The first time I saw Jason Firebaugh perform, it was to an empty room at Birdy’s Bar & Grill on Indy’s north side. Jason had just moved back to town, and was just trying to get his feet wet in the Circle City music scene. From there, I ended up becoming good friends with Jason and ended up having him on the bill for the first rickyleepotts.com presents six bands for six bucks. Jason actually helped me come up with the concept for the show! I figured it would make sense if he were to perform on the bill. So Jason played. That night, he met Brad Real, a local rap artist from Indianapolis. Long story short, Jason has connected with Brad and has been producing tracks ever since. They actually perform on every the night of every six for six. Since then, Jason has gone back to his roots… to punk. Jason and friends have formed The Guilford Blackouts, a punk band that is already tearing their way through the Midwest. I got the chance to meet and talk with all members of the band for an exclusive artist interview. It is my pleasure to introduce you to the guys from The Guilford Blackouts.
Isn’t there a Guilford Avenue here in Indy? Where did the name come from?
It was a combo. We had probably twenty-five names to go through when trying to pick a band name. We liked the Guildford Punks and The Rolling Blackouts. We combined the two and came up with The Guildford Blackouts. We thought it sounded cool.
So before we get too far into this Jason, didn’t you used to be an acoustic singer/songwriter?
I was. I originally played punk rock, and when I moved back to Indianapolis I did singer/songwriter stuff. That is where I found these two guys; we have been friends with for a while. It just made sense.
Are you still performing solo on occasion?
I am not currently performing solo. My focus on The Guilford Blackouts.
Where do you guys practice?
We practice at Fred’s house on Guildford Avenue…. When his neighbors let us, that is. That is, of course, when we can get through practice without the police showing up. And yes, that has happened.
So what made you guys decide to get into punk?
(Jason) I started listening when I met Fred about thirteen years ago. I actually didn’t listen to punk at all until I met this guy.
(Fred) I have always listened to punk. It’s not about getting into it; it’s about just listening to it. I have been listening to it for about twenty years now.
(Patrick) I just started listening; I have listened to a little punk over the years. Just as we got together and formed this I really started getting into it. I listened to Green Day back in the day… Fred doesn’t consider that punk rock. No credentials there. Just with this new project I just learned to play the bass about five years ago. Talking to Jason we decided we wanted to put something together, here we are.
You guys do a lot of shows. What venues in Indy play host to punk bands?
Melody Inn, Vollrath Tavern… Locals Only, Birdy’s… soon to be The Sinking Ship. That venue is cool. It’s a couple of punk rock guys. The Queers recently played there. It was actually a free show. Shows like that, it’s not any fun if the cops don’t show up.
Being in this genre, I am sure you listen to this genre a lot. That being said, who are some your favorite punk bands?
(Jason) Blink 182; I just saw they are coming to town. Green Day… Screeching Weasel. Face to Face. That’s a good mix right there.
(Fred) Pinhead Circus, The Queers, Screeching Weasel, The Ergs… um, Operation Ivy. Maybe early Rancid, too. If you are going to put anything, put U.K. Subs in there.
(Patrick) I was going to say… I like Blink 182. I have been listening to some of the early Rancid stuff. The Queers are solid. Just setup Pandora; I am just going to punk university. I am setting up channels left and right.
Since there are three of you, who writes all of the lyrics?
(Jason) It’s a combination so far. We have written eleven songs to this point. Fred and I have written the lyrics to all of the songs that we have. I foresee Patrick doing some writing as well.
(Fred) That’s how my best work comes out. We wrote this song called I Don’t Want to Be in a Band With a Child Molester. When we wrote that, his facial hair was about three times longer. He had a full beard… and now we have a song just for making fun of Jason. We expanded it to making fun of other things.
This is a pretty new project… do you play very many live shows?
(Jason) We have tried to. Our first show was on March 12th, and in about three months we have played about five or six shows. We are trying to do as much as we can locally. We are actually going on a ten-day tour in June that will take us to the southwest and get things going here pretty quick.
There are three guys in the band… and all three guys sing. What’s that like on stage with all three of you singing?
(Jason) Sometimes we sing at the same time. It’s fun, and I think it gives us a little more variety the way that we sing. I don’t know how I classify the way each of us sings, but you can tell a difference on how each of us are singing. The bands that I like have multiple people singing, and it just makes it more fun for people watching. It makes it more fun for us too, having multiple people on stage doing different things.
(Patrick) It’s still challenging for me to sing and play the guitar. I’m just a bass player. It’s hard for me to coordinate the two.
(Fred) Patrick sounds like that scientist from The Simpsons.
What’s this I hear about a summer tour? Where are you guys planning to go this concert season?
(Jason) We are on the road for ten days. We left yesterday actually! We are leaving Indy and headed down to Tampa area playing shows along the way. Confirmed dates are in Birmingham, Tampa, St. Pete, Sarasota, and Pensacola. We are playing The Big Easy Tavern in Pensacola. It will be a fun little first tour for us. We figured since we aren’t really known locally, we figured we would just hit the road.
(Patrick) You can find all of the dates are on our website as well.
(Fred) It’s going to be hard since we don’t have a car!
Speaking of concerts, what’s the best show you have ever been to?
(Jason) Mine is Blink 182 in Chicago. In like 1999, 2000… Fred hated it but I liked it. It was before they were playing the big venues. It was about a 500-person venue… like The Vogue. It was fun.
(Fred) Screeching Weasel in Chicago… last year. It was pretty good… I mean… (Laughs) I have seen the Queers dozens of times… they are fun. I have always wanted to see them; it was worth it.
(Patrick) These guys won’t like any of mine… but I would say one of the Phish shows I have been to. As well as Boyz II Men in high school. (Laughs) I sort of mean it… I was in the second row. It was awesome.
I know you haven’t played a ton of shows, but what’s the biggest crowd you have ever played for?
(Jason) How many people are here right now? The biggest crowd is probably fifty or so. We are still working it up a little bit. We have our first all ages show soon… that might actually be pretty good. The high school kids… this is a big deal to them. We are actually playing with my nephew’s band.
What about the smallest?
(Jason) Oh, about ten.
(Fred) We played for three people at my house that one night… that was casual.
(Patrick) Three at a house party, and ten at an actual venue.
Jason, you have been doing quite a bit of work with Brad Real. You guys actually met at the first rickyleepotts.com presents six bands for six bucks. What’s that process been like, working with a rap artist?
(Jason) It’s been fun. We got together a couple times to work out Rise Above, and really didn’t hang out for a few weeks. Then we went to the studio, laid it down… it wasn’t really like I was working on a hip-hop song. I had the parts in front of me, the bass and the rhythm and threw the guitar and vocals over them. As long as that stuff is in place, I can play along with anything. It’s been a lot of fun being seen by different people that probably wouldn’t have see me play.
It’s a genre they wouldn’t have been exposed to. The hip-hop kids see me playing guitar… they wouldn’t had that chance before. That’s the coolest thing about it.
The Vollrath Tavern seems to be a really cool venue… but it’s not very big. Have you guys played there before? They seem to support this style of music.
(Jason) We played there with a band from Colorado. The Vollrath does a good job of supporting touring bands, and yours right… its not big. But it’s a good place for bands to come in for being on the road, and playing to a crowd. It’s a great place, and they do support all genres. Not specifically, but they do go out of the way for punk from what I’ve seen.
It’s so far away. That’s the hardest part about that place.
I just started a new project called 1001 Bottles. It’s a blog about… well, beer. I hear you guys like to drink beer. What’s your favorite beer?
(Jason) We can say this… for the band beer that we always go to is always Budweiser. PBR is a close second to that. If I want to go have a nicer beer, oh man… which one would I pick? Bell’s Two Hearted is my “spend a little money” beer.
(Fred) I like Bacardi Razz. I do like to buy King Cobra and mix that with the Bacardi Razz. It’s malt liquor and beer… I was at a wedding one time (I have this one wedding per year rule) and they had Heineken and Miller Lite… you could drink all you wanted. I would just get one of each and mix them. It’s actually pretty tasty.
(Patrick) I have been drinking a lot of the Sun City… the Osiris… I mean Sun King. I also like Gumballhead. But it’s normally Budweiser.
I know you guys just started, but are you guys working on an album?
Yeah, we actually recorded in April at Sonic Iguana Studios up in Lafayette. They are well known. As we speak, the album is being mastered. Its not done yet, but our part is finished. We are looking to release it sometime this summer. The album is called Skunkape.
On a side note, for people that would like to know, is the southeast version of Bigfoot. He has been spotted around the Everglades. He’s a big massive ape… that stinks. He stinks up the entire area. For some reason, we settled on that as an album title. I saw it on A&E or one of those channels… they are full with the recreations. We also have a song called Skunkape.
What’s does that album cover look like?
(Laughs) That’s a great question… we have some early conceptual ideas, but we have not settled on that yet. So I can’t really tell you! Perhaps the album cover will have a scratch and sniff. It will make your car funky… and your home.
You guys seem to have the social media thing down… who manages all of those accounts?
(Jason) (Points to Patrick.)
(Patrick) That’s me. I do it because I am not old as dirt… like these two guys. It’s just a WordPress for the site… bought the domain name. I have some experience with that stuff in my professional roles. I delved into it… Fred’s not even on Facebook.
Do you guys have jobs outside of music?
(Jason) Yeah, I am a teacher. I am a middle school science teacher. I was a teacher for about seven years prior; I didn’t have the teaching job when I moved back. I have been back teaching for about a year now. I teach at the Orchard School.
(Fred) I have an automotive restoration and customizing business. It doesn’t have a name. We don’t have a sing. We don’t have a phone number. We aren’t really open to the public.
(Patrick) I am an executive for a charitable organization, the Acacia International Headquarters. I work with undergraduates on leadership development and career development. We work with organization and operational efficiencies. I do a wide range of things, travel around the world. I go to Canada sometimes. I travel around and help chapters out.
You guys recorded at Sonic Iguana Studios. I have not heard of them… How did you get connected with them?
(Jason) A lot of the punk bands that Fred has listened to, and that I have now listened have recorded there. People don’t know it, but it’s there… its a good little punk studio in Lafayette, Indiana. The owner started in 1991. His name is Mass; he has played in a ton of punk bands. It just became a place where bands from all over the world came to record.
Since we were only an hour away, we knew where we had to go. For a punk band, we owed it to ourselves to go there to get our stuff recorded.
If you could only play one song for the rest of your career… what song would it be?
(Jason) The full title is I’ll Be Me & You Can Go to Hell. That’s my favorite. It’s my current favorite. Its fun to sing… and to play.
(Fred) One we haven’t written yet.
(Patrick) My favorite is I’m Sorry I’m Not Sorry.
So what does it mean to be punk… to each of you, what does it mean?
(Jason) To me, it means doing what you want to do the way you want to do it and not caring what anyone thinks about it. It’s ironic because you want people to see and hear you, but you just do what you want to do and go from there.
(Fred) For me, I like the do it yourself mentality. That it’s okay to drink Bacardi Razz. I’m kidding!
(Patrick) What I’m learning, and what I have experienced so far, is that you can be who you want to be, and if you want to pop off and scream at people sometimes… that’s okay.
What would you be doing if you were not performing?
(Jason) Oh god; drinking a lot more probably. Being on stage at least paces your drinking… if I didn’t have music that’s what I’d do.
(Fred) I’d be building chopper motorcycles.
(Patrick) I’d be doing all kinds of extreme sports.
I know it’s a long time from now, but where do you see yourself in five years?
(Jason) I assume this question is predicated that the world doesn’t end. I don’t know; I would hope that we are still paying and have written a bunch of stuff. We want people to listen to us, and the prior question… I want to keep playing stuff that I like. If people like, if not… then whatever. We’ll just keep making music anyway.
(Patrick) I have a vision of large crowds, to be honest. This is a big time for exploration. The more I get into it, the more I get excited for it. It’s a whoa new area I haven’t even delved into. It’s exciting to learn more about it and grow right along with it.
In all the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.
(Patrick) I think if people come check out the energy we put forth in a life show, they’d enjoy it. We are trying to contribute to the growing music scene in Indy and we look forward to seeing folks at shows in the future.
(Jason) Check out The Guilford Blackouts and if you haven’t before, give punk rock a chance. It’s got a lot to it that most people won’t, or cant or will not recognize. Check it out!