Band of the Week: Above This Fire

MEET THE BAND: Andy Hoffman (vocals), LT Magnotto (guitar), Oliver Barrett (bass), Jon Morgan (drums)

HARDCORE HEROES: When Morgan joined in 2009, Above This Fire had already been going strong since the other members had formed the group while still in high school. The band played its first-ever show with the post-punk act Thursday at the old Blind Lemon (now the Foundry). From that point on, the band became a major player on the local punk and hardcore scene. Morgan, a drummer with the terrific local hard rock act Disengage, joined the group when Disengage started to wind down. "We played some shows with them in the past when I was in Disengage, and I got to be good friends with them and loved the energy of the live shows," he says. "It was important to play with people who got it and didn't have wild expectations of making it big and becoming the next big thing. We just want to have fun."

WICH ONES: About six years ago, Magnotto wrote to let us know that the band's favorite greasy spoon, George's Kitchen in Westpark named a sandwich after the band. Apparently, the restaurant's owner saw a press photo of the group that was taken in front of his diner and was so thrilled that the guys frequented his place, he decided to give them their own dish, the "Above This Fire Buffalo Chicken Sammy." Last year, Fat Head's Brewery named a sandwich after the band. "We don't have any new sandwiches in the works, but we can use this article as an open call," says Morgan.

A DIY APPROACH:  The group will release its new self-titled album on its Forest City Records imprint. Local graphic artist Derek Hess created the cover artwork. "A lot of it was just wanting to have control over things," Morgan explains when asked about the decision to self-release the album. "If someone is going to put time and money into releasing it, you have to do weeks of touring. We'll tour but we like our lives and to get into a van to play a shitty show in Iowa on a Tuesday isn't something we want to do. We wanted to share what we've been working on quickly and we worked with a great local engineer. We're all really happy with the recording."

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: The album's noisy first single, "Counterfeit Blueprints" sounds like mid-'90s post-punk and the guitar features a spacey mid-song jam. "Above This Fire is straight-on hardcore, but we don't sound like all the other hardcore bands," says Morgan. "What I noticed in their music was their personality as people. That's why I'm friends with them. They're fun lovin' party guys and not in a destructive way. What distinguishes this music is that it might confuse hardcore purists in the same way that Disengage was confusing to stoner rock fans. You're a little in one side or another of the genre."


WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Above This Fire performs with Harvey Pekar, Ex-Astronaut and My Mouth Is the Speaker at 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9, at the Grog Shop.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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