After re-forming in 2005 the Fireballs ball rolling once again.
This writer was a massive fan of Melbourne psychobilly legends Fireballs during their ‘90s heyday, buying their albums, seeing them live many, many times and even sharing the stage with them in a playing sense during this time. Forming way back in ’89, Fireballs were one of the most unique and popular drawcards on the burgeoning Aussie alternative music live scene for a period from approximately ’92 to ’97. This meant playing literally hundreds of shows a year, including virtually all of the major festivals, and generally carving out a major profile for themselves with their ultra fun, high-octane fusion of punk and metal with ‘50s flavoured rockabilly. It was a heady period.
By the late nineties however, the constant grind had taken its toll, and the band decided to take a major hiatus. While the band members would all go off to partake in many other musical ventures, it was always in the back of their minds to rekindle the Fireballs’ flame. When a call came in to do a support run with no less than Motley Crue and Motorhead in 2005, it was the wake up call they needed, and the band resumed operations in that year.
Talking to drummer, founding member and main man Eddie Fury is more like catching up with an old mate than interviewing a musician for Beat. The conversation flows easily across that dominating period in the nineties, to the present and future of the band, to the state of music and the world in general and much more besides.
“We used to do all sorts of things,” he starts, “we were everything from a party band to playing at festivals. I don’t know if bands now are in that same frame of mind, thinking that ‘I’ve got 5000 Facebook friends, does that make me a pop star?!” he laughs. “All the hard yards stuff, I think it’s made us a bit more ‘die hard’ about it all,” he admits.
“We did the Porno For Pyros tour, and you think ‘How the fuck does that gel?’ In hindsight you think that if you’re just playing to the same people all the time, we’re not really going to expand.
“We just wanted to do something a bit more full on than the Stray Cats,” Fury continues, “a little bit tamer than Slayer, but somehow find a happy medium between them… everyone,” he remembers, “was frustrated with pop music, and top 40 music. The ‘play some Barnesy’ catch-cries that you’d get, playing gigs in Geelong or Ballarat…” he shakes his head. “But you could just see that that was basically what the media were feeding these people, rather than getting off their arses and finding out what was happening in the ‘real’ world.
“Or my real world anyway! I think I stopped buying pop records when I was about 12!” Fury laughs.
Well then, what precipitated that break up in the late ‘90s? “That’s the million dollar question!” Fury emphasizes, “I think we’d come to a point where we were burnt out. I felt that way, anyway.
“The constant touring, partying, and then people’s priorities changed. They wanted to buy houses and have kids, they wanna do this and they wanna do that. As much as I wanted to just live in the van and tour the world forever, that sort of thing started dragging me down. The whole ‘what are you gonna do with your life?’ thing.
“I think,” he continues, “it was the culmination of a lot of things. There was a lot of pressure on us to do another album. Personally I think the album that got shelved and will never see the light of day was pretty fuckin’ average!” he laughs of the abandoned album they were working on at the end of the band’s first incarnation in 1997.
“We’d come to this creative halt, and we didn’t know what to do. It was probably best to end it the way we did, rather than become something we weren’t.”
Discussions about that period of domination and the ensuing demise of the band are inevitable, however Fury is definitely not one to dwell on past glories and possible lost opportunities for too long.“I try to look forward, rather than back,” he states, “I understand that I’ve got to answer these questions, ‘cos they’re gonna get asked!”
After re-forming in 2005 to do the Motley Crue/Motorhead support tour, Fury got himself a new lineup for the band, including introducing two new members and expanding to a four-piece set up, and got the Fireballs ball rolling once again. Since the re-formation, the band have managed to get overseas to play (including psychobilly festivals in Japan and Spain), something they weren’t able to achieve even during their ‘heyday’, and a new album has been recorded in the last year and is ready to drop. “It sounds a bit heavier,” he explains, regarding the new record, “we’re playing a little bit faster, we’re very energized.
“To me personally, it’s the album I wanted to release in ’97. But also it has the influence of the two new guys – who know the Fireballs back catalogue – they bring their own little bits in there.
“It’s just like a massive electric jolt to the whole system. It’s really good, we’re really happy with it. I think the old fans might be at loggerheads as to whether it’s a Fireballs record,” he muses, “but hey, I’m just doing what I do!
“There’s still dark mysterious lyrics, and songs about voodoo, and love gone wrong, and dying, and being a party animal and all that sort of stuff.”
The band will showcase exactly that with their Melbourne album launch this coming Friday at The Hi-Fi, and people who haven’t experienced the mighty Fireballs before, or even those who have, it’d be easy to surmise that all are in for an absolute treat. The Fireballs live are truly a seamless collision of Slayer and The Sex Pistols with Stray Cats and Eddie Cochrane. Think The Living End with a fireball up the proverbial. Eddie himself sums up what the future holds for the Fireballs adding: “Yeah, more shows, more parties, more booze,” he quips. “Let’s see if I can do a Bon Scott or a Hank Williams!”
FIREBALLS present their new album Hellrider with a massive launch show at The Hi-Fi this Saturday October 9. Whether you want to relive some of the highlights of Fireballs back catalog such as Voodoo , Dream Pills or So Bad It’s Good or just to rock out to the new album, it’ll be a treat. We’ll see you at The Hi-Fi on Saturday. Tickets from thehifi.com.au.