Size matters with the big sound of Denver's indie-rock quartet Flashbulb Fires 

Flashbulb Fires with The Non and Coney Island
9 p.m. Friday
VZD's Restaurant & Club
4200 N. Western

If the music of Flashbulb Fires sounds like it belongs in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, it's probably because that's where it is conceived.

"The ability to get up in the mountains and isolate ourselves away from the city and distractions of everyday life, it's a pretty great thing for us as musicians and songwriters," guitarist Michael James said. "We can truly focus on what we are doing, and we are 10 times more productive in the mountains. We are actually up here right now recording our next record."

It's hard to tell if the Denver quartet's big, atmospheric style is a direct result of its alpine environment, or a simple coincidence, but James said the group's musical influences were just as sprawling as the lofty ranges themselves when Flashbulb Fires first began.

"When we first started, we didn't know what kind of band we wanted to be," he said. "The first music we wrote was all over the place. But you start to be more pointed in our influences, and as you develop, you sort of figure out what your identity is going to be."

What began as a jumble of pop, folk, rock and orchestrated melodies has culminated into a deep, expansive style " inspired by all those elements " with an added texture and richness, much in the vein of Arcade Fire or Grizzly Bear. It's a big sound, and for Flashbulb Fires, bigger equals better.

"We are thinking of the bigger-picture things "¦ of larger-than-life sounds," James said. "We want to make it a mood, make it a place to be, and to form this particular emotional place."

And while the music is stirring in its own right, that emotional place is the direct result of lead singer Patrick McGuire's impassioned, often tortured, lyrical narratives. James said that while McGuire shoulders the bulk of the songwriting duty, the lyrics mirror the group's ideals.

"I think one of the most important things about songwriting is coming from a place that is real and a place that is honest," James said. "He has a storied past with a heavy religious background and is still realizing who he is as a person. Even though he writes the words, it's something we have all shared."

It's peculiar that they share similar backgrounds and experiences, considering they hadn't even known each other before forming the band.

"We were all just strangers that found each other through MySpace and Craigslist ads," James said. "You don't have that chemistry of growing up together, having that built-in friendship. But when we came together and had this weird, surprising chemistry. We are very lucky in that respect."

James hopes that chemistry and now-focused sound will afford the guys to opportunity to play music for a living, something they have all wanted to do since they were kids. The four-piece is making strides toward that, with a national tour in the books this fall and that new album being recorded in their mountaintop retreat.

"It took us a few years to figure out how to be serious with it, but we are in a place now where we've really begun to focus on who we are as a band and what we want to do," James said. "Now, more than ever, we see where we are going and see where we want to go." "Joshua Boydston

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Joshua Boydston

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