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We Set Fire offers Christian metal twist

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We Set Fire offers Christian metal twist

We Set Fire – a local Christian metal band that includes two Manteca natives – will be playing a show tonight at the One-Eighty Teen Center in Lodi. Pictured, from left, are Josh Mara, ...

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POSTED June 25, 2010 2:51 a.m.
Randy Greer is hoping that his notebook full of lyrics will be the final piece of the musical puzzle that so many groups try to piece together.

The 2007 East Union High graduate and principal guitarist of We Set Fire – a Christian metal band that includes two Manteca natives – is gearing up with his band to fine tune what will eventually be a five track EP they hope to parlay into their second full-length album.

And they’ll work on it tonight in Lodi at the One-Eighty teen center where each member – including singer Mike Higuera, guitarist and back-up vocalist Josh Stoner, drummer Josh Mara, bassist and Manteca native John Kautzer, and Greer – will fine tune their skills on their newest material. Admission to the show, located at 17 W. Lockeford Street near the intersection of N. Sacramento Street, is $5.

While they might classify themselves as a Christian metal band, each of the members seems to keep their own spirituality close to the heart – never going so far as to force the message onto the listeners. They let the music and the lyrics do the talking.

“Sometimes when you force a message like that, people tend to look the other way,” said Greer. “We’ve always taken a different approach and let the music and the lyrics do the talking for us, and it has worked well so far.

“This band is what brings us together spiritually, and we’re happy with that.”

A few weeks ago their management booked them a spot at Spirit Fest West Coast Del Mar. It is one of the biggest Christian music festivals on the west coast if not the country. They literally made it onstage with only a minute to spare.

“We played a show up in Susanville the night before, and literally drove all night to get there for our 12 p.m. performance, and barely made it,” said guitarist Josh Stoner. “We had Randy find the right person, and we got on stage at the last minute, and it was incredible. The energy of the crowd was great, and the performance helped expand our fan base – something that we’re always looking at doing.”

The Early Days
Unlike other bands that already have their line-ups set in stone, it was Greer who met guitarist Josh Stoner and drummer John Mara at a weightlifting class at Delta College They collectively decided to form a band.

The only problem was they needed a bass player and a singer.

After countless auditions and lineup changes, they settled on Katter – who had known Greer for a long time – to play the bass.

But when it came to a singer, they took an even more unconventional route.

Higuera – who has more than 2,000 followers on MySpace – auditioned via video and was instantly the final piece of We Set Fire. The five had come together, and the five were dedicated to making the music that they wanted their own way.

The only problem was getting the material ready for what would become “Deliverance” – their first album. Initially lyrics were written on a group level before Greer took over the principal duties, and they used a hook-up in the San Diego area to record the album.

But the hysteria didn’t stop there.

A brief tour through the Southwest that included a stop in San Antonio was next on the list. Shows throughout California – including Sacramento’s “Boardwalk” would soon be added to the list.

It would only be a matter of time before they amassed the following needed to reach the ultimate – a record contract that would turn five young men into professional musicians.

The Future
Despite their metal tag, We Set Fire is very much a jam band – focusing on the music of a song before Higuera figures out which lyrics fit best with the given tracks that have been laid down. It is then, and only then, that the group magic begins to appear.

Tonight’s tune-up show already on the books, and Saturday’s show at The Phoenix Theater in Petaluma serve as the perfect chance to try out their new material before releasing the five-track EP.

Greer says that the lyrics for 11 of the 12 songs for their next unnamed album have already been written, and the group hopes to have the completed project out by the end of the summer.

Much like their previous releases, hard copies of the CDs are available for purchase at their shows and through www.myspace.com/wesetfire, and digital copies of the CD can be purchased at iTunes.

But while each of the members hopes that this project blossoms into something that pays their bills, it’s the reaching of a single person that keeps the group motivated.

“If we can have one person come up after the show and say that our music changed their life, or affected them in any way, then it was all worth it,” Stoner said. “Those sorts of compliments from people – and it doesn’t have to be crowds – is what keeps us going. It’s the most important.”

And they’re getting love from independent reviewers who follow local music.

Indie Vision Music – an online music blog that evaluates unsigned and up-and-coming bands – said that the group’s CD Deliverance “is full of heavy breakdowns and guitar riffs that are sure to please every metal fan. We Set Fire makes good use of the double bass pedal that sends much appreciated hard-hitting pulses through your speakers. Overall this is a solid debut EP from a young band that has tons of potential.”

But what the group really wants is a place here in Manteca to be able to play local shows for fans that aren’t able to drive to places like Sacramento or Petaluma. Anyone interested in hosting one of their shows can contact Joshua-stoner@sbcgobal.com.

To purchase the group’s debut CD, visit http://www.secretserviceentertainment.com/store. Samples of their music can be found at www.myspace.com/wesetfire.

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