make that happen."
And they are making it happen, releasing a demo titled "Only Time Will Tell" the summer of 2008, followed quickly by another demo "I Will Destroy the Wisdom of the Wise" in October and " Windows" in July 2009. Individually influenced anywhere from metal, progressive, to indie, the band members opposing ideas and influences conflict until a happy medium and powerful, unique mix is created. The foundation is layed out by guitarist Derrick Sechrist, drummer Josh Trammel, and bassist Bryan Bingham creating the easy-flowing changes and stop and start breakdowns that could make anyone want to get up and move. At the same time guitarist Chris Johnston and keyboardist Josh Modisette make the progressive ambience most commonly found in indie but instead being mixed into a world of hardcore breakdowns and catchy choruses. All topped off with vocals that would cause most people's throat to bleed by frontman, Danon Saylor. A Bullet for Pretty Boy's sound is unlike anything in the hardcore scene today balancing opposing musical elements to perfection.
The constant drive towards perfection consumes the band entirely. With the two youngest members finally graduating high school, they're preparing to tour throughout the United States in 2009 full-time. Heads are turning and the fan base grows exponentially every day. A full time band with an amazing sound and unlimited motivation A Bullet for Pretty Boy's success is only a question of when.
A Lot Like Birds