Legendary Nashville-based rockers Raging Fire have returned after a 30-year absence on the musical scene, unleashing the album These Teeth Are Sharp this past May. The album follows the 2015 release of the critically acclaimed career anthology, Everything Is Roses 1985-1989, which told the story of one of Music City’s most innovative and beloved rock bands.
Raging Fire was formed in 1983, when Nashville underground rock scene veterans Michael Godsey, Mark Medley and Les Shields teamed with vocalist Melora Zaner. Under the name Ring of Fire, the quartet combined the punk/roots rock esthetic of bands like X and the Gun Club with fiercely literate lyrics, invoking Patti Smith filtered through a Southern gothic esthetic.
In 1985, they changed their name to Raging Fire and released their first EP, A Family Thing. Over the next four years, the band refined their pop-punk-classic rock sound, garnered critical acclaim for their EP and the 1986 LP Faith Love Was Made Of, and toured extensively throughout the South and Midwest.
Although Raging Fire seemed to be teetering on the edge of stardom, many major labels lacked the insight to understand the band’s unique fusion of a dynamic rock sound with feminist and deeply interpersonal lyrics. It was a classic case of a musical vision ahead of its time, as proven by the ’90s alternative rock explosion. By the end of 1989, the members had moved on to other projects, leaving behind a legacy of powerful, innovative music and the legend of a band that never received its due.
But there would be another chapter to Raging Fire’s story. In 2012, Godsey and Medley began discussing plans for the compilation Everything Is Roses 1985-1989, just months before Godsey’s tragic death from a heart attack. Three years later, Raging Fire honored Godsey’s memory and celebrated the release of the 22-song compilation with a live performance at Nashville’s Exit/In. For that show, Zaner and Medley reunited with three former Raging Fire bass players, Les Shields, John Reed and Rusty Watkins. To fill out the band’s sound, they also recruited friends and contemporaries from the ’80s Nashville rock scene — guitarist and vocalist Joe Blanton (Royal Court of China, The Bluefields), guitarist Jeff Cease (The Black Crowes, Eric Church Band) and keyboardist and electronic music composer Giles Reaves.
The reunited band has now released a video for the title track which Rebel Noise premieres here. Medley has this to say about “These Teeth are Sharp” – the song and video: “These Teeth are Sharp” was one of the band's first songs written in the summer of 1984. It has a spaghetti western sound although I don't recall that being our conscious intention. Back then we just made punk rock in different southern style flavors. In contrast, the lyrics were inspired by the true story of a young couple's argument over the girl's infatuation with another man. And to this day I don't know where writer Les Shields conjured up the line "these teeth are sharp" -but what a fantastic line!”
Medley continues, “In 2015, a 31 year old cassette demo was discovered and we knew we had to give “Teeth” another shot. The band, especially bassist Rusty Watkins and lead guitarist Jeff Cease, sent the new version of the song soaring into orbit. Next thing you know, the whole album was called These Teeth are Sharp.”
Giving details about the video, Medley reveals, “For the video we talked about evoking a southern gothic noir a la Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte. As the video director, our old friend and original Jason and the Scorchers bassist Robert "Jeff" Johnson had the inspiration, the vision, and made it happen. Bravo!”