Lee Baines III and the Glory Fires: Southern fried
Mixing equals parts kinship, southern culture and rock ‘n’ roll, Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires are another on the long list of great southern fried bands to come out of Alabama. With a new album and even newer sound, they’re ready to set the world on musical fire, one town at a time.
The story of Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires began in 2008 as Lee returned to Alabama after attending school in New York. A former fixture in the Birmingham punk and rock ‘n’ roll scene, Lee soon found himself a member of The Dexateens, a seminal rock ‘n’ roll country stomp outfit who’d released their first few recordings on Bellingham’s Estrus Records. After a few years, family and geographic commitments became too much and the band called it a day. Still feeling inspired, Lee found himself writing a lot but had no outlet for the new material. And with that, he formed the Glory Fires.
After filtering through some initial line up changes and local/regional shows, Lee took the band into the studio. “I was listening to a lot of late 60s, early 70s Elvis studio albums and stuff from Muscle Shoals,” he said. “The arraignment and production was about the song and bringing out. There was no cohesive musical identity throughout the record. I was more drawn to that.”
From those sessions came There is a Bomb in the Gilead, released in May of 2013. The Glory Fires, though seeing several line up changes since then, now includes Eric Wallace on guitar, Blake Williamson on drums and his brother Adam Williamson on bass. Lee is most excited about these members, so much so that in the midst of a hectic summer touring schedule (which included a trip to Europe), they went to the studio this summer to record their second album.
“This is the first band sounding record to me,” Lee said, noting a big departure from their earlier work. “I’m really stoked about this group that we have going. We have a really good time and I feel best about the sound. He added, “I’m pretty honored to have these dudes with me.”
Part of what makes this incarnation so special is the kinship between the members. Lee and Eric have known each other since they were little kids (they even went to the same daycare), and Adam and Blake have spent years playing in bands together. It’s a sense of roots – a feeling that permeates beyond the band members and into their hometown of Birmingham. “For me personally, it is this feeling – everybody who is lucky enough to have a home town are drawn to it. I feel a sense of cultural belonging, even though I’ve chafed at it all my life.”
That sense of pride and belonging is at the heart of the band’s sound. Many of the songs are about growing up and living in the south. Lee notes that church is heavy influence on anyone who grows up in the area – for better or for worse. “I think it’s impossible to talk about southern art or southern culture without talking about the protestant church. It’s the entire social system and belief system. It rears its head in different ways. It can come out in all different types of ways. In my songs, I just kind of take that and run with it,” stated Lee.