Taking their name from the Hudson River sloops that repelled the British warships before the Battle of Brooklyn – using fire and water to fight darkness with light – Brooklyn-based Fireships makes guitar-driven alt-folk that’s dreamy and fiery, spontaneous and well-crafted. Forming in 2013, Fireships is the musical entity Andrew Vladeck created while living in the Hudson Valley last winter, when visiting musician friends colored in the songs he was writing. “I realized that songs themselves are fireships; built with passion and patience, cast into the shadows to brighten the way,” says Vladeck. As the band’s upcoming self-titled debut album covers ground, you’re hearing the journey the band can make, from a self-contained solo act to a collaborative clique of excellent musicians.
Fireships’ singer-songwriting is classic yet keenly modern, mixing choice folk-rock spanning decades and featuring finger-picked electric guitar of American Folk and West African influence, recalling Lou Reed, Paul Simon’s Graceland, and Deer Tick. Vladeck’s lyrics resonate with the depth and sophistication of the folk tradition; the sound is more contemporary – arrangements billow with bass and strident drums, triumphal organs and harmonies. Multi-instrumentalist Lauren Balthrop’s (Dear Georgiana) Emmylou-esque artistry blends with Andrew’s unvarnished delivery. Rhythm section team Chris Buckridge and Jason Lawrence fuse bass and drums, lending gravitas to songs like drunken astronaut fantasy “Countdown Time.” Dynamic violinist Hannah Thiem, the newest addition to the band, sustains and colors their sound.
The New York City-born Vladeck has always been equally drawn to both the modern energy of the city and the ancient pace of nature, fascinated by the ways they interact. He found a way to combine these interests as a NYC Urban Park Ranger-Historian, stationed in Central Park. As a result of a spontaneous public performance while in uniform, he found himself doing double duty as “The Singing Ranger.” His music evolved along these lines, incorporating city-modern and country-traditional aesthetics. His first guitar and first lesson were compliments of his father’s cousin, the Grammy-nominated traditional-rock musician David Bromberg. Fireships evolve from these hybrid beginnings.
Fireships recorded in Brooklyn, with producer Paul Loren’s virtuosic contributions and numerous drop-ins by talented friends such as the legendary composer David Amram. “Come Back to Me,” with its playful pennywhistle, chirpy guitar grooves and rollicking drums, contrasts with enchanting quiet moments, as in the haunting ballad “Carried Away,” written with Sydney Wayser (Clara Nova), who also sings on the track. There’s the cheeky candor of “Passing Knowledge of the Sexes,” mostly guitar, percussion and voice. And sometimes they’ll just knock out a rocker like “Going Down Fighting” with Vladeck cranking out some satisfyingly sizzling guitar.
Fireships debut album will be released in 2015. Demos of songs on the album have recently won awards: "Gush" & "Countdown Time" are winners in the Great American Song Contest; "Chasing the Sun" won the Vox Pop Award as part of the Occupy This Album compilation for the Independent Music Awards. Previously “The Songs You Inspire” won First Place (AAA) in the International Songwriting Competition and Vladeck was voted NYC Artist of the Month in The Deli Magazine. The Village Voice has called his band “bold and brassy, nothing but fun.“ Some of these contests were judged by the same artists that inspired him to play music in the first place. Vladeck is also a founding member of The Honey Brothers and Balthrop, Alabama.