Album Premiere: Photo Fire – ‘Foreign Voice’

Posted: by The Editor

Florida DIY music, the nation’s fastest-growing natural resource, has long been defined by its wealth of punk and emo bands. However, the bands recording and producing their own music in Florida represent increasingly diverse genres and increasingly ambitious products. Tampa, FL art rock band Photo Fire has been carefully honing their lush, expansive sound over the past several years, but their new album Foreign Voice represents a growth in the band’s scope and size—both the size of their sound and the number of members in the band. 

The band began working on Foreign Voice, their second full-length, as soon as their debut Over & Over, Frame by Frame was released in March 2018. Hunter Walker, the band’s lead vocalist and keyboardist, describes the creation of their new album as an exercise in self-sufficiency: “At the beginning it was just all about taking the entirety of the process into our own hands. This meant that I had to learn how to produce the music myself with the equipment that we had collected as a group. We wanted to have full control over the entire project, start to finish.” 

Over the course of 2018, the band worked painstakingly, learning the ins and outs of the recording process as they went, pushing for the most fully realized and sonically ambitious versions of their atmospheric art rock. Early songs like “Washington,” “Careful Now,” and “Lilac” have lyrics that reflect this creative moment for the band, where they felt stressed, stuck, and were trying to make changes. “Hunter, Bryan, Jeremy and myself have been making music for about 7 years together,” says Ricky Kenny, the band’s lead guitarist, but even with their long history together, “The two years spent on this record have been such a learning curve for us. Knowing each other so well, it felt like a way to push and test us to write as far outside of the box as possible, and it helped push us even further with the new additions of Annie Perkins [vocals] and Nathan Walker [guitar].” Their sound got bigger as their roster swelled, the members urging each other on to explore new sounds through the writing and recording process. 

However, 2019 would push the album in an entirely new direction. It was a year plagued with tragedy for the band; early in the year, Walker lost his father Steve, and the record quickly began to take on a new shape. Walker’s father was a massive fan and the band’s biggest supporter, and the record became part of the process of reckoning with loss, and how to manage moving forward. The album’s title comes the lyric “Breath out in a foreign voice.” Walker says, “This lyric is reflecting upon questioning my own purpose, who even am I, what do I want, what do I have to offer. After such a massive loss, really everything felt like it was in question.” Foreign Voice is filled with yearning and a steady ache: a loss the sparks other losses, and the dogged pursuit of hope in the midst of it all. When Steve passed, Kenny says, “this band became his. It’s hard to think we’re doing any of this for anyone else. He believed in Photo Fire more than anyone in the world, I think all continuation of this band is for him now.” 

Foreign Voice comes out on 1/24. Everything was written, recorded, mixed, and mastered by the band. Photo Fire will be on going tour with Orlando emo rock band Like Father, beginning with the record release show at the Soundbar in Orlando, FL on 1/23. The album will be available for streaming on your preferred streaming service, and will be available for purchase on their Bandcamp. 


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Keegan Bradford | @FranziaMom