Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires are an Alabama-based rock band whose music is informed by the swagger of classic Southern rock, the energy and attitude of punk, the intelligence and personal lyrical stance of indie rock, and the deep grooves of R&B. The group was formed in 2010 by guitarist, lead vocalist, and principal songwriter Lee Bains III. Born and bred in Alabama, Bains attended a Christian school as a child and his first musical experiences came from singing in church. In his teens, Bains developed an interest in writing, and he studied literature at a college in New York, but when he returned to Alabama, he refocused his attention on music. Bains was a big fan of Tuscaloosa's Southern rock revivalists the Dexateens, and in 2008 he joined the group as a guitarist. Bains spent two years with the Dexateens, but in 2010 the group went on hiatus, and Bains began launching a new project.
While in the Dexateens, Bains and some friends from Birmingham's Glen Iris neighborhood had formed an acoustic group to play old-school gospel tunes at a local homeless shelter, taking up the name the Glen Iris Glorifiers. The name soon evolved into the Glory Fires, and Bains revived the handle for his post-Dexateens group. Recruiting guitarist Matt Wurtele, bassist Justin Colburn (formerly of Arkadelphia and Model Citizen), and drummer Blake Williamson (who had worked with Taylor Hollingsworth, Dan Sartain, and Black Willis), the new combo began hitting the Alabama club circuit. While Bains was offered a songwriting contract as a solo act, he opted to stick with the band, and they began drawing an impressive following in the Southern states. After cutting an album-length demo with producer Tim Kerr, Bains and the Glory Fires signed a deal with Alive Naturalsound Records, and went into the studio with producer and engineer Lynn Bridges to begin work on their first LP. Recorded by Bridges in Water Valley, Mississippi and mixed by Jim Diamond in Detroit, the Glory Fires' debut album, There Is a Bomb in Gilead (the title came from Bains' childhood misunderstanding of an old gospel lyric), was released in the spring of 2012.
The album's release was supported by extensive nationwide touring, and in 2013 Bains and the band struck a new record deal with influential indie Sub Pop Records. However, the Glory Fires soon splintered as Matt Wurtele and Justin Colburn left the band; Bains and Williamson soon bounced back, recruiting guitarist Eric Wallace and bassist Adam Williamson (Blake's brother) for the lineup and heading out for their first appearances in Europe. Later that year, Bains and the Glory Fires decamped to Nashville, Tennessee, where they began work on their second album, with Tim Kerr as producer. The album, Dereconstructed, was released in May 2014. Bains' deal with Sub Pop proved to be short-lived, and when he and the Glory Fires returned with their third album, they were working with the noted New York punk label Don Giovanni Records. 2017's Youth Detention was the group's most explicitly political album to date, dealing with issues of race, class, and justice, and even including a list of recommended reading. ~ Mark Deming