Global warming, natural disasters and political turmoil in the Mideast aside, the end of the world is coming for the narrator behind Flashbulb Fires’ Gasconader - but the band wants you to know that it’s just hot air. That’s what the word “gasconade” literally means, and moreso refers to those extravagant boasters in the world who think they have it all figured out. Sitting down with Patrick McGuire and Michael James of the three piece Denver band, we talked about their new album, music that makes the fans take a stand, and how jealous we were that missing drummer Chris Sturniolo was at Coachella without us.

Flashbulb Fires is set to release their second full-length album Gasconader (May 15) and will be performing at their official release party at the Hi-Dive on May 12.

CE: OK, so you three band members are from Denver, but how did you all meet each other?
MJ: Umm, there’s this thing called the internet.
PM: Well Myspace and Craigslist, actually. So I was writing some songs and put some stuff on Myspace and Michael contacted me, and we got together and we were like-minded about everything and decided we had some chemistry . . . but through Craigslist we found Chris (the current drummer). It’s kind of crazy - to do what we do is kind of insane, how much money you don’t make and how thankless it is. I think people have this romantic idea of what it is to be in a band. It’s 10% true, and 90% demoralizing. I feel like we have all been friends for 20 years, but we’ve only known each other for 6 years.
MJ: It’s an interesting chemistry for us, because you hear about bands that meet through college or friends. Most of the time, unless you’ve been in the band and seen and understand how it works, from an outsiders perspective when you put an ad on Craigslist for “searching for drummer” the responses are ridiculous.
PM: I remember when we put out the ad and Chris replied but one of the first responses was this hardcore metal guy, and back then we were kind of piano-based at the time but he came in with his drum cage and fifteen peices and was like “a real kit can’t fit in this basement, but I’ll show you what I got.” But we found Chris and he is so much more than a drummer, he records and produces our albums and is so gifted. That’s so rare. To be successful you have to work so hard, and with Chris we are so lucky to have him.

CE: I would say from the bands I’ve interacted with, unless you are a punk band or something, nobody is really drinking or doing drugs because it is a lot of work to be in a band and if you’re that disorganized you can’t keep up with it.
PM: Even a place like Austin, if you play at SXSW, if your shit’s not together, to park your van and unload your equipment is a massive undertaking, so if you’re wasted or out of your mind you can’t show up to the gig. It’s like the band’s girlfriends that start taking over for you and carrying their boyfriends to the show.

CE: So you all have been together as a band for six years, did I hear that right?
MJ: Yeah we have been playing together for that long, and for the first half of that time I would say we were almost a different band. I mean how would you describe that?
PM: It was pretty pop. Not like the Fray or anything. It was always satirical but back then it was really bright and a lot less developed.
MJ: I would say it was less of an original thing. So we got to a certain point where we decided to change our name and change our sound.

CE: From listening to the last album and this new album I couldn’t tell, but does one of you play the trumpet in the band?
MJ: The last record we had a quartet come in from Yale. Chris knew one of them from high school and he studied music at Yale.
PM: We had a week notice and Chris and I had time to compose a bunch of stuff, and decided where they were going to come in and put those songs together for Glory.
MJ: We have some trumpet on this new record. It’s this guy from a band called Shirley, he was also in a local band called Bop Skizzum - he’s a great trumpet player and he played on our new album for a couple of songs. Chris plays a very tiny bit of trumpet, which we might pull out for a couple of shows. But when we record we approach it from what would we all want it to sound like ultimately and then just figure it out for our live shows.

CE: That would be something new, to have a drummer who also played the trumpet. That would be awesome. What was the best show you played on your last tour?
PM: I think it was with Langhorne Slim at the Fox Theater, that was my personal best.
MJ: Have you ever seen a show at the Fox in Boulder? It’s such a cool venue. We played with Langhorne Slim, who is kind of an alt-folk act, and there was a really big crowd. And the sound there is just so, so good and the crowd was receptive to us.

CE: Do you guys have a big following in Boulder?
MJ: No, I think we just got lucky that night as far as people being in the crowd to see him. I’d say our biggest crowds are here. We have some big markets outside of Denver, though - like Amarillo, TX.
PM: There is one pretty cool block in Amarillo where all the cool people hang out. They fill out this tiny coffee shop with 60 or 70 people and they are entirely silent for our whole show. Yeah, they are so awesome and supportive - and we don’t get paid to play there but when we go we sell so much merch that it’s almost more than what we would make at a show here.

CE: No coffee shop shows in Denver, then?
MJ: No not like in Amarillo. I don’t know what it is.
PM: To me it’s different because there aren’t as many things to do as Denver . . . down there people are like, ‘Ok, this is the place to see music tonight, we’re gonna show up and be respectful’. As a contrast, there was a show at the Larimer Lounge we played with Milagres. They were headlining the show, and so we played first and people were like this [arms crossed, with a frown] and then the next band played and no change in the crowd, so I’m thinking everyone must be here to see Milagres. But nothing changed, and I wonder why anyone shows up for these things. I’m not expecting people to go crazy - but it just sucks that what’s “in” with music is synonymous with apathy, almost. Like it’s cool to not give a fuck.
MJ: It’s not cool or fashionable to care about things sometimes.
PM: No one wants to take the initiative to say “I’m into this, this is great”. You can’t expect that every night, not even in Amarillo, but hopefully the longer we’re at this we’ll have more hardcore fans like that. We’re just paying our dues.

CE: A direct contrast to the fans you would see for a band like Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin.
MJ: We opened for them at the Hi-Dive - you didn’t see us?

CE: Nuh uh. What other band played? Dude - that is so crazy . . . yeah, at that show I remember the bassist for Ha Ha Tonka was so wasted. He smoked a cigarette inside the Hi-Dive and put it out behind his guitar. Oh man, I must have just missed you! Well I’m definitely going to be at this Hi-Dive show on May 12 for your CD release. How do you say the title?
JM: Gasconader. It means someone who is boastful or full of hot air, and it’s referring to the main character on the album.

CE: So that’s a real word then? I was an English major and I’m really intrigued that that’s a real word. That sounds like what it should mean.

PM: The story on the album is that most of it is narrated by this guy who is pretty sure the rapture is imminent, like any day now. But he loves this girl, and he’s trying to convince her to believe in what he believes in before he’s taken up with the rapture. But even with his boastfulness and pride, there are little cracks that appear with his doubts. The concept of the album is less of a story and more about themes, I guess you could say. It’s a really fucked up love story.

CE: You say less of a story and more of a theme - as in the end of the world is only coming for this type of person?
PM: I think a theme is that this person is so wrapped up in his own beliefs, he is living in a different world. His reality is that this is the truth and the end is coming, and you can get on board or be left behind. I used to be a very devout Christian. When other guys in high school were thinking about getting laid and sports, I was thinking about the end of the world.

CE: There are a lot of people like that in Denver and the surrounding area - I hear about it all the time. It’s very intriguing. Maybe this is the time to be thinking of the end of the world, what with global warming or any other imminent political or geophysical disaster that could end us.
PM: But the fun thing is, and I don’t mean to stereotype, there are a lot of people like this character, or how I used to be, they will have absolute faith . . . and then when they're faced with the scientific truth of global warming, they won't believe it. In the end, people are going to believe whatever the fuck they want to believe to suit their own needs and their own desires. Like that guy, Harold Camping, who predicted the end of the world was coming.

CE: Yeah, the guy who had the rapture billboards all around town.
PM: People had absolute faith in that.
MJ: So much so that they gave away all their money.
PM: And you can't deny that that is faith, and that is real to them. So the real question then becomes is faith good? Is faith moral? Does faith make things better for us? I just want to advocate people analyzing and questioning things with this album, I don't want to advocate for atheism or Christianity at all.
MJ: And I think anyone can find very specific religious connotations with this album. But that goes for anything . . . For me personally, I don't have the same background that Pat does, but I can still find a satirical perspective because I've been around people that are over the top and believe one thing or the other and don't accept any questioning of it.

CE: Yes, this country has a religious background - that's the Mayflower landing, and that's the reason this country has so many people in it. And given the context, I see what you're saying about the gasconader being someone who is full of hot air and I immediately think of Fox News. I'm not saying whether I disagree with what they say, but they definitely tell you what's right and wrong without leaving any space for grey areas or allowing you to think for yourself.
PM: These are the people who are running the country and telling us how to live our lives. There are parts of the bible I really like, such as the idea of "let your yes be yes, and your no be no" - I'd like to think we try to live like that, and really believe something or don't. Do something, or don't do anything. That might alienate some people. Sometimes you want to just listen to easy music and not think about anything.
MJ: It goes both ways, and your bound to alienate some people. By and large, we try not to get on stage and preach to anyone. This is just the music we write and create, and it just so happens that there are some meaningful stories there. It's music that's more than "let's go out and have a good time".

Check out Flashbulb Fires at their CD release party, joined by Princess Music and Shirley. The doors open on Saturday, May 12 at 8:00PM and the music starts at 9:00PM. The show is 21+ and tickets are $8. Tickets and more information are available online here.

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