New Rock Church of Fire: Highly flammable


Once upon a time in the Grunge era, under the influence of Dave Grohls angst-filled drumming and Kurt Cobains flannel-wearing malaise, two lads met at George Washington Middle School and began to emulate their favorite band, Nirvana. Poorly.

There was a third lad an older boy whose musical wisdom the youngsters would learn from and later incorporate into what is known today as the highly flammable and fire-breathing post-punk-grunge-whats-in-a-label-anyway? band New Rock Church of Fire.

The band is local a product of Alexandrias public schools and the citys various loitering locales. Floyd York (the elder) plays lead guitar and sings lead vocals, Trae Lamond is on drums and lead vocals, and Mitchell West plays bass, singing backup. 

New Rocks local success has them playing around town at DC and Arlington staples like Black Cat, Rock and Roll Hotel, Iota, DC9 and Velvet Lounge. They even frequent the infamous Trash Bar in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. They play for free at Fort Reno Park in DC on Monday, June 23 at the same venue that DC legends like Fugazi have played in the past. The rising trio hopes to follow a similar path with their spitfire riffs, biting percussion and rock-hard lyrics.

The local boys spoke with The Times about their Alexandria beginnings at the Laughing Lizard Lounge, their former T.C. Williams principal and radical dude John Porter and how Marion Barry gave their live shows a mythical element whose stage presence is reminiscent of the storied councilman himself.

How did growing up on the tough streets of Alexandria and going to school here help or hinder New Rock?

Mitchell: Trae and I met at G.W. in seventh grade, where we started playing music together, and when I say music I mean really poor quality Nirvana covers. We didnt really know Floyd that well back then. He was a couple years older than us, but we used to go see his band, The Infertil, play at the Titan Expo. 

Floyd: The guys I met at T.C. taught me a lot of what got me to where I am today. You have to start out in middle and high school, just playing in as many bands as possible, making some of the worst music you could ever imagine. 
Trae: There were a lot of older kids in bands at T.C. when we were younger. Infertil, CSP, No Turn on Fred. The older kids also helped turn us on to good music. T.C. was a great school with a lot of cool bands. Titan Expo was a major influence in wanting to be in bands.

How did you guys form the band we know today as New Rock?

M: We were sitting around someones house one night when we realized that we all played instruments and decided to start a band, so we did.

F: Trae and Mitchell are practically brothers.  One could double for the other, like a stunt man, and I dont think people would even notice.

T: We put together five to six songs and got a show at the Lizard Lounge. After we barely made it through that show, other shows were offered to us. Thats when we got serious kind of.

The band name: A new cult religion?

M: Yeah.
F: Maybe this name is our way of telling people to relax: a name is not the end of the world.   Seriously though, I wouldnt mind seeing a cult following start. Maybe when we are all dead it will spawn some new [expletive] religion that becomes trendy.  

T: Our name is like our band: As separate entities we are so-so, but mash all of them together and they become magnificent. A couple ordinary words joined to become extraordinary.

Whats the significance of the miniature dragon constantly breathing fog on stage at your live shows?

M: Thats Ned the Dragon.  
F: We use the fog-breathing dragon only because D.C. has a very strict No Pyrotechnics” laws that Mayor Marion Barry passed before his scandal broke. 

What would you label the genre you play if you had to pigeonhole it?

M: We play loud music with drums and guitars. We play rock and roll.
T: We were raised on grunge and post-punk stuff. Nirvana, Fugazi. So I would say post-punk-grunge. And no, we are not Christian rock.  We were contacted by a label and thought we were hot [expletive], then we found out it was a Christian-rock label that wanted us for our name.

Why havent you written a song about your storied former principal John Porter yet?

M: Were working on that. I did, however, brew a porter-style beer called John Porter. I recently donated a case of it to the Alexandria Scholarship Fund auction.
F: Mitchell made a beer named after him, I think that gives Porter enough street cred to be respected anywhere. 
T: We have written many songs about John Porter-type characters: Beastslayer and Rambo.

Who are you playing for when youre on stage?

M: We played a show at Iota in Arlington, where Traes grandmothers, both in their 90s, came to see us play. It was so great to see them having a great time and dancing around while we played. 
F: Playing on stage is slightly terrifying.
T: When we are on stage we are playing for anyone who will get into our music (including my grandmother). We want a million people there screaming.

What do you see the band doing in the near and distant future?

M: Finishing our album that weve been working on for what seems like forever.  After that, were really hoping to go out on a tour. We want to see the country. 
F: Its going to end up having taken almost a year, but were really close to putting out our first full-length album.  We have two brilliant guys helping us with the project, and they have this vision that is starting to sound better than anything I could have ever hoped for.  
T: Releasing an awesome 11 track CD and touring the country.