BoySetsFire: Lighting One Under Your Ass
Mike Hess
3/25/2003 5:42:29 PM

"Not being that dogmatic asshole that always has to have your way is quite refreshing. "

BoySetsFire is a warm-and-fuzzy feeling in your bowels, like having a huge butcher knife in your hand when you hear a burglar crashing around your house: Both offer a tingle of safety and protection -- but you know that in reality, something dire is going down.

BSF’s aggro-political vibe is something that many “hard” bands try to put out, but they end up looking like uneducated asses because, well… that’s what they are. BSF backs up their jabber with well-thought, substantial anti-government rants that aren’t just made to score them a RATM comparison.

This is real.

Once the standard rock singer's 45-minutes-late-quota was filled, I got to talk with BSF’s fiery-yet-friendly frontman, Nathan, to discuss everything from their new album Tomorrow Come Today [Wind Up] to the Oscars, to war.

This is your first time recording an album with Wind-Up. What was it like to record and album with a semi-large budget ?
The only real difference was there’s a lot of moving around. There were 4 different studios rather than just one. Also, we worked with a producer for the first time, instead of producing it on our own.

That’s sorta it though. Recording is quite slow and arduous – much more than most people would begin to imagine. it’s a tedious task. I like touring a lot better.

But as far as the money issue, the sound is obviously a lot different.

What are some pros and cons between being on Wind-Up and a smaller indie?
The distribution is a lot better. Also, our European stuff is done thru Sony, so that works out really well. We got a lot of great publicity over there. It’s not much better or worse, but it’s a different arena. The ads are getting into bigger magazines, the reviews are going into places where normally nobody would think about touching it.

Any plans for a single?

Uhh, are you going to tell me?
Haha, yeah, I’m just being a jerk. It’s going to be ‘Last Year’s Nest’

Any video plans on the way? I noticed you’ve never done a real video.
Video is being shot this weekend. It’ll incorporate some live shots, but it’ll be mostly us in a basement.

What role do the fans play in promotion nowadays with internet street teams being so popular?
It’s great to have people who are that are so dedicated to what you’re doing. They go far and beyond what I’d ever do for a band. They’ve helped out immensely.

Do you try to reward them in any way for their work?
Absolutely. They always get sent parts of the new DVD to look at, or certain songs to check out way before other people.

Classifications are thrown around with little thought (hardcore, emo). Tell me what boysetsfire is.
I have no idea. We go with whatever anybody tells us we are. If somebody said ‘you’re my favorite metal band’, I’d say ‘Cool, thanks!’ , but if someone says ‘you’re my favorite polka band’, , I’ll say ‘Cool, thanks!’ It doesn’t really matter as long as you have a feeling about the music.

I’d have to say we were brought up in the hardcore scene, and that really supported us and put us where we are.

Post 9/11, describe how differently/if at all After the Eulogy and Tomorrow Come Today were written. Did the ongoing/impending wars make the lyrics come easier, or did it demand more concentration?

Honestly, most of it was written prior to either 9/11 or the wars. For the song “Foundations to Burn”, the beginning was written before 9/11 happened, so it was a little creepy when it actually went down. The Song is about how our government does terrible things in other countries, and we don’t expect anything to happen in reprisal, so then it happened and it really freaked me out. But after that, you can imagine it was pretty easy to write the rest of the song.

And obviously “Release the Dogs” was written afterwards.

You guys certainly speak your minds. What do you think of all the celebrities that will make comments here and there, but never validate them by explaining their views.
I think it’s weird that a lot of people want to avoid it . Michael Moore fucking thrilled me to death at the Oscars. It seemed that they were booing because they didn’t want their little moment ruined. The guy is making a statement that everyone knew he was going to make. It was like a bunch of people saying ‘we’re trying to be rich and not think about death and murder right now! Get off the stage!’

Although it was very touching, the guy from The Pianist seemed like he was trying to steer around what he actually wanted to say. You know he was saying war objectifies people, but he was being so careful, and you can see it. I don’t understand why people are doing that. They put in a couple of words and they’re done, and don’t want to stir it up too much. I know if I had a mic, I’d get kicked off pretty quickly. It’s sorta funny, especially when celebrities shy away from such things. Susan Sarandon has been a big activist her entire life, and she didn’t say anything. That’s what you’ve been doing your whole life, and now you drop it.

Also, the 9/11 documentary won an Oscar, but the thing is, no matter if it was great or if it sucked, you knew it was going to win simply because it was about 9/11. That’s kinda bogus to me.

Any other political bands that you are into that others may not know about?
Two bands that come to mind that maybe not musically, but politically draw me in are Strike Anywhere from Richmond, VA (on Jade Tree records) and Against Me from Fl, (on No Idea records). They both have a very strong political message.

Excluding yourself, who’s the best band in rock today and why?
Speaking for myself, and not for the band, that’s really hard. There’s a lot of bands that I like that most other people probably would think I wasn’t into. I like country a lot. There’s a fairly new box set by Randy Travis that’s awesome, and anything that George Hones puts out is fucking amazing.

Can’t back you up there. What about rock?
System of a Down. Definitely. It’s really cool to see them rise with their politics and their music that’s unlike anything you’ve heard. There’s too little of that.

Excluding yourself again, who’s the band that should hang it up?
Hahaha. Nice turnaround. Guess I’d have to say Great White. I think they should re-evaluate. When people read about that news, aside from being shocked about the fire, everyone said ‘Great White is still around?’

Finally, if you wanted to convey what BSF is all about to someone that hasn’t heard the band yet, what would you say?
Normally what I try to do is if I’m talking to someone, I describe us as if you’re into Deftones or Tool, you’d probably be into what we’re doing. Soundwise. I explain it that way. Be prepared to hear political stuff that you may or may not agree with. Take it with a grain of salt, if you agree -- great, if not -- discuss it with us.

We’re trying to educate, and if you can discuss things, that’s the way to go. There’s times when I disagree, and then at the end of a discussion, I say ‘you know what, you’re right.’ Not being that dogmatic asshole that always has to have your way is quite refreshing.


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