Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Ripple Conversation with Brendan Burns of Wasted Theory

Heavy.  Seriously heavy.  Wasted Theory blew us away with their latest release of seriously heavy stoner/doom/sludge.  So we scrambled to get into line to talk to Brendan Burns about what makes the band tick.

Q: When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.
What have been your musical epiphany moments?

A: I’d have to say the very first time I heard Pyromania by Def Leppard was a life altering moment for me. I grew up at a time where the cassette was king, and the cool thing about cassettes was you pretty much HAD to listen to the entire album, you couldn't skip around like you could with CD’s or MP3’s (I mean you could, but you’d run the risk of fucking up your tape). So it made me love the album as a whole piece of work. I’d have to say other monumental epiphany’s for me were the first time I heard bands like Fugazi, Faith No More, and more recently with Beelzefuzz.

Q: Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

A: Truthfully, I think our approach is very common to a lot of other bands, we just get together and start up the riff-machine. We’ll just bring a couple cool riffs in and we’ll literally just jam on those 2 or 3 riffs for a few hours until we think they’d fit something cool. I write the lyrics last. It’s a very boring process honestly. I’d love to say that we gather in a dark room with cloaks and red candles burning and summon the gods of rock and roll past all while sacrificing goats and playing records backwards, but really we just drink beer and try to not fuck up a whole lot.

Q: Who has influenced you the most? Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

A: When we first got together I wanted a band that sounded like Nazareth meets Pepper-era Corrosion of Conformity. We are all huge 70’s rock fans, but when we go out on the road we like to jam everything from Social Distortion to Blackfoot to Faith No More. We just really dig straight up rock n’ roll, the dirtier and grittier the better. We've been working on some new stuff that sounds like Viking Skull meets Artimus Pyledriver, so we've been really excited to hear where it’s taking us. It’s been pretty fun actually.

Q: We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music? Where'd the band name come from?

A: Delaware is a very strange place musically. There’s a handful of decent and talented bands doing their thing, but there’s no collective “scene” for any one particular genre here in my opinion. We are not really a band of our environment, because there are no “brother” or “sister” bands around here to feed off of creatively. I always told the guys, “Well, if the audience won’t come to us, then we’ll go to them”. So, 2 years ago we took the show on the road. As far as the band name, there’s really no interesting or clever story with the name. I joined the band when they already had the name so we just left it. Boring, I know.

Q: You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?

A: I’d have to say either “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” or “Porky’s”. Two great classic’s in my mind, haha.

Q: You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?).  You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?

A: Damn, that’s a hard one, I’d have to say “Changin’ Times” by Nazareth or “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas. The first time I heard the “Hair of the Dog” record and looking at the cover art as a 10 year old kid it really left a lasting impression on me. It mixed the dark and eerie cover art concept with such a raw and groovin’ ass rock song, it has always been one of my all-time favorite songs. No matter what mood I’m in, good or bad, as soon as that vocal intro kicks in on “Wayward Son” I just rock out super hard. It’s just an awesome song.

Q: What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?

A: Man, we just want people to leave our shows saying “fuck dude, those were some seriously righteous ass riffs”. We just wanna play straight up rock and roll that people can groove to. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, we’re not interested in sparking a new genre of underground rock music. We just want our audience to come out, have a few beers with us and just enjoy heavy rock and roll music with no expectations. What has been some of the best shows we’ve ever played are the ones where we get to play with bands that we listen to everyday. We just like to play music that we’d listen to, plain and simple.

Q: Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

A: Well other than stuffing bananas in our leather pants and cranking our amps up to 11, there’s really not much to tell. We are pretty boring dudes. Although we are playing the idea of naming our next full length “Shark Sandwich”.

Q: Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?

A: The biggest obstacle that we are constantly trying to overcome live is finding the ideal set length when we play. I am of the opinion that in the world we live in today, people’s attention spans are super short and the amount of time you have on that stage to really blow their minds or get your best material across is very limited. So, for us the live experience is just a quick 25-30min short blast of blood, sweat and tears poured into our best songs and when we get off that stage we hope that the audience has been blown away and still wants more. When we just recently went out and did a run of dates on our way to the “Days of the Doomed IV” festival, we played the same 25 minute set every night, and we got such great responses each night, so it leads me to believe that sometimes you just gotta hit ‘em with all your bangers, and hope they wait for you at your merch table when you’re done.

Q: What makes a great song?

A: The simplicity of a good catchy riff. Drums that sound as if they were coming through the speakers, and just something with soul that just happens to get stuck in your head. I like songs where even if I don’t completely relate to or comprehend the lyrical context, if I’m singing along to the chorus and rocking out to the riff I’m digging the song. I know for some people it’s the complexity and the layers of instrumentation and all that, but I’m old school man… Give me Back in Black, or Rock & Roll Fantasy anyday.

Q: Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

A: The first song we ever wrote together was called “Cracking Up”. It was basically just a straight up no-frills rock song that we recorded ourselves in a dirty dingy garage. It was an older piece that they had been jamming on before I joined up. We recorded it for shits and giggles and it’s on our first EP “Cinco Dechado De Cancion”.

Q: What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

A: I’d honestly have to say that “Absinthe Queen” is one our proudest moments. When we wrote that song we had just picked up our new guitarist Dave and several weeks prior had just fired our founding guitarist. We had a replacement lined up but due to scheduling conflicts couldn’t really make it work. So the future of the band was very much in question at the time. So, we brought in this new guy to try out and to see if we could still make shit happen and he busted out that riff… fuck I was so relieved. I thought to myself, I think we’re gonna be okay. That song is a proud moment for me because it symbolized a new direction for us and a more enjoyable direction actually. We keep it in the set when we play live and it’s definitely a shot in the ass when we play it.

Q: Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?

A: Man, I’d really have to say our buds in Borracho absolutely kill it with each new record. A few newer bands that I’ve been really sweet on lately are King Bison from PA, King Buffalo from Rochester, NY and The Glorious Rebellion from Florida. They’re on constant rotation on my ipod. I love hearing bands that possess so much of what I grew up listening to, but taking it into another direction or evolving it into something fresh and interesting. I think all those bands I mentioned are doing just that.

Q: Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

A: I know I’ll probably get lynched for saying it, but since I am a man that is always on the go, I’d have to go with digital. I hit the ground running every day so I don’t have time to be flipping through CD booklets, I just throw my iPod on shuffle and hit it. When I’m at home I will jam on some cassettes here and there, but mainly I’m a digital junkie. Although I did just acquire a new component system with a turntable, so I’ll be jamming more vinyl at home. I’m also impatient as fuck, so instant downloading and mp3’s keep my earholes filled with fresh stuff.

Q: Whiskey or beer?  And defend your choice

A: We are some serious beer drinking sonsabitches, but for some reason when we play out people love buying us shots of whiskey, so it’s a hard choice, but I’d have to go with beer. Since most of the venues we play give us free cans of whatever, we have become quite the beer connoisseurs. I can’t wait for Pumpkin Beer season though, I fucking love that shit!

Q: We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

A: I’m from Bear, Delaware. Which is right outside of Newark, Delaware, where the University of Delaware is. There’s a record store there called Rainbow Records. It’s small, but hey so is Delaware. There’s also a couple cool newer spots called Jupiter Records and Grooves and Tubes, both in the dangerous city of Wilmington, haha.

Q: What's next for the band?

A: We’re gonna be hooking up with some friends and doing a handful more dates this year. We’re doing a weekender with Kingsnake and Borracho in September, then hooking up with Weed is Weed in October and then we’ll probably we closing out the year up in Long Island with our buds in John Wilkes Booth. I personally hate gigging in the winter, but we also want to start writing again, so we’re gonna call it a day in late October/early November. We’re already discussing tour plans for 2015 with a possible split 7” and also discussing the next full length.

Q: Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?

A: The response to the new record has been absolutely killer, thank you to anyone who’s had the chance to check it out or pick it up. We invested literally every penny we had into that record so it’s awesome to hear so many people dig it. We’re looking forward to seeing you all again soon!!!

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