Conceptually, FiRESiGN MUSiC began in 1997 as a personal web-page project; the purpose of which, was to promote the music and poetry of a particular heavy metal hellion from Hiroshima named Aya and allow her to share her interests with the world. In 2001, the world responded with a recommendation to check out The Red Zone, a rock-n-roll venue in the Middle Village area of Queens. The resulting encounter between Aya and singer/bassist, Masaki Yamada, eventually evolved into a series of occasional jam sessions at Castle Heights, another Queens hard-rock hotspot. Two-months later; tragedy struck as Masaki was cycling through Lower Manhattan, past the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center. The date was September 11th.
In the months that followed, Aya and Masaki put down on paper the feelings of angst, anger and uncertainty that had made a home in their hearts since that morning's attack. The match had been struck; the fuse was lit and it burned, slowly, steadily throughout the year, counting down the months, weeks and days until… The following fall performing as FiRESiGN, they released their first single; RiSE FROM THE ASHES: An Anthem Against Adversity and its B-Side prelude, EXPLODE. The self-produced CD which prompted the launching of their own independent label, FiRESiGN RECORDS also inspired a coordinated promotional effort, which included a new website layout and a limited print edition newsletter; FiRESiGN TiMES. This added exposure had the effect of attracting an assortment of musicians interested in joining FiRESiGN for a number of infrequent performances throughout 2002, which in turn resulted in FiRESiGN's ranking among the top 18 competitors during local Japanese newspaper, American Dream's contest to discover the best new music groups in New York that year.
FiRESiGN's member structure remained in flux for several years afterwards with the positions of guitarist and drummer being filled, out of necessity, by a steady stream of talented transients. Aya and Masaki, alongside an assortment of these musical mercenaries, proceeded to play a scattered schedule of classic indie venues; Acme Underground, Continental, Trash Bar and Mean Fiddler, just to name a few.
In 2007, FiRESiGN reprised RiSE FROM THE ASHES and EXPLODE; releasing them together with 9 additional songs on their first ever LP album, ANGER MANAGEMENT. Once again living life in the limelight, Aya and Masaki were invited to Club Europa in Brooklyn to appear as special guests of Genki Shock at the 2009 Clockwork Orange Music Festival. The event was an unprecedented success for FiRESiGN, as the band was asked up on stage for an impromptu, unscheduled performance playing to a full house of about 400 enthusiastic revelers. The crowd's outpouring acclamation heralded a new direction for FiRESiGN. Prior to that day's performance, online opinions about the band had been somewhat ambivalent; this largely due to expressions of concern from fans of Masaki over his musical migration from vocalist to bassist. Seizing on an opportunity to address some of the animosity aimed at the band, Aya and Masaki enlisted the aid of friends and freelancers to resurrect FiRESiGN TiMES, the band's now defunct newsletter. Adopting the name Derukui, in reference to the Japanese proverb regarding criticism, the five-page publication effectively answered questions concerning the evolution of FiRESiGN and the challenges they've faced along the way.
Six months afterwards, in January of 2010, Aya and Masaki were interviewed by Jeremy Kenarangi of the Japanese pop-culture review site, Rekuru. Asked to reveal her predominant musical influences, Aya listed Janis Joplin as her "original inspiration" for wanting to rock. Seeing something of herself in the psychedelic 1960's singer, Aya had recorded a cover tape of Joplin's hit "Move Over," for her audition submission to Berklee College of Music, of which she is now an alumna. Her other influences include Pat Benetar and Skid Row vocalist, Sebastian Bach. Masaki, however, when questioned as to his favorite band, chose Motörhead, but said that he would like for FiRESiGN to be able to someday open for X-Japan. The interview concluded with some promotional and playful words to FiRESiGN's fans and an encouraging endorsement from Kenarangi.
Some weeks after the Rekuru interview, Aya and Masaki once again began auditioning new guitarists for FiRESiGN. And after much discussion and debate decided on a most unlikely candidate; Kim Man Chan. Clean-cut and courteous, this Hong Kong native did not at first appear to be heavy metal material; but beneath the mild-mannered mask of conventional civility burned a flame of rebellious defiance. FiRESiGN had found their next member.
In the spring of 2011, Kim would receive his first trial by fire as the band (assisted by a pro tem percussionist), entered "The Next Big Metal Band" contest; sponsored by J&R as part of "March is Metal Month," an annual promotion from EMI Music. FiRESiGN was selected as one of the three finalists by a panel of judges, which included among them, Frank Bello of Anthrax.
That summer, hosted by long-time Lower Eastside promoter, Frank Wood, and backed by a different drummer, FiRESiGN would begin what would become a temporary recurring gig; Downstairs at the Delancey. In August, FiRESiGN was invited by J-Summit to play a fund-raising event to aid victims of the earthquake/tsunami that devastated Japan March 11th of that year. Additionally, the band also appeared on a webisode of Rew & Who?, an online local interest talk show, hosted by Rew Starr and streamed live from the East Village's very own Tiki bar, Otto's Shrunken Head.
As autumn arrived, the leaves were not the only ones changing their colors. In the weeks following their last performance, FiRESiGN's guitarist had begun a metal make-over. Going from "Smallville" to "Trash & Vaudeville," Kim's darker side debuted in September at Local 269, giving the band a more visually unified image for that year's ending engagements. Among which was the 9th annual Japanese festival, Japan Arts Matsuri in November, where FiRESiGN participated as part of the Talent Night performance line-up. The following week the band returned to The Delancey for another annual affair, Frank Wood's birthday bash; and three days later found themselves on stage at the Trash Bar in Williamsburg with musical acquaintances, Subject of the Question (currently Aeon of Ether).
FiRESiGN finished 2011 with an appearance on Stairway to the Dream, a locally broadcast Japanese TV stream that supports new artists.
2012, The year of the dragon was to be a particularly productive time for FiRESiGN as the group prepared themselves for their first tour in Japan. Starting with the Chasing the Dragon festival at Arlene's Grocery in February, FiRESiGN began working on a few new songs; in addition to polishing up some their old ones. Also, that month, the band played their first gig at Fat Baby and another encore engagement at The Delancey, before participating in the Sunrise Fest fund-raising event in March. Presented by Stairway to the Dream, Sunrise Fest, held at The Public Assembly in Brooklyn, took place on the anniversary of the earthquake/tsunami, which struck Japan one year earlier.
In April, due to scheduling conflicts with the band's upcoming tour, FiRESiGN enlisted the aid of Kota, a devilishly dynamic drummer from Yokohama. Kota's trial-by-fire came immediately after his arrival, as soon after FiRESiGN was invited to play with Japanese pop-rock artists UZUHI at Snapper Magee's in Kingston, NY.
Two months later, FiRESiGN's Year of the Dragon Japan tour was well underway. The band encountered enthusiastic fans as they traveled from, Osaka, where they played at ClubALIVE!, to PUMPKIN in the Yokosuka district of Tokyo and finally north to a show at LiNKS in Hokkaido.
2013, After months of deliberation, the proposed restructuring of the band's membership arrangement has been made final. Beginning in June, FiRESiGN will return to it's original dyadic design; consisting only of Aya and Masaki. "This decision to "down-size" has not been made lightly," says a spokesperson for the band, "but was arrived at after careful consideration." In keeping with their eclectic tradition, the roles of guitarist and percussionist will once again vary by performance venue, with detailed information being posted both here and on the band's facebook page.
FiRESiGN's front-woman and founder hails from Hiroshima Japan; where she established herself in earlier years as a writer of traditional poetry. In the early 90's, she began merging metrical composition with a budding musical ability and supplementing it with song. Eventually this equation led to her enrollment at Berklee College of Music, in Boston. Afterwards, Aya migrated to New York where she underwent additional training with vocal instructor Don Lawrence, who years earlier, trained her then future band-mate, Masaki.
Influential in the 80's as the voice of Japanese metal, Masaki has returned to his once-avocationally-only interest; the bass-guitar. Originally, from Hokkaido Japan, he has resided in New York since the early 90's. It was not until a reassessment of his role in metal music in the new millennium that he met Aya and subsequently contributed to FiRESiGN's reformation. Although, the subject of much conjecture and criticism, his decision has ultimately aided his development as a musician; allowing him the freedom to experiment creatively.
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