The Speakeasy (2010)
Smoke or Fire is an American punk rock band from Boston, Massachusetts.
The band originally formed in 1998, when western Massachusetts native Joe McMahon (lead vocals and bass) got together with Chris Brand (guitar), Bill Ironfield (guitar), and Nick Maggiore (drums), hailing from New Hampshire. Originally calling themselves Jericho, the band released their debut album, When the Battery Dies, in 2000. After the release of this record Chris Brand left and Jeremy Cochran replaced him. Their fan base grew as they played DIY basement shows and small clubs throughout the Northeast.
When living in Boston proved too expensive, the quartet moved to Richmond, Virginia to explore the punk rock scene and to work on their second album. This is when Bill Ironfield left the band, and Ken Gurley joined on bass, with Joe McMahon taking over guitar.
It was at about this time that band was contacted by a 1970s-era Christian rock band from Houston, Texas also called Jericho, to inform them that the name was already taken. To avoid confusion and legal action, the band politely amended it to Jericho RVA. The initials were a nod to their adopted hometown of Richmond, Virginia.
Jericho RVA is the name that appears on their 2003 EP Worker’s Union. An older version, released under the original name (Jericho), does not include the song "Oxygen" that is on the Jericho RVA release. The other 6 songs of the EP are the same on both records.
Worker’s Union caught the attention of reviewers and established bands interested in taking them out on tour. Due to pressure from Christian groups that complained about the religious "blasphemy" of a bible-derived name, Jericho RVA changed their name again to Smoke or Fire.
Due to the strength of the Worker’s Union EP, Smoke or Fire were approached by esteemed California punk rock label Fat Wreck Chords in late 2004. Their debut album, Above the City, was co-produced by Fat Mike of NOFX and was released in March 2005. Since then the band has toured the US and abroad many times over. The band released their second album This Sinking Ship on February 20, 2007.
Their third and, to date, final album The Speakeasy was finally released November 9, 2010. Some of the tracks were released ahead of time as teasers such as "Neon Lights" and the track "The Speakeasy".
Since relocating to Germany, Joe McMahon has been touring solo almost non-stop, and his debut solo album is due for release in 2016.