Scribes of Fire
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Scribes of Fire

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It is sort of an understatement to say SCRIBES OF FIRE is a metal band. Zauberer (myspace/scribesoffire) is loaded with a sound that roars, which is amazing considering they have only one (very talented) guitarist, Phil Salvagione. Backing him on rhythm is an acquaintance of mine from the Brooklyn Punk Temple/Peggy O’Neill’s days who is an equally strong bassist, Mike Delfino, and Dan Kurfirst on drums. The centerpiece is, of course, Ben Abelson on soaring vocals (and lyric writing). Now, when I say metal, I don’t mean either the death metal growl-scream that is seemingly omnipresent, or the sludgy kind that is sodden and molten; in fact this is the crisp fire that melts the metal. There are five songs here, over a span of 42 minutes. Yeah, long songs, but each one is practically a suite, broken up into sections to tell the story not only lyrically, but also musically. If you’re into intelligent headbanging rather than just the usual girls and drugs as so many metal bands are these days, than I suggest digging this up. Only negative thing I can say is that there are at least four typos in their booklet.
- Jersey Beat


Scribes of Fire are, in their own words, a grunge and progressive metal band from Brooklyn, New York. With an American tour and the debut CD of 'Zauberer' behind them they now exist with a line up that includes new bassist Adam Castro. Currently looking toward a future of more touring they promise to be an "Unstoppable Juggernaut".
MySpace : http://www.myspace.com/scribesoffire
(Q)Who are Scribes of Fire and where did the name originate?
Philly Salvagione – guitarist and beardsman
Dan Kurfirst – drummer and mystic
Ben Abelson – singer and philosopher
Adam Castro – bassist and maestro
Ben-We are hard rock urban monks recording the events of reality's decomposition. It was hard picking a name, the discussion degenerated into random combinations of words, Scribes of Fire was the only one no one objected to.
(Q)Your list of influences is quite extensive, if you were to select any two of these who would they be and why?
Dan-They are quite extensive and I would say it's basically impossible to strip it down to two core influences. Meshuggah holds a very special place, as Philly and I got into them together around 2004 when Nothing was released, and their music was basically the divine spark on which many of our fundamental musical ideas are founded. Soundgarden and Alice In Chains represent our roots and are just as relevant today as when I first heard them in the early 90s.
Adam-I would have to say that King Crimson definitely plays a large roll in my style as a bassist and a songwriter. I have always been a big fan of prog rock since I started playing bass and it has respectively effected my desire to not only write catchy bass lines that are in the pocket, but to also expand upon my rhythms and melodies as well as take it above and beyond to make my bass sound like other instruments or sounds other than what we are normally used to hearing. Alice in Chains of course is a big influence to my pop sensibility all the while remaining heavy and grooving.
(Q)In your online advert for a new bass player, you listed as a preference for the replacement to be a fan of certain bands. With this in mind do you think band members should share similar musical tastes?
Ben-It helps when there's at least a core of music in common. What's most important is that everyone understands each other's tatstes, where the're coming from and what they want the music to be like. Our first bassist's tastes and his musical education was so different from ours that it was difficult to communicate.
Dan-Yeah, there's definitely certain essential elements, and if a person comes from a completely different musical background it can make communication difficult. At the same time you do strive to bring in diverse elements that complement your vision in ways you might not have foreseen. I think the addition of Adam on bass has helped us in that regard.
(Q)The first thing I noticed when looking at the cover of Zauberer was the fantasy style artwork, what can you tell us about this and the artist behind it?
Adam- This album had been created before I joined the band, but coincidentally I had Dave Ache create an album cover for me in a previous band. I was extremely pleased with his work then, his work with Scribes, and I am sure we will be working with him again.
Dan-We told him over about 5 different phone conversations that we wanted "scary monk looking dudes in robes convening around some sort of citadel/post apocalyptic Chinese restaurant with dead mythical birds hanging in the window". The fact that he came as close as he did is pretty impressive to me.
(Q)It has already been commented in a review of Zauberer by Jersey Beat's Quiet Corner that Scribes of Fire offer "Intelligent headbanging rather than just the usual girls and drugs so many metal bands are these days". With the music industry as competitive as it is, especially in the time of the international credit crunch, how important do you think it is for bands to sound fresh to listeners?
Phil-I do think it is important to have a unique sound these days due to the abundance of music that is available at your fingertips. I sometimes wonder how much control I really have over the material we write...I just pray to the riff gods and hope for a good season.
Dan-Music should evolve and get more and more complex as time goes on. But complexity doesen't just manifest as weird time signatures and unorthodox scales, it's also about boiling down multiple, often seemingly antithetical elements that you can boil down to one common denominator, and I think that is what we are really trying to do. More than anything these days, you HAVE to be original, stand out. I've played with so many bands over the years who may as well just be Megadeth or Iron Maiden, which never made sense to me because Megadeth and Maiden released many perfectly good albums in that style, and we as musicians should build on these things, reinterpret them, not just copy them.
(Q)Having read your lyrics and taken note of the length of your songs it seems that you have elected to give each of your songs an individual epic feel, some of which can be linked to the works of such writers as Thomas Mann. What are your thoughts on this?
Phil-Usually a song starts with just a couple of seeds weather they be riffs or concepts, which then through the course of the writing progress takes on their form. I think the combination of BIG riffs and interesting concepts naturally make for epic music, and I like to think that each song really does paint its own unique picture, but basically we just try to make music that we would listen to.
Ben-You know I've never actually read Thomas Mann (my mom gave me Death in Venice years ago but I never got around to reading it.) But there are certainly many literary references in the lyrics. Nietzsche and Plato are big ones (I'm currently working on my PHD in philosophy from the CUNY Graduate Center.) Also the title "We Can Build You" is taken from a Philip K. Dick novel and the lyrics include a long quotation from Goethe's Faust. Some of our new stuff channels Alan Moore and J.K. Huysmans. Ship of Fools was inspired by a Bosch painting of the same name. I feel rock and roll has lost its intellectual credibility to a large degree, but it still can have a future as a relevant art form that cultural critics need to pay attention to. Also I think any kind of literature, poetry or lyrics is more interesting when there are all sorts of clues littered around that the audience must piece together to get the full meaning of the work. The literary references are signposts in this way.
Each song is a unique construction. We've never said, "let's write another one that sounds like that one." It's important to us that each song presents a complete musical idea. But its funny, every time we start a new one we say "this one's not gonna be an epic, it'll be our three minute single" but once we've fleshed out the idea its a seven minute epic. It just happens that way.
(Q)Outside of the world of music who do you have the most admiration for and why?
Castro-People who run restaurants. I work at one and now that I know what its like to be on the service side of things, its a lot of hard work which deserves a lot of respect. It is an art in itself and it is all about making everyone as happy as can be. Selflessness is the key.
Phil-The Ancient Mariners who set sail into the unknown...balls of steel.
(Q)You recently announced you are going to start performing live again after a break of about four months, what can your fans expect?
Ben-A very new and improved band. Adding Castro to the fold has filled out our sound in ways we couldn't have imagined. We are an unstoppable juggernaut now and the new material is our best yet.
Dan-Yes, he has a pedal called "English Muffin" which increases our devastation factor by at least 200%.
(Q)In ten words or less, how would you define the personality of Scribes of Fire when performing on stage?
Ben-A paroxysm of normally reticent individuals transformed into sonic warriors.
Dan-Yea that, or, four loosers from Brooklyn.
Adam-Bipolar
Phil-True to the music
(Q)What was the last film you watched, and would it be one which you would recommend?
Adam-Monty Python and The Holy Grail. It is a classic so there is not much for me to say honestly. If you have not seen or heard of it, do so. Everyone loves a good laugh.
Phil-Viva la Bang...must see...the last scene features a couple having sex in a kiddy pool full of spaghetti... - Firestorm Media


Discography

This Leash Demeans Us Both (EP, 2007)
Zauberer (LP, 2008)

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Bio

Scribes of Fire was forged in the crucible of New York City by a myriad of musical and intellectual forces. In 2005, drummer Dan Kurfirst and singer Ben Abelson met at Hunter College in Manhattan, bonding over shared interests in philosophy, mysticism, and doom metal.

In the summer of '06,. Dan and Ben began jamming with Dan's long-time friend and collaborator, guitarist Phil Salvagione. Dan and Phil had been working together for some time on a new brand of cerebral fuzz-rock, fusing the frenetic machine gun intensity of modern metal and the elaborate riffage of prog with the brooding groove of grunge and southern rock.

With Abelson's gritty, soulful voice and dark, thoughtful lyrics added to the stew, the Scribes began to weave sonic tapestries that explore the haunting and disturbing possibilities of existence, not without a bit of jest and self-mockery.

In 2008, Adam Castro was added on bass guitar, finally completing the quaternity of rock once and for all.

The Scribes hone their craft in the bowels of Brooklyn, on the banks of the Gowanus canal, preferring their bleak surroundings to the glittery fashion parade of the boulevards.

The resulting music evokes images of the electric fury of a great storm and the desolation that follows Salvagione’s virtuosic guitar work utilizes the full spectrum of his instrument, from the familiar density of low-end chords to oddly satisfying melodies .

Behind this, Dan Kurfirst’s drumming shapes the music with a pulse that constantly makes itself known, articulating a rhythmically dictated melodiousness.

Abelson’s vocals retain the edge of the band while guiding listeners through their journey. His voice assumes many characters that are expressed through the honesty of his imaginative, seeking lyrics, which affirm the harmony of darkness and light that rests at the core of the band’s vision.

Adam Castro fills out the sound with thunderous combustion, all the while maintaining a keen sense of funk and a strangely efficient balance between deep-pocket thumpage and serene melodies that live in the high register.

In the Spring of '08, the Scribes recorded their first full-length album, Zauberer, followed by a successful U.S. tour, which took them as far south as Tennessee and as west as Missouri. Scribes of Fire has arrived to record, amplify, and irreverently declaim the events of reality's unfolding and decomposition. “Heed the call... squander all!”