AMUSEMENT PARKS On Fire’s music has been described as “atmospheric punk rock space blues for the 21st century” and this young English band are set to unleash something special tomorrow when they play the Róisín Dubh at 9pm. DrownedInSound.com has described APOF as “the genius-in-a-bottle waiting to be unleashed” and described band leader, founder, and songwriter Michael Feerick as a “precocious young talent”.
Michael, still in his early twenties and with a third album on the way from him and the band, is looking forward to this Irish tour, as it will have personal associations for him.
“We’re really excited,” he tells me. “We’ve only really played Dublin so far. I’m especially excited as we’re stopping off at Feerick’s Bar in Co Westmeath, near where my grandma grew up! My granddad actually grew up in Ballinrobe just north of Galway, so this tour is turning into kind of a family pilgrimage.”
The band are also promising a great night. “We’ve got a full-on set planned and we’re bringing our barrage of strobe lights!” says Michael. “We aim to make it magical and intense yet subtle and inexplicable...”
The band will also preview new material from their forthcoming EP, due in the spring, and their third album, due in the summer.
Despite stints in Canada and Manchester Michael has spent most of his life in Nottingham, and it’s there he calls home. He’s also a passionate supporter of Nottingham Forest FC - one of the oldest clubs in the world.
“People are definitely proud of our football history here,” he says. “Apparently the reason Arsenal play in red is because Forest donated their kits to them in the early days. The same with Juventus and Notts County, bonkers!
“Of course the city’s proud of Brian Clough. I love the idea of a football genius, like an artist or something, achieving so much in Nottingham. There’s a new statue of him that’s just been erected in the centre of town.”
Michael didn’t grow up in a musical family, but the day after he was brought home from the hospital where he was born, his father “sat me in the dark and played me Dark Side Of The Moon!”
It’s no surprise then that Michael would later become passionate about music. In 2004 he formed Amusement Parks On Fire, and still only 18, recorded an eponymous debut album entirely by himself - as did Prince with his debut, when he was still in his teens. How difficult a process is that?
“It’s probably easier in some ways because I didn’t have to practice conventionally or teach anyone parts,” he says, “but harder in other ways, because the way bands argue and bounce ideas off of each other was all happening inside of my head, so mentally it was probably more challenging? It doesn’t matter how easy or hard something is to achieve anyway, as long as the ends justify the means...by the way am I allowed to compare myself to Prince now?!”
Eventually Michael teamed up with his old friends Dan Knowles (guitar/production), Gavin Poole (bass), Peter Dale (drums), and Joe Hardy (keyboards) to start touring as a live act in 2005. APOF was complete.
Amusement Parks On Fire is a great name for a band. Where did it come from?
“It was originally a song lyric and the title of a track I wrote when I was about 15 that ended up being called ‘Eighty Eight’ on the first record,” says Michael. “Lyrically I have kind of a stream of consciousness approach so I can’t say exactly! Though I did go to Disneyland not long before so maybe it occurred to me there!”
Is there any chance people might have accused Michael of just wanting something that sounded like The Arcade Fire? “Our first album came out first though, so they should be being asked that question!” he replies.
In 2006, APOF recorded their second album Out Of The Angeles in Sundlaugin, Sigur Ros’s studio in Iceland.
“Sundlaugin is Icelandic for ‘swimming pool’,” explains Michael. “It was built in the 1920s by this entrepreneur and they just refurbished it and turned it into a beautiful studio. We stood on top of the hill next to it in-between takes at night, smoking pipes, and watching the northern lights, so beautiful!”
We can take it APOF would record there again?
“Absolutely,” declares Michael. “We’ve actually talked about it seriously. We’d love to go back. It’s a place you can truly enjoy being creative, wonderful!”
Support on the night is from Lights Over Phoenix and The DC Experiment. Tickets are available from the Róisín Dubh and Zhivago.