Fires in the Distance: “The Primary Theme Behind This Music Is Perseverance”

Although we often get overlooked by the various metropoles that surround us, Connecticut has a lot to offer in terms of quality metal. Fires in the Distance is indisputably one of the pinnacles of quality in the state, displayed by the band’s captivating, doomy and atmospheric take on melodic death metal. A few days ago, the band released its latest album, Air Not Meant For Us, which continues to show the band’s mastery at weaving riffs, growls, crushing rhythms and orchestral arrangements into a grand, melancholy sonic tapestry.

It was my pleasure, therefore, to catch up with Yegor Savonin, one of the band’s guitarists and architect of much of the synth-driven sounds. In our chat below, he goes into great detail about the band’s history, sound, and plans for the future.

Read on, and be sure to smash the “Play” button on each of the band’s albums linked below.

Hello Yegor, thank you for taking some time to chat with us. Congrats on the release of Air Not Meant For Us! For readers who might not be as familiar with the band, can you tell us how you guys came together and progressed to where you are now?

Thank you kindly for taking the time to speak with me. Fires was initially a side project I started in 2017. At the time, I was still writing for Archaic Decapitator and I had a song idea that didn’t quite fit the frame of that band, so I decided to splinter it off into it’s own separate thing. I’ve always been a huge fan of bands like Paradise Lost, Swallow the Sun, Type O Negative, but had never written music in that vein until then, so I decided to give it a shot. After showing what I was working on to who would be my current band mates, we all decided that it would be a blast to bring the sound to a live setting. I spoke to my bassist Craig and vocalist Kyle Quintin from Archaic Decapitator and they were both on board, with Kyle taking on drums as he was the original drummer of Archaic. Craig and I have been in bands since we were teenagers. We’ve played together for as long as I can remember, he is an unbelievably versatile player, and always has and will be an integral part of my music. I also shared the material with Kristian Grimaldi, whom I’ve been close friends with for over 15 years and knew that he shared the same love for the Type O Negative-feel as I, he was overjoyed with the sound and opted to step in on rhythm guitar and vocals.

We ended up bringing Fires to the stage once in 2018 and after that, we knew that we had to pursue this project in full force. From there, we fleshed out a full length record, Echoes From Deep November, which, to my surprise, was received with overwhelming warmth. And I’m eternally grateful for that. Sadly, shortly after we signed with Prosthetic Records our drummer Kyle made the difficult, but necessary choice to step away from being an active musician as he was starting a family, and we had an amicable parting. Since then, Jordan Rippe stepped in to take over as the band’s drummer and he quickly became a core component to our sound. The guy is an unbelievable drummer and musician, and we couldn’t have gotten luckier to find him. And here we are today!

What is the central inspirational theme or message of the latest album?

The primary theme behind this music is perseverance. The lyrical content paints a heavy and somber picture of existentialism and coping with mental health, which all stems from my personal life and experience. However, I do my best to make the lyrics as broad as possible so they can be relatable to anyone.

The orchestral arrangements lend the music a lot of atmosphere. What motivated the band to bring this dimension to the music?

When we had our first rehearsal and ran the synths through the PA, we immediately realized that the sound of the band in a live setting was simply massive, so the orchestral expansion on this new record was an experiment to create an even bigger and more captivating soundscape. On this album, we’ve had the unique opportunity to collaborate with Randy Slaugh, who is an incredible composer and producer in his own right. He’s worked with Devin Townsend, Tesseract, Periphery, Architects, among many others over the years. His own band, White Moth Black Butterfly is absolutely incredible as well. Randy and I worked closely on this album and with his orchestrations and additional writing he was able to elevate this album to a place I definitely couldn’t on my own. For example, the big orchestral section at the beginning and end of “Harbingers” was all him. When he first sent the track back to me with that section added to it, I was completely blown away. On top of everything, the guy was such a pleasure to work with, and I’m definitely looking forward to collaborating again on future music.

I love that you guys worked with Dave Kaminsky on this (Autolatry forever!), how did you come to work with him on this record (and for Archaic Decapitator, as I reported on at the time)?

Dave and I have been friends for many, many years, going back to around 2008. Our bands used to play local gigs together. When he became a producer/sound engineer and first started Studio Wormwood in CT, we (Archaic Decapitator) were one of his first recording projects. Since then, I’ve recorded three Archaic Decapitator albums with him, and now two Fires in the Distance albums. He truly is a master of his craft and has an impeccable ear, and his time at Morrisound really reflects that. I wouldn’t work with anyone else at this point because he knows my music so intricately, and knows exactly what’s in my head and where I’m going with an idea, which makes for a very cohesive working relationship. His own music is incredible too! I would strongly recommend checking out Stone Healer! As you said, Autolatry was an absolutely killer project, I had a chance to see them in Oakland, CA in 2012, which is a show I’ll never forget!

As a guitarist, I can’t help but ask, how do you go about crafting riffs and arrangements? Do you noodle and experiment or think up notes in your head and translate them to the fretboard?

To be honest, I get asked this question a lot and it makes me think back on how I came up with any particular riff or part, and I honestly have no clue in retrospect haha. I usually conceptualize melodies in my head and cultivate something mentally for a few days or a week before I externalize it and play it on guitar or program it through synths. After that melody is in place I jam over it and start unraveling riff ideas and other parts. Eventually, it takes enough of a form to where I can structure a full song and ultimately revise and improve on the overall structure. I only work on one piece of music at a time. Sometimes it takes a few weeks to complete, other times a few months. A LOT of revision. Sometimes it feels never-ending.

Does the band have any touring plans this year? It would be fantastic to see this material come alive, I feel like a light show would pair well with it.

In Autumn of 2023 we have a tour with another band from Prosthetic Records, can’t quite say anything more about it at the moment, unfortunately. And you’re completely right about a light show, we’ve been working on the logistics of getting something like that together and realistically traveling with it and setting it up nightly. We use a handful of stage lights at the moment but nothing extensive, however I’m more than interested in expanding that as much as we can in the future!