MaineList Article: Fastburn

Fastburn at Club Mirage

Tonight was a very special evening for me for many reasons. First of all, tonight’s show was the first official “MaineList Event” featuring four bands that I personally put together to perform at Club Mirage for this special occasion. Eryn Steele, owner of Club Mirage in Old Orchard Beach, has delegated me the authority to book local original bands every Thursday night all summer long.

John MillerI spent about a month contacting bands through myspace, one by one. One of the first bands to respond to my invitation was a band from Raymond, Maine called “Fastburn”. The band was willing and eager to jump into our summer lineup, so I checked out their music tracks, evaluated their material, and after hearing just a few seconds from their songs, wondered why I hadn’t already heard of this band. I was asking myself questions like; “Why don’t these guys already have a gazillion gigs?” or “Why in the World are they so eager to play a free gig for me?”

After meeting with the band, and speaking with John Miller, the band’s front-man, I soon realized that Fastburn is still a relatively new band on the music scene. Despite a lengthy history of writing and recording together, the band only recently started injecting themselves into live performances.

Miller Brothers John and NeilAfter listening to each of the band’s tracks several times, I was left with a certain sense of familiarity. These songs reminded me of mainstream alternative bands you’d expect to hear on national radio. The band’s visual art and photography seemed to be laid out professionally, and even their logo seemed pretty well thought out and well developed.

I asked John where the band went to record their CD and EP, and his answer took me by surprise.

“My brother “Neil Miller” actually recorded the songs right at home.”

As it turns out, brothers John and Neil founded the band and have been jamming together for over a decade. Their blood connection has helped them create a close-knit, passionate musical style.

“Our first record was sent out to “Scott Lamas” in California for mastering, but Neil mastered our EP to help reduce costs.” John explained.

Both discs really sound great, it was hard to believe that they did this in their home, but then again, with modern recording technology, musicians aren’t nearly as limited as they once were not so very long ago. Neil apparently converted three rooms into a recording studio, and John amused me by telling me that some of the vocal tracks were actually recorded in the bathroom.

Drums & BassFastburn’s current list of songs were put together by the two brothers over the coarse of their musical history together. In recent years, the brothers decided to take the next step and invite a drummer and bassist into the band for the purpose of booking gigs. They decided to keep the band lineup within their existing circle of friends, inviting a couple of their existing friends to take up the available positions.

Now, with Matt Robinson on drums, and Josh Malia on bass guitar, the band lineup is fulfilled, and the only thing left to do is book some gigs.

I was proud to include them as the first headlining band for our summer lineup. Finally after about two years of preparation with new band members, and over a decade of the two brothers writing and recording the initial songs, the band is now playing live gigs.

I had a lot of built-up anticipation as I counted down the days to see Fastburn perform. I knew by listening to their tracks on myspace that they were capable of writing good songs and had no doubts about their ability to record, but I had never heard them perform live. It seemed that no matter who I asked about the band, nobody seemed to know who they were, never mind ever seen them perform.

AnticipationAs with any new experience, the anxiety was high. We had some technical difficulties, where our sound-guy’s truck broke down on the way to the gig, and ended up being late. I could see the stress levels rise between bands as everyone waited for the sound guy to show up. But, eventually everything sort of came together, and the bands started to perform.

I booked four bands for this event, and each band had completely different styles. This gig was actually very difficult to book. Fastburn was the original band that I booked, but I had a hard time finding other bands of similar musical style who could do the gig on such short notice. I ended up putting four bands together who might not have ever played together otherwise, and it didn’t seem to throw the night off too badly. Although I’ll be sure to avoid mis-matching bands for future lineups.

Despite the latent start, the mis-matched band lineup, and a few technical problems with mics throughout the night, the gig was pretty awesome. I kind of enjoyed the different flavors of music as the night progressed, but felt kind of bad because most of the room began to empty by the time the headliner finally hit the stage. It’s still early in the summer season, and a lot of the locals who showed up to support the local bands had to work in the morning.

Chris Yerxa of Severed MindMy own drummer, Jason Morin, was there to show his support too, and pointed out that the first band, “Severed Mind”, reminded him of “Overkill”. I immediately recognized his comparison and sort of laughed out loud, realizing the connection. I even told Chris Yerxa, the front-man of “Severed Mind” about the comment and Chris considered it a compliment.

So, we kicked off the night with a classic 80’s metal style band, and the crowd that was there seemed to appreciate seeing their friends perform together for the first time.

Next up was “Lead Stiletto”, an all-female hard rock band, who did a great job entertaining the room with their groovin’ 70’s-like riffs and grinding tones. The girls from Lead Stiletto were nice to chat with, and it seemed to be the perfect tonal transformation between the assortment of musical styles.

The third band that we introduced was “Dead By 27”, a rather aggressive screaming metal band. They put on a pretty good show with a lot of energy, while the band’s singer roamed around the club with his wireless microphone working the crowd.

Lead Stiletto & Dead By 27

Lead Stiletto & Dead By 27

So from classic 80’s Metal, to 70’s acid rock, to 90’s Screaming Metal, we finally brought Fastburn onto the stage.

Fastburn on stageFastburn’s style is a very well-crafted, chiseled to perfection alternative / straight rock structure. The band is very serious minded about their music and seemed to keep themselves huddled within their network of close friends who were there to support the band’s performance.

I was delighted to finally hear the band perform live. The songs were very close to the recorded versions that I remembered hearing throughout the week as I prepared to interview the band. I could tell that they had to omit certain overdubs, but for the most part, Fastburn really nailed it. I decided to book them again during a busier part of the summer to give them another chance to perform in front of a larger audience. Their performance really was top-notch.

During my interview with John, he told me about some recent events that the band has gotten involved in to help promote and expose the band to the music scene.

Getting On The Radio“We were part of the Rave-n-Rage Contest. That was my first submission to radio. I also submitted our CD to WTOS who put us in as semi-finalist for their “Battle of The Bands” contest.” John also pointed out that the band submitted their CD to “The Grammys” as well. “They put us on the ballot in five different categories.” John explained gratefully. There are more details about the categories available on their myspace profile.

Fastburn’s current goals are to really dig into the local music scene and start booking more gigs. “We want to come out and please people. It’s not about the money so much as putting our best into our performance.”

Friends and fans of the band seem to like the one cover song that Fastburn is known to perform. “Umbrella” by Rihanna was actually recorded as a cover-song and is available to listen to on their myspace profile. I felt so bad because of the technical problems we were dealing with, the band’s performance was cut short just before they were about to play that song. Eryn, the owner of Club Mirage also mentioned that she was really looking forward to seeing them perform that song as well. We’ll be sure to give them more space to perform during their next show which is scheduled for July 10th, 2008.

I personally took a liking to a song by Fastburn entitled; “Memory”. It’s got a great commercial groove to it, very mainstream, and I thought the writing structure and recording quality was awesome. When I heard the band perform this song live, I wished that I had my video camera prepared, because it sounded almost identical to the original recording.

Influences“Track 3 on our EP, is a song called “Nothing”, which is probably the most requested song by our audience.” I think I remember John saying that he shared my enthusiasm for “Memory”. In any case, Fastburn’s list of songs are fine-tuned and presented to appease the masses.

You can hear some of the band’s influences throughout each of the songs. Those influences might include bands like; “Alice In Chains”, “Soundgarden”, “Sevendust”, and even some good solid rock classics from bands like “Boston” to name only a few. I personally thought they reminded me of more modern alternative bands like “Nickelback”.

After meeting with the band, and seeing them perform, I thought they have a good shot at doing something with their musical career. They’re not the most talkative bunch of guys I ever interviewed and really didn’t have much to say about themselves, but their serious-minded ambition to succeed seemed to be in tact. I’m sure once they really get into the scene, they’ll begin to glow with unique and interesting stories to tell.

Watch for upcoming shows featuring Fastburn, and be sure to pickup a copy of their disc.


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