Meet the Trio Behind Death By Fireworks

By: Megdalyn Leilani
Photo by Fox and Florals Media

Death By Fireworks is a  trio band based out of the East Bay Area. Originally started as a solo project by frontman, Jake Russo, then later formed into a three-man band consisting of bassist, Daniel King, and drummer, Chris Harrell. The genre they fall under is a more complex side of indie-pop, with a folk aesthetic and a punk-rock heart. Their sound is heavily influenced by the indie/pop rock of the early 2000s from Jimmy Eat World and Death Cab for Cutie to The Killers, Sufjan Stevens, and Bon Iver.

After Nashville, the new single by Death By Fireworks is a slower song, consisting of Jake Russo's vocals and acoustics in the beginning, then leading in with light drums and bass. When I first heard this song, I got a Death Cab vibe immediately. Lyrically, After Nashville is very nostalgic of a time that you wish you could go back to, highlighted by the incredible production by Cody Fuentes of Panda Studios and the harmonious sound of each instrument used. This track comes to end with a build-up of all instrumentals, followed by Russo's vocals and acoustic to close it out.

To understand more about the process of making After Nashville, we spoke to Death by Firework's Jake Russo on working with Cody Fuentes, dream collaborations, goals for the band and more.

Who is Death By Fireworks?
I feel like in order to explain who Death by Fireworks is, I have to start by explaining how we started out. I had begun writing songs under the Death by Fireworks name as solo pieces, just on the acoustic guitar, and that led to performing small shows and open mic nights and that kind of thing, in the east bay. At one of these shows, Daniel and Chris had come to watch my set. After the show, they collectively approached me saying “you need a rhythm section.” I had known Chris and Daniel for a while at that point, and I knew they were talented players. And so we jammed one afternoon at Chris’ house back in 2015. After that afternoon, what had started as an acoustic project, turned into something a lot bigger. I remember playing the song All the Lights of the New Year for the first time, with loud drums and electric guitar and thick bass in that tiny living room, and everything just came to life. It was unexpected but really beautiful at the same time. That’s Death by Fireworks.
Photo by Lauren Canada

How has your debut album, All The Lights of The New Year, affected your band? 
Releasing All the Lights in 2017 was kind of a whirlwind of things happening all at once. I had no idea that, because of that album, the title track would be played on ALT 105.3. Or that we would play at BFD at the Shoreline that year. Or that we’d open for Emery at Brick and Mortar, or go on our first tour. It was a dream come true for us, to experience all of that, as well as to see that the album had resonated with so many people; a lot of those people, we had never met before. 

I will say, however, once All the Lights had been out for about a year or so, there was a desire to put out entirely new material; songs audiences had never heard before. I’m often reminded of rumors about how Kurt Cobain eventually hated playing Smells Like Teen Spirit because they played the song over and over again. And I didn’t want to let those songs that were so important to me turn into something I’d dread one day. I don’t want to come off as ungrateful for the success we have been blessed with. I’ll always love what came from that album, and it was our first definitive statement as a band. It also led us to inevitably test ourselves by releasing Feels Like the Future, The Midnight Heat of Love, and pretty soon, After Nashville as well. 

What was the experience like of working on All The Lights of The New Year with Cody Fuentes at Panda Studios?
Working with Cody Fuentes was a dream. Cody is such a great guy; Chris had known him for a few years from playing shows all over the bay when they were younger. We recorded our very first single with him at his personal studio, Rapture Recordings, and after learning that he had started working at Panda as well, we knew that we wanted to record our first album with him at Panda. I remember listening to Weezer’s White Album in the control room, eating chipotle, and overall, having a hell of a good time working on the album with him.
Photo by Lauren Canada

After Nashville, Death by Fireworks' highly anticipated single, is expected to be released May 17, 2019. What should we expect out of After Nashville and did you guys experiment new sounds/styles on this record?
I feel like, with how wide of a spectrum Death by Fireworks has when it comes to each of our individual influences and inspirations, there’s room for both poppy moments as well as rather experimental ones. On the poppy end of the spectrum, you have a song like I’ll Make My Way to Your Heart off of our debut record. And on the experimental end, you have After Nashville. I don’t want to spoil the song for anyone, but I will say it’s a blend of a lot of things. Putting out After Nashville is kind of a dream come true because we as a band got to be a little self-indulgent and throw in everything but the kitchen sink into a track. In a good way!

With new music being released this next month, what are your goals as a band, as well as individuals, for this new era of music?
Our goal as a band right now is to get our music, both newer and older, in the hands and ears of more people, and to impact those peoples lives with our music in the same way that All the Lights did. We want to be sincere in everything we do as a band and make sure that the people who listen to our music know that we care about what we have created and that we also care about them. It may be with new sounds and new influences, but we want to put the same love and care into any future releases as we did with All the Lights of the New Year.
Photo by Lauren Canada

Photo by Lauren Canada

Following the release of After Nashville, what are you hoping to achieve in the realms of the music scene and industry?
Once After Nashville has been released, we are hoping that listeners both in our hometowns as well as across the world will recognize just how much we are capable of, as a band. We’re not just a pop-punk band, or an indie rock band, or any other label that might be used to describe our style. We’re more than indie, pop-punk, and folk all put together. We are capable of so much more than the sum of our parts.

Who would you say is Death by Fireworks dream collaborations?
One of our dream collaborators would definitely be Sam Pura, the head engineer at Panda Studios. We met him back when we were recording All the Lights, and he is such an amazing guy to hang out with. He is also insanely talented as a producer and engineer. You can hear that in how much time and care he puts into the projects he works on. In truth, there are so many musicians we have played shows with, and friends of ours that we respect; our friends in The Y Axes, D.C.R. Pollock, Hearts Like Lions, Shadow of Whales. It'd be an honor to collaborate and create music with anyone of these people, and many more!

As a music lover, who is constantly evolving in the music scene... I am here to say that Death By Fireworks is the real deal. Genuine guys who love making original and well put together music. Support artists on their come up and stream After Nashville TODAY on all streaming services: Apple Music, Spotify, Youtube, etc. Make sure to follow Death by Fireworks on all their social accounts and keep up with new music releases and tour dates! Thank you to the guys for spending the time to answer my questions and give such wonderful insight on artists in the music industry.