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The Rundown

Music Feature by Steve Centanni

By Steve Centanni

NOVEMBER 14, 2012



Band: Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires
Date: Thurs., Nov. 15 at 9 p.m.
Venue: Alabama Music Box, 455 Dauphin St.,
Tickets: at the door

With their unique brand of Southern-fried garage rock, The Dexateens definitely left their mark on the Alabama music scene before their untimely demise. However, the end of The Dexateens has brought about the birth of one of the Southeast’s most promising musical acts.

Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires are burning up audiences at venues far and wide with a proud Southern garage soul sound. The release of their debut "There Is a Bomb in Gilead” has earned them praise from critics and fans alike, and the nation is once again focusing its eyes on the Alabama music scene. Lagniappe caught up with Bains to discuss the birth of The Glory Fires and the future of the Alabama music scene.

SC: I was quite familiar with your former band The Dexateens. The band had an awesome sound, and you guys toured extensively before you kind of just disappeared. However, your drive to be involved in a musical project kept you going. What kept you focused in between The Dexateens and The Glory Fires?

LB: I guess it was just wanting to keep playing and writing. At the time when we slowed down, I was the youngest member of The Dexateens by at least six years. Most of the rest of the guys had families or were soon to start families. So, I guess they needed to slow down to spend more time with their families and spend more time making money, because Lord knows playing in a band doesn’t do that. I understood why we needed to slow down as a band. At the same time, I wasn’t ready to do that myself. Pretty much as soon as I could, I put another band together. I had been writing a lot of songs during that period. I knew as soon as we were able to get a record out, then I would start playing as much as possible. That’s really what I love doing, and I’m fortunate to have started playing with these guys in the Glory Fires, who are just excited and grateful to be doing it.

SC: You tracked your original demos for "There Is a Bomb in Gilead” with Gulf Coast punk icon Tim Kerr (The Big Boys, Poison 13), and he acted as quite a mentor to this project. What was it like working with him?

LB: He pushes you to do a couple of things. First off, he pushes you to sound like you. He really resists trying to sound like something else. Even if you reference another band, he says, "Well, listen, you’re not that band, and you’ll never be that band. We need to do this the way y’all do this.” He’s really good at that. At the same time, he’s really good at keeping certain rawness and vitality with music. He’s of the school where if you’re thinking too much about something, you’re not playing it well. Don’t over think it. At the same time, he doesn’t want you to do anything automatic. If you’re playing out of muscle memory, then that’s not how you should be playing. You should be playing from your heart. He’s a pretty inspiring guy to be around. He helped us to see what made us who we were. I think some, if not all of us, have a propensity for old school gospel /Muscle Shoals soul stuff that he heard, and he pushed that with us.

SC: Y’all made a good team with Kerr. When "Gilead” hit the street, both fans and critics loved it. What was it like to see your project gain such wide and positive acceptance on the first effort?

LB: I feel really grateful that people talk about and that you call to talk to me about this. It’s a great feeling to just have what you’ve worked so hard on just be given a listen without being enjoyed or not enjoyed or complimented or whatever. I feel like I’ve played so many shows to four or five people and record songs that never see the light of day that I’m grateful that anyone would talk about our band or our record at all. There’s a few times over the past few months where we’ve played somewhere and there’s someone in the crowd that I don’t know from Adam and they’re singing the songs. That’s a pretty amazing feeling. It’s cool to play somewhere and somebody comes up to you, and they’re like, "Man, I really like your record’”or "This line means a lot to me.” That’s as much as I could ask for.

SC: You just released a double-sided single. Tell me a little about that.

LB: We were on tour in September. We went from the Northeast to the Midwest. We were in Detroit for a couple of days, and this guy, Jim Diamond, who mixed the vinyl version of the record, offered to record a few songs. Our label was willing to put us in there to do it. So, we got a full band version of the song ‘There Is a Bomb in Gilead,’ which on the record is pretty stripped down and quiet. We figured it would be cooler to do a version more like the one we played live. We did that, and we did a cover of a song called "Total Destruction to Your Mind” by a singer named Swamp Dogg, who is still making records and still singing and everything. He made his debut as a solo artist in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. He put out a couple of really cool, weird records at that time. We were figuring out what song that we wanted to cover, and we were talking about a few. Then, it just occurred to me that day on the way to Detroit that we should cover that. I didn’t think they had heard it before. They were like, "Wow! That’s what we need to do!” We learned to do it on the fly. I wish I could write songs as good as Swamp Dogg.

SC: With you guys, Alabama Shakes and Drive-By Truckers, it seem as if there is this slow revelation of Alabama’s music scene on the national level. As someone who’s an up-and-comer, where do you see this scene going?

LB: I don’t know a lot as far as the industry stuff goes. I kinda think that part of the reason that there is so much cool music here is that really the only reason that we’ve been making music in Alabama for as long as I have is that we love making music. We love playing it for our friends and having a good time. The commercial aspect of it really hasn’t been present. It’s created without too much of a thought of how it will be received. It’s been a pretty tight-knit community and a supportive one between Birmingham and the Shoals and Mobile and Tuscaloosa. I love being a part of that scene and being a part of the bands that are playing now and the ones that are history.  As we tour and travel, we see really good bands, but there’s something about bands from Alabama.

blackwll says:

NOVEMBER 17, 2012
2:25 PM
  Good interview. I saw the Dexateens with Bains last night in Montgomery. Great show. I guess they are semi-active. Bains also played later at another venue. I also saw both groups (with their shared member, your interview subject) this summer in Auburn.

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What should be Mayor-elect Stimpson's top priority?

Examining the budget.
Evaluating city employees.
Addressing public safety issues.
Improving infrastructure.
Free fish plates.

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