Over the years, the St. Louis-based trio (formed in 2008 by singer/guitarist Moon Valjean [formerly of Story of the Year], bassist Mark Joseph Roth, and drummer Johnny Venus) have built a reputation for delivering visceral, cinematic rock bursting with soaring melodies and even higher hopes – along with a mesmerizing live show that’s made Greek Fire a worldwide must-see act.
“When we started, Greek Fire was my heart and my soul; it was my baby,” explains Moon, who also plays guitar for ska-punk legends Goldfinger. “I wanted to do uplifting, spiritual-rooted things. It was a place I could really use as an artistic outlet for all the things that didn’t make sense with what I was doing in Story of the Year. Since then, Greek Fire has evolved into the sum of the education of all the other projects I’ve been a part of.”
On ORIENTATION, Greek Fire’s first collection of new music since 2014’s LOST EP, the band’s stadium-sized aspirations enjoy a new spin. Produced by longtime collaborator Elvis Baskette (Chevelle, Alter Bridge), the surprise EP marks the group’s reintroduction to the world, five songs of upbeat, riff-heavy rock ’n’ roll. It’s the sound of a band re-invigorated, from the driving pop charm of “One Girl” to “The Ride,” awash in acrobatic, heavy metal-inspired guitar work and soaring hooks.
And while the freewheeling set might mark a shift in sound from band’s back catalog of beloved songs – from their 2011 debut LP DEUS EX MACHINA through “TOP OF THE WORLD,” the 2013 John Feldmann-produced hit featured in trailers for Disney’s box-office-topping Big Hero 6 as well as on So You Think You Can Dance, CBS March Madness, and the Australian Open – Orientation ultimately does what Greek Fire’s songs have always done: They challenge, comfort, and celebrate listeners. They embody life in all its forms.
“The band has always been about pure vulnerability,” Moon says. “The goal has always been to write personal songs that are 50 layers deep but connect with everyone, no matter how deep they want to go.”
That’s a mantra poised to resonate even louder in the near future. Alongside ORIENTATION, the band just released full-length BROKEN and have been prepping FOUND, an EP companion to LOST and the final piece of a trilogy. In many ways, they’re the yin to ORIENTATION’s yang, more ponderous and solemn – a reflection of the challenges life has thrown at them in recent times.
“I’ve dealt with a lot of depression – not just myself, but through others as well,” the frontman explains. “[BROKEN] is a very sad record, but at the same time, it’s ultimately got a very realistic point of view that always has a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not trying to hide behind anything. Ultimately it tries to know the world and God, that life is good and you’re going to be OK.”
It’s in this way that the full scope of what Greek Fire is in 2019 comes into view. What was intended to be a relentlessly optimistic vehicle for Moon and his bandmates has evolved over time. Unlike before, the band aren’t afraid to let the darkness in these days – in fact, they know it’s the only way to get back to the light. It’s that unending commitment to honesty that’s brought them here, and it will ultimately be the path leading them forward. Because Greek Fire is no longer a just a snapshot of the moments that steady us, the ones that inspire and offer hope. Over the past decade, Valjean, Roth, and Venus have evolved to tackle the ones that seek to bring us down – and have bounced back more resilient than ever before.
“If the band lasts for 20 years, I want it to represent every emotion you experience in 20 years,” Moon says. “I want it to be found at times, lost at times, broken at times; in love at times, in lust at times; heartbroken, devastated, overjoyed. I just want this band to represent life.” XX