Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires returned to Slim's on Sunday night for what is bound to be the band's last performance in the narrow rock club. Building on momentum from their latest album Dereconstructed, the group turned in a brief, fierce show.
After watching sets from the front of the crowd by The Kneads and Old Quarter, Bains—his trademark gallon jug of water in hand—took to the small stage. The group worked the animated crowd, moving on and off the stage with Bains himself doing a slide down the venue's handrail during another smoldering solo.
Watch most of their concert below and read our chat with Bains.
INDY: How did the social and political state of affairs in Alabama influence what ended up on Dereconstructed? LEE BAINS III: Around the time of writing those songs, I was pretty energized for better or for worse. I was in Alabama and then Atlanta, where I live now. A fair number of the songs were written around the time of the Occupy demonstration. There was a pretty sizable one in Atlanta. There were a couple of songs or at least pieces that came to me while standing in Woodruff Park, where the actions were centered. The Arab Spring was also going on at the same time. And then there were a few pieces of legislation in both states. The one in Alabama was called House Bill 56, which was one of those draconian anti-immigration laws that was passed in a few Southern states. Georgia had one similar bill. There was a lot going on in public discourse that I saw as being the tension and distance between policy and ideals both in the South, the country and a lot of the world.
What was the reaction to those songs in some of the more conservative areas you've play?
'Cause we're from a very conservative area, that's where we mostly play. But there have been varying reactions at shows and in person. I feel like the kind of people who come to our shows are going to be simpatico for the most part, so there hasn't been too much confrontation there. We have had a few times where we get booed or heckled. One show in Macon, I made mention of the anti-immigration laws, and this dude in the crowd who was hammered yells, "Fuck that!" Most people around there felt the same way. One of the great things about our sort of MO is that we can, in that space, literally drown out opposing voices. As soon as we started playing, the guy started dancing and pumping his fist, so who the fuck knows.
For the most part, my experience has been that after a show or beforehand, it's quite the contrary. A lot of people will come up and say, "I'm with you." They'll say they've lived in Mississippi, South Carolina or North Carolina their whole life, and they see a problematic relationship between the culture I love and the way politics have used that culture to push their own agenda and have left me felt feeling disenfranchised. It just opens up this conversation of identity and culture here as it relates to politics.
You're familiar with the work the N.C. Music Love Army has been doing. In Atlanta, has there been any discussion of forming something similar?
Not any that I have heard. When Moral Mondays took off, I was down here a bit. We left for tour indefinitely, so I haven't been able to participate in the actions. Of the many times I've gone down there, I haven't recognized anyone from bands around town.With those demonstrations taking off in Raleigh, I'm sure that was galvanizing to the musicians in the area. I'm here so infrequently it's hard to take a planning role in something I won't be around for. That's one of the bummers of touring—not being able to have steady commitments like that.
The album helps spread the word in other ways.
I hope that can be the case.
Speaking of the album, something that struck me as I listened to Dereconstructed is how different it sounds from how your first LP in terms of the style of recording and mixing. It could be mistaken for a live recording.
That's exactly what we were going for—to convey the feeling or at least the sound of a show at places like Slim's, where there's a PA and you just go for it. Tim Kerr, who produced the record, is the king of capturing that vibe. He's not one for overdubbing or sitting there and thinking too hard about what you're doing. He inspires spontaneity and a rawness and idiosyncrasy. What I hope we accomplished is what I've seen other bands I love accomplish—a sort of aural distress where the guitars are deafening and kind of hurting a little bit, and when the guitars really get going, you feel like you're being physically poked in the ear. That's the feeling that I like.