Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires turn it up to 11 with “real Alabama rock ‘n’ roll.”
Band: Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires
Date: Sunday, April 15, 10:30 p.m.
Venue: The Merry Widow, 51 S. Conception St., www.themerrywidow.net
Lee Bains III established his Alabama rock legacy in The Dexateens. These days, he’s rocking his days away with The Glory Fires. Bains and his crew have created a raucous form of raw, Southern-fried garage rock he admits is not for “the faint of heart or the sensitive of hearing.” Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires’ blend of Southern rock, blues and punk is one without rules or standards.
“We’re just loud, and I feel like we really try to have a real cathartic, wide-open experience and just go for it,” Bains explains. “We always end a show feeling exercised and tapped-out, in a great way.”
This carefree, artistic disregard for the rules has transitioned into the band’s latest effort, “Youth Detention,” a double-album release. For him, music is a form of art, and the album is a palette. He says albums have a way of telling a story or establishing an elaborate concept for the listener that can’t be achieved with a single song.
“We were talking about that with somebody recently with this run of shows that we were on, and we were having the conversation of singles and 7-inch [45s] and albums,” Bains said. “To me, there’s something really magic about eight to 20 songs that go from being, at best, a moment or a glimpse into somebody or a place to being like a whole story or a whole set of ideas that are bouncing off one another.”
The concept for “Youth Detention” begins with the Michael Brown tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri. The incident found a place in Bains’ heart. He began comparing his checkered youth with Brown’s criminal portrayal based on what Bains considers “petty crimes.” Bains realized he had done much worse in his youth and received lighter consequences, which he says was based on race and class. He admits that if he had been black or living in Ferguson, he might not be alive today.
“I guess all of that got me thinking about how we’re socialized in our place and time in a way that these very large systems that people talk about, like the criminal system or class/racial structure, can have very real personal effects on folks,” Bains says. “That’s why I decided to take a moment and spurred writing this record. I went back to that time over those several years and look at my life and the city of Birmingham and neighborhoods and the way I saw it. One song is definitely not going to do it justice.”
Throughout the creation of “Youth Detention,” Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires decided to break a few studio rules as well. Under the guidance of longtime producer Tim Kerr, the band decided to lay down tracks on tape while performing live in-studio without headphones. This method was an attempt to catch the musical spontaneity and rawness of the group while minding the beauty of sonic imperfections. According to Bains, these imperfections add a human element of individuality to the mix.
“Your imperfections can be your strength as a musician,” Bains explained. “I think we have a rawness and a way of kind of pushing and pulling the beat. Things might be a little bit out of tune, but it works in this way that sounds like us and not anybody else. I think that’s what we were aspiring to, and I feel really good about that with the record.”