Since forming in 2008 this Worcester-based punk rock band has lived by their motto: “If you’re not having fun, then what’s the point in working this hard?” Fights and Fires are often described as emotive rowdy hardcore punk bangers or melodic hardcore-infused punk-rock, but however you want to think of them, they deliver a sound that is exhilarating and incendiary (pun intended). Since their formation, the band have released 4 albums, an EP, two split releases, and a handful of singles, which are now completely sold out on all formats. After turning their focus to touring mainland Europe, the band has built a solid underground fanbase throughout the continent. These guys love Star Wars, professional wrestling, and superheroes. Fights And Fires, offstage, look more at home in your local comic bookstore, than at a punk rock show. But, come stage time, it all changes – it’s nice guys, playing hard, in your face music, with wide smiles across their faces. Fights & Fires are Philip Cox (Vocals and trained professional wrestler), Ryan Price (Guitar and roller coaster fanatic), Philip Cook (Guitar and Football Manager supremo), Luke Tasker (Bass and lots of hidden talents), Lee Jackson (Drums and self-confessed football lunatic). Lyrically, this fun-loving quintet is not afraid to show us their emotions and musically not ashamed to wear their classic rock and post-hardcore influences side by side on their sleeves. What you get is a cleverly crafted sound of the likes of Thin Lizzy and Motorhead, as well as US punk bands Rocket From the Crypt and The Bronx.
‘Future Plans And The Things That Ruin Them’ EP, the latest addition to their repertoire, releases February 18 through Lockjaw Records. The EP was written throughout 2020 during the various lockdown periods, countless hours were spent writing over Zoom calls between the members’ homes in Worcester, Wales and France. In the summer of 2021, the band were able to re-unite, socially distanced of course 😉, to spend a day rehearsing before heading straight into the studio to record this well-crafted and poignant EP. “The only real theme of the EP is hope. The subject matter is often about hard times or struggles but the message is always one of finding a better way or a light at the end of the tunnel,” explains vocalist Philip Cox. I am pretty sure Philip, and the rest of his soulmates know about ‘Fights and Fires are the Flowers of Edo’ and how this expression is used to describe the destruction and rebuilding of Tokyo over the centuries. As we continue to destroy what’s around us, at some point we will rebuild and improve, giving us that hope of what may lie ahead in the future. The deep and meaningful stuff to one side, what about the EP? The hard-hitting opening track, “Disposable Dogs”, is their first single to be released at the back end of 2021. Cox’s distinctive vocals lead the way with his very own expressive style, reminding me at times of Robert Smith from the Cure and even Feargal Sharkey from the Undertones. Guitarwork from Price and Cook from start to end is always raw, pacy and sharp. Nicely complimented with Taskers pummelling bass throughout, this song is made up of many varied movements, a bit like a piece of classical music. The vocals, tuneful and melodic during the chorus, are very satisfying and anthemic. I can imagine being there at their gigs, singing along with the thousands of other fans. The lead up to the chorus focuses on the angst in Cox’s vocals creating the perfect backdrop for lyrics like ‘These are the problems that we face every day, these are our problems, and they don’t go away’. During the track, there’s a satisfying instrumental break, picked guitar and pounding floor toms, shining a light on how musically accomplished this band are. A belting opening track.
“Shitty Year”, released in January, begins where “Disposable Dogs” left off. ‘My indecisions are the source of my bad luck’, no wishbones, no four-leaf clover‘, the song takes a look back at a shitty year and looking forward with hope. Philip Cox and the band deliver another well-structured piece of melodic punk, thundering along with anthemic choruses. It’s been another shitty year yeah yeah – you have to love this clever wordsmanship creating a truly pop hook. Throughout Messrs Price and Cook hit us with clean and choppy guitar interlocking with a delicious sustained distorted sound. The solid drums and driving bass do exactly what you’d expect. Just over halfway through, after an unexpected and quite satisfying key change, we are treated to a powerful bass and drum interlude, before normal service is resumed, and the band continues to thump out to the end. Just when you thought you had this band’s style and genre sussed, the next 2 tracks stop you in your tracks. In “Bed For Bones”, the chaps show us that they know how to really rock. In your face guitar work, which often sounds very Iron Maidenesque and then some well-constructed and tight rhythms, where for a moment I think I am listening to Rage Against the Machine. This track has an abundance of styles and variety – it’s a love song…not a sing-along. It’s my favourite by far. “Up, Down, Labour, Conservative, A, B, Start” goes to the other end of the spectrum. It’s a real punk banger, bouncing along and politically charged. Less anthemic and catchy choruses than previous tracks, the band releases their angst through the music and vocals. ’History just repeats itself, but we just keep on letting it, we just keep on letting it’ – it’s a powerful message and let’s just hope that we do something about it. The closing track on the EP is “Pocket Full Of Flowers”, which was released as a single back in 2020. Vocalist Philip Cox said, “The song is about the naivety of love, and how focused we can be on it to cement our happiness…So, just as a token gift of a flower to a mother is put in a pocket to wilt away, a wedding ring can too end up in a sock draw wasting away. For the first time in my adult life, I felt like I could start again and build a new better version of me.” This track returns the EP to a more melodic and singalong style life as the punky and trembling vocals pack a mean punch on top of gritty guitars sitting perfectly with the full and round sound of Jackson’s drums. It’s a catchy number, energetic and melodic.
Fights & Fires will be hitting the road throughout February 2022, in support of the new EP, with remaining shows in Lincoln, Birmingham, London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Dundee – Tickets are on sale now.
See them live on the following dates:
Fri 11th – LINCOLN – Akedo
Sat 12th – BIRMINGHAM – The Victoria
Sun 13th – LONDON – New Cross Inn
Thu 17th – GLASGOW – Bloc
Fri 18th – EDINBURGH – Banshee Labyrinth
Sat 19th – DUNDEE – Rad Apples
Written by Juan Brooks
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