SECOND ALBUM / JOHNNY OWEN BY DAVID OWENS -WALES ONLINE 2014
An Aberdare band are to release an album inspired by the life of late Merthyr boxing legend Johnny Owen. Rock outfit Fireroad will release the collection of songs, which feature unseen images of the boxer who tragically died in 1980, aged just 24, two months after lapsing into a coma after fighting Mexico’s Lupe Pintor for the bantamweight world title in Los Angeles. “Trying to launch Fireroad and get people interested enough to listen has been such a battle and it got me thinking about Johnny and the mountain he had to climb in order to achieve the recognition he did,” said the band’s singer Richard Jones, of the fighter nicknamed The Matchstick Man. “So I approached his family and they gave us permission to use his name and image on the record – something they’ve never granted anyone before. “Johnny was a little guy with a huge heart and soul – a metaphor for Wales in general if you like. “We may not be a big country but we can give as good as the best of them.”
Richard, who was in an early line-up of the band that would become Stereophonics, admitted working with Johnny’s family had been a humbling experience – and was keen that Johnny’s memory shouldn’t be defined by his tragic end. “I have spent the last year working with Johnny’s family to secure the rights to very personal family pictures and his story,” he said.“This has been a great time for me in terms of research and songwriting. The family were very happy with my desire to focus on Johnny’s work ethic, his positive nature and his drive to succeed.
“I believe he personified what it means to be Welsh. I have worked hard to ensure I have treated the family and Johnny with the greatest respect and have not touched upon the Lupe Pintor fight or tragedy – as that has been laboured on so many times now.“The family have received countless requests for the rights but I am one of the few they have trusted with the legacy, due to my positive approach.
“I am hopeful that through exposure for Fireroad and Johnny Owen a younger generation will learn about him and his life. Hopefully the theme will also allow people to engage with our music.” Songs on the album will directly and indirectly allude to Johnny Owen’s career
The album, which has the working title of 10 Second Count, is the follow up to the band’s 2013 debut I Got Sound and is to be released in July.
Songs on the album will directly and indirectly allude to Johnny Owen’s career. “It has been said to us a few times that we are one of the hardest working bands on the circuit,” said Richard. “I mentioned the fact we always have to ‘fight’ for what we have achieved as a band. This has always been the case the Welsh having to work hard to be recognised. The ‘little man’ having to’ fight’. Enter Johnny Owen.
“Themes of struggle, pain, hope, leading to positivity and redemption are running through the songs,” he added. “Sometimes people have to fight just to get out of bed in the morning and my lyrics are reflecting on personal issues as well as how we see ourselves.
“It’s about having the strength to get back on your feet when you are knocked down.”
LYNYRD SKYNYRD / SIMPLEMAN CRUISE BY NATHAN BEVAN -WALES ONLINE
AUGUST 8TH 2014
One is a legendary, million-selling American band behind some of the most seminal tracks in rock.The other is an unsigned bunch of
guitar-toting hopefuls from Cynon Valley. But, despite there being a gulf of 3,000 miles and almost 50 years in the music business between them, US longhairs Lynyrd Skynyrd have handpicked Aberdare group Fireroad to support them on stage during their upcoming boat tour of the Bahamas. The four-piece will accompany the Southern rockers – famed from such tracks as Freebird and Sweet Home Alabama – on the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship as it sets sail from Miami to the band’s very own private tropical island, Great Stirrup Cay, this November. Lynyrd Skynryd chose us personally from a shortlist of about eight other outfits,” said Fireroad’s lead singer Richard Jones. “They said that they heard in our music the same kind of spark they’d got growing up on classic British bands like The Who and The Yardbirds. “In fact I hadn’t realised that it was thanks to The Who, who’d booked them to play on their 1973 Quadrophenia tour, that Skynyrd got their first big break.
“So I think this is kind of their way of replaying that debt of gratitude.”
But Jones said landing the concert cruise coup had been a hard-fought battle. “Our manager said he’d put our name forward for it but only if we built up a sufficient fanbase in the US,” said the former art teacher and dad-of-three.
“So, via Facebook, we set about contacting the 2,000-plus people who’ve booked to go on the cruise, sending them our music online and basically launching an all-out, around-the-clock charm offensive. “It was bloody hard work and, because of the transatlantic time difference, it meant three months of very late nights spent in front the computer.”
Their grand plan paid off meaning Fireroad will now follow in the footsteps of Henry’s Funeral Shoe, the bluesy Ystrad Mynach duo who set sail on a similar nautical adventure with outrageous glam rockers Kiss around the Gulf of Mexico back in 2012.
And for Jones – who previously missed out on the spotlight when he split from an early, pre-fame incarnation of Stereophonics – this second bite of the cherry has been a long time coming. “It’s not often you get to play to a captive audience so performing on a boat with bona fide music legends is an opportunity we’re going to grab with both hands,” he said. “We’re also hoping to stop off in Jacksonville along the way, which is the city where Skynyrd first started – who knows, maybe we could even share a stage with them there too.”The singer added that his band were currently working on their second album – a follow-up to their acclaimed debut I Got Sound – which was inspired by the life of late Merthyr boxing champ Johnny ‘Matchstick Man’ Owen. “Trying to launch Fireroad and get people interested enough to listen has been such a battle and it got me thinking about Johnny and the mountain he had to climb in order to achieve the recognition he did. “So I approached his family and they gave us permission to use his name and image on the record – something they’ve never granted anyone before. “Johnny was a little guy with a huge heart and soul – a metaphor for Wales in general if you like.
“We may not be a big country but we can give as good as the best of them.”
FIREROAD - BEDFORD ESQUIRES AUGUST 16TH 2013
They are fronted by Richard Jones, a long term friend and one time band colleague of Kelly 'Stereophonics' Jones. Hailing from South Wales, it's never a dull moment as they launch straight off with the title track of their 2012 album "I got sound". They seem to really mean business as they throatily roar out "It's taking over". There is to be no let up in this full on overdrive of power as "Find a way" comes firing at us.
A barrage of glorious distorted guitar work opens up "Minute". Comparisons have been made with the work of The Gaslight Anthem. Fireroad also possess a healthy, hard rocking retro heart when called upon to produce it. Richard is a jovial and amusing frontman. This is their first time in Bedford. Prior to "Before the matinee", which is gritty and gorgeous, he tells of festival adventures with FM and describes "Your summer sun" as a song that "BBC Radio Wales are all over". He speaks with warmth and the crowd respond in a positive way. "Devils letter" is a brand spanking new one, while "Bones" (to my old ears) has a slight Undertones tinge to the start. If you like your rock fairly fast and a touch anthemic but, above all, with intelligent lyrics them Fireroad are worth taking a look at. Considering the long journey they were really friendly guys. A band that I cannot speak too highly of and would love to see again in the future. Excellent stuff.
FIREROAD - STEELHOUSE FESTIVAL JULY 27TH 2013
With the stage bathed in hot summer sunshine FIREROAD are the first of two Battle Of The Bands competition winners are possibly the perfect openers for this type of occasion with their smooth ‘DC vs. ‘Phonics slant on music. This is a band who have been honing their musical muscle far and wide over the last few months, so hence a large proportion of the already fast growing audience are fully aware of the group`s back catalogue and are extremely appreciative of the band`s midday efforts. Delivering a set that includes the great new tune `Bones’ and a carefully selected number of tunes from their debut record `I Got Sound’ there’s plenty of groove for everyone especially on the band’s stand out track `Knock It Away’...It`s time to partyyyy!
FIREROAD - HOME GROWN ROCK NOTTINGHAM 3RD MARCH 2013
Next up was Fireroad, a rock outfit from the valleys of Wales. These guys had just come off tour with The Stereophonics, who are also great mates with the band, so I learned after their show talking with the lead vocalist. From the get go these guy's held a tight and formidable set, a very exciting and physically charged band, Fireroad proved to be one of my personal favourites of the show. You could tell they were putting their all into this, grinning from ear to ear throughout. If you haven't heard or seen Fireroad, I can highly recommend them.