In 2008, after the releases of Above The City and This Sinking Ship, both on Fat Wreck Chords, Smoke Or Fire found themselves at a bit of a crossroads. A follow-up to the aforementioned Ship was due to be written and recorded and tours of Japan, Australia, New Zealand, as well as five weeks in Europe, were booked. At the time however, none of the four members lived in the same city. In fact, the band had become bi-coastal, with two members living on the West coast and two on the East. Coordinating time to write together, practice, and tour was becoming increasingly difficult. Balancing jobs and busy home lives with the desire to be a full-time band was proving harder than it had ever been before. But being a band that believed in themselves and the rewards that come from hard work they pushed onward. Writing and demoing of new material was produced and a decision was made to record the new album after the tours of Asia, Australia, and Europe were complete. The next several months the band spent traveling the world gave them some of the most rewarding experiences of their lives. Seeing so many enthusiastic faces so far from home was proof positive that their music had reached far beyond the borders of the U.S. Upon returning to the States the band decided to give themselves a well-deserved break and allow themselves time to digest and reflect upon all the amazing things they had felt and seen in such a small amount of time.
But after some time had passed, and perspective gained, singer/guitarist Joe McMahon and guitarist Jeremy Cochran decided it was time to get back at it. After all, there was a whole new batch of songs to be recorded and sung and so many new people to try to reach. Spurred on by a desire to return the stage and to the road, in particular the rapidly approaching SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas, Smoke Or Fire recorded and released the Prehistoric Knife Fight 7" in March of 2010, also on Fat Wreck. In the summer of 2010 The Speakeasy, the long due follow up to This Sinking Ship, was recorded in Chicago by Matt Allison, the same man behind the boards for Ship. “We wanted to make the best sounding record we could and still retain some of the grit from our older recordings and our live show. And I think we accomplished that. We feel extremely comfortable and focused in Chicago with Matt and I think the relationship we have with him and that city makes us fell that, no matter what, we’ll be leaving with something we know we worked really hard on and that we can be proud of.” says Cochran. The Speakeasy boasts the bands strongest and most collective songs to date with the albums first two tracks “Integrity” and “Monsters Among Us” leading the way. With Justin “Gwomper” Burdick (bass, AVAIL) and Ryan Parrish (drums, Darkest Hour) filling out the line up on The Speakeasy, Smoke Or Fire has returned with a new sense of confidence, urgency, and direction. Though it’s been a while since we’ve heard new music from Smoke Or Fire, it’s been worth the wait. The Speakeasy shows us that in the life of a band the journey can be just as important as the destination.