Six Of The Best: Firesites | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Firesites is the project of multi-instrumentalist and producer Tom Waterworth. Following a content-crammed October, which saw the release of four new tracks and two music videos, Firesites has now released a ten-track synth-rock opera, The Sun. The project pulls from a wide range of influences, including synth-pop, heavy rock and glitchy electronic music.

We asked Tom to give us his six of the best…

Television: The End of the F***ing World
I thought I’d start with this show as it’s one of my favourite things anyone’s ever made. It’s a story about two 17-year-olds trying to escape their mundane and disappointing lives, but in a less romanticised fashion to what you might expect. It’s really about trauma, exploring how it develops in young people and how they cope with it. The script is Charlie Covell’s adaptation of Charles Forsman’s graphic novel of the same name, and you can really tell how thorough the creators were with their character development for every single role. That sort of attention to detail inspires me. It actually did inspire parts of my new album The Sun, which follows a similar narrative of two characters trying to escape their mental and physical confinements.

Aesthetically, this show ticks all the boxes for me. There’s a wonderful ambiguity to the setting such that you can’t really attribute it to a time or place: it’s somehow very American despite being quite clearly in the UK. I can’t fault it. The plot is riveting, the cast are amazing and the cinematography is stunning. And to top it off, the soundtrack is fantastic too. It features a lot of old 50s tunes and the original score is by Graham Coxon of Blur – definitely a big influence on my music.  

Television: BoJack Horseman
I’m a big fan of cartoons and I think they generally get a bad rap – often disregarded as disposable kids’ TV – when in fact, they can be a great medium for storytelling. So much can be done with animation and I think the creators of BoJack have nailed the balance of traditional situation comedy with dark humour and surrealism. This show explores topics like sexism, substance abuse, depression, morality and mortality, all in a really considered and insightful manner. The brutally honest takes on these social issues are an incredible juxtaposition to the anthropomorphic Hollywood setting full of goofy characters. I attempted to do something similar with the ‘Chemicals’ music video, though I’m not sure puppeteering a stuffed panda is that comparable…

Again, this is another show with impeccable attention to detail. Every frame is filled with background gags and Easter eggs you could easily miss, and the way the animators play with different art styles is genius. The dialogue is also seriously impressive, packed with wordplay, rhymes, alliteration and relentless puns. I aspire to this level of poetry. 

Video game: EA Skate
I’ll premise this by clarifying EA Skate is not a Tony Hawk’s game. They are very different and your experiences playing Pro Skater 3 will not help you understand the wonders of the Skate series.

This franchise basically dominated my childhood and I’m kind of grateful for it. I remember downloading the first demo when I was about 10 and playing the 30 minute free trial over and over again (until my parents made me go outside). Then there was Skate 2, then Skate 3 and I spent far too much time on all of them. I get so nostalgic about it every time I hear ‘The Funeral’ by Band of Horses or Sister Nancy’s ‘Bam Bam’. The soundtracks were phenomenal and they introduced me to so much good music: Sam & Dave, The Clash, Wu-Tang Clan, The Specials, Animal Collective, Joy Division, Pixies… I really could go on. A part of me still wishes I could skateboard in real life, but I honestly can’t think of a better pastime than sitting back in a beanbag, listening to great music and trying to land an impossible trick on the mega ramp. 

Video game: Fallout
There are several Fallout games and, admittedly, I have not played nearly enough of them. I am however a total sucker for post-apocalyptic genres and have played enough of the series to know that I love it. They’re all RPGs – decision-based – so you get to choose how you interact with the world around you and how you want to progress the story. The aesthetics are a fantastical mix of dystopian horror, retrofuturism and 1950s America. You also get to listen to a load of sentimental jazz, swing and big band music while patrolling the ruins of post-nuclear-war America. What’s not to love?

Oh and did I mention you get to have Liam Neeson as your dad in Fallout 3?! This is the instalment I’ve spent most time playing, in which the protagonist is forced to flee their vault into unknown territory, risking their life in search for answers. The initial concept for The Sun was very much derived from this game and you can hear these themes in tracks ‘Sanctuary’ and ‘URT1’ – both crucial points in the album’s plot. 

Place: Baltimore
I wasn’t sure whether I could put places on this list when the brief was “influences from across the arts,” but I decided that cities are essentially massive ongoing group projects, involving vast amounts of artistry and individuality, and Baltimore definitely fits that description. The city does suffer a lot of the country’s larger social and political issues, but these things have undoubtedly contributed to its culture and charm. I lived there for a year in 2017-18, while studying music technology at UMBC, and it was truly one of the best years of my life; so many great experiences and so many brilliant people who continue to impress and inspire me.

I was invited to start an indie band called Moon By Moon with some friends I met there and we recorded an EP, which was a lot of fun. They’ve just gotten better and better (coincidentally since I left the country) and I’m so excited to hear their new music. I also fulfilled my teenage dream of playing drums in an American pop-punk band (now Druid Park) and they recently released an amazing EP. There was just so much going on – the music scene was great and it really broadened my horizons as an artist.

Place: Amsterdam
Amsterdam is an incredibly beautiful city. It’s full of unique and interesting characters, and I could honestly just walk around and observe its ongoings for hours on end. I’ve only visited twice and most recently went with my brother earlier this year. A local described it to us as a city of tolerance and that stuck with me – it’s a very freeing and liberating place to be, where anyone can be anyone and there’s no sense of pretence or prejudice; it just feels very sincere. The streets and canals are astonishing, the architecture is striking and the whole place feels like a dream. 

Aside from looking pretty, Amsterdam has a lot to offer from its rich history, art and culture. Every building seems to have its own fascinating backstory and the museums are great. Getting to see Van Gogh’s paintings up close and then walking around Vondelpark in the sun just makes for a great day out. I took my camera round the park and tried to capture some of its magic for the music video / visualiser I made for Fool’s Spring. Let me know what you think!

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