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Firebird - Biography

This band's profile is 'invisible', meaning that it's much less prominent on the site - either because it's incomplete, or maybe doesn't entirely fit MS format.


Firebird began in the autumn of 1999. At this stage the group consisted of Bill Steer on guitar and vocals, Ludwig Witt on drums and Leo Smee on bass. The trio entered Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire, England that September to record their self-titled debut album, which was released two months later in Japan on the Toy's Factory label. A European release through Rise Above eventually surfaced the following July, and it is believed that a limited run were available in the USA through Music Cartel.Live activity for the band at this time was sporadic due to Witt's commitments to Spiritual Beggars, and Smee's involvement in Cathedral, although there were occasional appearances in London. An altered version of the band (featuring Tom Broman on drums) also played in Japan during the summer of 2000.

By 2001 the original line-up had re-grouped and recorded the "Deluxe" album at Berno Studio in Malmo, Sweden. By this point Firebird was signed directly to Music For Nations, the label that had distributed Rise Above throughout the period. JVC handled the Japanese release. In Europe a vinyl edition of the album was also pressed, although it is now near-impossible to find. During the following months there were more British live dates, further line-up changes and a seemingly amicable parting of the ways with MFN.

2003 saw a new, and ultimately short-lived, version of Firebird. Steer recorded the "No.3" album with Jolle Atlagic (drums) and Roger Nilsson (bass), again at Berno Studio. It is believed that this line-up performed only at a festival in Austria that year. "No.3" saw the light of day on SPV in Europe and the States, and again JVC in Japan. Again, a rare vinyl version is said to be in existence. Around this period Al Steer took over bass duties, and Alan French came in on drums. For the first time Firebird had a line-up with minimal commitments elsewhere, so live work accelerated immediately. A European tour with Fu Manchu, plus a string of dates with Glenn Hughes, Molly Hatchet, Monster Magnet and various "stoner" acts took place over the following year and a half. Eventually this era of the band ground to a halt and little was heard from Firebird for several months.

It came as a surprise to many when the "Hot Wings" album - the band's fourth - appeared on Rise Above in 2006. This heralded the return of Ludwig Witt on the drum stool. The LP itself - completed in less than a week at Fortress Studio, London - was the group's rawest to date. With the possible exception of "Deluxe", previous recordings had tended to be fairly honest, straight-forward affairs with little in the way of production values, but "Hot Wings" took this approach a step further. By the time the album had been released, Harry Armstrong had joined the band to replace Al Steer, who plays in highly-rated "post-rock" outfit Piano Magic to this day. Over the following year Firebird again increased their live work, playing dates across the UK as well as tours in Italy and Ireland. When an offer came through to appear at Tapestry Festival in Wales during the summer of 2007, Armstrong found himself double-booked with his own band, End Of Level Boss. Smok Smoczkiewicz took his place for the festival and ended up joining the band full-time. Next on the agenda was a hugely successful European tour supporting Alabama Thunderpussy. Later Firebird were to return to Ireland, Italy and also Sweden.

In May 2008 the band convened at Berno Studio to record the "Grand Union" album. Regarded by many as the band's finest effort to date, the LP was eventually released by Rise Above the following summer, allegedly because the label felt that Steer's involvement in the recently-announced Carcass reunion would detract attention. Throughout this period Firebird remained active, however, playing selected dates across UK, Ireland and mainland Europe, including a powerful set at Roadburn Festival in Holland.

Line-up changes were once again to occur in autumn 2009. Following the departure of Smoczkiewicz, Australian ex-pat Tom Sutton was drafted in to play bass with the group for a landmark appearance at Loud Park Festival in Tokyo. The audience of over ten thousand was easily the largest the band had played to so far. There was further cause to celebrate as Toy's Factory had stepped in to handle the Japanese edition of "Grand Union", resuming a working relationship that dated back to the Firebird debut in 1999. A week later Firebird performed on the main stage at Damnation Festival in Leeds, this time with Terry Waker handling bass duties. The year was rounded off with a Swedish tour, featuring initially Tom Sutton (before a hurried return to Japan and the notorious Church Of Misery) and then Greyum May, formerly of the Black Hand, Ozric Tentacles et al.

In January 2010 Steer and Witt recorded a new Firebird album, entitled "Double Diamond", at Graveland Studio in the Netherlands. Produced, engineered and mixed by Arno Krabman, this recording is said to herald a new chapter for the band, drawing much inspiration from Steer's earliest Metal influences, notably Budgie, Tank and Fist. A Japanese release is scheduled for late July through Trooper Entertainment, while Rise Above look likely to handle European distribution during the autumn.

(Source: band's profile on Facebook)