Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Kelly Gately, Fireballs of Freedom
Aside from having an album called Total Fucking Blowout and being the band that many of us cut our underground punk rock show teeth on, the Fireballs of Freedom have just got a presence and personality that's fully impossible to deny. "FoF" started in  North Dakota as a band called Honky Sausage, moved to Montana in 1992 or 1993 after Ear Candy Music's John Fleming told them these were fertile pastures for the kind of high plains, country-boogie-punk-whatever-exactly-you-wanna-call-it rock and roll they were blasting out. And it turned out that Missoula and the Fireballs was a match similar in potency to coffee and cigarettes, chocolate and peanut butter, Peaches/Herb, etc. etc. etc. Missoula loved, and I'd hazard loves the Fireballs like few other things.

Missoula was a waaaay different feeling place in the 1990s. Namely, those of us who are older now, were younger then. There's your big difference. But also, the town was a fair piece grittier with rickety Jay's Upstairs defaulting as a venue for everybody worth their salt from about '93-'03. Everyone smoked, and did so indoors. Craft beer wasn't widely available. Gasoline cost less. Rent cost less. There wasn't an Ear Candy for a lot of the decade. There wasn't much of an internet. Zines existed. Dreadlocks were in vogue. Shows cost less. Bands constantly came through and played for too little door money.
A person could fill a decent sized book with Fireballs of Freedom stories. I won't here, because they're better I think as oral histories, told by friends, the band and acquaintances. It's exciting to me that the Fireballs haven't stopped, they've made some small lineup adjustments, don't tour nearly as often and probably are far steadier in their personal lives for it. They still are a completely blistering band, and regardless of your thoughts on the kind of music they lay down, you owe it to yourself to enjoy the unhinged power and love for music they bring.

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