National Fire Theory. Let that name sink in for a moment. If you were attending local shows about ten years ago, you could barely step foot into the El Torreon without seeing flyers for the band’s frequent outings (whether there or for another place that was likely not all-ages), cheaply made stickers, and scrawlings of “NFT” in various public restrooms across the city. At one time, the band was on top of their proverbial game, and well on their way to playing larger and larger audiences. This time was before several lineup changes and the release of their Paul Malinowski-produced Blackout Days EP, when the band took a direction toward a more polished, radio-friendly sound, a move that effectively killed my interest in the quartet.
Let’s back up again, here. In the late ’90s, there was a teenage pop-punk band called The Sunshine Vandals. The band played frequently, albeit mostly at places like Gee Coffee. As is the case with many bands, SSV went through the kind of lineup changes that eventually lead to the natural evolution into an entirely new project. National Fire Theory was the end result of that evolutionary change, and in their origins, guitarist/vocalist Tim Gutschenritter (who these days is busy running the Riot Room) played with his brother Dallas (drums), Brad Schmitt (bass), and Jon Wessel (lead guitar/vocals). This was the lineup at its best, full of piss and vinegar, and guarded with a penchant for hooks that simultaneously gave credence to Thin Lizzy and Jawbreaker.
Fast forward to last month, and to my surprise I find a message from Jon Wessel in my inbox. In the email, Wessel details plans to pool his resources and find anyone out there who may have some rarities from the band, and the idea to eventually have everything available for free online. If enough interest is garnered, who knows, there may even be a proper reunion of the original lineup. Wessel is particular in his quest, and is looking for pre-Blackout material, most of which he already has and includes the Living With Nothing Left EP, the Ending With White Lights EP, and the unknown amount of live recordings and Cold Lampin volumes that are floating around. Any pictures or videos of the band are gladly accepted, as well as any high-resolution pictures of scans of their merchandise or flyers.
Wessel can be reached for information at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can also check out the newly created Facebook and Twitter pages. I leave you with the video below, the band’s first demo EP, and a taste of what’s to come once everything is made public.