Fire On Fire | Review | Nadeem Ali

FOF = Fire On Fire = Freaked Out Folk

"Cerberus Shoal sounded like aliens making space music, FOF sound like aliens making folk music. " 

Fire On Fire used to be Cerberus Shoal more or less. They might have swapped their electric instruments for a variety of acoustic instrumentation but FOF are recognisably Cerberus Shoal.That isn't to say this is merely a rebranding or an old sound disguised with a new name. FOF are a whole new entity. Chriss Sutherland (vocals, guitar, doumbek), talking to New Noise, explains how the Cerberus Shoal morphed into FOF. "I don't think there is an easy answer to this question and maybe we never really thought about it as we were 'transforming'. We have been together as people for quite some time so I think we saw Fire on Fire as the next logical/natural phase of our existence together. Cerberus Shoal had run its course after almost 12 years so the decision to move on was something that really wasn't just happened."

Cerberus Shoal sounded like aliens making space music, FOF sound like aliens making folk music. That spazzy otherworldly weirdness remains hiding in the backwoods racket they now peddle. The term 'Freak-folk' never meant until anything the arrival of these boys and girls on the scene. On the self-titled EP their frenzied caterwaul is a strange beast. A strange, noisy and wildly unpredictable beast. Occasionally it sounds like something that has gone before, a lot of the time it sounds like nothing on earth. Their music always seems to sound on the verge of hysteria, as if the band could implode or more likely explode at any moment.

Chriss isn't too sure though, "I think it's immediate if that is what you mean. I don't know. Maybe... we are hysterical. We are definitely heavy feelers, honest, hard working, smart-ass individuals so if that all boils down to hysteria then so be it."

Maybe "hysteria" is the wrong word. Frantic, passionate, hot-blooded, fiery are better words that help to sum up the spirit of the band. It is hard to imagine the band having time to think as they rampage through the American folk idiom but according to Chriss, "when I'm super nervous it's a struggle to keep it all together but other times when it's 'on' and everything is rockin' in the good way I think about how fucking lucky I am to be doing this."

Hopefully FOF will last as long as Cerberus Shoal, developing and evolving in the same way. With Michael Gira's Young God Records behind anything is possible. But what do FOF hope to achieve for themselves?

"Again, as we are five very different people with five different ideas and agendas I can only answer this for myself and I would say that I hope to achieve longevity. I hope we survive this process that we are in to be able to look back and shed a few tears over the amazing lives we have lived together. All the while making good music."