Fire Red Empress – Interview

Fire Red Empress

Fortune favoured us one day last week, about lunchtime I believe, when we happened across a Youtube video by Fire Red Empress (a five piece rock band from Birmingham). We were slightly disappointed in ourselves in that we hadn’t heard of this band before, so now was a good a time as any to change that! Honestly, their song Unspoken is totally rocking, and the video is erm, well interesting (in a good way).

So after we had checked out some more of their music, we were keen to sort out an interview, and et voila, here we are!

How did you guys meet up and how did you come up with the name Fire Red Empress? What other alternatives were you considering?

Carlo: Nik, Paul & I played together in a band called ‘Voodoo Johnson’ who were doing pretty well. But when we started writing again, the new material was taking a darker, heavier direction. It took a lot of thinking about but the decision was made to start a fresh under a new name. Thankfully, the fans bought into the new line up and sound and we’ve built from there.

Benny: Luke and I were drafted in to complement the new sound and it all just clicked from the first practice. I had played with Carl & Paul in a couple of bands a few years ago so I suppose they knew what they were expecting! My old band had played on the same line-up as Luke’s previous band loads of times so we knew each other pretty well meaning we knew each other’s styles already so locked in immediately.

Carlo: As for the band name, it’s never easy to come up with something original that all the band agrees on. But searching around on the internet, we randomly came across a fish called a “Red Empress” that we really liked as it sounds big and powerful but in reality is pretty small and crappy. I suppose we can relate to that on some level! Ha. We added the ‘Fire’ to round it out and it just stuck. There wasn’t really anything else in contention.

Who inspired you to play this type of music?

Benny: I think it’s fair to say we all share a passion for music, mostly Classic Rock and Metal with some Punk Pop (pretty much just me) thrown in for good measure!

Carlo: Yeah I think me and Nik have pretty similar tastes to be honest (no pop punk on our iPods I can tell you that!!). There are so many it’s hard to narrow it down but I like bands with riffs like Karma to Burn, Kyuss and Monster Magnet, and some of the 90’s alternative stuff like Jane’s Addiction and Faith No More. Even some of the NWOBHM stuff from the early 80’s…there is actually a song on our next album that was co-written with Brian Tatler of Diamond Head which was a pretty cool experience.

Where has been the best place you’ve performed and what made it stand out?

Benny: We have been pretty lucky in that we played our very first gig at the Barfly in Camden to a couple of hundred people. That was just over a year ago, since then, we’ve being doing loads of cool clubs and venues up and down the country including a Planet Rock Tour. I suppose our highlight so far would be the ‘Hard Rock Hell’ festival in North Wales. It was a mental experience playing to loads of metal-heads who seemed to buzz off the event. We certainly made the most of it, played our set and then joined the fans to enjoy the other bands.

Has every gig gone according to plan, have there been certain moments where it’s all gone pear shaped?

Carlo: Playing the smaller venues often means using the in-house sound engineers which can be hit and miss, but is the nature of the beast! Therefore, the sound hasn’t sometimes been as we like it, but has been out of our control. Benny can be a bit of a drama queen about his sound, so is never happy! Ha. Other than that, things tend to go as we plan. We practice hard to make sure we are always ready for our next gig and try to put on the best show we can.

What is your favourite song from your EP and why? And how is work going on new material?

Benny: For me, it is “Behind the Veil” as it is a dark, heavy track that you can nod your head to. Audiences tend to really buy into it so it always gets a great reaction. It was also chosen by Matt Heafy of Trivium to be on Metal Hammer Bloodstock CD which is pretty cool.

Carlo: The EP was intended as a sample of our album so there are some massive tracks still awaiting to be released. We have performed everything live but only the EP tracks are ‘out-there’ for people to listen to.

You’re playing Bloodstock very soon, how did that come about, and are you excited about any of the bands that will be there too?

Carlo: They contacted our management a couple of months ago and asked us if we were available. Obviously we jumped at the chance as have always loved the festival. It is one of very few that is purely about the music meaning everyone is there to listen to the bands and have a good time. It will be epic.

Benny: Band wise, I’m looking to watching Black Label Society, Orange Goblin and Xerath. I always tend to find a new band I haven’t heard before as well which is why I buzz of this type of festival. Hopefully a few people will ‘discover’ Fire Red Empress in the same way!

Classic Rock magazine described you as a “burst from the gates with a hard-charging, riff-fuelled, radio-baiting monster that sounds like all your favourite bands beating each other to death”, how did you react when you saw that (hoping you have seen it) and do you feel about it?

Benny: Getting positive feedback of any kind is always great to see, but when it is from the likes of Classic Rock magazine, it can be a bit surreal. We are all just made up that people like what we are doing. We have massive confidence in our songs and what we are trying to achieve as a band, so when people speak positively about it, it just builds our confidence that we are doing something right.

Music gear question, do you have a preference for certain brands?

Carlo: Les Paul guitars and Orange heads is my preference. It gives me the exact sound I want to be honest, pretty simple set up really.

Benny: My go to basses are a Fender Jazz Blacktop and a Yamaha BB series 5-string both rocking Rotosound extra heavy strings. Amp wise, I’m currently playing a Hartke HA3500 rig but looking to upgrade shortly. Sadly, Orange and Ampeg aren’t returning my calls about endorsements… Luke plays Pearl Hardware and Paiste cymbals I think? He’s only the drummer!

And musical bad habits, do you have any?

Carlo: Ben struggles with anything not in 4/4…

Please note that there has been a personnel change since this interview was done.

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