Band of the Day

2015.05.10

Greek Fire

Unleashing an inferno of emotions over buzzing guitars and pummeling percussion
On top of the world, on top of it all, trying to feel invincible, I’m dying on top of the world.
lyrics from Top of the World

A rock band should provoke thought, feeling, and passion. In many ways, it’s a rather big part of the job. Greek Fire definitely take that aspect of making music very seriously. On their EP series LOST and FOUND, the St. Louis quartet—Philip “Moon” Sneed [vocals], Ryan Phillips [guitar], Mark Joseph Roth [bass], and Johnny Venus [drums]—open up like never before. “We want to be provocative,” Moon explains. “We want to stir up emotions and push creative boundaries. The EP is a statement. This is who we are.” After tirelessly touring behind their 2011 full-length debut Deus Ex Machina, the band members devoted their attention to crafting what would eventually become LOST and FOUND. At the top of 2012, they packed a van and drove across the country to John Feldman’s studio in Los Angeles. They cut three tracks in the course of just a few days with the producer and longtime friend. At that point, the vision began to crystallize. “While I was writing, I was going through some pretty intense personal experiences along with the people around me,” the frontman admits. “The deeper and harder life became, the need to change amplified. I was in the middle of two concepts. There was a very LOST feeling and this desire to find peace in my life and career. At the same time, I was getting everything out in a cathartic manner and relieving myself of some of the negativity. It made sense to have two poles and create a split concept record of LOST and FOUND.” Amongst those intense experiences, Johnny became diagnosed with leukemia. He began undergoing chemotherapy with his brothers at his side back home. “The music played a huge part in my recovery,” Johnny says. “It was the end goal. I had something to look forward to. I basically thought, ‘I’m not done yet. This leukemia is just a hurdle I need to get over.’ It was an instrumental part, pun intended, of reaching the finish line.” “This dude was a total badass in the hospital,” Moon adds. “He was getting full-blown chemo, and he asked me how the band was when I went to visit him. It made all of us more grateful for the small things. Now, watching him play every night after fighting for his life is truly incredible.” With Johnny thankfully in remission, the group soldiered on. Turning to PledgeMusic, they launched a successful campaign to fund both the making of LOST and the vinyl reissue of Deus Ex Machina. After additional sessions with Michael “Elvis” Baskette [Slash, Incubus] and Matthew Amelung, 2014 saw them release the EP independently preceded by the single “Top of the World.” In addition to syncs for Gatorade, GMC, NCAA March Madness, and more, “Top of the World” fueled the trailer for Disney and Marvel’s animated epic Big Hero 6—which became the #1 film in North America upon release. As a result, Greek Fire immediately vaulted into the pop culture consciousness in a big way. The track’s uplifting and empowering refrain, robust guitars, and stadium-size beats evince one side of LOST. “It’s super personal,” Moon exclaims. “It’s an extremely important song. It’s very historic on a lot of different levels for our band and for us individually. It can mean so many different things, and that’s what I really love about it.” “We want as many people to hear Greek Fire as possible because we fucking believe in it and love what we’re doing,” Ryan goes on. “The fact that Disney and the filmmakers fell in love with a song from a relatively unknown independent band is a testament to the power of the song- as ever so often these syncs go to whoever is topping the charts.” On the other end of the spectrum, the EP opener “A Real Life” unleashes a torrent of emotion over buzzing guitars and pummeling percussion. “It’s very specific about where technology has taken us in life, the music industry, personal situations, and all that,” Moon reveals. “I was angry in the moment, and it reflects that.” Greek Fire also recorded their own take on David Bowie and Trent Reznor’s epic collaboration “I’m Afraid of Americans” with Moon and Anberlin singer Stephen Christian trading intense and infectious verses. “It felt right,” Ryan continues. “I find the process of creating to be sacred so I was a little hesitant to do a cover at first. Once we got in the studio though, it made sense, and it became one of my favorite things we’ve ever done. I’m super pumped we did it.” Along the way, Greek Fire have built a fervent fan base of their own. Under the auspices of doing something a little different, Story of the Year’s Moon and Ryan first joined forces with Mark and Johnny of Maybe Today in 2008. Along the way, they’ve headlined tours all over the world. They’ve also enjoyed successful runs on the Vans Warped Tour, Rockstar UPROAR Festival, and more as well as appearances at Rock on the Range and Summerfest. In the end, Greek Fire collectively aim for one thing. “We want people to feel energy whether they’re listening to a record or watching us live,” concludes Moon. “It can be sad, nervous, or hyped up, but we want everything to be relatable. Every song means something. We want to communicate that feeling.”