Somojo Magazine

Interview with Fire On Dawson

7 Billion and a Nameless Somebody – 2012 (released on 31st July)
Prognative - 2010

Hi guys, how are you?
Great, what about yourself?

Would you mind introducing us to your band members?
Markus Stricker (Guitars), Martin Sonntag (Bass), Max Siegmund (Drums) and Ankur Batra (Vocals) constitute Fire on Dawson.

How did you meet each other and how long has the current line up been together?
Martin and I (Ankur) met each other way back in 2006 at University. The music project he had back then was looking for a vocalist and they had put up little signs all over the campus. A classmate saw one of these signs and alerted me to the possibility. I was appointed the singer of the band the following evening. Over time we evolved into Fire on Dawson. Markus then joined the band in 2007, when the band’s founding guitarist had to move cities. The current line-up, with Max on drums, has been together since September, 2011.

How did you come up with the band name?
It’s a funny story. It was 2007 and we had been looking for an appropriate name for our music project for months. Each of us had suggested hundreds of names, but nothing really struck a convincing chord with us. Then one night we were out drinking with one of our ex band-members. That was co-incidentally also his last night with us as guitarist. While paying our tabs for the night, he started pulling out bills from months before from his pocket. He never really got rid of any trash. One of these bills was from a restaurant in Dublin, Ireland that he visited the month before with his mates. This restaurant was called Fire and it was on Dawson Street. We all instantly liked the ring that name had so much so that had so we kept it as our band name. Fire on Dawson Street became Fire on Dawson.

How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
I would describe it as the sound that has so far been missing in their lives.

Which music genre would you least like your music to be described as?
That is really upto each individual what they want to describe our music as. We’re generally not too concerned about music categorization or genre-lization.

What music did you listen to while growing up?
I personally have always mainly been more of a 'rock music sub-genre' listener. I was big on Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and such in my early days. I then moved onto more Progressive music such as Dream Theater, Rush, Tool etc. I also always had a soft spot reserved for Queen.

Which artist or track inspired you to want to make music yourself?
Oddly enough, Michael Jackson.

When was the ‘I want to do that!’ moment?
It was not a particular moment as such but more of an accumulation of various factors. Three of us are from an engineering background, from one of the most demanding universities in Europe so obviously our priorities back in the day were divided. I guess after recording and releasing our debut album Prognative, we first began to think of a career as musicians. The album thankfully was very well received by critics as well as listeners, and that really made the decision that much easier.

What flavor pizza?
Meat with feta cheese and olives.

What was the last music you put on your ipod or mp3 player?
Adele, 21.

What has been the highlight for you in the last 12 months?
Hard to choose. The last 12 months have been quite the ride for us. We toured India for the second time, this time as Headliners. We also undertook our first tour to Eastern Europe. But I would have to go with releasing our second full length album '7 Billion and a Nameless Somebody' in July as my personal highlight. The 17 year old engineering student me in 2006 could have never imagined releasing 2 albums.

What are you hoping to achieve in the next 12 months?
We hope to start working on our next album as soon as possible. We love writing and creating music. Touring some countries and regions which we haven’t been to before is also a priority.

What is your current equipment?
For live vocals -
Microphone - Sennheiser G3 845 Wireless Microphone. I also like to keep a Shure SM58 handy, just in case.
Guitar: Gibson Les Paul Studio.

For studio vocals - Depends on type of vocals being recorded, harsh or soulful.

Markus is endorsed by Framus and uses a variety of their guitars. Martin switches between his Warwick and Sandberg customized. 

Do you have a favorite piece of musical kit that you couldn’t live without?
My Sennheiser. I always need it in my kit bag!

If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
Hard to say. I am pretty content with my current set-up.

Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?
For most things other than the vocals, yes. Naturally, depending on the size of the gig, our constellation might vary.

Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
Definitely it should be a different experience, because both involve different techniques. We try our level best to give our live audiences a unique, captivating and memorable experience live and luckily so far the audiences have been very receptive.

What is your favorite track to play live?
My personal favourite is Debris because of its various different parts and rhythm changes and all that inside 4 minutes. The journey in this song is like a roller coaster in my opinion.

How much involvement do you have with the arranging and production of the songs when recording?
100 percent.

Is the production side of things something you’d like to get involved more in the future, maybe working with other artists?
As mentioned, with our own music we are in complete control of the entire production process. As for working with other artists: It is not something that is in our plans at the moment. But we as a group are never against new ideas.

Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
Experience obviously helps in anything you do in life. With our new album we tried many different techniques and methods to get the desired sound or feeling in particular songs that we hadn’t experimented with before. For example, I starved myself for 2 days before recording 'Steal the Show' to get that desperate feel in the voice. I could never possibly do something like that for a live show without compromising on overall quality.

Do you have any new recordings planned?
As I mentioned before, we are going to get back to songwriting for future projects in the near future.

Vinyl or digital?
Both are integral in today’s day and age.

Who are your favorite songwriters?
Markus Stricker, Martin Sonntag and Max Siegmund!

Who are the main songwriters for the band?
We as a band lay a lot of importance on team work. It doesn’t matter if you are the drummer or the singer or the driver of the van. If someone has a good idea, we are always open to it. We have a lot of songs on our new album that all 4 of us worked on together from the very beginning of the song’s life.

Do you have a set routine when writing and recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
For us, each song is in itself a musical journey and has its own legacy. We start off with an idea, a spark and let this spark lead the way. We just follow its trail and immerse ourselves in the journey without thinking about the destination. Then when this music piece has a basic spine, we add to it with different dynamics, arrangements, sub-plots and words.

Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
Simone Simons.

Would you sign with a major record company?
If the terms are right and if we remain in complete control of sound direction, then why not.

Which countries have you gigged in and which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
In addition to extensively touring our home country, Germany we have toured India (twice), Poland and Czech Republic. We would love the opportunity to tour South America! Turkey and the UK would be interesting too.

Who would you like to tour with?
In an ideal world, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd in their prime.

How do you promote your music and get your music out to new fans?
From the very beginning of Fire on Dawson, we have maintained a policy of direct relationship with the fan. We reply to all online posts/comments/questions personally and always directly interact with our fans after shows. This has helped us build a very loyal fan base, which has supported us through thick and thin. Viral Marketing has been a big help in spreading our music as have the various online music platforms.

Do you think the internet is a good tool for independent and unsigned artists or has it made it harder with so many bands having access to basically the same tools?
It’s a double edged sword I guess. It has definitely become easier to get your music out there for potential listeners but it is a big challenge to capture the attention of a CD purchasing musical ear.

What is your opinion on ‘battle of the bands’ competitions?
How can one compare a good wine to a good whiskey? Not sold on the concept.

What's your best/worst experience at a gig?
The best experience at a gig was probably at our first show outside of Europe in Chandigarh, India in 2010. After a 6 hour bus ride from New Delhi, we reached the venue of the show at around 2 pm for our soundcheck. There in front of us was this big stage and a massive field in front of it. We found it quite amusing, since it was our first show ever in India and that field could pack 6000 people. We didn’t know what to expect at that point. Show time was 10 pm. We were headlining the event. The field at this point in time was obviously empty; the gates wouldn’t open till 8 pm. After relaxing through the afternoon in our rooms, we reached the venue at around 9. The place was packed with enthusiastic fans. We were taken aback by this. It was a humbling experience, we felt so lucky to be in that situation. All the nerves we had about our first show outside Europe were gone in an instant. There were almost 6000 screaming fans there waiting for us to get on stage. I will never forget that feeling.

Do you get nervous before a gig? How do you calm down?
Nervous is probably not an accurate description of how I feel before a show. But I am as excited as a young boy in a toy store before every single gig, no matter if it’s in front of 10,000 or 100.

Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
Our music has already been used by various independent film makers and documentary makers in Europe. Just last year we contributed our song ‘Won by One’ to the soundtrack of a paintball documentary in Germany.

Is composing for film or tv something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?
If the opportunity is right and we really believe in the concept, then definitely.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.
My pleasure!

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