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Chris Mojan of Fireworks
Frank C: First let me say thank you so much for the opportunity to interview you and the rest of the guys in the band. As a fan it's possibly the coolest thing I've gotten to do. Scratch that, it's definitely the coolest. Thanks again, you guys are seriously the greatest.
Chris Mojan: Haha thanks for the interview! Anytime friend.
FC: If you were to pitch Fireworks’ music to someone who’d never heard of the band before, what’s the one essential track that could win them over?
CM: This is a rough first question. Usually the songs that get the best feedback always make us scratch our collective head. They're the songs that barely made the record, or were written last minute. That's usually how it goes though. They say a band should never pick its own, "single" for that reason. "Train In Vain" was written in an hour in the studio and its one of my favorite songs of all time. So if I had to pick a track I would have to pick one that we love as much as everyone else does. That would be, "When We Stand On Each Other We Block Out The Sun"
FC: Gospel’s been a critical success, but it’s definitely a step in a different direction compared to All I Have to Offer…. Was the band’s change in sound simply the result of natural maturation as artists or was there a conscious effort for your music to evolve into what became Gospel?
CM: Our next record will probably sound nothing like Gospel. I hope everything we do is different from the last thing. I say hope because we don't force anything. We’re big believers of the songs writing themselves, so yes, everything was and will be natural.
FC: Gospel unfortunately leaked pretty early, but from my perspective the fans’ support was phenomenal. Was there any pressure to begin playing more tracks off of the record at shows where the crowd already knew all the lyrics?
CM: Everyone was amazing. The comments, the defense of our band, even the spike in pre order orders was awesome. We actually just decided to keep everything on its current planned route and just ignored the leak. We’re selfish in the way that since the leak wasn't our fault, we just carried on as normal.
FC: What does the next year or so look like for Fireworks? You guys have released something in some form every year since 2008. Granted, Gospel is still in its infancy, but what’s next on the horizon?
CM: We always tried to make it a point to release something every year. I can't make promises but I will say we will all be extremely upset if we don't release something in 2012.
FC: Chad Gilbert famously produced your major label debut. Did his absence significantly affect Gospel?
FC: Will there be a music video(s) for any songs off of Gospel?
CM: Yes, we will be doing one for, "Arrows" this summer.
FC: When it comes to live performances, now that the tracks from Gospel are in rotation in your setlists, which older songs have you cut? Were there any that you regret not being able to fit in?
CM: We are doing mainly new songs. We've been playing Confusion and We are Everywhere for a long time now.
FC: In a similar vein, the two bonus tracks “Gloom” and “The Weekend Before Halloween” fit in perfectly with the rest of the songs on the record. Were they recorded specifically as b-sides, or did they just end up on the cutting room floor? How many songs were written and record for Gospel, and how were the final twelve selected?
CM: Just ended up that way. We recorded 14 songs and knew two would be b-sides. Going into it we felt like it was going to be hard to pick the two b-sides, but then it worked itself out in the studio. We didn't have a connection with those songs like we did the others.
FC: The only consistent criticism of the record that I’ve seen has been the avant garde acoustic track “I Am the Challenger”. But looking through your past material (specifically “Five Years”) the song doesn’t really seem out of place. How did the song develop and find its way on to the record?
CM: We wrote it and felt like it needed nothing else besides guitar and vocals. Dave and I actually recorded it ourselves in our practice space at 4am, and that's the version that made the record, mess ups and all. There's the people that see us as musicians writing songs and then dissecting them for what they are. Then there's the people who think we're some sort of "defend pop punk revolution" band that shouldn't write songs if they don't sound like a botched version of New Found Glory. We write the songs we want to write, I hope people can always respect that and still connect with that.
FC: Michael Burdick created the wonderful illustrations that make up the cover and interior art of Gospel. His work, coupled with the excellent closer “The Wild Bunch” instantly brings Where the Wild Things Are to mind. Am I totally off base here, or was this intentional? If so, how did it come about?
CM: You're pretty off base but I get it. I can understand why people would think that with the combination of a boy and a monster, but in this case the monster is haunting. As far as the word "Wild" appearing in the last song, that title comes from an inside joke involving a 50 year old co-worker expressing his youth to Kyle. None of us were super into Where The Wild Things Are growing up, and I don't plan on seeing the movie ever again haha.
FC: You guys recently chatted with your fanbase over at AbsolutePunk.net (and you should check out the official Fireworks thread, too, there’s some interesting discussions going on over there). What’s your most memorable story of fan interactions while on tour?
CM: There's not really just one. I'd say I love when people bring baked goods. Such a tasty gesture.
FC: Let’s say you could go back five years ago and give yourself some advice. What would you say?
CM: If I started over I’d do the same again. [Interviewer’s note: I should have figured this, given the lyrics to “Arrows”!]
FC: Back in early May, the Manscout Jamboree Tour was finally putting on a show with its full lineup, the last stop of the tour. It was my first time seeing you guys live, and you definitely didn’t disappoint. But the venue’s scheduling conflicts cut your set pretty short—it was kind of a slap in the face. How did that go?
CM: We’re unfortunately used to it. I just feel bad for people who came to see us. Some snide comments were made to the venue because an hour later the next event happening hadn't even started yet.