By Brittany Rudyck
EDMONTON — Desolate prairie winters have inspired poets, songwriters, visual artists and everything in-between. Our long, cold seasons offer time to reflect, create and release art that spans formats, genres and emotions thanks to its generally taxing, yet visually beautiful, nature.
Edmonton’s own Fire Next Time is a brilliant model of this romantic notion. They are gearing up for their third album release Cold Hands on May 7th. Their newest LP was recorded about a year ago, but with their recent signing to Montreal’s Stomp Records, they’ve patiently waited to reveal their newest body of work on hard format until this spring.
“We’re coming out of the folky element a bit. We still have the banjo, piano and acoustic guitar, but this one’s just a little noisier. It’s louder,” explains James Renton, lead vocalist, guitarist and harmonica player.
“This album is really cool because the other guys wrote a lot of the music on it. Usually I’ll write the skeleton of a song and the lyrics, I’ll bring it to them and they’ll do all the cool stuff because I’m not good at riffs or anything like that. This time they came to me with some songs too. [Guitarist Ryan Mick] and [guitarist/key tapper/ banjo player Kevin Klempp] sing on this one a lot more.”
Fans have had many chances to hear the tracks live: Fire Next Time have been playing songs from Cold Hands, along with tracks from their second LP, Hungry River Hymns (2012) almost exclusively for some time. A favourite among the Edmonton punk community, the quintet have deservedly earned a reputation for putting on a wild live show that inspires the crowd to sing along to Renton’s earnest and passionate vocal performance.
“I’m naturally drawn to darker, sadder things,” explains Renton. “I don’t really want to write about things that are happy. Not that I’m not a happy, goofy dude. People will hear the songs and expect me to be some somber, weirdo, tortured artist type person. I feel like if I was trying to write a song that was really happy, it would come off as really laboured. This just comes naturally to me.”
Although their live show is raucous and robust, a lot of their earlier work drew from a folk lineage. With the release of Cold Hands, they’re allowing their music to shape shift as they grow. They’ve come a long way since the project began as a solo endeavor in Fort McMurray, though one thing has always stayed the same: the band has always anchored their feisty career around an extensive touring schedule.
“Our first show was at New City Liquid Lounge, and it was a tour kick off. We started touring right away,” recalls Renton. He concludes, “Over time we started recruiting more people to come and play with us, which was awesome!”
Fire Next Time are playing a free show at the Ship & Anchor in Calgary on May 6th with The Pagans of Northumberland and Ghost Factory. They’re celebrating their album release May 7th in Edmonton at the Pawn Shop with Forester, Step Mothers, Penske File and Grizzly Trail.AB, Alberta, Fire Next Time, Pawn Shop, Ship & Anchor