Songwriter’s ‘Amazing’ Story Fuels Rock Band Tempe’s Patriotic Ballad
As we observe Independence Day, it reminds many of us of those who sacrificed their lives and bodies for our nation and its freedoms.
Like it should be.
A band with Tempe connections is in the middle of the national launch of a single that reminds us of our debt to these heroes.
The Preserve’s “Granddad’s Shoes,” available now on YouTube, Vimeo and other platforms, is a patriotic ballad, a southern rock / country hybrid with roots both here and in Louisiana.
The group’s first single in a decade tells the story of a teenager, whose legacy from his veteran grandfather is man’s proven combat boots.
Drummer Chris Fiscus discussed The Preserve, “Granddad’s Shoes” and its connection to the Tempe community with Wrangler News (replies have been edited for length):
Wrangler News: Can you tell us about your Tempe journey?
Chris Fiscus: I have lived in Tempe for about 25 years, almost all of them in the community of The Lakes. I work at ASU and my wife works for the city of Tempe. Our boys went to Rover, and my oldest son went to Fees and Marcos de Niza. I’ve been in bands all over town since about 2004, performing throughout the East Valley, Phoenix and Mexico at Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers’ annual “Circus Mexicus” festival.
WN: How was The Preserve born?
CF: The Preserve was formed around 2007, starting with just four friends who loved to get together and play music. It turned into house parties, and soon we were playing around town, from Hard Rock Cafe and Club Red to events like the Phoenix 10K and the Fiesta Bowl Blockparty. We had a unique sound: two of the members were from Louisiana and they introduced us to southern rock with a Cajun touch. It was so different, it worked. We were playing songs about the bayous and the marshes in the middle of the desert.
We’ve performed at the big Cajun festivals in downtown Phoenix, we’ve opened for The Doobie Brothers on New Years Eve in Tempe, and opened for Gin Blossoms, The Pistoleros, Dash Rip Rock and many more over and over. years. It was full of energy and sweaty southern rock that it was fun to see in concert between 2007 and 2011. We had released two albums then: “The Setup” (2009) and “Golden Opportunity” (2010). We went to Louisiana in 2009 and played some great concerts there, which were so memorable.
We tried to keep going after (songwriter) Kyle (Domangue) returned home to Louisiana, but we ended up disappearing.
Then during the pandemic, when it all stopped, (guitarist and keyboardist) Jacques (Billeaud) started revisiting old unfinished Preserve songs that we had recorded at the time. Between finishing the old ones and writing and recording the new ones, we created a 7 song album called “Unfinished Business” which has just been released.
WN: Tell us about “Grandfather’s Shoes”.
CF: We knew it was something special the first time we heard it. Kyle recorded the vocals for it around 2009 and it moved us all, the band and the people in the studio. Kyle is such an amazing songwriter. He took the concept of “walking a mile in his shoes” and changed the shoes to combat boots. Kyle has memories of his grandparents. I have war bond patches and posters and toy soldier figures. That’s what the song is about. You look at these precious reminders of the past that so many families have, and they are passed on to those who might not know or understand the real sacrifices made at the time. It’s a reminder to all of us of what an incredible sacrifice and commitment it was.
WN: And the video?
CF: The music video for the song, directed and filmed by Magnetry Inc., mixes our recording house, Full Well Recording Studio in Phoenix, with icons from WWII. We found some WWII combat boots to use in the video and went to see the amazing collection of vintage aircraft from the CAF (Arizona Commemorative Air Force Airbase in Mesa), and on the day we were there, they had a restored B-17 and a flying B-25.
Just walking past the old bombers with their engines running and seeing the collection of old WWII bomber jackets and newspapers and other memorabilia reminded us why this song is so special to us. . The B-25 was so special to see. My father, Neal, was one of the best turret gunners on a B-25 during WWII, and many of the old photos and patches in the video were from his collection.
My teenage son Brady helped us make the video, acting as the teenager learning the old combat boots. It was so special to be able to have Brady and my late dad join me in the video.