With a name inspired by its motivational practice day, A Sunday Fire has spent the past few years spreading its edgy brand of melodic pop punk around Mobile and beyond. Lagniappe caught up with frontman Chris Ruiz as A Sunday Fire was enjoying the pre-show calm before taking the stage in Macon, Georgia.
While A Sunday Fire’s sound may not be as vehement as that of other punk outfits, Ruiz says the four-piece’s goal is to create a style of punk to which a wide range of listeners can relate both musically and lyrically. Ruiz says the band hopes to emphasize this goal with the release of its five-track EP “Mobtown Punk.”
“We want people to connect with it emotionally,” Ruiz said. “Maybe you’re going through something on the album. Maybe you’re 30 years old, and it takes you back to high school, with some nostalgic value. I think that the lyrics are relatable. The music sets a really good tone for that. That’s the big goal. I want you to be able to relate to what we’re doing and feel what we’re doing.”
Until “Mobtown Punk,” the group had been performing in support of a DIY EP that Ruiz says the group actually recorded in a bathroom. For “Mobtown Punk,” the band decided to invest in a better sound, deciding to lay down tracks with Pensacola’s Alex Gibson. The group had previously tapped Gibson to collect the drum tracks for an unreleased album Ruiz describes as suffering from “issues.”
“We decided to take it to the next step and get real production value,” he said. “We were impressed with how easy he was to work with and how great he was. We recorded the EP in a week, and it was a fantastic experience.”
A Sunday Fire sifted through around 20 songs for the EP. While this may seem a simple task, in the coming months the band will head “up north to record at a label’s studio,” Ruiz says, so the members decided to select five tracks that would serve as an appetizer to their forthcoming full-length.
Ultimately, the band chose five very different-sounding songs, with four sharing a common theme: relationships. While this might seem intentional, Ruiz says it was just a coincidence.
“As far as the content, you really just write what the music dictates,” Ruiz said. “At the same time, if the music makes you feel that way, you write how you feel. It’s being authentic with yourself. We want to be authentic with everything we do. We made it a big point to push for authenticity.”
“Silhouette” is definitely a variant on A Sunday Fire’s sound. The vocals shift into a seductive purr matching the sex-fueled lyrics of the song. The song’s creation was truly a group effort that began with musical influences from alt. rock’s past, Ruiz says. At the time, he was listening to classic goth rock bands such as The Smiths, Joy Division and Christian Death. Ruiz brought his ideas to his bandmates, and the group began working on the instrumentation. Ruiz says the band helped create the perfect foundation for his tribute to old-school goth.
“I was really wanting to do something different and challenge myself,” Ruiz says. “I really think it came out in the song. It’s a different song vocally. I wanted to write something a little more goth influenced.”
The EP’s title track is yet another tangent in sound. “Mobtown Punk” is a quick blast of furious vocals and guitars — a reflection of what Ruiz describes as “being a young person in Mobile.” He says there is a certain amount of frustration that can be experienced in the Mobile music scene, especially on the punk side of things.
Ruiz says one thing that makes punk rock notable is its sense of community. However, he feels there is a “divisiveness” within Mobile’s music scene, and notes that many of their fellow punk bands tend to be possessive of their listeners. A Sunday Fire has transcended this negativity through its numerous local supporters, Ruiz says, which has led them to accept the nature of the local scene.
“Once you hit that point in your life where you’re in Mobile and embrace Mobile, you hit this euphoric-type thing where you feel like you’re finally living life,” Ruiz said. “We figured out how to be happy. We know that we need to surround ourselves with good people. This city has so much to offer, and we can look to our friends for inspiration.”
A Sunday Fire will use its album release party to give back to supporters. In addition to a live performance of the album’s tracks, the group will be giving copies of “Mobtown Punk” to everyone in attendance. Afterward, the band will continue to tour the Southeast. Ruiz says A Sunday Fire already has 50 shows booked through the summer. At some point, the band will also enter the studio to record its first full-length record.
“The future is what we make of it,” Ruiz says. “Hopefully, everyone likes it and we play these shows and blow everyone out of the water. That’s our bread and butter. Our studio stuff is good, but it’s better live.”