On the evening of August 22nd I had the chance to catch up with Jeronimo Gomez of The Darling Fire. It was pretty a candid and fluid conversation where we talk about their new album Distortions (out 09/16/2022 via Iodine Records).
“Thanks for taking some time out to meet with me. I have really been looking forward to this album. Just gonna put that out there. I came across you guys right before you put out Dark Celebration, of course I’ve been a fan of Steve’s [Kleisath] work for years with Further Seems Forever. Actually I bumped into him a couple months ago down in Nashville whenever they played BreakFest. So, that basically kind of found out about you guys was through him. Whenever I saw you guys were putting a new album out, I kind of called dibs out of excitement. I’ve got it pre-ordered on vinyl and I’m really looking forward to it. I did get a pre stream of it and I like what I’m hearing, so I’m really, really hyped for it. Just gonna kind of dive right in, you know, it’s sophomore album, you guys have been around, you guys have been doing this. You guys are all kind of veterans to the whole thing, You all have varied backgrounds between Shai Hulud, Further Seems Forever, and then you were in As Friends Rust. Is that right?”
“I was in As Friends Rust. I also started, uh, I also was in The Rocking Horse Winner, and I played for a little while with the guys in Poisonthewell.”
“Okay, cool. Whenever I was kinda looking through things, I think yours was the background I knew the least about. So I was kind of trying to do a little homework this past weekend on Wikipedia, different social media, whatnot, and see what I could find.”
“So big question, just to kind of start things out. Obviously Dark Celebration, it dropped in the middle of 2019. It was like June or July, so it was out roughly six, seven months. And then of course, 2020 hits, everything gets turned upside down. So that kind of probably put a damper on a lot of things for you guys. As far as really getting that out there, promoting it. However, with that, with the fact that it kind of had it’s limited amount of time out there and then going into the pandemic, how did all that affect the landscape of Distortions coming out of all of that?”
“The thing is for me, I’m always writing music. So even when Dark Celebration came out, I was already writing, you know, a little more of the heavier stuff that you guys are hearing now on Distortions. Obviously, a lot of the stuff we were writing back then didn’t make it into the album, but, you know, it was kind of like things were already headed kind of in that direction. So the pandemic, you know, that really gave us the time to, you know, write this new material and, you know, I guess, I don’t know if hone the sound would be the right thing, but, I don’t know. It just, it really did give us, I mean, of course, it sucked because we couldn’t play shows, you know, do all that stuff. But it did give us the time to, to write new stuff, you know. That was, I guess, that was kind of a benefit. In a weird way, it almost probably worked out in our favor cuz you know, writing an album, it probably would’ve taken a lot longer than where we’re at right now. If we had like more shows and we’re on tour and all that stuff or whatever, but you know, it’s in a weird way, it kind of worked out to, you know, to help us write some music and put out this album as soon as we’re doing it.”
“Nice. So essentially it kind of cleared the calendar more or less? Which I think was a big thing for everybody. Cause I know, it seems like we’re kind of hitting that phase right now. Coming out of it where it seems like everybody is dropping new stuff right now. I mean, this summer has been just kind of insane, like the new stuff getting put out. There’s a lot of stuff coming out.”
“So, to touch on something you said earlier. When you were just kind of starting to write some of this stuff for Distortions, maybe a little bit heavier. That is one thing that I noticed that the sound on Distortions in comparison to Dark Celebration has a bigger sound to it. Maybe a little more fleshed out, I don’t know necessarily, feels like a better mix or the production or more polished, you know, in like a very good way. Was that a conscious decision to go that way, or is it just something that just kind of happened organically with Jay’s approach to it in his production or something you guys kind of just fell into or you really wanted to try for something that had a more kind of full lush sound to it?”
“Yeah. I think the production, you know, every album’s gonna be different. So the production, you have to think of it. How’s that production gonna best suit the songs that we’re gonna put. So, in a way there was a conscious decision to make it, you know, a bit bigger and a bit more produced. But again, you know, also it organically worked with Jay and his style and we got what we got. It just happened. I mean, it was just, we’re just lucky, I guess. I mean, you know, big guitars and obviously, you know, there’s a lot more going on in these songs than there were in Dark Celebration. You know, there’s more backing vocals. There’s a lot, there’s a lot more instrumentation going on. Um, so the production, I mean, it’s gotta fit, you know, the material. We’re really happy with what we got with Jay and it was a really good experience.”
“Nice. Yeah. I know one of the things that really stood out was Jolie’s vocals on this one. And I think that’s where I kind of notice the mix seemed to be a little more there and they kind of took a little more of a front seat. I know I’ve read some of this stuff that the PR stuff that’s been put out there and shooting for kind of this haunting brooding aspect. Which it definitely comes across with her vocals. And that’s one of the key things, like I said, why I noticed it. With Dark Celebrations it seemed to have more of like a raw energy to it. Not that it was under produced by any means, but it, there was just like, there was just this very raw aesthetic. Then, of course, going into this you see that and it’s just like, okay, this is the big picture. Now, you know, you were seeing everything kind of coming outta the woodwork.”
“Yeah, we did a lot of, I mean, we recorded the demos for this album. I mean, we really go out all out on the demo. So there’s a lot of pre-production that’s already being done. You know, with how we want her, how she wants her vocals to sound, how it best fits and sits in the mix. So we had a really good idea going into the studio of what we’re wanting to hear, so, doing that really helped us get to a point a lot faster. There was, of course, it’s always good to experiment, but when you’re on a budget you gotta be ready to go. So I think when we got in there we knew what we wanted and we knew how we wanted her vocal to sit and the type of effects and the ethereal sounds, you know that, that kind of ghostly kind of vocal so we had that in the demos and Jay really helped us cultivate that and bring that out on his ideas, you know? It just really worked out that way. Having the demos and having a lot of pre-production in there, then going in there, knowing what we wanted really did help a lot.”
“Nice. Okay. This is a little more directed at you. Specifically, cuz I know you are co-songwriter, I don’t know if it’s more of a collaborative effort where everybody in the band kind of has their two cents or, if there’s a couple people that kind of take the forefront with the songwriting aspect of it but from a songwriting viewpoint, what were some influences for this album? Like what, cause I know a lot of times people say the art you take in kind of will help influence the art you’re putting out there. What was your intake that was really driving some influences for this album? Like, you know, as far film, literature, whatever it was?”
“I guess it, it was just, you know, um, for me, writing music is a very selfish act. I write what I want to hear. If you like it, they like it. If not, you know? But for me, I like a lot of music from when I was growing up. I like a lot of nineties. You know, post hardcore, late nineties, early two thousands stuff. So, I mean, and that’s pretty much what I listen to. I just like what I like, and I usually, I don’t really deviate much from what I like. From what I was hearing, I mean, there’s a lot of great bands right now, but there’s nothing really that really kind of like scratched that itch that had this, you know, really kind of haunting female vocal with like a what I think is like a good like post hardcore or, you know, kind of heavy sound, you know? I guess, a lot of one band that really got me into that was The Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream. I thought that’s a great album and this, in his voice. I mean, his voice, he has this very like smooth kind of haunting voice and the guitar is so driven and thick and big. And I mean that, that’s always in the back of my head when I’m writing, you know, always whether it comes outta what I’m writing or it doesn’t, but that album always really sticks out. I mean, there are bands like Quicksand and Hum, you know, stuff that I really like and it’s always back there, it’s always part of the influences and it’s always, you know, it’s always in there, whether it comes out on the music or not. They’re always an inspiration to me and I love those bands a lot”
“I definitely, listening to both Dark Celebration and Distortions, you know, I could definitely pick up on some of that late nineties, early two thousands vibe that you were referring to. And, of course, I’ve been a huge fan of the Pumpkins. Mellon Collie was actually the first CD I ever bought. I still remember that very clearly. And it’s kind of interesting too that you mentioned Hum. I know their name kind of gets thrown around a lot in circles with their influences. And one thing that I did notice, I can’t remember which track it was right off the top of my head, but it had a little bit of almost like this semi shoegaze type vibe and I know Hum gets thrown in there a lot. You know, a lot of people that are big into Starflyer, 59 refer that Hum was kind of a gateway for them to find some of those other bands. So, I can definitely see where that comes through on there.”
“I know you have a lot of, yeah. I just, I really like when, when there’s like this heaviness to the music and then it just kind of opens up this kind of like spacey kind of like, yeah. I guess it, it just opens up at a certain point and that’s kinda like the best way I can describe it. It just kind of like, oh, you know, like this, this moment where it’s just like, you know, I love a lot of contrast in music. I love soft with heavy, you know, and that’s kind of like the mantra for me when I’m writing music soft, heavy, and there’s always gotta be this nice, you know, mix, you know? So yeah, Hum has a lot of this really like beautiful kind of like shoegazey moments and yeah. They’re a great band.”
“One thing I did notice whenever I was actually going out and doing my pre-order for Distortions. You guys are putting this one out through Iodine and Dark Celebration you guys put that one out through Spartan, right? What brought about that switch? Was it just kind of a better distro deal?”
“We were just ready to, we had some new songs and we were just, ‘let’s see who we can get to put it out.’ I think at that point Dark Celebration, I think, I guess, I don’t know. I don’t know how else to put it, I guess, run it’s course on Spartan or whatever. But we had this, we had these new songs and we knew it was gonna be, you know, quite a bit of a departure from the old material. So, we were just like, well, what else? You know, let’s do something different. So, we sent Casey over the album, I think was the first time we sent to him and he really dug it and he’s like, ‘Cool. I’ll do it.’ So it was kind of like that type of thing.”
“Yeah. It was kind of, you know, cuz I noticed that. I hadn’t done my pre-order yet and I guess I just like consciously, I hadn’t realized that you were putting it out through Iodine as opposed to Spartan. Cause I’ve, you know, gotten stuff through Spartan before and had remembered getting like the Spartan email saying to check out The Darling Fire. But I got the email from Iodine because they announced the repress of Rituals of Life by Stretch Armstrong and of course I was super pumped by that. I was like, well, I’ve gotta grab this. So I go out there and I throw that in the cart. And then I was like, wait, what? And, and that’s when I noticed that The Darling Fire was on there. I was like, okay. I knew this was coming out. It was on my radar, but I guess I just hadn’t paid attention to who was actually putting it out there. So I went ahead and threw that in the cart too.”
“I know that we’re about three, I think it’s roughly about two, three weeks out from Distortions, you kind of said this after you guys put out Dark Celebration and of course everything happened, you know, you were kind of already writing for what would be Distortions at that point. You know, even if some of that didn’t make the cut. What’s on the horizon beyond that? I mean, has there been anything already where you’re like, oh man, I’ve got these great ideas that could be on a third album?
“Yeah, that’s always happening. That’s always happening. Yeah, I’m sorry. I cut.”
“No, no, no, no, that’s fine. I know some people, whenever you’re really plugged into that creative aspect and it seems like you’re kind of one of those guys who, like you said, you know, you’re constantly writing something. So I figure there’s probably a lot of irons in the fire at any point in time whether they see the light of day or anything like that. But kind of like what’s next for The Darling Fire. I mean, what are you guys looking at? I mean, I know you’ve got some dates lined up. You guys are doing Furnace Fest, right?”
“Okay, and what about beyond that point? Cause I think that’s kind of the ultimate event kind of right now, you know, with the album release and then Furnace Fest just being like two weeks later. What are you guys looking at through the rest of the year and early next?.
“We’re playing a fest in Gainesville, uh, Gainesville Fest. We’re playing that in October. We really wanna get on the road. We really wanna push, you know, wanna play these songs. We did a little stint with Anthony Green and that was super fun. That was, you know, basically our first time back in two and a half years of not playing shows and we got a chance to do four dates in Florida. And that was, we just felt so good to go out and play these songs, especially since people haven’t heard them really. We haven’t played any of these songs live for anyone and it was super fun to do, and we definitely wanna continue doing that as much as we can. It’s just having the dates booked. We just, we really want to do that through the end of the year into the next year, whenever we can do it. We just really want to get on the road and play these songs. Yeah. And of course there’s always writing in the mix somewhere.”
“Of course. Yeah. Well, I know I’m definitely keeping an eye on dates as they pop up. I’m about three hours from Nashville so hopefully you guys make it up this way I can make out.”
“We’ll definitely make it up that way. I mean, I’m not, I don’t really handle or really know exactly the dates we have right now on stuff. My wife handles that stuff. I don’t. I can’t, for some reason my brain doesn’t work. She’s way more organized than I am. But yeah, I’m sure that’s in the plans to make it up that way at some point soon.”
“Okay, awesome. Yeah. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out.”
“So with the album, you know, putting everything in, of course you probably had several demos and stuff put together and of course you have to narrow it down to the 10 tracks. So with the album at hand. What’s your favorite track on the album that you’ve really feel like just, it turned out better than you anticipated, or it it’s the one you enjoy playing the most, the one you’re most proud of, you know?
“I think my favorite song to play is “Rituals,” which is one of the singles that’s out right now. I think that’s, I think for me, that’s probably my favorite song in play. Definitely. Yeah. It’s a really fun. Yeah. Yeah. We got a chance to kind go a little crazy on that one. So it’s fun.”
“I’ll have to go back and I’ll have to listen to that one more. I’ve been listening to it. But it’s almost kind of been like a passive listen while I’m doing my “day job.” I’ll get days when I don’t have any meetings and I’ll throw some earbuds in and just see what I’ve got. I will say today while I was listening to it, I kept getting fixated on “Clean Hands” which I know you guys put that one out as a single, and then “Hers”* was really kind that one just kind of stood out. I think it’s like track six on the album. There was just something about the way that the intro to that one, like the guitar work and then just the way it hit. And I was just really in to it. It just seemed a little bit different than the singles that have been put out there. And I know sometimes, it’s kind of a hard thing whenever you’re putting out the single it’s like, you wanna put something, that’s gonna get some traction and hopefully get you guys noticed a little more. And then, you know, you find those deep cuts when you really dive in the album. Like, oh man, this is just this gold right here.”
“I didn’t know. You had heard that one.”
“Yeah. Actually I’ve got a stream of the full album. Shane hooked me up a couple weeks ago. Well, Shane or Tim. One of the guys hooked me up with it when I reached out. I really wanted to hear this in hopes to get everything out, get a review out for you guys before it drops.”
“[“Hers”] That one’s one of the, actually that song was probably one of the earliest songs we wrote for this album really. Yeah. That song was written, I think in early 2021. I think like January. I think we finished that one like early 2021. Oh, wow. I mean, I wonder it could be 2020. I don’t even remember anyone. I know it’s an older song that we’ve been sitting on that. Yeah. We’ve been sitting on that one for a long time, so, cool. I’m glad you liked that. Playing that live is super fun. Cuz Steve just goes off on that on the end part. It goes crazy and people just love it.”
“Yeah, that was obviously another thing, the drum work on that one stands out to me too, cuz like I said, I’ve been a fan of Steve’s work since I was in college. Watching Further Seems Forever play and the man is just insane whenever he gets behind a kit. To watch him and, you know, he’s one of those people, like sometimes you, whenever you see guys that have been doing what you guys do for as long as you guys, you know, especially as long as he’s been doing it. You kind of run into bands where it’s like that you can tell they’re still having fun, but it’s like, I’m up here doing this. It’s my job kind of almost hits, like going through the motions aspect. But every now and then you’ll encounter someone where you can look up there and you’re just like that dude is giving it his all and just having the time of his life.”
“But that’s cool to hear that that’s kind of a early one on the album.”
“That’s all the questions I kind of had, you know, I kind of wanted to shy away from the generic questions of it, cuz you know, I mean, you guys are all vets. You’ve been doing this for a while. It’s the sophomore album, you know, hopefully everybody knows who you guys are by now.”
“And if not, they should.”
“Thank you. Awesome. I’m happy, you know, it’s awesome that, you know, thanks for taking the time to do this. And I’m super happy to talk about this stuff. So, yeah, it’s gonna be interesting once the album comes out and we start playing and, you know, it’s really exciting, really exciting right now.”
Full album review is forthcoming.
*Since the interview “Hers” was released as a single in preparation for the album release.
Distortions releases everywhere on September 16th, 2022. You can still pre-order the album via Iodine Records here.