Interview: Bonfires

Written by Erin Mathis

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Bonfires is a relatively new, yet incredibly promising, band from Chicago. They’ve already pumped out two EPs: We All Talk About Dying Like We’ve Done It Before and Nothing To Hold/Something To Keep, and were recently signed to Bad Timing Records. Their sound is a magical blend of Alternative Emo and Pop Rock, and their lyrics are truly passionate and thoughtful. Pop-break got the chance to speak with them before their inevitable rise to success.

So I recently started listening to you guys. And I was like: “Wow, these guys are fantastic,” and whenever that happens, I get really upset, because I’m like: “Oh man, I should have started listening to them years ago.” But then I discovered that you guys formed just last year. It’s hard to believe that a band that sounds as put together as yours, is only a little over a year old. So since you are so new, let’s get the word out about your band by letting people really get a feel for who you are. If you were to describe your band as a child of two band parents, who would those bands be?

Kevin Provencher: American Football and Mayday Parade.

Nathan Thompson: I’ve never even thought about it but yeah, that’s a very concise way to put it.

So you already have two EPs under your belt, and were recently signed to Bad Timing Records, so does this mean that there is more music in the works?

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NT: We actually just got the masters back for a new EP. We’re done recording. It should be out sometime between the fall and the winter of this year.

KP: The EP that we’re going to be putting out this fall/winter is going to be called The Way This Ends.

NT: Six tracks. A lot of people said they wanted something a little bit longer. The first EP was four songs, the last EP was three songs, so we experimented a bit more, put a lot of time and thought into what were doing, and came up with something that’s longer than fifteen minutes, so that’s pretty great.

There’s definitely been a revival in the alternative/emo scene. A lot bands that we grew up listening to are making comeback tours, and now there are a bunch of new bands emerging in that genre, and it’s pretty exciting.

NT: We actually just toured with Hawthorne Heights. And yeah, emo has been in our blood for a long time, I guess it’s all different variations on the main genre though. I know for me, when I think of emo I think more along the lines of the more subdued stuff like if you can call The Weakerthans emo, you can call almost anything emotional, which is what’s cool about the new emo scene, is that it can be anything.

And what were some of the emo bands you listened to growing up?

Brad Harvey: My emo cherry was probably popped by Taking Back Sunday, maybe a little bit of Dashboard [Confessional], Motion City Soundtrack as well.

In the band’s bio on the Bad Timing Records website, it says that one of your goals, as a band, is to save kids in the same way that music saved you growing up. Can you talk about how important it is to make emotional connections with kids?

Zech Pluister: Absolutely. That’s always been a big thing for me personally. Just cause growing up, we all went through a lot of shit, and music definitely was collectively something that got us all through it, and it’s mainly the reason why most of us started playing music. It’s the outlet for that emotion and that pain of the things we were going through at the time. So when we started gaining attention as a band, that was kind of the main thing that I always had in the back of my mind, that was always the one thing that I strived to achieve.

KP: If I could add a part two to that. I feel like kids these days need music. Because, for teenagers, they’re in a very interesting part of their lives where they’re starting to figure out who they are, and I feel like these kids need something to cling on to, something that gives them some kind of hope that helps them feel as if they’re not entirely alone in what they’re going through.

ZP: We had this conversation last night. How, whenever we write, we have a kind of responsibility. We were talking about lyrical content and things we were doing and we had to think about what we want people to hear, and what’s the message that we want to send. It should be hope. Especially if you’re in the “emo” scene, it should be something that gives people a driving force, something that motivates you. I mean you can be sad and productive, as long as you understand that sadness passes, and that everything’s going to be okay.

Do you know of any specific people that you’ve helped?

ZP: There was actually one time, this Tumblr message we got. Basically, this girl reached out to us and said that she was going through chemo, and that our music was like the one thing that was like helping her wake up every day. It hit home. We all cried a little bit. ‘Cause that’s like the goal. To hear that our music is helping anyone through anything is just the most powerful thing.

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It’s such an amazing thing to be able to put in lyrics something that someone who is experiencing similar emotions maybe doesn’t know how to express.

NT: It almost feels like you can read someone’s mind without ever knowing them. It’s such an important thing in this scene to know that you’re not alone, and that there are people who are feeling similar things, and also that there are so many other outlets besides medication, self-harm, or suicide. That’s the message that we’ve always tried to spread.

You guys are from Chicago. Can you talk about the Chicago music scene?

NT: If you like rock and roll, then it’s important to understand that Chicago’s where everything started. If you look at the blues scene, when it became something of national importance, that was through Chicago. So Chicago’s music scene is just deep with history, and even if you look back at swing and big bands from prohibition, like Chicago was the place to go for music. And growing up there, we all went to schools where they were teaching about how Chicago was the music town. We live in a place that has survived off of music, and you can tell by the bands that have come out of there. Chicago has something in the water, especially lately, there have been a lot of our friends’ bands who are getting the attention they deserve. And I think there’s just something about our city that creates something dynamic, something different.

Well that’s it for my questions. Anything else you want to say? Any messages for readers, or for your moms, or for people you need to call out on bad behavior?

NT: Just Listen to Ghost of a Dead Hummingbird. And Homesafe. And The Color and Sound. Dryjacket. There’s a lot bands. Namedrop Deluxe.

ZP: Also, look at me now. Look at me now, promoter who wouldn’t give me a show because you said I couldn’t hold pitch. Fuck you man.

For more on Bonfires, click here.


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