Devon-based modern rock three-piece Firekind release their latest single, ‘Cry For Help’ as a strictly limited edition CD EP with two bonus tracks and on all digital platforms on February 19th. Latest album; ‘What I Have Found Is Already Lost’ Deluxe Edition, was recently released to rave reviews and the band gained the most viewed set of the ever-growing and passionate Facebook group New Wave Of Classic Rock event Webfest 4. In an exclusive chat, we spoke to vocalist/guitarist Jas Morris about the single and its emotional, personal meaning, as well as discussing how the band (completed by Jas’s brother Dan on bass and keys, and Robin Shute on drums) came to find themselves in Hollywood recording with esteemed producer Alain Johannes (Queens Of The Stone Age, Chris Cornell, PJ Harvey). With the current bitter weather though, there was only one place to start: with that incredible video for previous single ‘Sound of Rain’…
The video for ‘Sound of Rain’ (available here) was quite punishing! Who came up with the idea of submerging the band in a lake fully clothed?!
It was an amazing director called Elliott Montello, he’s from the same area as us, we went to the same bars, etc, and we knew of each other. One day we were down the pub and someone happened to mention to him that we were looking to do a video, and he was like “Yeah, I can do that for you”, so I gave him a rough concept, of falling into water, it had to involve water, being called ‘Sound of Rain’, and you could see the cogs going round in his head, and then he said…” I’ve got an idea”. When then thrashed it out, and it ended up working out really well. It was a brutal day, to be honest!
The first time that I caught it I thought that I was watching an episode of ‘SAS: Are You Tough Enough – The Firekind Episode’! Was it filmed locally?
It was yes, Sholden back beach near us, it’s a little cove where you have to go through a tunnel to get to, and we had to carry all our equipment on a pallet to get there. Once we got there Elliott was like “Right, get in the water!” [laughs]
He could have been really ruthless and asked for multiple takes…
Yes! We were in the water for maybe 15-20 minutes? It was freezing, and then you get out to dry off and are still freezing! We only had one day to film it so we just kept on going, by the end of the day we were dry, it was grueling but the end result was worth it. It was a great experience to work with Elliot.
I’m a big fan of a guy called Wim Hof, he’s an extreme athlete that goes to places like Iceland and the Antarctic and will swim in iced waters wearing just a pair of Speedos or something like that. His podcast talks about the health benefits of doing this and it’s really interesting. Once you get over that initial blast of cold, it gets better.
What can you tell us about the forthcoming video for the new single ‘Cry For Help’? You’ll be warmer in this one no doubt?!
Yes, the plan was originally to get us all together in some sort of location, play for the camera, or have an elaborate story. But then the third lockdown comes along and it’s a case of either putting it on hold – which we thought wasn’t a good idea as you need to keep momentum going as far as social media is concerned – or rethink it. So with no-one really able to go out, I had a good think and ended up adapting my recording studio into a film studio by hanging up black drapes! The concept involves reverse footage, slow-motion, there are objects flying in the air, it sounds totally bizarre I know! It’s still in production, it’s proving to be a bit of a challenge, but I’m enjoying it. Whether it will be any good or not, that’s a different matter!
The song itself, ‘Cry For Help’, the title could mean many different things to different people, for instance, the protagonist could be making a cry for help, or even answering a cry for help, but what does it mean to you?
Yes, as a kid growing up if I saw an ambulance going by it would stir an emotion inside of me, cars would move out of the way to let it pass, it’s about how everyone puts something on hold to help someone. Especially now with the NHS doing such an incredible job. The concept of the song was around that, to be honest. If someone is in need of help, then take a step and catch them, look out for them, I think more people should do that these days, but it’s something to strive for.
It also seems quite a personal, emotional song?
Yes, a lot of the tracks on the album deal with my father’s passing, and ways of getting through that, to be honest. The whole ambulance analogy…I mean I have vivid memories of being in the ambulance with him when he passed away, and how everyone was doing everything that they could to help. It just blew me away. They don’t ask for anything do they, they just step forward and want to help.
It’s perhaps only when you have to witness something as traumatic as that, that it’s understood how much these wonderful people actually do…
Oh absolutely yes, especially these days where people are trying their best to protect others. It’s quite humbling really. I’ve got huge respect for everyone in the emergency services.
The loss of a parent never really leaves you, but it seems that writing about it has been a coping strategy for you?
Yes definitely. One analogy regarding grief, that I like to use, is to imagine your town, your centre, and an asteroid comes down and takes out a huge chunk, leaves a massive crater. That crater is always going to be there going forward, but the town will eventually rebuild, someone will build steps down to it, someone will build a little cafe there at the bottom, shops will sprout up, flowers will grow, and it becomes a new thing. You haven’t gotten over it, but you’ve adapted. You’ve built a new thing on top, and that’s how I like to look at it.
That’s a great analogy for sure, although people mean well, there are only so many times that you can be told “it will get better with time…”
The acoustic tracks that feature on the deluxe version of the album, that was just yourself and your brother at home?
Pretty much, yes. They were recorded between lockdowns when my brother was living here. Having a studio here meant that we could work on the tracks ourselves, and we’re pretty happy with the way that they came out. We opted to go for an acoustic angle, rather than going for a fuller, band sound. We wanted to have consistency with regards to the producer’s sound on the initial album, and if we weren’t able to fully work with him because of the restrictions then we thought that we would try something a bit different.
On the subject of a bit different, it must be quite pleasing that it’s quite difficult to pigeonhole Firekind? Lots of different tastes in there, even a bit of prog!
Yes, actually before we were Firekind we used to be called Morris Brothers Band, this is going back quite a while now, and the albums we released then, half of the album would be prog guitar instrumentals. Tracks running eight minutes long and going off in different tangents, so we have got that out of our systems a little bit, even though we still love it! Thrashing out a track sometimes is what you need!
Definitely! Now, you’ve just released the incredible “album recording” video on YouTube, that must have brought back some great memories watching that?
We have actually got so much more footage that we just couldn’t fit on that mini-documentary, or rockumentary even! But yes, so many great memories, and the relationships that we had with Alain Johannes the producer, and Swift the drum-tech who is also in the feature, were amazing. They have so many rock stories to tell because they are out touring with the big leagues, so it certainly brings back so many amazing memories that’s for sure.
How did the connection with Alain come about in the first place?
We were gigging around the local area down here a few years back and we stepped onto the radar of a guy called John Wadlow who then took us under his wing. He was actually Seal’s manager back in the day. He mentored us as he had such great knowledge of the industry, and he had worked with Alain before, so he suggested sending tapes to Alain to see if he would work with us, and Alain liked what he heard, so we ended up going to L.A. to work with him.
His studio looks so cool! Really organic with such a laid-back vibe!
Yes, it was also very relaxing as well, sofa’s everywhere, and loads of exotic instruments! With the studio being so relaxing, you get more comfortable, and it lets you do your stuff. Essentially, it’s his house, but there’s more studio than house! It was like having a studio, with a bed in it! An amazing place. Right in the centre of Hollywood as well, you would often see amazing cars go by, celebrities…
Yeah, the video opens with a muscle car going past, very cool. What did you personally take from the whole experience?
It was quite a big undertaking for us, this little band from Devon flying to Hollywood, and all the logistics involved. If there was one particular thing to take from the experience, it would be that sometimes you just need to go for it. We could have gone to a studio nearer here, and maybe had more time, but sometimes having more time on a record isn’t the best because then you go over the same things too many times. Working with Alain was a dream come true for us.
What was it like listening back to the album for the first time?
You’re always a bit nervous, how is it going to sound? That kind of thing. Is it going to sound the way that you wanted it to sound in your head? We flew back to the UK and Alain was mixing and mastering the album for a little while after, when we finally heard them we were blown away. So glad that it came out the way that it did. We have been in studios before, where you recorded something, heard the mixes back and they are not quite right to what you had in your mind. But this one? It blew us away.
Who would you say personally has been the biggest influence on you becoming a musician? Would it be a family member? A teacher? Another musician?
My dad, well with my brother Dan on bass, I should say our dad. He was a gigging musician and had had a bit of a heyday in his twenties, playing in bands in the 70s, touring, that kind of thing. So there were always instruments around the house and it was a natural progression that both myself and Dan would pick them up. I picked up the guitar and my dad gave me a few early lessons, after that, I was in my bedroom watching VHS tuition tapes! Rewind, repeat, rewind again, and it was a case of doing that every night. So my dad would be my main influence, then after that, other guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, Robben Ford, Eric Clapton, amongst others.
Robben Ford is an amazing player that doesn’t seem to get the plaudits that he deserves…
Yes, he’s incredible, he’ll play the simplest lick, but have such feeling behind it, and that was such a big thing for me as an early player, to not just focus on the notes but how the phrasing comes across.
You yourself won ‘Guitarist of the Year’ with Guitarist Magazine a while back?
At the competition, yes. That was quite a few years back, it’s amazing how time flies! To this day that’s still one of my best memories ever! It was at a music show in London, and I had never been to a music show before. There were instruments everywhere so I was already blown away, and then they pulled you up on stage, and you have no idea even if you are remotely close to winning, and then they announced my name and I could hear my dad in the audience scream! Such a great memory and that really kicked things off for me.
Was it a competition where you had to perform and compete against other guitarists on the day?
There was an advert in Guitarist Magazine, and you had to send in a track of your own and they selected ten of us to go up to the music show and perform the track in front of the audience. And then they selected the winner!
What age were you?
I was 17, maybe 18? There was a ‘Young Guitarist of the Year’ competition where the cut-off was 16, I think? And then there was the main ‘Guitarist of the Year’ that I entered into. Even the young guitarists were mindblowing. It was a great day.
What would be your album of 2020?
It would be a local band actually, they are called Moriaty and they brought out an album called ‘The Die Is Cast’. They are a two-piece, quite experimental, massive fat riffs, I’d definitely recommend them. Great band.
And who would you class as an underrated songwriter?
I’m a massive fan of John Mayer but he’s already quite renowned and well known…
Yeah but he’s more renowned for the women he’s been involved with, rather than his musical abilities! Jennifer Aniston for one!
Katy Perry, Jennifer Aniston, quite a few A-Listers…
I caught John Mayer in concert a few years back and was blown away. Hans Zimmer as well, completely different genre, but his stuff just makes the hairs on the back of the neck stand up!
Depending on COVID, what are Firekind’s plans for the rest of 2021?
The main goal is to get out and gig, so we are trying to book gigs, but with the thoughts in our minds that they may get cancelled. But if you wait until the green light then it could be 2022 before you can book gigs. We’re planning on booking shows now and if we have to cancel them, then we’ll have to cancel them. That’s the main thing, out gigging. We’ve got another album in the works, that process has already begun. We’ve got about 40 or 50 tracks that we need to whittle down to a coherent 10 track follow-up album. So, gigs first hopefully, then writing and recording a new album.
The signed & numbered to 100 ‘Cry For Help’ CD with 2 bonus tracks is only available directly from the band. Sign up at www.firekind.com from Monday 15th February as you’ll get an email with a private link that day – release date is Friday 19th February. For more information, follow the band here.
Interview – Dave
All photos – Rob Blackham