How did you choose the songs? For example, why do Paint it Black? ” I was the one who really wanted to do that one, and we tried it 5 or 6 different times, and it turned out to be one of those, late at night, let's try it one more time ones. It seemed to be saying something about the time really (laughs). I'm not a big fan of the President, as you might have guessed.” Does politics have a place in music then? “Why the hell not. In our case I tend to avoid making specific references, because to me it tends to date the music, so I end up talking around it. Say it without saying it, if you can. I've no interest in saying “George Bush – Evil”: to me it's too obvious”.
Firewater recently added Israel, not uncontroversially, to their tour. “Well, you know, there were people in the press trying to make something of it, but at the end of the day it was cool. We were trying to avoid making a statement by going there. It's not like we were supporting the Israeli government – we don't. Three of the band are from there, so it was like going home. We did a three day festival, and it was cool. Lots of interesting stuff” . What about the guys in the band: it seems you're an American unhappy with your government, what about the Israeli guys? “That's why they’re here(laughs)” Are their politics reflected in the music? “The common response of many Israelis, of this generation at least, is to become apolitical – a lot of them have tried to do something, but feel that their voice isn't heard, that it's not time for them to be heard. They kind of close their eyes to it in a way, and choose to get on with their lives, and not to be burdened with this situation. A lot of them will wind up going back, and effecting some sort of change, when the mood of the country allows for that. It feels like the old people are in charge at the moment. I think this generation will wind up accomplishing something but that's my opinion. If you ask the other guys they may tell you something different.”
And the ubiquitous Three Monkeys Online music interview question – what do you think of MP3's, are they killing music? “No – MP3's are disseminating music. They're probably killing musicians (laughs), not that I'm making any money from CD sales! I don't have a problem with it. It's such a pain in the ass to get a whole record, most people I know take one song, and if they like it buy the record. It's fun.” And what about moves by the record companies to prosecute individuals for downloading music? “People who aren't makin’ money? That's just stupid. A waste of resources and money. Sure, go after the guys pirating stuff, but individuals… Don't they have anything better to be doing with their time???”
The subject moves on to the British music press, and for the first moment in the interview you get the sense that Tod is being slightly guarded in his responses. What do you think of the British music press? “What do you think of them? (Pause) It seems as though, in a very self-conscious way, bands are made flavour of the month, and then trashed the next month, simply to feed the machine, and I find that a little bit cynical” . Do you want to name names, in terms of bands?“Name almost any band – they become the next best thing since sliced bread, then suddenly they're not anymore, then they suck and then they move on to the next band. It's a function of selling newspapers – and I find it a little sad, that's all.”
Does he worry that Firewater might eventually get on that list? “Well, if we're in danger of that we probably have other things to worry about. It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, to be rich and famous – however unlikely”.
In interview, as in the music and lyrics, Firewater, and Tod A. seem refreshingly open and honest – willing to take on any challenge and give it a shot.The conversation winds up, more from my side, having exhausted all my questions. When I bashfully admit this to Tod, he laughs, “I can take you on for hours man – when you hang up, I'll still be here talking away!”.