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
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
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
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
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
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.
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