Interview

w/André Ache of Fire Department Club

Fire Department Club-André Ache second from the left. (Firedepartmentclub.com)
Nick Lotz

There’s a fire burning in these parts. Can anyone put it out? Could we perhaps call up the . . . Fire Department Club?
    
This hip, electro pop punk band from Brazil is taking the U.S. by storm this year with the release of their new album Best Intuition featuring the hit single “Pitfall,” a groovy song with a nostalgic-stuffed 16 bit music video in which an avatar roams through a video game replica of the Brazilian city of Port Alegre.

Fire Department Club debuted at #178 on the CMJ top 200 in 2015, toured the east coast last October, and have been featured at Lollapalooza in São Paulo, Brazil. I had the opportunity to interview the Fire Department Club frontman, André Ache, a few days before Christmas.
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André Ache: Vocals and Bass 
Gabriel Gottardo: Guitars & Synths
Meinel Waldow: Guitars
Gui Schwertner: Drums
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What is it like being a Brazilian band playing to an American audience?

I think you can picture that in Brazil we don’t have a lot of indie bands or even rock bands, and we also sing in English. It’s pretty strange for our audience here [in Brazil], so we don’t get a lot of gigs. The obvious choice is to try America, so it was a dream come true, our first tour there, because here still sometimes they are not doing a good thing, they don’t even understand what kind of music or what we’re singing. In America, it makes sense. We felt like, “Okay we’re doing something good here.” We played eight gigs and everyone was so cool, so fun, and they were dancing! I believe they are kind of curious because we have some Latin blood here but we do rock music.

When you’re in America are there any differences you have noticed playing to an American audience versus playing to a Brazilian audience?
First, the organization level of the places we played. It’s cool to see that every venue has its own structure and schedule and is well organized. It’s not normal in Brazil. We have to do everything here, such as sound checking and loading. It makes it easier here for a band to play a good concert so we’re all relaxed and how do you say? The important part is to play right, and only in America we can do this.

Let’s talk about “Pitfall,” it tells, “ . . . the story of a businessman stuck in his own trap searching for fame and fortune.” What’s the inspiration?
Do you know where I am right now? I am in an office. I work in a company too. I am a businessman as well.

That’s pretty funny.
It’s not easy to live only by music in Brazil, even more by indie rock. So it tells my story and the story of the people close to me. We have a lot of creative people here (artists) and we have to work in jobs that we don’t even like but you know, I’m here, using the boss’s Internet. I believe it tells our story.

Would you say that “Pitfall” is about a work versus dreams balance?
It’s my dream to tell everyone to fuck off and get on the stage and play and this is more or less what we are living right now. The other guys, they own a studio or recording studio, but they also are businessmen. We all want to go on tour or record in studio but we still cannot do this.

Writer's Note: The lyrics of Pitfall really do tell this story, “I’m wasting time/losing my mind,” followed by, “He won the first prize/a picture on the wall” and are quite poignant; in hindsight it would have been nice to speak with André about these lyrics. Damn you, X-Mas!

The “Pitfall” music video features interesting 16 bit visuals.
Our first idea was about the 80’s game Pitfall and our friends made it very cheap for us, and they suggested we do it in Port Alegre, our hometown. The places you see are very real, and poorly translated from Portuguese to English. We asked them to use famous sights.

Are you guys big video game players?
Whenever we have time between rehearsals we always play video games.

What’s your favorite game that’s coming out?
We love to play FIFA. We can play with six people playing together and the soundtracks for FIFA are always amazing. We hope to get there one day.

What’s blowing your mind right now?
We played CMJ and we met amazing bands there. We can feel the greatness in places we play. We play in venues that have such history, Los Angeles, New York. I can’t explain how amazing it is for us. It’s a dream come true.

What do you feel like American’s image of Brazil is?
When people find out we’re from Brazil they are surprised. We don’t look like classic Brazilians. Our keyboardist, his name is German. They expect us to play popular Brazilian music. They get really surprised when we play our synthesizer and drums and speak in English. We try always to make a huge party in our concerts and they probably expect this from Brazilian bands, and this is where we are really Brazilian.

Who writes the lyrics?
I do (Andrè), and Gabriel, our guitarist does as well.

If you had one phrase to say in Portuguese to describe your band, what would you say?
Nós somos os bombeiros e estamos loucos para invadir o Brasil e fazer uma festa muito grande.

TRANSLATED: We are the Fire Department Club and we can't wait to take over Brazil and throw a very big party.
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If this piqued your interest, you can find Fire Department Club playing in local rotation on WBWC 88.3 FM. For more information on the band check out their website www.firedepartmentclub.com.