With members of such notable acts as Ignite, Rise Against and Death By Stereo rounding out their line-up, Nations Afire's polished blend of punk, rock and hardcore is no accident. This underground super group (which released their first EP The Uprising in April) is poised to do great things. Punknews interviewer Jason Epstein recently exchanged e-mails with Nations Afire guitarist Chris Chasse. They discussed upcoming plans for the bands first full length, touring and the DIY life.
Itâs rare to hear such a young band with such an incredibly refined sound (not to mention album production values). What do you attribute this to?
There are hundreds and hundreds of hours put into these songs and recordings. We wrote demo versions, and worked on them in my home studio for days, and even months. We were unbelievably picky, even on demo versions of the songs that were going to be on the CD, redoing them, and remixing over and over. By the time we hit the studio to record the actually CD, we had the songs set the way we wanted, and a great team to work on the record. We managed to get Cameron Webb (Motorhead, Pennywise, Silverstein) to produce and engineer here in California, and Jason Livermore (Rise Against, NOFX, Propagandhi, A Wilhelm Scream) at the Blasting Room in Colorado to mix/master it for us.
Can you tell me about plans for a full length album? When might you begin working on it? Will it be full of songs from The Uprising EP or all new music?
NA is writing nonstop. We always have been since day one. There are 10 songs currently in the works, as well as new ones that we just started working on. The goal is to have a full length out by the beginning of 2010 at the latest. I suppose there is a chance of a song or two from The Uprising making its way to the full length, but with all the new songs at our disposal, itâs hard to tell right now.
What have your shows been like?
For a "new" band, we consider ourselves to be extremely lucky to have played the shows we've already played, and the ones we have coming up. Our first show was Bamboozle Left in California, which was an honor that they would ask a band that has never even played a show to be a part of. From that, we went to Europe and played Groezrock. I still watch the video from that show and can't believe the response we got. A bigger crowd than I could have ever imagined, singing along, stage diving, and just having a great time. We also did a tour throughout Europe with Death Before Dishonor, and quite a few Southern California shows as well.
Are there any plans to do a full U.S. tour?
For August and September, it seems that we will be playing a lot in California. Come October, we will be doing a handful of dates with Strung Out in the U.S. November, the plan is to hit Canada for a three week tour, then do a quick week of shows from the East coast back to CA. Who knows what may come up though. We're all eager to get out on the road as soon as possible.
Are you doing any record label shopping for your next release or will that be a self-released venture as well?
There hasn't been any shopping as of yet. Some people have shown some interest, and we're going to explore our options. For a full length, we hope to be going through a label simply for the opportunity to have a full budget for a proper release, and the distro in stores worldwide.
You and Brett were involved in the short-lived group "Last of the Believers" last year. Is there a chance that project would resurface or that youâd incorporate a song or two into the Nations Afire sets?
LOTB has never officially gone away. Those songs mean a lot to me, and I put an unreal amount of time and effort into that band. Who knows if LOTB will be playing any shows anytime soon, but I refuse to rule them out. As for playing those songs in NA sets, itâs extremely unlikely. Separate band, different songs etcâ¦basically, it's almost like we'd be playing cover songs.
Whatâs it like going from the large venues and much more mainstream existence of being in Rise Against to going back and forming bands from the ground up and doing self releases?
I personally have rather enjoyed doing the DIY method with the EP. I work the record every day, getting it to different distributors, on iTunes, in Hot Topic etc, and the cost is nothing. It's a full time job and I'm glad that NA owns our first release for life. We can be proud of what we've done so far simply because we've done it completely on our own.
I've never really considered myself, at any point, to be involved in "mainstream" anything. I completely understand the question, and agree that RA is a mainstream act now, and has been since 2004 or so. My mentality, however, has never changed throughout my entire music career. I enjoy playing in front of 100 people just as much as I do in front of 15,000. I loved every second I spent in Rise Against, and wouldn't change it for the world. They are an amazing group of individuals / musicians that I've known for quite some time, [and] are still the same genuine people I met back in 2000 (I believe) when we (Reach the Sky/Rise Against) toured together.
NA is a new start for me, from the ground up, and any success this band has, I can say that I was a part of it from the beginning. I find that even after listening to The Uprising EP almost 50 times (since I got it a little over two months ago) it still isn't getting worn out in the least. What is it about Nations Afireâs songwriting that makes is so unique, accessible and fresh on every listen?
Well, I really don't know how to answer this one. I have plenty of CDs that I too have listened to 50+ times as well (Texas is the Reason, Into Another, Thrice, Alkaline Trio, Weezer, Gorilla Biscuits .. to name a few). Sometimes a certain album strikes you just the right way, and you find yourself playing it over and over again. When, on the other hand, some records you can't even make it past track one. All I can say is that we took our time making the songs/CD and hopefully others can enjoy it as much as you have.
Is there anything else youâd like to say to friends, enemies, lovers, haters or the world in general?
Haha. Iâm not sure if I have any "enemies"â¦no current "lovers" either hahaâ¦
Overall, I can say that I'm an extremely lucky person to be where I am today. I have some of the best friends and family that I could ever ask for, and I get to play music and tour the world for a living. To everyone that has been there for me over the years, or even dropped me an email/message saying that I have affected them in some way through music, I thank you especially. I hope that Nations Afire will be around for quite some time, and hope to see you at the next show.