Q&A: Lee Baines III & The Gloryfires

Q&A: Lee Baines III & The Gloryfires
Photo by Lauren Husband Photography Lee Baines III belts out during the electrifying Gloryfires set at On The Map Fest March 24 at the Fayetteville Town Center.

Photo by Lauren Husband Photography
Lee Baines III belts out during the electrifying Gloryfires set at On The Map Fest March 24 at the Fayetteville Town Center.

Lee Baines III is in some ways, an ideal southern gentleman.

The Birmingham, Ala. native is no stranger to words like “kilt” (as in the past tense of “done been murdered”) and he always introduces himself by name accompanied by a firm handshake. He consistently refers to people by their first name, and he has the ability to hold and chew on a toothpick in the side of his mouth at all times.

Make no mistake, as country as this guy sounds, he’s a pretty sharp and astute songwriter. During his set at On The Map Fest, Baines would, in a sense, “preach” among the distorted sounds of electric guitar feedback and harmonics about systemic oppression and criticism of Old South and its politics. He’s a bitter southerner, existing in two worlds.

The Gloryfires, who are Eric Wallace (guitar), Adam Williamson (bass) and Blake Williamson (drums) are high octane southern rock. There’s a wall of sound to the band, with clipping guitars and bombastic rock beats. Their rock n’ roll sound isn’t exactly cutting edge, but it’s certainly cutting and it has an edge to it.

Check out the conversation Jocelyn Murphy of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and I had with the band after their electrifying set:

TFW: We noticed there’s a thing you did in between songs where you were kind of “preaching” so to speak about what the songs were about. The message seemed to resonate well here.

BAINES: Good, man. I felt weird about it when we started. Some of our songs are rock n’ roll songs and they’re loud. Lyrics can get lost in the sounds and stuff. There’s a dude we play with, Daniel Pujol, and he always makes a point to introduce songs. We were talking about it one time and ideally when you’re playing a show there’s a feeling of energy that’s permeating from yourself and the crowd. A lot of times I feel like been times I’ve been playing a show and at a show that that energy can get so palpable and inspiring and at the end of the show it’s like what do I do with it? So I always appreciate it when fans gaugue an object of direction, like here’s something to think about while you’re feeling these feelings. Y’know what I’m saying?

TFW: So when you’re writing a song, how do you bottle in all of that systematic anger into a rock song?

BAINES: That’s a good question. I guess for the last couple records, there’s definitely…well, to answer your question I revise the shit out of everything. Over and over I write over and over. When I first write something, I tend to start on the side of being cliche or not saying enough of what I’m trying to say or communicate. Or at times I feel too heavy handed or vitriolic, and that can be lyrically as well as musically. I’m really fortunate because these dudes are such impassioned musicians that the fun is never really lost. I’m never like, damn is this fun? They always play with such heart it’s so much fun. There’s bands I’ve been in and I’ve seen that when heavy issues are approached, it can lose the fun and looseness of rock n’ roll. The fact that we’re here to celebrate and have a party, but we can talk about serious things without just sitting there and stroking our chins and getting bummed out.

TFW: Yeah, I could see how a depressing set could leave the crowd bummed and left thinking “the world’s fucked…”

BAINES: Yeah, exactly. Where’s the power in that? Yeah the world’s probably fucked but it’s not completely fucked. We have power, as individuals and particularly as groups.

Photo by Lauren Husband Photography

Photo by Lauren Husband Photography

MURPHY: When you’re on stage, what is it that you’re hoping the audience takes away from your performance?

BLAKE WILLIAMSON: It is a cathartic thing. I guess first of all we do it for us, but you want other people to see it and be inspiring, like wow I could do that. Y’know, when you have a message you want delivered you want people to support it and see that it’s real. Everybody can do that. It’s a great healthy way.

WALLACE: If there’s anything for a someone watching a band to take away I think that should be the main thing. We always talk about playing live music, and you can’t control any of the outside shit, like the crowd, room, stage, what kind of day it is. I was talking with my friend about all the different times you’re in a venue and the shows totally sucked. And they say well you should have been here last night, or you should check out tomorrow night and everybody’s coming to that show. There’s always stuff like that you hear. We were laughing about that, and it’s totally true. The one thing you can control is what you choose to go do, and if somebody takes something away from it that would be the main thing for me.

BLAKE WILLIAMSON: Yeah, and what you’re saying is if there’s only four people in the room that doesn’t matter. You still have to go up and do your thing and have fun because that’s why you’re doing it in the first place. You didn’t want four people to be there, you wanted a lot of people to be there but you can’t control that.

ADAM WILLIAMSON: If you worry about the stuff you can’t control, if you let it get to you, y’know just jump off a bridge. It’s useless. You want people to get into it for sure, but they don’t always. We always have a blast whether there’s two people or a thousand people.

BAINES: On tour, that’s the best hour of my day everyday. Sometimes there is a rare occasion where something goes awry with your playing and that sucks. We had a show in Richmond where the power kept going out. We were playing good and the power just kept going out, and stuff like that frustrates me. Some of the most fun shows I’ve ever played were weird places we’ve never played on Tuesday nights. The thing about a show is you get it in one shot, and there’s nothing like that.

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