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Passafire: Mom, Dad, and the Occasional Stoner

article by Kate Risi
photography by Sam Balling

After releasing a new album and welcoming Mike DeGuzman on keys, Passafire is hitting a new stage in their musical voyage. As a band known for their upbeat, reggae-infused rock tunes, it was no surprise that when the group sat down for a chat, the atmosphere was pretty easy-going. Fresh off the Warped Tour, the band is tighter than ever and after just a few minutes of talking, it was clear that Passafire is surprisingly self-aware and ready to tackle whatever the future holds.

Passafire

They are very relaxed tonight, sitting around on couches, leaning back. Guitarist/singer Ted Bowne has his shaggy hair in his face over his beard. The brothers Kubley, Nick and Will, don’t look too much alike, but they get along like brothers, and this is Mike’s first time playing in Vermont with Passafire. All of them seem, more than anything, cool. And that’s hard to pull off after touring so hard.

It seems like Start From Scratch is your most organic album yet. What were some of the initial reactions to it?

Ted Bowne: We were so pressured with the time constraint that it was a “do the best we could” kind of thing. But now that time has passed and we’ve settled in, it feels like we really did a lot with that amount of time. We wrote it in three months and recorded it in less than 4 months. Having that fire under our ass to have it done before summer started and we went on the Warped Tour made us focus on writing music that our fans would enjoy while at the same time writing music for ourselves. We scrapped the normal Passafire formula of rock and progressive reggae and went elsewhere.

Was that intentional?

Ted: It was very natural. I think Mike joining the band had a lot to do with that, but we were going that direction anyway. It seems like each album is progressively farther from reggae in a way, but really, we’re just trying to do new things while still using reggae as our driving force.

It’s also that, personally, we’ve evolved. Each of our musical tastes has grown in different directions. We’re listening to new stuff because we’re traveling together all the time. We have a rule; you can blast whatever you want when you’re driving, however loud you want. And so, that alone just makes us all aware of new music and this new album reflects that for sure.

You guys just played the Warped Tour this summer. How was that?

Mike DeGuzman | Passafire

Mike DeGuzman: It was brutal. It’s one of the most extreme types of touring you can do. You have to be there at seven in the morning each day and then you don’t find out your set time until the morning. You could play at 11, or seven o’clock at night, or anytime in between and it’s like 100 degrees outside everywhere, and the drives are really far apart. Every time we partied pretty hard, we’d have an 11 o’clock set the next day, like clock work.

Ted: It was fun, though. We got to hang out with a bunch of other bands that we otherwise wouldn’t get to see or even listen to. It’s mostly like hardcore screamo type stuff and a lot of those bands are actually pretty good. I think it exposed us to a bunch of new music. It was a completely different scene, too. Like coming back for the fall tour of the country there were some people that were like, “Yeah, I heard you guys on the Warped Tour!” So, it’s cool that people who are into that kind of music stumbled across us. We got to expose ourselves to a whole new scene.

Will Kubley: The kids that are part of that scene are really impressionable; they’re still developing their own musical taste. We see random kids just dressed in all black with black makeup, bobbing their heads and they don’t want their friends to see it, but they are. [Laughs] We play a lot of 16 and up or 18 and up but then at Warped we saw 13 year olds walking around whose parents dropped them off at 10 in the morning and came back at 7pm; it was crazy. It’s like a summer camp and we’re the counselors.




 

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