They have been compared and contrasted favorably with some of the giants in heavy metal such as; Black Sabbath and AC/DC, for their old-school power, sound, and style, a throwback doing it the only way they know how. A band that I found over on Myspace several years ago before Facebook took off and it took Twitter to finally connect with the one lady in rock that I really wanted to talk to; guitarist Emily Burton of Fireball Ministry. Unsure what to expect when I finally connected with my heavy-metal crush; I found her to be engaging, very down-to-earth, and just a sweet person. She also happens to know her stuff when it comes to music and guitars which only makes her that much cooler.
The band is finally working on the new album and this writer can’t wait. Fireball Ministry caught my eye by having a different look about them and the songs have kept me coming back ever since. Lead singer/guitarist James A. Rota II and Emily J. Burton started all of this in college, moved from the Midwest to NYC and finally to L.A. on their quest to make the music. While they all have been busy doing their own thing, they are finally getting to it in studio.
If you have not listened to them and love old Sabbath then this is a band that you really need to go check out. In the meantime, get to know more about the beautiful and talented Emily Burton as she laughed along with me and my flirting which I just couldn’t help myself. Thanks for being a fun interview Emily!
Find them on the 'net!
Fireball Ministry Website
Check out one of the bands videos below!
Interview with Emily J. Burton of Fireball Ministry
-Before we get too far into Fireball Ministry, let’s start with your beginnings into music and guitar, can you talk about when you picked up an axe and what you did early on?
Fireball Ministry is my first real band. I picked up a guitar in high school; I was at a party and I was a freshman. Someone put on Black Sabbath’s Greatest Hits, I was a fan of metal before that, but that was the one that was like ‘where have you been all my life’. (Laughs) I went home and asked my mom if she would please, please buy me a guitar, took some lessons, my first guitar was horrible. I wanted an Ibanez so I could be like Steve Vai (Laughs) and then I got an SG and that was what I needed to be playing for the kind of music that I like.
-How did Fireball Ministry get its start? You also moved a lot, going from Ohio, to NYC, to LA? Quite a trip!
James and I met in college. He was playing in a few other bands with buddies from high school. We just decided that we had the same vision so it was towards the end of school that we had a three song demo. People think we’re from Cincinnati and we did kind of start from there. The name Fireball Ministry comes from this crazy church that’s in Cincinnati (Laughs) Then we moved to New York, we were kind of planning on starting the band there but at the time there wasn’t really a rock scene that was happening. You know it’s hard in NY; hard to practice, hard to gig, so we decided to take it to Los Angeles in the fall of ’98 and we shopped our demo around. By February we we’re recording. At the time it was just the two of us and then when we went to record, John Oreshnick came to play on the recording (he worked for the label) and he has been with us ever since.
I love that guy, he reminds me of one of my old drummers; all old school power style!
Yeah he hits really hard (Laughs) you don’t want to get in the way!
-There have been a few line-up changes over the years except for yourself and the good Reverend James of course; yet the band just keeps moving ahead, how did that affect writing, recording, and touring?
Our main issue has been our bass player. We’ve had several. We always wanted to have the same members but it just hasn’t worked out. It’s really just been the three of us from the beginning except for John and I from the very beginning. At least there has been that three piece foundation and we have had the chance to play with some really amazing bass players. It wasn’t ideal; we have had that opportunity to play with some really amazing people!
-I came across Fireball Ministry on Myspace of all things about 10-12 years ago and have followed along ever since; I think it was the ‘King’ video that caught my eyes and ears; the band has a unique style and sound. What are your thoughts on that?
We are not trying to re-invent the wheel. We just want to play loud heavy rock the way we play it. One thing we always wanted to do was we wanted to be heavy but we wanted to have a chorus so you can be able to sing along to it. We are not afraid of a hook (she says laughing) I mean we all grew up around that 80’s hair metal so we are not afraid of that. At the beginning we were more a part of the stone-rock thing and we got a chance to play with some great bands that kind of took us into more mainstream metal I guess. But hey, if Dio asks you to tour with him you’re going to go! (Laughs)
-The last album really has some old school rock riffing going on there, I saw where the band said that you just let it go where the songs went vs. trying to ‘sound like’ Fireball Ministry. Is there more of that on the new stuff?
I think so, I think with that record, it was kind of recorded in chunks so that’s why we just kind of let it roll. It wasn’t the kind of thing where we had two weeks to record and we had to bang it out. It was more of a mellow process. I like it both ways; I think there is something to be said for time constraints and pressure; sometimes you whip out your best stuff just because you have to. We are more concentrating more on writing now. We couldn’t decide on an EP, or two EP’s; so we are just writing and we will put it all out there at once!
-Speaking of the next album; is there a title yet, how is it coming along, and when will we get to hear it?
(Laughing) Sometime next year, I wouldn’t say early next year, more later in the year.
-You own some cool guitars, what gear do you use?
I have an Orange head its 80 watts, I bought it in the 90’s when they did the re-issues and it’s modified. That’s what I’ve used forever on recordings and touring, I have a ’79 Gibson The SG, that’s the one I use on all of our albums, the flame guitar is from a company called Minaric, they make some really cool custom guitars! I actually have that one with a cracked mirror, it’s really cool. They play beautifully! I use those for shows. Pedal wise I mix it up. It changes but it’s always something distortion based. I go for the tone and what’s in my head. It’s great when I can crank it to 9 or 10 but when can you ever really do that so you need something extra.
-What do you do on your down time? I saw you were or are in a Lynard Skynard cover band and you also create some other things through Dutch Hollow; can you talk about that?
I was in that band yes but I am no longer doing that. I did that for a year. I’m a big Skynard fan and never played in a cover band before so I figured it would be fun learning all those songs. I work in jewelry and leather and as a silversmith. One of those loves that I just never had time for but I am pushing that forward!
-During this series I am asking everyone these next two questions; what other musicians do you admire, especially women?
Women in metal I always loved Doro Pesch, I think she is super cool! Lita Ford in The Runaways , she is an amazing showman and guitar player. Dolly Parton, I love songwriters and hers are timeless!
-What advice would you give a budding female musician?
Practice a lot! That gives confidence and people always tell you to play like a man, but I think you can play like a woman; just make sure that it rocks! That’s what will make it great!
-I remember when I first saw you Iwas like ‘okay, two women with two angry looking men, okay, what’s this all about?’ But you could actually play too!
Yeah, that was always important. People to recognize that, I mean we’re not in this to look cute we want to rock and that is our passion! That was Janice Tanaka, she was with us for a few years. Great bass player and totally awesome! Before that Helen Storr and then Janice came and then we just had random people and then Johnny. But she rocks!
So do you! (Yeah, I flirted with her a little, well a lot, I couldn’t help myself, she’s the bomb) I’ve been trying to get hold of you for forever. Thank God for Twitter! (We both laugh and I know she’s on to me at this point)
It’s so funny because people always tell me that. I mean people try and contact the band through Facebook but I never take it that seriously, you know because it’s Facebook! Then I realized we redid our website recently and I don’t think there is any contact there!
You guys don’t have a whole lot of anything there yet! (We both laugh at that)
-Finally, is there anything that you want to say to the fans and readers?
Thanks for supporting the rock! I mean aside from this I am also a fan and I think metal has such an awesome community. That’s something that people tell you about music but it never really does, but metal does have that community and that is awesome!
And from here we talk location and Syracuse, she thinks they have come through here before and I hit my head against a wall as I was not here at the time. I certainly will be praying to the metal Gods to get a chance to see the band and meet Emily sooner rather than later. One cool lady and my personal heavy metal crush (I’m only human after all)
Check out Fireball Ministry!