During the last half of the 1990s, Fireballs were one of the hottest tickets in Australian rock, burning through literally hundreds of shows a year with incendiary performances that set stages ablaze with… and that’s quite enough of that. Following a long, enforced lay-off from playing, the Melbourne psychobilly veterans returned to the fray at the Brewtality festival last weekend and will be doubling up this coming Saturday for their first appearance in Sydney in a decade. The very jovial Eddie Fury took a few moments out of his music listening time to fill us in on what’s making the Fireballs tick lately.
Well Eddie, it’s certainly been a while since we’ve since much of the Fireballs.
We’ve had a bit of a run of bad luck. Joe our bass player’s been injured at work. I said in another interview that, in this country, you’ve got to sustain your music with something else, and when you’re working, doing labouring work or whatever, an injury can put you out for ages. He got injured 18 months ago and his work’s stuffed him around, basically. He pinched a nerve in his neck so they’ve put him on light duties and all that sort of shit. That’s the reason we haven’t been playing. We haven’t been able to rehearse. It’s only recently started going right again. He had the operation in February… for him it’s been trips to the neurosurgeon, chiropractors and shamans and fucking faith healers and witch doctors… Witch doctors, basically! (Ha) These Brewtality gigs will be great for him to get back out there in front of a different crowd and have a crack.
It’s quite a show to be part of, and you’re headlining too! How did you get to be that lucky, at the last minute?
We got a call from Livvy who used to own Heavy Magazine because something had gone a bit haywire right at the last minute. That’s the nature of the industry. It can be a good thing, it can be a bad thing.
It’s pretty heavily focused on metal. How do the Fireballs fit into a festival like that?
We’ve always dabbled with the metal thing, and having Pete Speed and Dylan Villain on board these days with two guitarists we are leaving more toward the metal side. I was just listening to some psychobilly when the phone rang! I still listen to psychobilly stuff, but also some black metal and anything that’s got some balls and grunt behind it.
The line-up is pretty diverse and it’s great that there’s a lot of young bands on it, as well. There’s a couple of older blokes on there like the Celibate Rifles and Dreadnaught, blokes that we sort of knocked around with in the 90s on tours, so it’s all good.
We haven’t had Brewtality here in Sydney before. It’s been many a long day since Fireballs were up here.
The last thing we did [in Sydney] was the Slim Jim Phantom one, and that would have to be ten years ago now! I just look at the calendar now and go, Holy fuck! It’s a shock to the system! A shock for everyone! It’s going to be fantastic. As you said, we haven’t been up to Sydney for a while, so hopefully people will still like us and remember us. That’s what it’s all about.
We’ve always had some metal in our stuff. We got really heavy on our last Hellrider album. We’re talking about stripping it back and playing things a bit slow and meaty… it’s always an evolving thing. It’s never in anyone’s interest to be one dimensional in this industry. Playing at 200bpm for two hours, it loses its punch, you know? You gotta mix it up a bit. As we all know, as you get older your musical tastes change. Like I said, I was listening to some 80s psychobilly a minute ago, and then before that I was listening to Lee Perry! So I’ve gone from reggae to psychobilly to, well I don’t know what’s up next!
I think people get wrapped up in the idea that bands that play a certain style of music just listen only to that style of music.
Well you do for reference, I reckon. Like, you have to listen to what people are doing in the genre, but those genres are formed by listening to things outside of them. I listen to everything from reggae to black metal to jazz to 60s garage pop to psychedelia… You take a little bit of everything and then you go, Well I’m gonna sit down in front of a blank piece of paper and write a song now! There’s all this jumble in your head and you’ve got to see what you can do to make sense of it as your banner, as Fireballs or anything! As much as you want to please the crowd, you also want to stick your finger up at ’em too, occasionally.
Do you feel a lot of those influences coming out in your writing?
I think so! It’s actually been that long since we’ve been actively writing. It’s not like the 90s when we were under the pump a bit and we’ve gotta release an album a year or every two years, or whatever. I think the last thing I wrote was on the Hellrider album which was five or six years ago now when you consider rehearsing and recording, but with any sort of original music it’s constantly evolving anyway. You fuck up one riff and you go, Oh, I kinda like that! I’ll keep that for next time. Who knows what’s going to happen at this Brewtality festival? We might come out and play some Django Reinhart or something!
Hard to know what people would think if you got up there and did that. You’d probably be the best band ever or the complete worst!
That’s the beauty of music you know. You could be standing next to someone who thinks it’s the best thing you’ve ever heard, and you think that it’s bloody terrible! At the end of the day, we can still sit at the bar and have a beer together.