by Tracy Darlington
am so excited to see that Christian music is sneaking its way into secular
music today. It thrills me to know that every day millions of people
who don’t know God are hearing His message of love over the airwaves!"
A mutual love for bands like The Juliana Theory, Zao, Def Leppard, and Skid Row was the Fireflight members’ initial point of connection musically, but the band’s members soon found that their similarities ended there. They each had a different idea about how the music should take shape. While most bands find musical compromise difficult, Firefight’s sound, as well as its resiliency, was established in democracy. The band has found that sharing ideas and control is its success secret. Lead vocalist Dawn Richardson explains, “It works best when you put the group goal above the individual. You can hear it in our music. We don’t sound like much else out there right now because we all come from different places, and our sound meets somewhere in the middle.” The remainder of the band agrees, comprising Wendy Drennen (bass), Glenn Drennen (guitar), Justin Cox (guitar, background vocals) and Phee Shorb (drums).
Hints of emo-core, modern rock, and progressive metal permeate the record and its style as defined by Fireflight. This is all wrapped in a package tied together with soaring vocals and memorable melodies. However, Fireflight wants its music and vision to be emphasized beyond themselves, doing so mainly through lyrics.
Tracy: Has music always been a big part of your life? If so, what music would you say influenced you most as a child?
Dawn Richardson (lead singer): I was always trying to steal the spotlight when I was young. “I’m a Little Teapot” was a personal favorite. I enjoyed standing on coffee tables and belting it out. Growing up in rural central Florida, my family listened to mostly country, and my first idols were singers like Reba McEntire and Garth Brooks. I can remember my father telling me how Garth Brooks’ father told him at a young age that trying to become a successful professional musician was like trying to rope the wind. So he named one of his albums that, and it turned out to be the first country album to debut at the top of the Billboard Pop Album chart. I’ve tried to keep that in mind all these years that my dad has been pushing me to become a lawyer.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a musician?
For as long as I can remember I have always had a song in my head, sort of a soundtrack to my life. I have always loved to sing. I started off entertaining my family by mimicking the top 50s Gold album commercials from TV. I would do the whole medley from start to finish, complete with announcer voice over. As I got older, I kind of gave up on pursuing music. My father was a realist, and he always encouraged me to choose a practical path. But when I started singing with Fireflight, I felt God telling me that we would take His love onto the stage of the world. That’s when I finally decided in my heart that music would be my path.
How did the members of Fireflight meet each other?
We started off in a small town when Glenn decided to form a Christian band. He began with Wendy, his wife, on bass and started looking for a female lead singer. Meanwhile, he ran into Justin, whom he knew from high school, and Justin was also interested in joining. Then Glenn and Wendy saw me perform at a graduation service (I graduated with his brother), and they approached me shortly thereafter. Phee came a couple years later after our first drummer left to pursue a student ministry calling.
What is your favorite song on The Healing of Harms and why?
My favorite song is “More Than a Love Song.” The imagery really grabs me. It tells a story that I see played out at every show. We meet so many young people who are hurting, looking for a little love and understanding.
Christian music has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years. Do you have any thoughts on the future of Christian music?
I am so excited to see that Christian music is sneaking its way into secular music today. It thrills me to know that every day millions of people who don’t know God are hearing His message of love over the airwaves!
Music can be a powerful influence in a person’s life. Could you talk about some of the bands and songs that have impacted your life?
Music has impacted me so much throughout my life. There are so many songs that can open a window into my past. When I hear them it’s like I’m back where I was, feeling the same way I did then. Cyndi Lauper’s song “True Colors” really touched me, as well as “Time After Time.” Music can sometimes give you the energy and resolve you might lack. It connects with your spirit and can make you strong. “Breaking the Legs of Sheep” by Kids in the Way, has really helped me get through some dark days. A lot of times we try to take our own path in this world, attempting to bring God along. But before too long, we realize that we have walked away from God’s will. These are often the hardest times in our lives, but God can use them to teach us who we really are, and who He really is.
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
I used to be a high school science teacher.
I grew up on a cow farm.
Have you ever had any unusual or embarrassing moments while you were performing on stage?
Once we played an outdoor event, where very little water was provided. I had spent that whole day in the sun and didn’t have time to eat before we went on stage around 1:00. On top of all that, the stage had intensely hot lighting that afternoon. So, as I’m sure you have guessed, this was a recipe for disaster. And disaster it was! Around the third song, I felt pretty awful. I was sweating so much that I couldn’t see anymore. I used the edge of our guitarist Justin’s shirt to wipe my face and tried to press on. But about halfway through the next song, I started gagging. I made my way to the back of the stage and faced our drummer Phee, as I started to get really sick. Thankfully, he had a drum shield that day (ha, ha)! Anyhow, at that point I decided I needed to take a break, so I booked it off the stage. To my extreme dismay, I passed a cameraman as I was running off the stage and realized it was all on film.
What process do you take in writing a song?
We write collectively. Most times the musicians collaborate together, and I work on lyrics as they write music.
Where do you do most of your song writing?
In Glenn and Wendy’s garage. :-)
What kind of music would you love to write, but haven’t yet?
Maybe softer stuff, like more folksy, but that’s just me, not the whole band.
How does your faith come into play in your writing and performing?
It plays a huge part. Our goal is to write and play music that helps people to learn about and feel God’s Love.
Can you tell me a story someone’s shared with you about how one of your songs affected their life?
A young woman shared with us about how she had been struggling since losing a baby to miscarriage. She had been burdened so by sadness and depression that deep down she was angry with God. She shared with us that it had been a long time since she had wanted to pray or read her Bible. While listening to our song “You Decide”, she felt an awakening in her spirit about how she had shut God out of her life. We were blown away that God could use one of our songs to bring healing to the heart of such a precious person.
Do you have a new project planned for down the road?
It’s kind of hard to write when you spend most days on the road or recovering from touring. But, it never fails here and there that the Lord whispers a melody or a few words. So we try to take good notes, and we’’ve got the recording equipment packed now to help us start writing again.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would you pick and why?
King David from the Bible. I would like to meet him and see what He was like. God called him a man after His own heart. Yet you can read time and time again in the Bible where he failed miserably. His story reminds me that nobody’s perfect, and it’s God who works in us to make something powerful.
What are three items always found in your refrigerator?
Milk, cheese, and carrots.
When you’re not playing music, what do you enjoy doing?
I love to talk to people and to read.
What’s currently in your iPod?
Leeland, Death Cab for Cutie, Johnny Cash, Kids in the Way
Is there anything you do to beat stress and keep yourself in shape while you’re on the road?.
I’m terrible about exercising lately! So I pray and read my Bible as much as possible to eliminate stress. I am a worrier, but talking to God, and reminding myself of His promises helps me get through the day!
Anything else you’d like to share with TitleTrakk.com readers?
Thanks so much to everyone who has bought the album! We really appreciate the support! God Bless everyone!
Tracy Darlington is a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in Brio, Breakaway, YS, CCM Magazine, Insight, Susie Magazine, and other publications. She has interviewed countless Christian musicians including Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, Leigh Nash, Barlowgirl, Krystal Meyers, Joy Williams, Pillar, Michelle Tumes, and many others. In her spare time she can be found riding horses or listening to music and sipping a Venti 3-shot sugar-free vanilla latte. Visit her online at her blog where she talks about Music, God, dogs and coffee. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.