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Guns, Genre-Hopping And Going Viral: Fame On Fire Are More Than Just A Covers Band

They went viral by covering everyone from Lil Uzi Vert to Ed Sheeran, but with debut album LEVELS, Fame On Fire are determined to prove there’s more to them than meets the eye

Do you want us to bring guns?”

It’s fair to say most brainstorming sessions for video shoots don’t start with questions about the use of live ammunition, but ever since forming in 2013 in Palm Beach, Florida, rock four-piece Fame On Fire have gone about band life a little differently to most of their peers.

Only now, seven years on from forming, are the quartet releasing their debut album, LEVELS. It’s been a long time in the making, but Fame On Fire have hardly been resting on their laurels, something to which their viral cover of rapper Lil Uzi Vert’s XO TOUR Llif3 attests.

That whole experience was the craziest thing we’ve ever done,” frontman Bryan Kuznitz remembers. The guys in the video that went viral are all rapper friends of Lil Uzi Vert who were working at a studio I owned, and I asked them if they wanted to be in the video for our cover. They said yes, and offered to bring a load of guns! The result was us all drinking with these weapons pointed at the camera, having a fucking good time. The whole thing was so ridiculous. It’s caused some controversy, but it was just us having fun with with our friends. It just so happened that we were having fun with a bunch of live ammunition.”

Fame On Fire have built a solid foundation for their band by taking the covers route. As well as releasing their spin on Lil Uzi Vert, the band – completed by guitarist Blake Saul, bassist Paul Prirou and drummer Alex Roman – have also covered the likes of Ed Sheeran, Juice WRLD, Halsey and The Weeknd, amassing tens of millions of streams and effectively becoming 2020’s answer to the infamous Punk Goes Pop series of cover albums.

Taking this path has yielded great results, but there are detractors who feel that Bryan and co. are little more than an emo cover band. It’s an outlook the Fame On Fire frontman takes issue with, and something he addresses head-on with LEVELS’ opening track.

We understand what we’ve done and the fact that doing covers has brought us this attention,” he admits. I’m well aware that without all the covers this album wouldn’t be doing shit and no-one would care. However, the first song on our record, Cover Band, is about all the loud people who say we’re nothing more than a cover band, when the reality is we’re so much more than that. LEVELS is a 13-track album with all original material, so we wanted to use the LP to say a big fuck you’ to those who believe we can’t be anything more than the covers we’ve released.”

To uncover the reasons why Fame On Fire have dabbled so much in the world of pop covers requires a little digging into Bryan’s musical past. A man whose introduction to music came by way of Eric Clapton – He made me want to play the electric guitar so badly” – before discovering hip-hop artists like Lil Jon alongside Korn and Atreyu, it’s perhaps unsurprising that, given his eclectic tastes as a youngster, Bryan has pressed ahead with a band looking to bridge the worlds of hip-hop, pop and rock.

Pointing to Post Malone, Juice WRLD and Bring Me The Horizon as artists that, right now, he feels particularly inspired by, Fame On Fire’s frontman sees his band’s music as indicative of a shifting musical landscape.

We need to progress the sound of rock’n’roll,” Bryan argues. Everyone can’t sound like Linkin Park anymore. The new Bring Me The Horizon track, Parasite Eve, is a great example of what rock music should be doing in 2020 – it’s a beautiful masterpiece. With Fame On Fire, we see ourselves as on the same wave as bands like that. Hip-hop and rock is coming together in a good way, and that’s something we want to be a part of.”

Initially writing all the material for LEVELS over hip-hop beats before adding some fire” to transition the songs further into rock territory, Bryan is very much practicing what he preaches with Fame On Fire’s debut album. They’re not at Bring Me The Horizon, er, levels of excellence yet, but the confident execution of songs like the I Prevail-esque Her Eyes and recent single HEADSPACE, which features rising Soundcloud rapper POORSTACY, suggest Fame On Fire have it in them to deliver on the hype.

The release of LEVELS is the main priority for Fame On Fire as they head into the back-end of 2020, but despite all the energy Bryan and his bandmates are putting into their debut, they have their sights set further ahead, too.

Speculating on how Fame On Fire can continue to grow their fanbase, Bryan offers one very simple rule that he believes will ensure the band’s survival in the long-term: consistency.

Historically, we’ve always tried to drop a song a month – whether it’s a cover or an original – and that’s key to being successful nowadays,” he explains. News cycles move really fast and attention spans are short in the internet space, so we’ve looked at successful YouTubers and podcasters and the frequency with which they drop new content, and tried to take that approach with Fame On Fire. 

It’s true that rock is a genre that has more diehard fans than most who will stick with a band during their quieter periods, but despite that, we’re determined to keep on moving and never stand still with this. With LEVELS, we’re going to let it breathe for a few months, but then we’ll be dropping a brand-new single pretty soon after that. There’s plenty more to come from us.”

With a steadfast determination to build on their impressive early success, you wouldn’t bet against Fame On Fire levelling up into rock’s big leagues pretty darn soon.

LEVELS is out now via Hopeless Records

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Posted on September 7th 2020, 3:00p.m.
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