The On Fires

The On Fires are an indie rock/punk band from Australia who grew up in the thriving Melbourne pub scene and formed in 2004. The band has been travelling to Europe since 2007 and did their first US performances in early 2010.

Audiences of The On Fires are left exhausted, elated, and inspired by the infectious energy and obvious enjoyment of the band. Dubbed "refreshing" and "different," the group has developed an ability to entertain diverse audiences: soldiers at far-flung outposts, bikers in Ukraine, Pacific Island village kids, metalheads in Poland, business people in an Embassy boardroom, Austin SXSW-goers and college hipsters in the East Village.

Backing up their explosive live performances are well crafted songs. You can hear pieces of The Strokes, Blondie, The Sex Pistols, Pink Floyd, The Hold Steady, Led Zeppelin, Stereophonics, Kaiser Chiefs, Nick Cave, New York Dolls, The Clash and much much more in their music.

The On Fires' latest album Betrayer was recorded in L.A. with producer Rick Parker (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Dandy Warhols, Von Bondies). Album reviews have said "The On Fires have not only mastered creating music, but they have done it in the most brilliant, energetic, and creative way possible" and "Betrayer truthfully embodies that old cliché in music reviews: no two songs sound alike. You’ll be riveted to your seat throughout the ride."

With tracks already featured in US College Radio Top 30, The On Fires have songs in use by Fox Sports, Quiksilver Surfing, VH1's Tough Love and multiple MTV shows such as NitroCircus, Taking The Stage and Rob Drydek's Fantasy Factory. The On Fires also have music in independant films viewed from Western Europe to the Caribbean.

Since an epiphany in Peru, feisty front-woman Max Harman is an inspiration to other young women with her exuberant self-expression, theatrical costumes and burst of strong femininity in a male-dominated scene. High voltage guitarist Marty Xennoff - once offered a kiss by Jeff Buckley - is a paradox of testosterone and the ridiculous in his sweat-drenched bobble hat. Their rhythm section is loved as much for their on-stage energy as for their world-class musicianship.

How do you describe your music to people, Max?
Someone once said we were "the bastard lovechild of the Sex Pistols and the B52s". It gives an impression of live show: rollicking, energetic, catchy tunes & a bit of silliness.

Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
Well, I got married young & had a conservative life focussed on family & a career in the IT world. Then I got an opportunity to go to Peru & hike through the Andes Mountains to the ancient Inca site of Macchu Picchu.

I'd been dissastisfied with my life but couldn't figure out why - it all looked perfect on the surface! But after the gruelling mountain hike & thinking I was going to die one night (of hyperthermia) I arrived at majestic, spiritual, incredible Macchu Picchu. As I sat on a terrace overlooking that amazing place on the top of a mountain I had an epiphany: I had to leave my husband & I had to sing.

So I returned to Melbourne & became a rock-chick!

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Perform! Especially on big festival stages.

After that it's playing with my dog Mojo (who I miss terribly, having not seen him for 10 months while we're been touring!).

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
The workload of running a band. There's actually a lot of admin to do, from bookkeeping (BORing!!), to booking accommodation, to sending off posters, to updating a zillion different websites etc. Being in a band like ours is 95% admin & organising, 5% music. It totally sucks, but the 5% music makes the other 95% worthwhile!!

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
A cowgirl or a pirate.

In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
Melbourne (Australia) is a city full of art & culture from all over the world. I get so inspired by seeing performances, especially innovative circus & acrobatics, puppet shows, burlesque & all sorts of music. I love how wild, energetic & risque peoples' imaginations can be & that it's always possible to create something fresh & fun!

And since Melbourne is Australia's "rock capital", we grew up knowing about & going to see bands in pubs. It's a normal part of our 'youth culture' as are the incredible community radio stations we have in Melbourne that play music of all & every genre (obscure & otherwise) - allowing listeners to make intelligent choices about music, rather than being fed the formulaic 'safe', cliche & predictable music likely to be found on hideous commercial radio stations.

What other artists out there do you love?
Nick Cave. The man is a poet. And I learnt a lot about the Melbourne post-punk scene through reading about him. He has the capacity to strike terror into my heart, or to make me cry all from the power of his lyrics.

I also love Polyphonic Spree, The Living End (Melbourne heros), Blondie & an amazing band from Russia called Stepanov's Starlings (they perform in wings!). Pretty much anything that is energetic, entertaining &/or kinda theatrical.

What does your future hold?
More international touring across Europe & the US. With a few shows at home in Australia of course.

And when I'm 70 I'll get to kick back in my rocking chair & bore my friends with yet another tale of meeting interesting people, going to interesting places & doing interesting things! The lifestyle of travelling the world playing music cannot be surpassed - it's a dream that we work very hard to make come true!