Interview: GREG C. BROWN
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I always go back to AC/DC’s Back in Black. That album really made me want to play the guitar. I started playing right before my 12th birthday and I was hooked. If I wasn’t a musician I would probably be involved in astronomy. I still am at some level but I would be much more focused and dedicate my time to it. It’s funny, over the years I’ve met many musicians into astronomy, not sure what that connection is.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
As I mentioned, I love astronomy. Nothing is more peaceful than looking up in the sky and learning about the stars and planets. So much exciting stuff is going on that field right now, I try to stay tuned in to that as much as possible. I’ve written a few songs inspired by the cosmos. The universe is such an amazing place and when you take the scope of it all in it is all very humbling. Somehow learning about it all helps me relieve stress. Makes the mundane go away.
How long has your band been around?
We formed in 1988 but after a couple years morphed into a more prog band and officially disbanded in 1993. At that time, I focused more on learning classical guitar and composition for many years but was still always listening to metal and trying to keep in the loop of what was current. About 15 years ago, I remastered the old “Age of Fire” stuff and put up on social media. I did release a couple electric guitar CDs shortly before that. The music from those were all written or inspired by my dealings with Stage 3B cancer. I’m so glad to be here today but during that time I promised myself, if I survived, I was just going to go for it. I’ve been pretty busy ever since and lucky to be involved in many projects.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I am currently living in Charlottesville Virginia but I learned to play and got really into the music scene when I was living in South Florida. There isn’t really a metal scene where I live so that have been difficult but luckily with social media and the web we can reach beyond. South Florida has such a vibrant music scene and so grateful to grow there when I did. So many opportunities and connections.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Age of Fire was a term I came across many years ago referring to the end of times. Thought it was a great name for a metal band I studied many forms of religions and philosophies growing up and it really resonated with me. I mean, have you seen the news???
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Wow, there have been so many over the years. I remember playing a packed house in NYC which was amazing. Playing Summers on the Beach in Fort Lauderdale back in the day was great and playing Florida Atlantic University in ’92 for Amnesty International. We played a big festival in Orlando after Hurricane Andrew hit. It was one of the first big places we played and there were 5 stages, there weren’t many places doing that like there are now. Wolfman Jack was also on the bill, it was great to see him. As a solo artist I’ve been lucky to play places in Europe, Canada and across the States, those have been mostly intimate shows which can have a deeper connection with the audience.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I wouldn’t say I have a favorite venue, at least not yet. For me, it’s about connecting with the people but as I say that I would love to play Wacken. Many European festivals, Sonishpere, Download, so many, those kind of things aren’t really happening in the US.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
That is so hard. Queensryche, Megadeth, Arch Enemy, King Diamond, Nightwish, Metallica, Overkill, so many amazing bands out there. I’m really digging Semblant right now, love Wicked Maraya, wish I could’ve seen Crimson Glory.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Enjoy yourself. Learn from everything, especially your mistakes or “learning experiences”. It takes a life time to build yourself as an artist. Practice and listen. I’m not sure if I would’ve done anything
differently. I’m lucky after 40 years of doing this I still have many ideas I want to share. Inspiration is everywhere.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Maybe don’t take yourself seriously. You will make mistakes, not the end of the world but learn from them and move on. It took me awhile to get that.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Probably my song Love. During my chemotherapy years ago, I couldn’t really play my classical guitar. The tension of the strings was much harder and the body of the guitar rubbed up against my chest where my port was for chemo and made playing very difficult. That situation made me pick up my electric guitar which has a smaller body and much lighter tension strings and started me on the path that I’m still on today. It is available on most streaming platforms. I was really just letting it all out emotionally while I dealt with cancer. I can hear it, I hope you can.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Probably the Rebel, gets the most streams and one of our oldest songs. Now that is an Age of Fire tune but from my solo Greg C. Brown catalog, I’d say Building 7 has gotten the most streams. It’s a pretty wild, heavy tune and on my 7 string and has a very modern sound. It is on my most recent solo disc GCB. I’m grateful that tune has really resonated with people, you never know how that’s going to happen.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
I am the main songwriter and I find inspiration many places like literature, current affairs, social issues, the vastness of space, so many things really. The process is different for each song and I try to mix it up. There is no one formula for me. It could be a riff, a drum beat, a lyrical concept or melody.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Recently I’ve focused on history and literature or current affairs. It’s different for my solo electric stuff since there are no lyrics and I want the listeners to go on a voyage and musical journey. I don’t like to always spell it out and let the listener decide.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
I like to call them discussions and yes, of course it happens. Not really with solo stuff because I’m “the guy” lol. Usually and ultimately, I feel it helps the song. It’s great when people are so passionate about what they are doing. You just work it out and listen to each other’s side just like any relationship.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Right now, I’m focused on finishing Age of Fire’s upcoming EP called “Through the Tempest”. We’ve already released two tracks already, Children of the Night and the title instrumental track. We are super excited to share this with everyone. I’m also finishing up my Masters degree in Music composition and will have a string trio and string quartet premiering this Summer. After that I hope to work on another solo project or focus on another Age of Fire disc, something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’m very fortunate to be doing what I love!
Greg C. Brown- Building 7