• Tod A. took Tom Waits swagger and mixed it with Gypsy grooves at a rock and roll volume and created his own multi-cultural sound.

    — The Bad Things
  • Imagine Balkan brass bands canoodling with louche Vegas swingers, drunk pirates dancing tangos with bhangra boys, or carny clowns taking klezmer lessons from Israeli radicals. At the center of this motley circus is Tod's vicious wit, which he uses to twist anarchistic impulses into inebriated sing-alongs.

    — SF Weekly
  • Since forming Firewater in 1995, bandleader Tod A has steered a revolving lineup of musicians through a dense tapestry of styles including klezmer, ska, circus music, and good old-fashioned punk rock. Each album has found the band fearlessly embracing a different set of cultural references, anchored by the singer’s acerbic lyrical observations and raspy howl.

    — The Vinyl District
  • Their music is the type that swells inside your guts until all you can do to save yourself is start dancing and drinking with your new found friends at the Firewater show.

    — Junkyard Darts
  • There is a broad optimism to Firewater's hybrids where Klezmer, Balkan brass and cabaret bump up against ska, Indian music and jazz noir. It is a new world order where the rock 'n' roll revolution has a multicultural rank and file.

    — Wall Street Journal
  • Bands with a Balkan bent might seem commonplace now, as Gogol Bordello, DeVotchka and Beirut all have made names for themselves with a gypsy-punk blend. But New York's Firewater pioneered the sound in the mid-'90s.

    — Washington Post
Hometown: 
New York, NY and Istanbul, Turkey

Firewater was birthed in a Brooklyn basement in the long, hot summer of 1997. Depressed, broke, and desperate, ex-Cop Shoot Cop leader Tod A tossed away a major label deal and a free meal ticket to launch what--at the time--was a crazy proposition: a punk band fueled by gypsy and klezmer tunes. Tod had stumbled upon a dusty box of records and cassettes in a Russian junk shop on West 14th Street, and had fallen in love with the happy/sad conflict embodied in Eastern European melodies. He wanted to combine the mystery and melodrama of these tragic-comic sounds with the energy of his first love: punk rock. When Firewater's first record, Get Off The Cross (We Need the Wood for the Fire), came out, critics and fans were excited--and confused. The press was enthusiastic--but between the lines lay a lot of questions: How can we pigeonhole this? What is this all about?

However, fifteen (and six records) later, Tod's crazy idea doesn't sound quite so crazy anymore. Bands as diverse as Gogol Bordello, Balkan Beat Box and Beirut owe a debt to his early adventurousness. In the meantime, the Internet has opened the ears of millions of people to music from around the world. Firewater's music has never fit very well into pre-fabricated boxes.

A compulsive traveler, Tod has always been inspired by the stories, people, and music of the places he has visited. The records that followed were musical mash-ups that threw together flavors as seemingly disparate as spy jazz, ska, classic Bollywood, salsa, cabaret, Mexican banda, and Russian folk--to create a distinctive brew that was always 100% Firewater. After three years of touring and world-wandering in the wake of 2007's The Golden Hour, Firewater ringleader Tod A finally touched down in Istanbul, Turkey. 'The city is fascinating. It's a melting pot--a lot like NYC."

Tod says of his new hometown. 'And with the revolutions going on all around, I knew we should record here.' International Orange!, produced by Tod A and mixed by Tamir Muskat of Balkan Beat Box, carries on from where their previous collaboration, The Golden Hour, took off, slipping across new borders into uncharted territory. Created in Istanbul and Tel Aviv during the 2011 Arab Spring, it captured the frenetic pulse of a world in the state of flux.

Recommended if You Like: 
Gogol Bordello
Balkan Beat Box
Beirut
Devotchka
Cop Shoot Cop

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