Firelight: Triumphant Healing
- Wednesday, April 02, 2008
“Do you think you could write a song that makes it clear that everything is going to be alright? That not only are you going through a hard time, but that things can be awesome again?”
The question, posed via a fan’s MySpace message to Fireflight, struck a chord as it was something the band members were also wrestling with. Luckily, Fireflight more than fulfilled the fan’s request.
Unbreakable. That’s the hit song, the album’s title and the new, pervasive theme found on the Florida-based hard rock band’s sophomore effort. More importantly, it’s the proper response to the quintet’s debut, The Healing of Harms (Flicker).
“Really the theme of the record is triumph,” says vocalist Dawn Richardson. “Our first record was really full of emotion, and it was about trying to fight your way through circumstances. Now, the focus is not only facing your difficult circumstances, but being victorious over them. It’s about living your life in victory over the things that used to control you. So the sound has not only matured, but also the theme. The last album was about struggle and finding hope in God, and now it’s about finding power in your life.”
Of course, the band doesn’t just pretend to know what it’s talking about. Instead, the members come by this new perspective honestly—weathering pressures of the dreaded “sophomore slump,” their front woman losing her voice and the absolutely exhausting schedule of a new band trying to establish its identity.
“On this second record, we were … afraid of the ‘sophomore slump,’” laughs Richardson in retrospect. “We had five years to write the first record and six months to write this one. We were very, very nervous.”
“It was probably the most stressful year of our lives,” agrees guitarist Justin Cox. “Realistically, we had a total of eight months to write a record, and within that, I believe we played 100 to 150 shows. We also had traveling days in between. Plus, it’s hard to write music on guitars when you’re in a 15-passenger van with pretty bad suspension.”
Not only was the band exhausted from an unrelenting tour schedule—alongside acts like Disciple and Pillar—and pressed to immediately write the next album, but the physical effects took a toll on Richardson. She mentioned that “something didn’t feel right” which led her to a vocal coach. She began to learn new vocal techniques, but was still recommended to a doctor right before entering the studio for Unbreakable (Flicker).
“I was supposed to start on Monday, and I went in on a Friday,” recalls Richardson. “He stuck a special camera down my throat and told me that I had blisters on my vocal cords. Basically, singers get things called nodules on their vocal cords that become calluses. These are the first steps to getting those. And once you have a nodule, you can’t get rid of it without surgery. So this was very alarming. They told me I was not allowed to talk at all.”
Over the next few months, Richardson could only sing her parts in the studio or perform on stage. In between any of that, she was literally not allowed to speak.
“The whole situation has been one of the most challenging things of my whole life. It’s hard to not be able to talk at all and be away from home at the same time. We had tornadoes just down the street from my house, and I couldn’t call my family. I had to have [bassist] Wendy [Drennen] call my family for me. It was very difficult time.”
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