You may know Stereo Fire Empire from the recent masses of articles and exposure thanks to their Blue Dog painting find, but you owe it to yourself to get to know them better than that. The New Orleans–based group of four (Elliott Newkirk, Keith Anselmo, Evan Diez and John Kennedy) has an eclectic mix of influences and has been spending their free time working on their music in their quirky warehouse space for the last two years. It’s clear that their practice time has been put to good use as they entertain NOLA’s underground metal scene at countless local shows and work hard toward a highly anticipated album.
New drummer Keith Anselmo says, “These guys are awesome, even outside of music. We’re straight with each other. I’m really impressed with everything we’ve done.”
WYAT: How has finding the painting, and the publicity that came with it, affected the band?
Stereo Fire Empire: They took it in the back pretty soon after we returned it. The publicity has been good and helped a lot. It was cool, though; just like a red dot on our radar. We had people liking our Facebook page from all over the world, and we had fun finding articles from different parts of Europe. It’s been a trip, a fun experience.
WYAT: How did you get your start? How did the band come together?
SFE: It started out with a Craigslist ad. We’re all here to play music and just hit it off. Trying out different drummers and singers, and it just started getting better and better until it worked perfectly. It all kind of came together.
WYAT: What are the advantages of being a band based in New Orleans?
SFE: There’re pros and cons. The pros are that everybody loves music, live music is cheap and readily available every night of the week, there’re a lot of venues to play at and it’s always a welcoming atmosphere. People are pretty supportive of it.
WYAT: What are the disadvantages?
SFE: The current market is constantly flooded, especially with specific genres of music, and the default sound is jazz. In reality, there’s a scene that exists beyond jazz that’s mega-huge, but only underground. There’s a really awesome metal scene that’s been around forever. We’re more straight rock and roll. It’s on the heavier side—we have elements of punk and sometimes we even slow it down—but mostly it’s just heavy rock music. We’re pretty much just trying to play what we like instead of trying to follow the two or three New Orleans bands that are popular. We all have different music influences.
There’s a scene that exists beyond jazz that’s mega-huge, but only underground.
WYAT: Have you been able to do any traveling for your music?
SFE: Not yet, but we want to tour this summer. We all work different hours so we just have to work it out any way we can. Once we get our CD and get some more material, we’ll be able to branch out a little bit more, piece by piece. Our focus right now is on writing more music.
WYAT: What do you see happening for the future of the band?
SFE: We just want to play more shows and get a good local following and build up from there. We’re comfortable and positive about everything that we’ve been doing. We’re proud of what we play and we mostly just want to keep playing with each other and, ultimately, play a festival. It’ll be a big moment for us to hit that mark we set for ourselves a long time ago. We’re here for the same reason any band is: to make a statement, be different and have fun.
Photo by Gary LoVerde