Fire Breathing Bear / Press

“Self titled produced and recorded by Heath Boniphant and Fire Breathing Bear. Mastered by Jon Fox...”

“At only two years old, Fire Breathing Bear may seem like a relatively new band, but the members are veterans of the Northeast Ohio music scene. Andy Masalko (guitar), Colin Smith (bass), Eric Frank (vocals) and Heath Boniphant (guitar) have known each other since high school and have been playing music just as long. Frank Swanson (drums) has been an area mainstay for years. Fire Breathing Bear is the outlet for these five to finally play the music they love together. The band’s name may be reminiscent of an old-school circus act, but its origins are anything but. “I was drinking a bottle of wine one night,” Masalko said, “and it had a picture of a bear breathing fire on the label. Colin asked me if what I was drinking was called Fire Breathing Bear. I said no, but it would be a good name for a band. It was a joke that ended up sticking.” And if anyone is wondering, the band assures me that they “inhale and exhale ‘fire’ all day and night.” ”

“In celebration of its potent self-titled debut CD, the local rock band Fire Breathing Bear will perform at 10 p.m. Wednesday at Dropkix at 3402 12th St. NW in Canton. Electromode will follow. Admission is $5. Ages 21 and older are welcome. The band also will appear Nov. 28 (with Escher) at Sadie Rene’s, and Dec. 9 (with Taproot) at the Carriage House. “A lot of people say we’re a Sabbath and Pearl Jam mix,” says vocalist-lyricist Eric Frank. “There’s no screaming involved. It’s more classic.” Band members are (left to right) Eric Frank; Frank Swanson, drums; Colin Smith, bass; Andy Masalko, guitar, and Heath Boniphant, guitar. CDs are available at the band’s shows, at Checkered Records, the Buzzbin Art and Music Shop, and iTunes.”

“Fire Breathing Bear are five guys from Stark County who play hard rock. They’ve all been in a shitload of bands, and I hope they stick with this one. Their Myspace says they dropped their old singer for this new one (Eric Frank), which was a great move. Vocals are extremely strong here, reminiscent of Tool and ‘90s Ozzy but totally their own. Heavy guitar abounds, of course. “Ultimate Octopus” is the highlight of the album. The main riff is so simple but catchy, and the vocals really stand out by acquiring a soulful lift in the chorus; ethereal and rad as hell. The album ends with a 15 minute song that pays off in a heavy way and swings into space noise, and then some sort of jungle drum circle. That be the spliff lightin’ song. It’s as if they don’t want to end the album, and I don’t really want them to either. Cool name, cool sound, definitely dated but that’s a good thing. ”

“Fire Breathing Bear will perform Saturday at 9 p.m. at Hot Shots at 2700 S. Erie St. in downtown Massillon. Band members are (left to right) Andy Masalko, Colin Smith, Frank Swanson, Eric Frank and Heath Boniphant. Also playing Saturday will be Grand Empire and Escher. Admission is free. ”