The Fiery Furnaces: Putting on the heat

Interesting, but random – this is a good way to describe many of the Fiery Furnaces’ songs, which involve pirates, Spain and of course, blueberries.

When asked where the inspiration for such offbeat material comes from, guitarist Matt Friedburger recently told The Hatchet, “I just think of silly things, whatever will sound funny coming out of my mouth, and then turn it into a song.”

“We like to do different stuff, so if someone doesn’t like one album, they might like another, or part of one,” he said. Having previously traveled with groups such as Sleater-Kinney, The Shins, and Franz Ferdinand, The Fiery Furnaces stopped by the 9:30 Club last Friday on the band’s second headlining tour.

With almost no musical experience, Matt’s sister Eleanor Friedburger joined him in 2000 to begin recording music. By October 2001, the two had formed The Fiery Furnaces. Originally from Illinois, Matt and Eleanor had traveled separately throughout Europe before moving to Brooklyn, N.Y., where they got started writing together.

Matt discussed the group’s unique working relationship. Two of Friedburger’s close friends accompany the pair during shows and work in the studio. “You know more about them, so it’s easier to have an argument or make a song because they don’t get offended,” he said.

The Fiery Furnaces combine a mess of original sounds and lyrics to create a different sound on every track, with most featuring lively tempos and light, upbeat piano melodies. The group also incorporates folk and blues into its overall garage rock sound. Matt said the group’s influences include “the second side of Abbey Road and songs in the style of The Who which are like mini-rock operas.”

Each song on Gallowsbird’s Bark and the group’s most recent EP, Blueberry Park, is like a medley of different tunes and tempos molded together by optimistic lyrics on obscure topics. Their rambling style ranges from simple piano and guitar tunes to digitally distorted runs.

Individual tracks often sound like two or three distinct songs mixed into one, so usually the group will rearrange and combine different sections during live shows. Matt said, “The joke on this (spring) tour is that we are only playing songs as they are arranged on the albums.”

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