The Orchard

Fire on Fire

The Orchard

The Orchard

Fire on Fire


Fire On Fire’s first full length for Young God is available exclusively through this website on December 10, ’08. The first CD edition is a small press offset 4 color package, numbered 1 through 1000, with original art by Colleen Kinsella of Fire On Fire. It is printed on 100% recycled paper by the excellent small press Stumptown Printers -

I’m ecstatic that this is finally coming out! I’ve listened to this album hundreds of times by now and my enthusiasm remains unbridled. Their words and singing are great. They feed off each other and propel each other as musicians with a powerful and joyous energy. They live together in the same house and play together constantly and you can hear that sense of unity and commitment in their music…

Fire On Fire used to be the art-punk-prog-chaos collective Cerberus Shoal, but they ditched their electric instruments, went into hiding for a while, and now play all acoustic—stand up bass, mandolin, banjo, harmonium, accordion, acoustic guitar, dobro etc etc, and they all sing and harmonize on the songs. Live, they do it “old school” and just use two mics placed in front of them on the stage, like a bluegrass band. They all live in the same house up in Maine, across from rusting green oil tanks, apparently. To me they sound like a backwoods, fierce, psychedelic Mamas And The Papas or a crazed and joyously vengeful gospel string band. - Michael Gira/Young God Records 2008

Here’s what one nice fellow says about The Orchard:
Fire On Fire / The Orchard
November 14, 2008 by Bob Moore

For anyone who has experienced the genre-bending and ranging music of Cerberus Shoal any time in the past decade, this rebirth known as Fire on Fire should come as no surprise. That band seemed to make a habit of reinventing their sound every couple of years or so (or evolving might be a better word). A band that required loyalty and a healthy sense of wanderlust and adventure.

With Fire on Fire they’ve done it again, or some of them anyway, but this time unplugged and firmly entrenched somewhere in a dimension far removed from those musical roots. The trappings now are rough-hewn and varnished implements: guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, upright bass, accordion; plucked, strummed, pressed and purposefully bowed. But bubbling under the surface and woven in the words, that genesis of youth and anger and cynicism and sense of irony and sarcasm blend with newfound purpose like dandelion wine, and into something that wets the palette but leaves behind an aftertaste of bittersweet satisfaction. This is music for folks who may not be ready to stop being contrary and skeptical, but who have matured to a point where those emotions can be effectively channeled into something useful.

Right out in front of the toe-tapping acid bluegrass and new-generation Americana folk instrumental arrangements the band lays out a rich layer of vocal harmonies that’ll keep your ears glued to your iPod or Media Player or car stereo or to whatever portal-to-your-soul of choice this CD happens to land in. I’ve a bit of a soft-spot for sincere folk music (and what folk music isn’t sincere)? But this ain’t folk any more than Neil Young is a country singer. We’ve gone beyond that and more. The dirge-like apocalyptic lament “Sirocco” with its hypnotic fiddle and unrelenting bass lays a trance-like bed on which something akin to a post-apocalyptic and sickly gleeful chant issues forth: “and if we tear this kingdom down (tear it down!), let it be with a deserving and joyful sound”. I suppose this is close to what A Silver Mt Zion might have sounded like if they’d grown up just south of the border instead of on Mile End Street. And with a keener sense of harmony.

The years of experimentation and experience manifest all over this album, from the plucking bluegrass-tinged title track to the Jesus-freak throwback “Toknight” to Colleen Kinsella’s chilling vocals on the accordion tribute “Squeeze Box” to the all-acoustic post-rock (did I just say acoustic post-rock?) “Haystack”. An enchanting closer to a stunningly engaging album. All I can do at this point is hope like hell these guys somehow wind their way to South Dakota USA so I can see them live. Not likely, but you never know.

Here’s some press they received for their EP:

Foxy Digitalis
By Brad Rose
Jan 08
Best EP (best of list 07)
Fire on Fire s/t (Young God)

An absolutely stunning five song offering from this new supergroup featuring Caleb Mulkerin, Colleen Kinsella (these two also form Big Blood, another one of the year's finds), Chriss Sutherland, & Tom Kovacevic from Cerberus Shoal plus their ultra-talented housemate, Micah Blue Smaldone. This is down-home folk goodness at its best. All these guys & gals live together in the Blue House up in Portland, Maine and it shows. The varying styles and ideas fit together perfectly and make up a release so damn good that I had to invent a category specifically for it. This limited release is only available from the band or directly from Young God, so get moving or you're going to miss
out on an absolute gem.

Utne Reader March April ‘07
By J.H.
Fire On Fire 5 song EP

When punk rockers go acoustic the results can be unremarkable (Tommy Ramone’ sbluegrass duo Uncle Monk), largely forgettable (Nirvana unplugged), and, occasionally, sublime. In the last category is the riveting Fire on Fire, five ex-punks who live together in a house in Maine and make strange, joyful music on traditional and unconventional acoustic instruments. The music on their eponymous EP is heavy on the vocals, which gives it a bit of a gypsy choir feel, and the band coaxes astonishing, moody sounds out of traditional instruments like the mandolin and harmonium to create enveloping, intoxicating music. With five (long!) songs this EP is svailable online only and is packaged by hand indie-style , with a screen print by band member Colleen Kinsella.
February 2008
(no author listed)
Fire On Fire: Fire On Fire (Young God)

Fire On Fire moves with hard plectrum and steel string steps through full lunged pastoral hymns. The internal furnace that stoked Ian and Sylvia and early Fairport Convention burns inside this South Portland, Maine addition to the ever excellent Young God Records stable. Pulled from the binding folds of wrinkled skin and mud holes, FOF roll like a modern day Carter Family with exotic instrumentation (oud, zampogna, tamburizta) poking the banjo, acoustic guitar and upright bass you might expect. Just when you've settled into their backwoods quiver, "Amnesia" arrives and throws any preconceptions out the window with its Kate-Bush-on-nitrous shockwave. Neither dour nor baldly exuberant, this five-song introductory EP (available directly from Young God or at shows) nails a very intriguing treatise to our collective church door. I suggest we hear what they have to say in full before converting but I'll be damned if I won't light a candle to this one right away.
Sunday, 16 December 2007

Fire on Fire, "Handmade EP"
Written by Simon Marshall-Jones

This Portland, Maine based group are members of art-punk-prog-chaos collective Cerberus Shoal along with North East Indie labelmate Micah Blue Smaldone reinvented as a kind of mutant 'bluegrass/folky' quintet using traditional instruments (plus a few unusual ones) such as upright bass, banjo, piano, harmonium, and accordion in addition to harmonized vocals. This is anything but traditional bluegrass or folk, however, as there's a distinctly uneasy edge and fractured sense of reality bordering on dark psychedelia that removes it a million miles from the mainstream forms of those genres, while also acknowledging the debt owed to those uniquely American styles of music.

This is a Web site/live gig only release and comes in beautiful handmade packaging: an original piece of artwork by band member Colleen Kinsella and printed on good quality card stock while the lyrics and credits are printed on vellum. According to the Young God Web site Michael Gira—who also shared production credits with FoF's Caleb Mulkerin—has "an adamant belief in the music" and, to be blunt, I couldn't agree with him more.

This is startlingly haunting, atmospheric, shimmering, and scintillating music, channeling directly into the true heart of life and America, in much the same way as Britain's dark folk current does, scratching beneath the surface glitz and glamor to the hidden and unvarnished every day. Mulkerin's tremulous voice, reminding me of Neil Young without the nasally whine, is a perfect foil for the themes of liberty betrayed, life, death, the curse of old age, and amnesia. Running through each of the five songs is a frisson of edgy tension between the deliciously dark and poetic lyrics—often sung in male/female harmonization—that contrast sharply with the musical backdrop of picked banjos, guitar, piano, and simple percussion. I had shivers running up and down my spine, such was the effect of these offbeat tales of modern life.

Love, loss, friendship, pain, and just the plain old job of getting on with living: it's all there in buckets and delivered with an uncomplicated passion and, moreover, a simplicity that's refreshing. This is, quite simply, a breathtakingly beautiful set of songs.

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