Making their debut visit to Western Australia in support of Dead Letter Circus this week is Melbourne band Rival Fire. Frontman Rob Farnham (son of John) was kind enough to shoot back some answers to SHANE PINNEGAR’s probing questions.
Wednesday, 31 AUG – Bar120, Hillarys
Thursday, 1 SEP – Players Bar, Mandurah
Friday, 2 SEP – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River
Saturday, 3 SEP – Amplifier Capitol, Perth
Sunday, 4 SEP – The Newport Hotel, Fremantle
The three of you (singer Rob is joined by drummer Matt and guitarist Tim, whilst they are also joined on tour by bass player Zac) hooked up in 2013 for a project that was originally going to be Rob’s solo thing. Tell us about the chemistry between the three of you which led to that becoming Rival Fire?
“That’s true… It was one of those things where the songs evolved so much, and the input from everyone was equal, so it made sense to turn it into a band and not a ‘solo’ project. At the time as you said it was only three of us, we all get along very well. Our personalities complement each other – there is no bullshit when we do our songwriting sessions. We didn’t set out to make the style of music that we make, it kind of just happened this way. All three of us were in pretty different projects before this and we feel it was a mash of those influences. All of us are good mates, close knit and we treat each other with respect. You need to trust the people that you are working with. The band’s mission statement from word go was to have fun: Always have fun.”
The name Rival Fire has a great sound about it and rolls off the tongue well – is there any deeper significance to it?
“I guess if there was a deeper meaning it was to show our ‘Rivals’ what ‘Fire’s we could start. But I wouldn’t read too far into that, the name is what it is :)”
You all have pretty deep musical roots. Rob, your Dad is John Farnham; Matt’s folks were close friends with Bon Scott & Lobby Lloyde to name a couple; Tim has been playing in indie bands for years. Having all been in bands and done solo work over the years, how would you describe your individual solo musical styles that have evolved?
“We all love music it’s something that everyone enjoys. In some of the early songs we demoed you can hear all three influences in parts but as we grew together the mash of these different styles found their own path and became one solid motion.”
How has the response been to your debut EP Riot, released in May?
“The response so far has been great. We are quite unknown at this point and having people see us live on this tour was paramount!”
You recorded with Mark Needham, who has worked some big names indeed. He must have had some stories to tell?
“Mark was rad! He is such a talented producer and mixer – he did have a few stories but I’ll keep them private just in case [laughs]. All I can say is he is an amazing merge of the old tech and the very new tech. He loves technology but he uses his old school experience by using a lot of out board equipment. He is across everything. In our opinion his mixing style is second to none.”
Most bands don’t have big label backing, and a super producer on board. Does that add any pressure, knowing you have to perform at a higher level?
“Absolutely. But we welcome the pressure 100%. This is our dream, our goal, our baby. We like to think we work the best under pressure! We got very lucky recording the album with Mark. Matt had the hook up with him and he just kinda asked and away we went!”
You recorded a full album with Mark – do you have a release date locked in yet?
“At this stage it looks like we will be releasing something again in November and the full album will be released early next year.”
Are the EP tracks all going to be on the album?
“Yes, all those songs will be on the full album, but we will be putting a few new ones on there to fill it out as well.”
Was it a traumatic process to select which tracks ended up on the EP to serve as an introduction to the band?
“Not really – we all agreed pretty quickly those were the songs we wanted to [use to] introduce us. We wanted Riot on there to be the single. Doctor because its catchy and poppy and the lyric is dark. Take The Fall because it has light and shade with a big drop chorus. All By Yourself because we needed to show people that we have slower ballad-y kind of songs in the bag as well. We have a few of those songs going on the album and wanted to give people a taste of a few things to come.”
Having a celebrity Dad must apply a certain amount of greater expectations or more pressure, just as it must get you more media attention and open more industry doors. How fine a line is that for the band to walk and still retain individuality and credibility?
“Well… Everyone who has worked on this band and music are people we have networked [ourselves]. I have tried extremely hard to keep in my own lane. There are people who use and abuse their contacts and I couldn’t do that and sleep at night. I’m proud of my dad – he is my idol! But I want to make it on my own and stand on my own two feet as my own person and an artist. The pressure of expectation is high, but like anything you need to rise above that and focus on the real goal.”
You have such a diverse range of influences and styles of music that you’ve all played before – from metal to hip hop to ‘70s and ‘80s classics and more. Was it a long process to distill all those influences into a cohesive style for Rival Fire?
“100% – and that, I guess, is our secret! We love ‘80s synth tones, NuMetal choruses and ‘70s guitar. As I explained earlier this is something that just worked for the personalities in the band, we never set out to make the music we did it, happened because we all love music so much and no one band member is a ‘better’ writer than anyone [else]. That is key for us.”
You’re out on tour with Dead Letter Circus. What can West Australian fans expect from your show?
“We love the DLC guys – absolute legends! From us you can expect energy! We love playing live, we love what we do, and we have fun when we are doing it!”