This Saturday night, local rock, funk, soul and reggae band the Fire Department will perform a show at 10:30 p.m. at 6741 Sabado Tarde, filming the music video on their upcoming single, “Underwater.”
The Fire Department won UCSB’s Battle of the Bands two years ago, which gave them the opportunity to open for hip hop artist Snoop Dogg at that year’s Extravaganza concert. The band has also performed several times in Isla Vista, many of them taking place at the Marley House on Del Playa.
Started in 2009 and hailing from Isla Vista, the Fire Department consists of five UCSB alumni — lead singer and guitarist Zeal Levin; saxophonist, vocalist and keyboard player Joe Farey; lead guitarist and vocalist Kevin Harvey; bass guitarist Thomas Semow and drummer Evan Monroe.
Levin said the group has been working on increasing the scope of their band and refining their music, striving to bridge the gap between diverse genres like rock ‘n’ roll and soul. Since graduating from UCSB last year, the group has been preparing for a recording session planned in early December.
“We spend all our time writing new material, practicing and creating our unique sound,” Levin said. “We have been putting all the money we make back into the band. We have upgraded our equipment, bought some new professional lights and recently built our own steel and wood stage at a machine shop in Oakland.”
According to Semow, the group’s musical style can be appreciated by a wide range of music enthusiasts.
“A large part of our music is crossing genres and reaching a demographic of people who listen to all different kinds of stuff,” Semow said. “We try to play stuff that is party-oriented and fun but make it meaningful music with feeling as well.”
Olivia Johnson, third-year aquatic biology major, first found out about the band as a freshman. Johnson said she was excited to have the opportunity to see the band’s popularity grow in Isla Vista throughout the years.
“I have been to three of their concerts over the last three years. It’s always been fun because there are always so many people,” Johnson said. “People in I.V. are pretty proud of the Fire Department because they made a splash here during their years as students.”
I.V. shows do not necessarily benefit the band financially, according to Monroe, since these local shows can sometimes require more resources and assistance.
“Our I.V. shows really lose us money in the short term, because they are by far the most work,” Monroe said. “We have to set up the stage and do all of our sound.”
But he also said the Fire Department remains loyal to the local community since its part of their history.
“That’s part of the reason why we are doing the video in I.V. at the house party, because that’s where we came from,” Monroe said.
On the flip side, however, Harvey said the most enjoyable and entertaining shows are actually the ones that take place in I.V. He said he hopes the community continues to support the group by attending their performances and checking out their music online.
“The most fun shows that we play are in I.V., and we want to keep our presence known here,” Harvey said. “We primarily try to distribute our music through Facebook. Our current EP is available for download by donation.”
Along with the music video, the group is currently also working on their new four-song EP, which will be released in early 2014. According to Harvey, students of the I.V. community are encouraged to take part in this weekend’s show and be a part of the music video. Once the video is released, the band hopes community members will help spread and share it online, he said.
“We are looking to our I.V. fans for support when the video comes out,” Harvey said. “If fans of ours see the video on Facebook and share it, we would love that.”
Kelsie Bogyo, a third-year pharmacology major, has seen the band perform five times in the years she has been a student. Bogyo said the Fire Department fits the I.V. community well and she encourages students to check out the show this weekend.
“Whenever I hear about their shows, I show up. I feel they are a pretty typical I.V. band,” Bogyo said. “The experience of seeing a really cool live band at a house party in I.V. doesn’t happen often. It’s mostly DJs or people playing iPods … Even if you don’t appreciate the music, it would still be cool to go.”
The group currently lives on a five-acre ranch in Ojai and plays an average of two to four shows a month.
This story is a Daily Nexus online exclusive.