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Vermaak | Entertainment > Musiek | Music > Rubrieke | Columns > Annie Klopper: Rockjagter

Step down! Fire Through the Window chats about their latest music video, Durban and feel-good tunes

Annie Klopper - 2009-11-19

Durban-based rock outfit Fire Through The Window is tantalising the senses of sweet-toothed rock lovers with a sugary sound that incorporates flavours of subtle ska, infectious indie and playful pop. The band’s basic line-up of guitar, bass and drums (Peter Babol, Keagan van Rooyen and Sheldon Yoko) is complemented by the unique vocal stylings of couple Sinead Dennis and Marc De La Querra. While not taking themselves too seriously, their lyrics craft bittersweet experiences to upbeat, feel-good tunes.

The band recently started getting nationwide attention with their first single, “Just Like You Are”, receiving massive radio play on stations across South Africa, charting at number four on the 5fm Hi5@5 and reaching the number one position on UJFM. The single has also been featured on commercials as the chosen song and video to be used for the first ever Apple iPod television campaign in South Africa, playing across 60 DStv channels, as well as being the theme for a Mr Price advert in October 2008.

Fire Through The Window has now released Hey!, its sophomore album. Paired with this release, the music video for the catchy single “Do do do” is hitting the music channel MK. The video for this song about love lost was done in stop-motion by director 187 and edited by Duvan Durand and Sinead (who, besides having a great voice, also has a degree in Multimedia). The nostalgic fun fair at Durban’s North Beach, with its faded paint and old-school rides, created the perfect backdrop for the video, which was shot in one rainy day.

Vocalists Marc and Sinead have been dating for six years and had already been a couple for about four years when the band started out. Marc realised his girlfriend could sing when he saw her giving a rendition of “These boots are made for walking” in a school play. At about the same time, Marc’s former band, Nemesis, took hiatus and it seemed almost natural for Marc to write Sinead a song, initially “just for fun”.

A lot has happened since that first song and while the band was shooting the “Do do do” video, in between moderate to heavy spells of rain, I dragged Sinead and Marc to shelter where I could find out more about being in love in a band in Durban.

So how does the two of you being in a relationship impact on the band?

Marc: I think the music comes from more of a true, heartfelt place. The band was started by Sinead and me and we write about the relationship. People often come up to me and ask me about relationships, which shows that people do relate to it. If she wasn’t my girlfriend and we were singing love songs to each other, it would be a bit weird. It wouldn’t feel the same.

Sinead: It’s not difficult at all. We fight about a lot of stuff, but never about the band. It’s the one thing we agree on.

And vice versa? How does being together in a band impact on the relationship?

Marc: In my previous band there were certain things, like touring, I could share only with my bandmates. Now Sinead and I can experience all of these things together, both the good and the bad. Going through it together strengthens the relationship. Touring makes everyone crazy, but overall it’s definitely awesome and a good thing. I wouldn’t want it any other way with anyone else.

Sinead: We have to make a conscious effort to do stuff that has nothing to do with the band, but we always end up talking about it. It’s our baby.

How does the songwriting process work?

Sinead: Usually Marc will write the melody and I’ll just hum a tune. Or I’ll fiddle around with my guitar and Marc will join in. Usually we write the lyrics together, but it differs every time.

Do you try to tell a story with each song?

Sinead: We ask ourselves how the melody makes us feel. It’s more about purveying that certain type of feeling than telling an actual story. Our songs are very much about relationships and the lyrics aren’t abstract – we try to keep it simple.

The band’s name is very extraordinary. Where does it originate from?

Sinead: While Marc was in Nemesis, they needed a new name for their band. At that time, I was reading a play. In this play, one sergeant says: “Step down! Fire through the window!” I suggested it to Marc, but the band didn’t like it. So I said, fine, I’ll keep it. When Marc and I started this new band, we decided to use it. But it doesn’t stop there! One day Marc and I were cooking and there was a fire. We decided that this was a sign.

What music influenced you while you were growing up?

Sinead: Growing up, I had a very young, alternative aunt who influenced me to listen to bands like The Doors, Pearl Jam, Hootie and the Blowfish and Counting Crows. My parents, on the other hand, were into Roxette and Fleetwood Mac. I went through a massive Alanis Morissette phase at one stage.

What music are you guys currently listening to?

Marc: The Thrills … I listen to a lot of Canadian bands like Broken Social Scene, The Wombats and Metric, Stars, and also a lot of electro like The Postal Service.

Sinead: Antony and the Johnsons, The Decemberists, Joanna Newsom, Regina Spektor … the whinier a person’s voice, the more I like it!

And which South African acts are you excited about?

Marc: There are so many good bands nowadays! In Durban there are The City Bowl Mizers and Gonzo Republic and I also like aKING, Ashtray Electric, New Loud Rockets, Die Heuwels Fantasties, Dear Reader, Desmond and the Tutus and Kidofdoom, and Wrestlerish is a very exciting new band.

When thinking of bands with female vocalists, very few names come to mind. Sinead, why do you think there aren’t a lot of well-known rock bands with female vocalists?

Sinead: I actually have no idea. Maybe we’re too busy with putting on our make-up and going to gym than with getting involved.

So what role do music videos play on the South African music scene nowadays?

Marc: It’s so much more important nowadays than even three years ago. A while ago it was pointless to spend money on making one, because it wouldn’t get played anywhere. Now, with MK, you almost have to make music videos. The quality of videos has also increased.

How did you come up with the concept for the video for “Do do do”?

Sinead: We came up with the concept for the video by thinking about what we did on holiday in Durban as children. Durban has a sense of nostalgia. The video captures that.