Sometimes, paths cross at just the right time as if written in the stars…
By the summer of 2017, San Francisco hard rock outfit Letters From The Fire had ignited a groundswell of support amongst a growing diehard audience. 2016’s independent debut Worth the Pain spawned two Top 20 rock radio hits (“Worth the Pain” and “Give in to Me”) as they logged countless miles on the road with everyone from Seether to Lacey Sturm, built a social following of 250K-plus, and generated over 5 million cumulative Spotify streams and 4 million YouTube/VEVO views. However, the musicians—Mike Keller [rhythm guitar], Cameron Stucky [lead guitar], Clayton Wages [bass], and Seth Hostetter [drums]—found themselves in need of a frontwoman.
381 miles south in Los Angeles, singer, songwriter, actress, model, and activist Nina Bergman sought a new venue for musical expression befitting of her devilish sense of danger. Heeding the call for an audition, chemistry bubbled over between these five individuals, and the pieces fell into place for a collective rebirth.
“Nina was just like us,” exclaims Mike. “She had been at it for over ten years, calling promoters, booking shows, touring, and making her own way in between launching a successful career in acting and modeling. We identified with her work ethic. It was cool to have a frontperson come in, take control, and care so much. Nina has attitude in her voice and the way she delivers. She brought an industrial element like a female Trent Reznor. Our goal was to embody the spirit of heavy music, but build the base of it on a low end that hits you in the chest like a big mainstream anthem would.”
“We all just fit perfectly, because everyone was ready to do something new,” adds Nina. “I’ve always wanted to be in a band, but I didn’t want to start over from scratch. It felt right in so many ways. The guys empower me to be the voice without trying to change who I am. When you join a band, it’s like getting married. I found my musical soulmates—or four husbands,” she laughs.
December 2017 saw the newly minted lineup congregate in the North Hollywood studio of Colin Brittain [Papa Roach, Avicii] to record their first album together the aptly titled, Letters From The Fire. The producer encouraged the musicians to push the envelope and adopt new textures and sonic elements, expanding the soundscapes dramatically. As a result, they confidently ignite a signature style appropriately dubbed online, #FutureRock. It lives up to its promise of ushering the genre forward.
The first single “Comfort You” illuminates this evolution, updating nineties-style rock songcraft with modern punchiness. Co-written by legendary Rob Zombie guitarist John 5, it tempers robust distortion with an industrialized swagger.
It’s also unafraid to get sexy by dropping a double entendre chorus that’d make most modern rock stars blush…
“The lyrics are a little racy,” Mike admits. “Nina told me, ‘You have to be able to put people in an uncomfortable position when it comes to music. If you want to make a stamp, you can’t be afraid of what everyone’s going to think, otherwise you’ll end up sounding like them.’ We took it to heart, and we ended up with something really unique.”
“I wanted my version of ‘Closer’,” she adds. “Since I was 14-years-old, I’ve obsessed over unavailable destructive men that I try to fix and they destroy my life instead. I was never addicted to drugs; I get addicted to people. I waste my time on them. My vampire fangs come out. I have to sink my teeth into these men, comfort them, and try to make them better. It never works though!”
Elsewhere, the revved-up riffs of “Harley” pay homage to Nina’s love for motorcycles, while the band captures a punkified power on “I Hate Everything.” The hard-hitting “Scream” remains a personal favorite for Mike as it “connects directly to the fans.”
In the end, this is just the beginning for Letters From The Fire.
“This is who we are,” concludes Mike. “This is what we’ve all been working towards. It’s a decade in the making. It’s everything we’ve ever learned or done. It’s all of Nina’s life in the lyrics. It’s not only a progression for the band, but our first real statement. At the end of the day, it’s the biggest thing we’ve ever done.”
“I’ve wanted this for a long time,” Nina leaves off. “It happened when it was meant. I had a great acting career…but I try to go with the scary choices, because the reward is bigger. When I asked myself, ‘Do I put my energy into Letters From The Fire?’, it gave me those butterflies. I dove in. Now, I couldn’t be happier with where it’s headed.”