When did you become a pyro?
I’ve always had a fascination with fireworks. I just figured I’d rather spend more time blowing things up than not.
In your business, timing is everything. Is the choreography tricky?
We’ve got a couple of different guys at Pyro Shows Inc., along with myself, Jack FM 100.3, and a gentleman from the city of Addison, who work out the music. For many songs, like Rihanna’s “Diamonds [In the Sky],” there are instrumental parts where no one is singing, and we want to make sure those key words are coming through when the effects are in the sky. A shell has to ignite, lift out of the tube, and fire 600 feet up in the air, and the computer knows exactly how long it takes so it breaks at the right time. After you do that a couple of thousand times, you make sure everything is in the right tubes so the computer can find it. Then we sit back and wait for it to get dark.
Do you have any favorite effects?
It depends what the songs are. With “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.,” you want things going hot and heavy. If you’ve got a soft song like “God Bless the USA,” obviously we slow things way down and have the shells break softer so there aren’t these deafening booms. We have a shell that we shoot on some of the lake shows that’s called Waterfall in the Sky. It consists of two parachutes with a string hanging between them that you can’t see at night. Hanging between those two are eight fountains that fall about 100 feet. After it goes off, it drifts away for another 30 seconds, and you can see it still burning in the sky.
When you’re not overseeing the fireworks at Kaboom Town! or Texas Motor Speedway, do you ever do private events?
All the time. We do them for any good, bad, or indifferent reason you can think of. Birthdays, weddings, graduations, pep rallies, funerals.
Funerals? I guess not everyone wants to release doves.
There are occasions when we have spread folks’ ashes using the shells. Whatever works for people.
What has been your most memorable show?
In 2013, my brother Janson, who is a fireworks technician and salesman as well, and I and another one of our technicians, Daniel Chadwick, got lucky enough to be invited over to shoot the Guinness World Record of fireworks in Dubai for New Year’s Eve. It took about 300 technicians about three months to put the whole thing together. The show was over in six minutes. It was pretty spectacular.
Do fireworks technicians have some sort of a magician’s code? Were you able to pick up any tips while you were there?
We’re not too worried about sharing our secrets. One thing about the fireworks world is that there is no specific way everything needs to be done. With all of the intricacies and the hundreds and thousands of ways to do it, there’s no one correct way. People that have been doing it longer than me and people that have been doing it less than me all have different perspectives that can leave me seeing a new way to do something.
Do you have kids?
Yes, they’re 5, 3, and 1. My wife and I ran through the fire.
Did you start them out with sparklers like everyone else, or did you go straight for the big guns?
We go to the fireworks stand from time to time, but we don’t do a lot outside. Daddy gets enough at work.
Addison Kaboom Town! is July 3. For details: addisonkaboomtown.com.