Published on September 11th, 2014 | by Ballard Lesemann


The Punch List with the Fire Apes’ John Seymour

Metronome Charleston‘s Punch List series kicks back into action, putting local musicians and songwriters on the spot with an interview that touches on music, venues, gear, records, vices, and more. This week, lead singer/guitarist John Seymour of local band the Fire Apes takes a turn.

1. What is your favorite local hang and why? 

“Art’s Bar and Grill in Mt. Pleasant. [Owner] Kent Frits is the best! The fresh shrimp and wings are amazing. We hang out and talk about music and play the jukebox with Molly, Mike, Leanne, and everyone!”

2. You know you’ve played an excellent show when…

“Whenever there is a good mix in the monitors and the music is well received by the audience, no matter how large or small.”

3. What was the last show you attended that really got you fired up in a good or bad way?

“The Sandinistas! at Art’s this summer. To hear the first Clash done live in such an amazing way is priceless. Such a great great show.”


The Fire Apes (L to R): Mark Beasley, John Seymour, Michael Davidson, and Chris Clary (provided)

4. Define your musical style in exactly 10 words. 

“Rock, pop, melodic, emotional, slow, faster, sixties, happy, sad, different.”

5. What’s your theme song?

“‘Hey! Hey! We’re the Monkees!’ [a.k.a. ‘(Theme from) The Monkees‘].”

6. Gear-wise, what’s is your irreplaceable baby?

“An original rusty 1968 Fuzz Box.”

7. What’s the most overplayed album in your collection?

“The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. When I was about 10 years old, I sat on the floor of my older brother’s bedroom, starring with amazement at the album cover of Sgt. Pepper’s while the vinyl looped around the record player. The songs and the imagery were all new to me. I remember putting it on and just thinking it was the greatest thing. I just listened to it over and over and over. It was just amazing. I can never really describe what it was like discovering that album that afternoon. I’ve never been the same since.

It never gets old to me. I’m always finding something else interesting about the music and the feel. Everything I love about music is encapsulated on that record. It takes me away. Very surreal. And no matter how many times I listen to it, that feeling never goes away.

8. When was the last time you were genuinely star-struck? 

“After donating to [Beach Boys’] Brian Wilson’s Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, he called me. His music has been a part of most of my life. To hear his voice was overwhelming to me. I could barely speak.”

9. What’s your poison?

“The band Poison.”

10. In 10 years, I will be…

“Still writing, recording, and making records.”

Longtime Charleston songwriter and bandleader John Seymour is a high school math teacher by day and a power-pop/rock ‘n’ roll aficionado and frontman by night. He’s been fine-tuning his band project the Fire Apes in Charleston with various lineups for more than 15 years. The latest official Fire Apes collection is a well-polished album titled A Life in Letters — a set of originals propelled by rich melodies, emotive lyrics, and dynamic guitar work. There are as many traces of classic British Invasion and Beatles influences as there are modern alternative rock.

Over the years, Seymour has enlisted a series skillful Charleston musicians, including rummers Tommy Hamer, Paolo Liccardi, and Aron Robinson and bassists Julian Volpe and Matt Schuessler. He’s worked in studios with his full bands and a solo performer with engineers such as Eric Bass, Sean O’Keefe, Jody Porter (of Fountains of Wayne), John Holbrook, and Nathan James.

Over the spring and summer, after more than a year-long hiatus, Seymour reassembled the Fire Apes with guitarist Chris Clary (of Moxie), bassist Mark Beasley, and drummer Michael Davidson. The new lineup boasts a heavier, punchier sound on stage, delivering Seymour’s pop gems with more of a Doors bluey-ness and a Deep Purple punch. Their forthcoming album is titled With Love and Squalor.

The Fire Apes will perform at Buddy Roe’s Shrimp Shack in Mt. Pleasant at 9 p.m. on Fri. Sept. 12 (free admission). The band will return to Art’s Bar & Grill at 10 p.m. on Sat. Sept. 26, and they’ll head over to Folly Beach for a show at Loggerhead’s at 10 p.m. on Sat. Oct. 25 (both shows are free). Visit for more.


The Fire Apes, live at Art’s Bar and Grill —  June, 2014 (photo by Ballard Lesemann).



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About the Author

Ballard Lesemann

is a musician and writer. Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., he spent years playing in bands and working for Flagpole Magazine in the bustling music town of Athens, Ga. He returned to his hometown and served more than seven years as the Charleston City Paper's music editor. He's better at drumming than he is at playing guitar.

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