The Fighting Side Releases Uninhibited Double Singles ‘Fires’ and ‘Can’t Help Myself’
The Fighting Side has been bringing its brand of honky-tonk rock ‘n’ roll to cities across the US for the better part of a decade. From their debut release ‘Soggy Afternoon’ (2017) to their EP Hellbent on ‘Hardtimes’ (2021), the band’s sound continues to grow and mature along with its members.
Brad Jackson and Seth Barnhart have been writing songs together since childhood, combining punk and traditional country into a sound of their own. The lead guitar playing of David Newman, the drumming of Timmy Kendrick, and Ben Gastman on bass guitar elevate the sound to a whole new level and the band steps seamlessly from honky-tonk heartbreakers, to hard and heavy hip shakers. Boisterous and rowdy, and with banter that defines their on-stage chemistry, this band puts on an electrifying live show complete with masterfully crafted melodies and direct lyrical prose that have earned them a loyal following across the nation. The Fighting Side continues touring, releasing new material, and embracing a career based on excellent personal relationships with venues, promoters, and fans.
The Fighting Side has the soul of Elvis Presley, the charismatic running-eighth notes of Green Day’s emotional lyricism, and just a touch of Johnny Cash. Their first of two singles ‘Fires’ came in rolling with a pop punk-meets-honky-tonk sound that was somehow both old-school and refreshing.
“Well their flames burn so bright but throw no heat
Until stoked in the right place and then they burn free”
Lead singer Brad Jackson utilizes his vocal break with an expert level of dexterity, almost breaking out into a yodel at times.
The song ‘Fires’ makes us ponder oh-so-human questions like – Who can I show my inner fire to? How do we love without burning down the house?”
The Fighting Side knows how imperative it is that those flames be wielded well.
As we make our way closer to the chorus, ‘Fires’ becomes anthemic, and takes on a devil-may-care vibe.
“They got fires inside their guts that no one knows
But who’s got time for cold one’s blowin’ smoke?”
Reducing deceivers down to the simplistic line “Cold one’s blowin’ smoke” simultaneously hilarious yet freeing. The band sculpts the song into a clearer form as the unhealthy nature of the relationship is uncovered with similes like “I need you like the blood inside my veins…” and “I need you like a person needs a name”
The Fighting Side takes honky-tonk catchphrases like ‘Hell or High Water’ and twists them into something much darker and more relatable. As the song comes to a close, a bold guitar solo brightens up the mood with a handful of juicy, melodic passing tones while the band continues with their crystalline synergy. ‘Fires’ ends strong with acapella vocals (and just a hint of flashy guitar distortion).
“This is a song about protecting your emotional energy. We’re all on a journey to figuring out how we can better care for ourselves and others, and a lot of that starts with healthy boundaries that conserve your emotional energy for the moments that require it. More f***s to give when life demands f***s given.” -Brad Jackson
‘Can’t Help Myself’ feels very much like a continuation of the sentiment of ‘Fires’ but with a different emotional frequency. Rather than a strong impetus forward the second single ‘Can’t Help Myself’ is a 6/8 ballad that leans back on the beat. It’s mournful and feels like learning back in a rocking chair on a wrap-around porch in the middle of August.
This single is just as catchy as ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ with its quartz-like clean guitar tones, but this time rife with “Shoulda known better” regret.
“They say hey, man, the future is yours
But it’s the past that I still can’t afford”
Between Jackson’s rich bassy voice, the sorrowful descending guitar lines, and the locked-in drum kit, ‘Can’t Help Myself’ is crisp. The way the members of the band interact is as tight as a woven basket.
After 2 choruses, the song then has a satisfying rhythmic break that transforms via a crescendo into a sweeping, crying guitar solo.
“Well now you say you wanna be mine
Then you tell me, wasting my time
You say that you’re gonna leave”
This song details the first-hand experience of loving someone so much, not being able to help yourself until they’re so abysmal that you have a complete change of heart, you just can’t take it anymore. At this point we get an upper harmony in the vocals, which reinstates the sentiment: it seems he’s made a final decision.
“This song is dedicated to everyone who knows better but does it anyway. In love and loss, we’re constantly risking our hearts and our emotional well being. Some people swing and hit, but a whole lot of us miss a few times first. Heartbreak is hard, and then there’s those of us who feel like we just keep walking into it. Maybe we’re more comfortable like that. It definitely makes for better songs.” -Brad Jackson
If you’ve ever loved someone who did you nothing but lead you “straight to hell”, if you’ve ever had trouble building boundaries as sturdy as a brick wall…And if you love the honky-tonk blues tropes being flipped on their heads, then The Fighting Side is the band for you.
Headline photo: Josh Basco