Set Fire
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Set Fire

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2017 | SELF

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2017
Band Rock Hard Rock



The best kept secret in music


"Set Fire are feeling the burn after winning the Rock & Roll Rumble"

Two minutes into his band’s headlining set at O’Brien’s Pub in Allston last week, Jim Healey abruptly stopped lashing monster sounds from his double-neck guitar. Playing at top volume, he’d blown an amp.

“How rock and roll is that?” asked keyboardist Jess Collins while Healey scrambled to plug into another amplifier. “We blow our [expletive] on our first song.”

Their three-piece band, Set Fire, does play big music. Viking music. Epic storm cloud music. Together for three years, in April they raided the 40th annual Rock & Roll Rumble, stomping off with the first-place prize package.

The band, which plays the Middle East on Friday, is about to release “Treya,” its third three-song EP since forming. Healey, Collins, and drummer Rob Davol are debating how best to use their Rumble earnings, which include a week’s worth of recording time at various studios around town.

The timing is right, said Collins a few hours before the show. “It feels good in here. We’re locked into a certain energy in the universe.”

At O’Brien’s, the band played one of the first songs they recorded together, the funereal “Vincent Price’s Right,” and all three of the new songs on their upcoming EP. They also covered Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” in honor of the late John Bonham’s birthday.

Dressed in black, Collins raised her arms in theatrical bat wings and threw a few well-timed kicks. Healey, a burly bear with a shaved head and a flowing red beard, sang like a medieval marauder, while Davol, shirtless and wearing a folded bandanna around his dome, hammered the beat from behind an oversize bass drum, which bore a foreboding image of a black turkey vulture.

“We didn’t plan on being ‘doomy,’ per se,” Collins said. “Jim and I have been through a lot of heavy things in our lives. This is almost an outlet — an emotional cleansing, I guess.”

Healey and Collins had been aware of each other when they were in other bands on the local hard rock scene, he in Shatner and We’re All Gonna Die and she in Mellow Bravo and the Static Dynamic, among others. They were both playing solo sets at O’Brien’s one night in the fall of 2016 when Collins asked Healey to join her on the song “Just Like Water Would.”

“And it just clicked,” Healey recalled, sipping a light beer before the band’s set. “We were zoning in on it, and I thought, ‘Why am I not in a band with her?’ ”

They’re all rock ’n’ roll lifers, with straight jobs to support the lifestyle. Healey does tech support, Davol co-owns a construction business, and Collins is a “Margarita slinger” at a Mexican restaurant in Copley Square.

By now, the trio has found a rhythm composing together, maximizing each of their strengths. Collins, who says Stevie Nicks is her “spirit animal,” is the melody queen; often she’ll record a scratch vocal — nonsense lyrics which Healey will transcribe, puzzling out the phrases he thinks she might be singing. Any individual musical ideas they have get processed through the “Set Fire filter.”

“I’ve been in other bands where I’ve written everything,” said Healey. “And you hit a ceiling with that.”

In addition to more recording, one of their next big goals will be touring overseas. “There’s a big psych-doom-stoner scene in Europe,” Collins said.

At this year’s Rumble, Set Fire mostly relied on the considerable power of their music to win over fans and judges. During the semifinals, though, they did bring a gimmick, a light-up moon that changed colors. The toy moon made its way around the crowd while they played.

Each night of the competition, they vowed to play their best set. They promised the moon, and then they delivered. - The Boston Globe

"Live Review: Backwoods Payback, Set Fire and Owl Maker in New London, CT, 07.21.18"

A couple familiar faces in the trio Set Fire, who played next. Three, actually. Drummer Rob Davol was a bandmate of guitarist/vocalist Jim Healey‘s in the trio Shatner and used to play in drunken rockers Cocked ‘n’ Loaded. Healey of course featured in Black Thai and We’re all Gonna Die in addition to Shatner and various others along with his resonant singer-songwriter solo work. And keyboardist/synthesist Jess Collins used to play in Mellow Bravo, so all three members have significant roots in Boston’s fertile if insular rock underground. Along with the bands, Healey also helps put together the Grub, Sweat and Beers festival, which was held this weekend, and which Set Fire and Backwoods Payback would both play the night after this show.

Got all that? Despite their incendiary moniker, which to my mind

Set Fire (Photo JJ Koczan)
seems to foretell harsher noise rock, Set Fire‘s style is dug deep into classic straightforward heavy, shades of Soundgarden — the second cover of the night there, in homage to Chris Cornell — and other ’90s acts coming through as filtered through the distinctive vocals of Healey and Collins, either of whom could easily front a band on their own. Together, they make Set Fire a melodic powerhouse, and Collins‘ keys and Korg and Healey‘s double-neck guitar filled out the space a bassist might otherwise occupy such that there was no loss of presence either in the low end or on stage in general. They were encouraging to watch and clearly enjoyed the collaboration between the three of them. I did likewise. - The Obelisk


Aura EP - 2017

Prisms EP - 2018

Traya 7” - October 2019



Set Fire is a three-piece hard rock band from Boston. The dual lead vocal attack of Jim Healey and Jess Collins was years in the making. Both, having fronted such heavy weight bands as We’re All Gonna Die, Black Thai, Mellow Bravo, and The Static Dynamic, knew they wanted to start something much more meaningful and deeper. Collectively with multiple decades of experience and their musical powers combined, they bring you on a melodic journey of heavily 90’s rock-influenced sounds alongside stoner, electro, and ambient accouterments. This powerful vocal duo is smoothly streamlined together by the glue of drummer Josh Cronin. With their adjoining energies Set Fire lays down a rock blanket steeped in raw emotion and heaviness that sets them apart from what you might expect. Prepare for big harmonies and bold riffs that are not ordinary.

Set Fire was recently crowned the winner of the 40th anniversary edition of the Boston Emissions Rock and Roll Rumble.

Band Members