Introducing The Firelight Opera

I am loving how 2015 has become a great year for discovering local music. As a fan of music, there is always something special about showing support to music from the area and surrounding areas that you live. I’m happy to have the opportunity to show my support to a local band called The Firelight Opera. This 5 piece alternative rock band from Sunderland is made up of Chris Pettitt (vocals), Lee Hardy, (vocals/guitar), Dan Foster (vocals/guitar), Kyle Martin (drums) and Ben Craigs (vocals/bass).

Since they formed in 2012 they have been busy (and still are) gigging like crazy to great reviews. On there journey they have supported Mark Morriss of The Bluetones, Chris Helme of The Seahorses and John Power of Cast/The La’s. They have also been featured on Shed Seven front man Rick Witter’s radio show on Minster FM and have since performed at Split Festival along with The Cribs, Maximo Park, Ocean Colour Scene and many more big name artists after being invited by The Futureheads, another Sunderland band.

During this time they have released the outstanding EP’s ‘Break Away’ and ‘Ignition’. These EP’s have included my favourite songs ‘Breakaway’ and ‘Feel Like Home’ which perfectly show how good this band sounds. I highly recommend you grab a copy of these EP’s to add to your music collection. These can be purchased from the usual online stores like iTunes and Amazon.

I wanted to find out a little more about The Firelight Opera so I decided to track down the guys and ask them a few questions. I will say they have been great to chat to and this is what they had to say:

How did The Firelight Opera come together and is there a story behind the name?

It’s a long story, but most of us went to the same schools and lived on the same estates. We were all mates before we started the band. The idea behind ‘The Firelight Opera’ is a group of mates singing and playing guitar round a fire. Like an Opera, we all muck in with vocals and all of our songs tell a story. The stories come from our personal experiences, made-up fiction or the two combined.

I’m really liking your sound. Which musicians/bands are your biggest influences?

Our influence range is huge!

Chris: Ronnie James Dio. In my opinion, Dio is the most powerful and raw rock vocalist there has ever been. His voice is also instantly recognisable and unique.

Dan: Nirvana/Kurt Cobain for the way he wrote grunge songs with actual melodies for the lyrics. Tony Iommi/Black Sabbath for the riffs and the blues tone he has. Dave Grohl for being a f*****g God. Paul McCartney because he’s Paul McCartney.

Lee: When I first got into music and songwriting I was heavily influenced by the likes of Ocean Colour Scene, The Seahorses/John Squire, Cast and Oasis/Noel Gallagher for their melodic genius. To this day, The Beatles have had the biggest influence on me for their all-round genius.

Ben: Frank Zappa. Definitely my favourite composer. He didn’t fit any genre and drew his influences from many styles of music and made them into his own. He was totally against the mainstream churned out rubbish and had to make his own record label to publish his 60+ albums, which in turn meant he kept everything from his publishing rights to his copyright. A real businessman who had the best musicians in the world queuing up to be in his band. He worked in such a way that he brought out the different skills of each individual musician, and you became a better all round player/performer whilst working with him, according to Steve Vai. Some of the best music I’ve heard has been written by Zappa.

Kyle: Dave Grohl as he represents what music and being in band is all about! He has raw energy and is so passionate about his ‘job’ and doesn’t take it for granted. He’s also a drummer!

What is the band’s favourite song from your first two EPs and why?

Chris: ‘Feels Like Home’. It’s the first song written as ‘The Firelight Opera’ and it’s the first original song that we experimented with three-part harmonies on. Harmonies are a massive part of what we do and ‘Feels Like Home’ is a defining song which showcases what we’re about as a band.

Dan: ‘Still Time’. It’s the first song we wrote in open tuning and I love the chord progression and harmonies in the chorus.

Lee: I can’t decide between ‘Give Me a Sign’ and ‘Break Away’. Both songs were written from personal experiences and they’re both sang amazingly.

Interestingly, ‘Give Me a Sign’ was never actually going to be used by the band because it was written purely as an emotional outlet back in 2010. Dan related to the lyrics because of a similar experience and convinced me we should work with it. I’m glad he did. His vocals are genuinely emotional, which makes everything you hear in the song 100% real. A lot of people have connected with it in their own way.

Ben: ‘Give Me a Sign’. It blows me away every time I play or hear it. I first heard and related to it when I was going through a bit of a rough time and it also always reminds me of playing Split Festival. Class.

Kyle: ‘Feels Like Home’. It’s the first song written as the band, the most popular so far and it’s catchy as hell. It’s great when the crowd sing along to it when we play it live too.

If you were headlining a world tour, which bands would you choose as YOUR

Definitely the Foo Fighters! We all love them. We’d probably get along great with Dave because Chris often gets compared to him at gigs and Dan and Lee are always breaking legs and limping around. Neither have fell off a stage though. Yet.

What’s the future plans and goals for your music?

We haven’t really discussed a main goal yet. We just want to keep writing and performing live to get our music out there. We’re starting to notice a fan base growing and it’s an amazing feeling so as long as we’re playing live and people are coming to see us and enjoying our music we can’t ask for much more.

We’re a very independent band. We record and produce all of our music ourselves in Kyle’s studio (cheeky plug) which we love and don’t have any intention of changing. We decided to record and release EPs to experiment with our style and sound until we find exactly what we’re going for. Then we’ll record our first album.

The guys have recently released their new EP called ‘Energy’ and as expected it does not disappoint. From the get go, the opening track ‘Haunt Me’ instantly introduces you to their great rock energy before Chris comes powering in with his vocal capability. From then on and throughout the EP you continue to receive the usual catchy hooks and great rock sound that I have come to expect from The Firelight Opera. I do like their song writing talent as what they create are songs which instantly grab you and get you singing along after a few listens. Be warned, you will find yourself singing along to their catchy hooks. I can’t stop myself singing along to their song ‘The Rush’ which has a cool 90’s rock vibe about it.

Musically, the band deliver a rock sound which has a slight indie feel to it. The way that the guys blend together to create this is great for the listener. They offer so much on this and their previous releases including infectious toe tapping beats and some wonderful guitar riffs. I can’t wait to see these guys perform live to hear all this in action. To top off this killer sound is the awesome vocal talent from Chris and some great sounding harmonies from the band. The way Chris executes the choruses really make it difficult to not sing along to and I image that this ability will get a crowd pumped!

Overall, ‘Energy’ is 4 tracks that are all killer no filler that the band should be proud of. My only problem is that this EP leaves me wanting more but thats a good thing, right? My highlight from this release has got to be ‘My Last Goodbye’ which ticks all the right boxes for me. Great sing-along lyrics, top notch vocals and overall awesome sound. I highly recommend you grab a copy of this EP as well as their previous releases and when you do listen to them altogether on shuffle to create an unofficial album. This is what I do and it sounds great. As I mentioned before, you can grab copies of their EP’s from the usual online stores like Amazon and iTunes. Go on, you won’t regret it!

As I’m such a music junkie, I always want more music from musicians/bands that I like and The Firelight Opera are no exception. I really hope that they get to release a full length album which will show off the bands full capabilities. I also hope they do a few stripped down or acoustic tracks too to show a different dimension to their sound.

To find out about the band, future releases and gigs then head over to their website at Alternatively, you can head over to their social media sites at Facebook and Twitter.

As always, remember to support the music that matters to you and tell the world all about it. Hopefully this will now include the music by The Firelight Opera, if so, go tell the world about their music today!