KEMIKALFIRE, the side project of HALESTORM drummer Arejay Hale and LIT drummer Taylor Carroll, has released the official music video for its latest single, “The Drop”.
Carroll says: “We wanted to do a video that encapsulates the energy that we bring to our live show. We were both up all night prior to shooting the video working on new music, and as exhausted as we were, I think it worked to our advantage. The blood represents our pain and suffering from the inner voice telling us that we’re worthless.”
In an interview with the “Thunder Underground” podcast, Arejay stated about how KEMIKALFIRE came together: “[Taylor and I are] old friends. I’ve known him back when he was playing drums for a band called PILLAR. And we met at the Mall Of America in Minnesota when he was in his bus and we were in our R.V. And he just came over and knocked on the bus and he was, like, ‘Hey, you guys are in a band?’ And we were, like, ‘Yeah. You guys are in a band too? Cool. Come on in. Have a beer. Let’s hang out.’ And we just never lost touch. We both lived in L.A. for a little bit, so we would hang out there. And then the pandemic hit and we got back in touch and we just wrote… Honestly, we were just looking for anyone that wanted to write with us. We had to stay busy, so a lot of Zoom writing sessions with other writers. And we just realized, ‘Man, we have a really good chemistry writing music together,’ and we both kind of pick up where each other lacks, in a sense; we have a great creative partnership. And not only that, but he’s also a really talented producer as well — and multi-instrumentalist. So, as a songwriter, I just felt really glad that I could just put on my creative hat and let him do more of the mechanical work with the song ideas that I would present to him.”
As for KEMIKALFIRE‘s musical direction, Arejay said: “It’s different. It’s much more aggressive than HALESTORM. I’m doing a lot more singing and a lot more crazy drumming. It kind of throws back to our punk roots; there’s punk elements in there… There’s moments where it’s heavier; there’s also moments where it’s a little bit more melodic, a little more soaring. And there’s moments where it has really stark punk roots start to kind of show through, which is kind of what Taylor and I were raised on. We love punk drummers, so when we’re writing the stuff, a lot of that comes out just because that’s just kind of really fun stuff to write for us.
“Yeah, it’s different than HALESTORM, but it’s also easily digestible,” he clarified. “I think the average HALESTORM fan could hear it and be, like, ‘Oh, okay. I get it. This works.’ ‘Cause obviously your personal writing style seeps into everything that you’re a part of, so you’ll probably hear HALESTORM elements in there as well, from my end.”
Asked which instruments he and Taylor are handing in KEMIKALFIRE, Arejay said: “He’s playing guitar and singing, and I’m playing drums and singing. But we’re thinking maybe… We both can play both, so we’re, like, ‘Maybe we should trade off and do some…’ He’s also an insane drummer; he plays with LIT now, the band LIT, and we love LIT. But we also have a couple of songs where he was, like, ‘Hey, you wanna play piano?’ And I’m [like], ‘Sure. Why not?’ So we might switch some things up for our live show, which we’re excited about. That’s the dream.'”
Last April, KEMIKALFIRE released its debut single, “Dead And Gone”. The official music video for the track, which was shot by Alex Bemis of Bemis Creative at KEMIKALFIRE‘s first-ever live performance, can be seen below.
During an appearance on “The Itch Rock Podcast”, Hale stated about KEMIKALFIRE‘s first single: “I think that ‘Dead And Gone’ is one that just wrote itself. It was something that Taylor and I had been holding on to but were maybe too afraid to touch on when we got in a creative songwriting space. ‘Cause we were just, like, ‘Well that sounds kind of conceited.’ But no, that’s a real human thought. ‘How am I gonna be remembered when I die, and am I gonna die satisfied?’ It’s the most beautiful experience when you start writing a song and the song starts writing itself and you’re just chasing it. And that’s what that song felt like.”
“[Producer and co-writer Scott Stevens] and Arejay and myself wrote ‘Dead And Gone’,” added Carroll. “And the way we [write] is that one of us has a concept and Scott helps us put together the puzzle pieces. He coaches us where we need to go, like, ‘Do you really mean that, what you’re saying?’ And we’ll challenge each other on that too. It’s kind of a cool process that we have.”
Hale noted that this additional focus is crucial to their songwriting. He explained: “When we first started, we were like, ‘We need a line that means this and rhymes with this, how about this?’ ‘Okay, sure.’ Now … you have to peel back the layers, like, ‘Is that particular word really saying what we’re trying to say?’ I think you can feel that, when something is just a placeholder. The songs we’re writing now, we’re finally at a really scrutinous level. And Scott is a huge help, because he’s the same way.”
“I feel sorry for Scott when we go into the studio,” Carroll laughed. “Imagine that you’re trying to produce and create something for this new band and this tornado just comes running up your stairs.”
Hale quickly agreed. “It’s like in the movie ‘Twister’. Like, ‘We got sisters!’ Two tornadoes swirling around him all day. ‘Another cow!'”
“I guarantee you that guy has to boil three pots of coffee every morning just to work with us,” Carroll joked. “Another cool thing about Arejay and Scott and myself working together is … we’re still high school dorks, clinging to each other at our cafeteria table creating this music together. We all understand what it’s like to be the underdog. And I, from the beginning, wanted to write music for the underdog. Especially for people who think that they can’t, or that they’re too old or broken or stuck or stagnant or addicted … We just wanted to be those people who say, ‘Hey, dude, we’re the same exact way, but check this out: you can still create your own outlet.'” “And this song we just wrote this week is touching on a really personal thing in our relationships, in our love lives,” Hale added.
Carroll said: “There’s a song that we haven’t released that we eventually will that’s about relationship stuff … like when you’re heading down a bad path and then somebody comes into your life and helps you see where you’re at and how destructive it can be. It’s called ‘Grave’. It’ll see the light of day eventually, after a couple songs. That’s another one I’m super proud of.”
When Arejay and Taylor first announced KEMIKALFIRE‘s formation in 2022, they wrote in a statement: “We are KEMIKALFIRE! You may know us from HALESTORM and LIT, but we’re also 2 drummers, singers, songwriters, producers and long-time friends. We’ve finally joined our creative strengths, seizing our opportunity to create pure, honest and unbridled music for nobody but ourselves in hopes of helping anyone get through their own life obstacles. It feels good to finally share this project with you guys, and it’s going to feel even better to get going. We have some great stuff coming your way, stay tuned.”
Photo credit: Kevin Baldes Photography