Fireball Ministry - 14/02/2006
It’s been said that FIREBALL MINISTRY carries the torch for the future of rock n’ roll, and as their latest album ‘Their Rock Is Not Our Rock’ proves, the L.A. purists continue to unrepentantly fan its flame with every thunderous power chord. Cincinnati might not seem like the rock n’ roll capital of the Midwest, but that’s exactly where vocalist/guitarist James A. Rota II and guitarist Emily J. Burton broke ground on their ministry in the late ‘90s. The duo’s ambitions soon outgrew the “Queen City,” though, and they soon relocated to New York City before ultimately settling in Los Angeles, where they met drummer John Oreshnick.

The band recorded their debut album, “Ou Est La Rock?” - French for “Where Is The Rock?” in 1999. The recording was supported with several live gigs. Two years later, the group was joined by Fu Manchu bassist Brad Davis to record “F.M.E.P.”, it featured three new songs alongside five covers. FIREBALL MINISTRY was finally granted a worldwide pulpit for their second full-length, “The Second Great Awakening”, which saw the band re-team with producer Raskulinecz.

In 2005, the group entered Dave Grohl’s Studio 606 West, with Mike Terry (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Halford) engineering and again with Raskulinecz producing. The resulting “Their Rock Is Not Our Rock” showcases the definitive FIREBALL MINISTRY sound: sneering riffs, driving rhythms, hooky harmonies, catchy choruses and a classic-rock sensibility. After this release the band has toured the USA like crazy the past months with bands like Nevermore, Opeth, CKY, H.I.M. and Skindred.

Some weeks ago I had the chance to ask guitarist and founding member Emily J. Burton from Fireball Ministry to ask her some questions, her is what she had to say.

First, can you tell us a little about the history of this band?
James and I started the band in '98 and the following February we put out our first album "Ou Est La Rock?" on Bong Load Records. After that John O (drums) officially joined and we did an EP for Smallstone called "FMEP" followed by our second full-length "The Second Great Awakening" for Nuclear Blast. Our newest member is Johny Chow on bass, and we recently released our new album "Their Rock Is Not Our Rock."

You changed from Nuclear Blast Records to Century Media Records, why changing after one album with them, were you not satisfied with them and how did you get in contact with Century Media?
In the States, Century Media and Nuclear Blast are housed in the same office so it wasn't really a drastic change. The US end of Nuclear Blast is quite small– the main office being in Germany– so it was difficult for us being one of a handful of American bands on the label. Century has a bigger presence over here.

Did you have a larger budget for this album than the previous albums and did this change the way you work?
We have always had to work on a tight budget, and we always try to work deals to be able to record in the best studio possible for the money we have. We did the record in 3 weeks which is about the same as our previous albums.

Have all the songs already been written before you entered the studio, or have there been some changes during the recording sessions?
The basic songs were there but this time we went in with Nick (Raskulinecz), who produced the record, and played through the songs live. Then we made the necessary tweaks and changed some arrangements.

Who was responsible for the lyrics and can you tell us something about the lyrics?
James writes the lyrics and they're pretty open to interpretation but usually inspired by Conan the Barbarian and such things.

The title of the new album is ‘Their Rock Is Not Our Rock’, is there a special meaning behind it?
The title is a play on a bible verse from Deuteronomy. It’s basically a statement on the current state of very bad music being passed off as “Rock.” It’s not meant to have any Christian connotations.

You recorded the album in Dave Grohl’s 606 West Studio with engineer Mike Terry and it was produced by Raskulinecz, how was is to work in that studio and are you satisfied with their jobs as producere and engineer?
Studio 606 is an extremely nice and comfortable place to record and Mike and Nick both did excellent jobs.

How did the recording process proceed and how much time did you spent in the studio?
We spent about a week initially doing pre-production and then we took about 2 weeks to track and do vocals. We only had a couple days to mix because we needed to turn in the album in order for it to be released in 2005 in the US. I think it came out great.

Are you satisfied with the result of the album or did you wish to change something afterwards?
There are always little things that you'd like to change but I think part of an album's charm are the mistakes. The bulk of the songs were very new and we hadn't been playing them for months live before we recorded them. Since we've been playing them on tour, there are some things that have changed from the recorded version, but that's usually the case. I'm happy with all of our albums.

After listenig to the new album, I think James A. Rota’s voice sounds quite like Ozzy Ozzbourne mixed with some influence from Keith Caputo (Life Of Agony) in some songs, did he wanted to sound like them or is it just the way he sings?
I think that's just the way James sings. He definitely didn't set out to sing like Ozzy or Life of Agony. I think if anything it's more a combination of Alice Cooper and Lemmy.

How do you stand against illegal downloading from music from the internet, a lot of albums these days are already on the internet before they officially being released?
I think being able to sample music on the internet is a great thing for learning about what’s out there. I buy the majority of my albums from iTunes because it's instant gratification.As far as downloading albums illegally, I think that people don't realize how this hurts smaller bands. When a label sees that a band isn't selling the amount of albums that they had projected, they stop pushing that band which means no more touring and no more albums. If you like a band, you should support them by spending the $12 on their album and going to see them live.

How did you get involved with the music business and what songs and bands are you listening yourself these days?
I knew from a young age that I wanted to play in a band. There is a lot more to the business end than I ever imagined before I got into it. I pretty much listen to the same music I have always liked- 70's rock and classic metal.

Any plans for touring Europe real soon?
Yes, we should be in Europe by late summer/fall.

Is there still something you want to tell us after these questions?
Full-stack Motherf*ckers unite.

Line Up:
James A. Rota II – Guitars / Vocals
Emily J. Burton – Guitars / Backing vocals
Johny Chow - Bass
John Oreshnick - Drums

2006 - Their Rock Is Not Our Rock
2003 - The Second Great Awakening
2001 - F.M.E.P
1999 - Ou Est La Rock?A