MISFIRE “Fire At Will”
By Dr. Abner Mality
Chicago and surrounding environs are tough places, no two ways about it. And tough places make for tough bands. ZOETROPE is a good example, creating their patented brand of “street metal” in the 80’s. Taking up the torch from them in the 21st century is MISFIRE, three battle-hardened metal heads who charge into war with all guns blazing on their debut full-length, “Sympathy For The Ignorant”.
This is a band that doesn’t try to get too fancy. Think of a cross between EXODUS and PANTERA, with a certain flair and grit that is typical of Chicago. They’ve got a strong label behind them in MNRK Heavy (formerly E One Music) and the future for these bruisers is promising.
I hooked up with drummer James Nicodemus to get the lowdown on this bare-knuckled act…
WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Hails to MISFIRE! Before we talk about the present, I want to go in the past and talk about the previous band DIAMOND PLATE, which I had the pleasure of seeing and which was a Chicago fixture. What led to the demise of that band?
JAMES NICODEMUS: We were in different places musically and mentally. We were young and we needed to grow up and we couldn't do that while being in that band together. I miss those guys a lot, though.
WC: What led to the rise of MISFIRE? When did you know you had a new band worth throwing your energy into?
JN: I knew as soon as we started writing that this wasn't going to be just another jam. I knew it was for real right away. It felt pretty overwhelming to have something like this in my life again.
WC: You’ve got a pretty slick alliance with the MNRK HEAVY label, which is home to CROWBAR and a lot of heavy hitters. How did this come about and were they the only label you considered?
JN: I've always wanted to work with EOne now MNRK Heavy. So getting this deal is literally a dream come true for me. We have FM Music Management to thank for making that connection for us. MNRK was the only label we considered.
WC: The band is described as thrash but I hear a ton of PANTERA chug and groove on “Sympathy For the Ignorant”. Was that an intention from the start or did your sound just evolve that way?
JN: That's just what came out. I've listened to a ton of PANTERA and that is probably why I write the way I do. Same for the guys. I think the POWER TRIP/METALLICA/PANTERA love is obvious on that track for sure.
WC: In some underground metal circles, it seems to be hip and fashionable to knock PANTERA and LAMB OF GOD but that seems pretty shallow to me. Do you ever get flak from some of these “purists”?
JN: All the time. And it's always a waste of my time. Don't listen to the band if you don't want to.
WC: Does MISFIRE have any live experience under its belt yet? If so, what were some of the memorable gigs you’ve had?
JN: Opening for SACRED REICH, OVERKILL, PRONG, CATTLE DECAPITATION, and IRON REAGAN to name a few! Hard to pick a favorite!
WC: Chicago and the surrounding area are known for being great areas for metal. Would you agree with that? Having had experience that goes back in time with DIAMOND PLATE, how would you compare things now with 10 to 15 years ago?
JN: Well it's definitely different. There are a lot of great bands popping up around here. I feel like the scene is growing again. I'm happy to still be close to Chicago after all these years. Feels like one big family these days.
WC: “Sympathy for the Ignorant” is an interesting title for an album and a song. What’s the meaning behind this? Is it something to do with how everybody’s an expert in these days of the internet?
JN: It's up to you. I don't want to tell you exactly what I wrote it about. The lyrics do that. Listen to the song.
WC: Another song worth discussing is “No Offense”. I take it that’s a knock on PC culture at its most extreme?
JN: I'm just pointing out something we all deal with. "No Offense but" is one of the main things people say before saying something extremely offensive. So in a way it is acceptable. "Socially acceptable misbehavior”.
WC: How about “He Said, She Said”? Is that something coming from personal experience?
JN: The message is simple. Take accountability for your actions. If you don't, the chances of you ruining your life increase greatly.
WC: The production on the new album is phenomenal. I haven’t heard many bass sounds as good as this. How smooth was getting this great sound...or was it difficult?
JN: Like butter. The trick is a Marshall Amp and a couple other studio secrets. Haha...
WC: It sounds like MISFIRE uses the “Keep It Simple, Stupid” philosophy when recording. Is this a reaction to the triggered and “smoothed out” material that seems to be the mainstream?
JN: We have a way of doing things that works. KISS is absolutely a part of that. We just play like this. We don't think too deeply about it.
WC: If you had to go out on a limb and pick a favorite song from the new album, what would it be?
JN: "Red Flag". That is the first complete song I wrote for this band and I'm very proud of that one. The other would be "He Said She Said" It was another song I had early on but that one took some time. We all ended up writing on "He Said" and that makes it more memorable for me.
WC: If you could ask any 3 people from history to dinner, who would they be?
JN: My Dad. My Grandmother. My Brother.
WC: Have you ever had a “Spinal Tap” moment where things went haywire? This could be for any band you’ve been involved with, not just MISFIRE…
JN: Yes, I've gotten lost in venues. haha It happens. Spinal Tap is so accurate these days it's ridiculous. Guitars have been smashed, things left behind, drugs may or may not have been spilled all over the carpet right before crossing the border... I'm looking forward to making a ton more memories with MISFIRE.
WC: Last words for the faithful?
JN: Thank you so much for having me! I enjoyed this interview and I hope if you're reading this that you will take some time and come see a show and see why I love this band so much. Cheers!