It's not easy being a touring band. Fireworks knows that. But somewhere in between their set on the Ernie Ball stage and a sunset playing backdrop to the end of another day at Warped Tour, I caught up with vocalist Dave Mackinder and guitarist Chris Mojan on what could pretty much be considered a home show for the band. We talk about how long it's been since they've played at home, pop music and wanting to play a release show for the recent vinyl press of the band's EP We Are Everywhere.
Photos by Brittani Ericksen
If you could just for the record introduce yourself and say what you do in Fireworks.
Chris Mojan: My name is Chris and I play guitar.
Dave Mackinder: My name is Dave and I sing.
You guys are currently on the Vans Warped Tour playing on the Ernie Ball stage, can you tell us a little bit about how this tour has been following the tour you guys just did with Set Your Goals?
Chris: I mean Warped Tour is Warped Tour, everybody goes whether they want to or not. In that aspect itís great. Weíre stoked to be playing and finally be a part of it. The stage has been treating us great, everyone has been awesome. Everyone who has came out has been great. I know thereís a shitload of bands playing at the same time. Always. Today was New Found Glory, Title Fight, Into It. Over It., us at the same time.
Dave: Thatís rough.
Chris: Being able to play to kids and have a good time is awesome and thatís what makes Warped Tour.
When I talked to A Loss For Words earlier, they had to practically play at the same time as Four Year Strong.
Dave: You canít really prevent it.
Chris: Some days it works out for us, sometimes it doesnít. Every band will be screwed a lot [laughs].
Itís been a little while since you last played in Michigan. I believe the last time was December.
Dave: Itís been a minute for sure. Iím trying to think of it...
Dave: The Christmas show. Itís been that long? Really?
Does it feel like it has been that long since you played this close to home?
Chris: It definitely...
Dave: Definitely has. At this point with writing and stuff and this tour. It always feels like weíve always been busy, which is really not this busy when it comes to shows and stuff.
Chris: One thing about being in a band is you always look to what you do next. Before you know it, it just keeps going.
Dave: Then itís, oh, we havenít played here in a little while.
Chris: Earlier in the year we were focusing on doing South by Southwest and those tours and such. Soundwave. It was definitely like, whatís next? Whatís next? And now itís Warped Tour in Detroit. I was saying that when we were playing today, like man we have not played here in a long time. Also a lot of the aspects of the business side of tours preventing you from playing in certain areas. We would have loved to do a We Are Everywhere [show] since we re-did the vinyl. We wanted to do a release show for it and play it all the way through and do all this cool stuff. But we couldnít do it because of the radius clause.
You guys have spoken a bit lately on the idea of not touring like crazy, do you feel like there is this unneeded pressure from bands touring a lot to do that, as opposed to making people wait to where they want to see you more?
Chris: I think thatís good. As much as itís an asshole thing to do. People should be wanting to see us, and Iím not saying people feel this way about our band. But in general people should be wanting to see a band. Like oh I havenít seen them in awhile I want to see them. I always believe in not wanting to wear yourself thin. I grew up seeing some bands five times a year and by the fourth time I was like... [shrugs] alright. Not that Iím saying your band is bad, but if youíve got shit to release...
Dave: As a showgoer, thereís so many perspectives they donít consider. They want you to come back, and thereís a reason they see you because they like your music. So my favorite bands, I like when they go on a temporary hiatus, for better words, just so they can focus on that and writing the very best record they can and they can get excited again and crave them to come three times or four times out of the year.
Chris: Friendsí bands and stuff, they tour a lot. But they understand our view sometimes of wanting to spend more time with the songs instead of doing everything that comes our way. Everyone who likes our band is awesome enough to be patient with us. It is hard to tour sometimes. We havenít been able to play in certain cities since April. Thatís also kind of attributed to it.
The last time you guys played on a touring bill here you played a very Gospel heavy set. How would you say that has kind of played into the set youíve been playing on Warped?
Dave: On this, itís limited anyway. Weíre trying to have a good balance of all our releases so far. We still want to push Gospel. Itís still new.
Chris: Still our favorite songs to play too.
Dave: We feel most attached to those ones. But weíve tried to consider we have other songs.
With the musical changes you guys made on that record do they still feel very fresh and gratifying that you made them?
Chris: Oh yeah. The new ones that we choose to play, I feel great about everything still, which I think is a good sign. Thereís some older songs where, itís fun, donít get me wrong, but Iím kind of like ĎMan, I canít believe we did this [laughs].í Itís kind of funny. I think thatís a good thing. You should be able to relate to that growth that is represented through new songs. It still feels fresh and when youíre a band, itís the new, exciting things that get you exciting about writing music still. Weíll always kind of hang onto those things.
Is there a particular song that stands out a little more to you guys as far as showing that progression or maybe that youíre a little more proud of?
Dave: Thatís a tough one.
Chris: I actually think, even though it was the song we chose to be the single, the song ďArrowsĒ represents the record very well. That song has that different kind of edge to it that we havenít used before. It was the piano or keyboard... that was a very balanced song on the record. If I was to pick a song I thought stood out on the record more, Iíd say ďTeethĒ. A lot of kids actually donít like that song because they donít like slower songs. But those songs are the two that show the most growth or you can call it a different sound.
What influenced the creation of ďOh, Why Canít We Start Old and Get Younger?Ē, that song is certainly different not just in your discography but on that record as well? I remember seeing you guys with Polar Bear Club and looking over at their merch table to see them all dancing... anyways, where does that influence manifest itself from?
Chris: We LOVE pop music.
Dave: I wonít deny it, we love pop music. I mean, if something trickles into our writing psyche then so be it. I think thereís no shame in taking influence from songs and making them your own, thatís how songs are written. I think that was just sort of a fun, upbeat song. Polar Bear Club starting making up dances every night, a few nights they went on stage.
Chris: I will say that was a song where it started. Dave had a riff and a melody kind of. And once we started kind of actually writing it and playing it, we all looked at each other like, ĎWe gonna do this? Are we gonna do this?í Fuck it, who cares. I think that thatís a thing about a lot of our songs. If we like it, weíll play it. The general feel of our band will still show through and youíll know itís us.
Dave: Bands need to take risks. They really do.
Chris: Sure, weíve gotten shit for that song. I donít care. Even when we recorded with Brian McTernan, that was the first song we worked on. And heís like, ĎI remember hearing this one, this Ď80s or Ď90s pop-sounding song. You guys wanna run that song over?í We played it and he said the same thing, ĎWeíre gonna do this?í Yeah. We write what we wanna write. Thatís a fun, upbeat song so who cares.
So a very truthful question now, does Detroit still go hardest for ďDetroitĒ?
Dave: I think so yeah. Itís almost like when we play that song, we set the mood. People know what to expect with that song.
Chris: Itís hard to sing the line ĎI love this place unconditionallyí, no offense to Kansas, but in like Kansas or Ohio [laughs]. Great places and great shows in those places. Itís relatable here. And that energy... when we play that song at home, in my mind... finally. I feel so good playing this song. Other times it is kind of funny to me. Kids all over the place always enjoy that song, but Detroit still goes hardest for that song.
Dave: Everyone has their own ďDetroitĒ, for sure.
With being on this tour, did you ever throw around the idea of doing the acoustic stage?
Dave: I would love to have done it personally. The opportunity might not arise.
Chris: Itís kind of late in the game now.
Dave: Weíre always doing stuff acoustic, Iím always playing guitar.
Chris: I think since we donít have much of an acoustic past, I think that might have had us overlooked as an option. But Dave plays more acoustic guitar than a lot of people. We would have really liked to do it, or just Dave himself.
Dave: Itís not completely out, it just isnít out there.
You guys did mention doing some sort of release show for We Are Everywhere, can you talk a bit about the possibility of that still happening?
Chris: I mean, I would love to do it still. I donít know if people would still care at this point. I would to do even a smaller venue, have it for sale. Play the record through. It wouldnít hurt to do another home show a couple months after this tour either.
I just bought the We Are Everywhere pressing off of eBay based solely on the acoustic 7" that comes with it. I'd love to see more acoustic stuff from them - the subway tracks were solid and "Decline Of A Midwestern Civilization" is incredible.