Nobody who starts a band could be blamed for thinking they might have to fight their way through something at some point. There are so many problems between where almost any band is and where they'd like to be that even if they don't call themselves I Fight Dragons, nobody could blame them, even if they talked a lot about fighting for what they believe in and for what they're trying to do. The thing is, Brian Mazzaferri actually is in a band called I Fight Dragons, and he never talks about fighting anything or anybody; mostly he talks about building things.
The band came out of nowhere just a few years ago, signed with Atlantic Records, and after two EPs own their own, released their first album, KABOOM!, at the end of 2011. A year later they had left the label, and you could easily think they'd be talking about what they have to fight for, now that they're back on their own again. Not even a little; on the way from headlining a show in Florida to headlining one in New Orleans, Mazzaferri talks about music, the internet, the band, the way they made the album, and a lot of other things, but he never mentions anything about fighting anybody. Mostly he talks about how a great band builds what it wants to be.
I Fight Dragons has built a bunch of things already, including an intensely loyal and very substantial following, some of whom (the ones anywhere near Chicago) will be at the Metro on Friday, December 14 when the band closes their multi-city tour. They also made an incredibly good album; KABOOM! is a fourteen song ride through a distinctly new kind of great songwriting, backed up with bright musicianship and flawless production. As central as the record and the shows are to what the band's about, though, that's really only part of the I Fight Dragons story. "The guiding principle has always been to make music that is meaningful to you, that hopefully is meaningful to other people," Mazzaferri says, "and then build that."
It's an art, building a band. "In the fifties and sixties, the single was the art form," Mazzaferri explains, "and then obviously that shifted to the album, but more and more, what people appreciate is the band." I Fight Dragons makes sure that there's a lot there to appreciate. Their web site, ifightdragons.com, is way beyond most band sites, and they build the I Fight Dragons experience with a hyperactive belief in communication. "The way you interact with the people who want to be a part of what you are and what you're building is so wide open," Mazzaferri says, "it's an art form in itself."
It's still an art form that's made out of music though, and that's why I Fight Dragons could keep building things for quite awhile. At the beginning of everything else they make are those careful, convincing songs, with lyrics that sound like somebody sculpted them rather than wrote them, and arrangements that always work like everybody made every decision right. Who knows what you could build on a foundation like that.