In a very short time, Hand of Fire has become one of the most talked about bands in the Bay Area metal scene. Their initial demo offering, Let The Killings Begin, is comprised of three blazing, riff-driven thrashers that sound at once familiar and completely fresh, evoking spirits of the scene’s golden era while giving a vision of the present and future. Couple that with their high-octane performances – and dedication to playing live, loud, and often – and it’s easy to see why. In a time where many bands are doing it as “a thing”, for Hand of Fire, this is “the thing”.
They may be new as a collective, but the members of Hand of Fire (vocalist Jim Settle, guitarist Tiago Souza, bassist Tom Eaton, and drummer Bill Davies) bring years, even decades, of experience as individuals, which is serving them well as they write their next musical chapter. I managed to grab Jim and Tom for a few moments to discuss this burgeoning powerhouse.
(Note: since this session was conducted, Hand of Fire signed a deal with Rottweiler Records – congratulations, guys! As for any labels that missed out…better luck next time.)
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1. The four of you have such diverse, extensive backgrounds…so why Hand of Fire? Why now? What was the genesis of the band? How did you come together?
Jim – Why Hand of Fire? After my former band, Tantrum of the Muse, disbanded in 2006, I have been focused on building a business and raising a family. I did not have the desire to play in a band and, because I love recording and creating music myself, I was happy with that. So I would record, make music, and just store the music away.
Then in 2015 I was invited to [a] metal festival. I had not seen a show in over ten years, so I was excited to hear what was out there. After watching and hearing what the Bay Area had to offer, I knew I had something special, something unique [to offer]. From that show, a fire was lit to put together something fresh sounding, which had a message and a purpose behind it. So I took my beliefs, experiences, and songs that I had recorded and had to do what everyone else does when they need bandmates: I got on Facebook. I found unique, diverse players who wanted to create something different. From there, Hand of Fire was created.
2. Your collective resume is one that most bands would not only love to have, but would love to flaunt – yet the bio section of your website and Facebook page are incredibly rudimentary. Is this a conscious effort to keep the focus on the present?
J – Yes, we have all done pretty well in bands from the past, but this is a new era and our focus is on Hand of Fire. We want people to like us for our current music, not for bands from the past.
3. Let The Killings Begin is an impressive debut, especially considering the relatively short time you’ve been together. “Burn It Down” is particularly seething, and lyrically scathing. What can you tell us about that track?
J – The lyrics for “Burn It Down” are talking about burning the Church of today to the ground. “The critics” refers to judgmental Christians, and “holy riders” means those that coast through life making profits off of the name of God.
The church of today is not what God intended it to be like. Man has made this into a business and it all revolves around numbers to generate money, and a lot of it. We have seen over the years these pastors flying in private jets with huge mansions bringing in enough money to take care of a village of starving children, using God’s name to generate profit but not use it for his kingdom. I am a believer, but not in the church. That’s why I say burn it down to the ground and walk away from it.
4. The Bay Area has always been a hotbed for music and thrash metal in particular. What is your take on the current state of the scene, and how receptive have the audiences been?
J – Right now the Bay Area is thriving and shows are strong. There are a lot of great bands working hard and doing what it takes to keep this music scene alive.
Tom – Playing the Bay Area metal scene, there is a close circle of loyal people that come out and support metal, period. It’s not as big as it used to be, but still it’s those loyal fans of metal that you see out on the regular. And as far as the reactions we have been getting, they have been great. We have a pretty decent following so far and a lot of people say that we blow them away after seeing us live for the first time. I would like to reach out to all of the different genres of the metal scene and share with them all what we have as a band.
5. What does the immediate future hold for Hand of Fire? Is there a follow-up in the works, or are you focused more on the live circuit?
J – Let The Killings Begin was a demo to see how people would respond to it. I am all about testing the market before I dive in. Since its overwhelming response, we are working on a full length CD and are in talks with a few different record labels who would like to release it. We are focused on playing live and our shows have been great with great responses so we know we are on the right track and our goal is to stay on that track.