|Submitted by admin on Wed, 11/17/2010 - 21:50.|
Jonny Burke was built for this – he was built for the bars and road trips that come with making a name for yourself in rock n’ roll. The Austin, Texas native has been doing it since he was 15 – playing in front of the folks (some called drunks) at bars around New Braunfels where Jonny was born. The appropriately named debut EP “The Long Haul” allowed Burke to introduce himself to the world, and now the even more aptly named full-length debut is here to really kick it home; a collection you can call “Distance and Fortune”.
We asked Jonny to get into the record – “’Distance and Fortune’ came about by just that: letting the forces of ‘Distance and Fortune’ shape my future. Rather than staying in Austin, I hit the road, sleeping on couches and giving away free downloads of ‘The Long Haul’ EP in every part of the United States. I ended up in L.A. at one point opening for my friend Ryan Bingham at the Troubadour. Marc Ford joined me onstage to play a Neil Young song, and the next thing I know we're in the studio and he's producing a record of all these songs I'd been writing all year while travelling around the country.” Not a bad story – certainly worth a few beers. Burke gets more into his style of music here: “When people ask me what kind of music I play, I just say rock ‘n’ roll, because that can encompass a very broad landscape of musical styles… I'm more interested in music than in genres of music. I never sit down to write in a certain style. I guess I feel I'm different that way. The specific sound I'm going for is the sound of a good song- no matter what ‘genre’ it might fit into.”
Jonny is in between Texas and L.A. November through January, so check his schedule and keep an eye out for “Distance and Fortune” (sign up for some free versions on the mailing list at www.myspace.com/jonnnyburkemusic). The release tour starts in February. There’s a lot more to get into, so keep going for the answers to the XXQ’s.
XXQs: Jonny Burke
PEV: How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?
Jonny Burke (JB): When people ask me what kind of music I play, I just say rock ‘n’ roll, because that can encompass a very broad landscape of musical styles. Blues, pop, singer/songwriter, soul, R&B, folk, hip-hop, country, electronica, other labels, blah blah, etc. can all fit somewhere in the term rock ‘n’ roll. I'm more interested in music than in genres of music. I never sit down to write in a certain style. I guess I feel I'm different that way. The specific sound I'm going for is the sound of a good song- no matter what “genre” it might fit into.
PEV: Calling Austin, Texas home, what kind of music where you into growing up? Was anyone your main influence?
JB: There was a lot of 50's, 60's and 70's rock and singer-songwriter stuff in my childhood. My first memory is of singing Johnny B. Goode into a tape recorder after stealing the mic from my brother and sister. So, yeah, Chuck Berry and the Stones and Beatles. That’s still my bread and butter. Also singer-songwriters, like Dylan and Townes Van Zandt, I fell really deep into in my teen years. I used to listen to the B side of “Highway 61 Revisited” over and over every night in high school. Listening to words that cut like that gave me a real sense of being alive.
PEV: Having played in the business for a good time now, what was it like for you when you first started out?
JB: I started playing in bars when I was fifteen in New Braunfels, TX, where I was born. It's fun to look back on now, but it was rough. Playing these bars full of drunks and getting shit for being so young. But I really felt unexplainably compelled to do it at the time. Playing in places like those really forces you to learn to be a better entertainer. I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything.
PEV: Do you remember the first time you thought to yourself – “I am really onto something!”?
JB: I was like sixteen and came to school the next day after a long gig the night before. I had a bunch of cash in my pocket for doing something I love and a story to tell my friends. I thought right then, “This is it for me.”
PEV: With that, what can fans expect from a live Jonny Burke show?
JB: Expect to have a good time.
PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?
JB: Stepping onstage I always think different things, but a lot of the times it's, “Man... the bass player didn't shower today.”
PEV: Any preshow rituals before going on stage or do you just wing it?
JB: No pre-show rituals, just take a deep breath and get ready to have fun.
PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?
JB: I'm not sure where my best ideas for songs come from. All these melodies and lyrics and grooves are floating around out there, I let them tell me what to do rather than vice versa.
PEV: Tell us about your full-length debut release, "Distance and Fortune”. What can fans expect from this work?
JB: “Distance and Fortune” came about by just that: letting the forces of “Distance and Fortune” shape my future. Rather than staying in Austin, I hit the road, sleeping on couches and giving away free downloads of “The Long Haul” EP in every part of the United States. I ended up in L.A. at one point opening for my friend Ryan Bingham at the Troubadour. Marc Ford joined me onstage to play a Neil Young song, and the next thing I know we're in the studio and he's producing a record of all these songs I'd been writing all year while traveling around the country. We wanted listeners to feel like they were right there in the studio with us while we were recording. It's a very live band kind of sound.
PEV: Do you ever find yourself getting writer’s block and if so, how do you get over that?
JB: I guess I've never really experienced writers block as I understand it. I usually keep a pad and pen handy when I'm sleeping and try to jot down any ideas or melodies I might have in the morning. If there's nothing there, I don't force it - I just go forward with whatever else I'm supposed to be doing that day. Sometimes I don't get anything for months, but it's never come to a point where I'd call it writer's block. Warren Zevon once said, “You just keep doing it if you're a writer. Even if you try not to you'll keep on doing it.”
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Jonny Burke?
JB: You might be surprised - I drive a minivan. That's right. Gas is expensive and I'm not exactly rolling in it. I refer to it as a man van though.
PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?
JB: I knew that music was going to be a career when I'd take the first trips out of town while still a teenager. I could see that music was a gift that could lead me to other places, it gave me a sense of purpose and made me want to keep going down the road.
PEV: What one word best describes Jonny Burke?
JB: One word, right now - happy
PEV: How is life on the road for you in the music world? Best and worst parts?
JB: Life on the road: the best part is going out and meeting people and seeing things you otherwise wouldn't have. The worst part is missing out on life at home with the people you love while you are gone.
PEV: Is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?
JB: I still haven't toured over in Europe. I'd love to go play over there.
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What’s it like when you get to play at your hometown?
JB: As you can imagine, my parents were not too pleased when their fifteen-year-old son was playing out in bars. It took a long time for them to come around and see it was what I was meant to do. I do go back and play in New Braunfels a few times a year. It's always good to see old friends and faces.
PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
JB: I've been staying out in L.A. a lot lately and I've gotten into surfing in my spare time. That's been amazing.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
JB: Man, one of my favorite bands is a group called White Denim - really original stuff. One of the many, many, many badass bands that are out there (under the mainstream radar of course), but they are out there doing it for the love of it and coming out with a lot of really incredible material. Their music is fun!
PEV: If you weren’t playing music now what do you think you would be doing as your career?
JB: If I wasn't playing music, I guess I'd probably be a DJ.
PEV: So, what is next for Jonny Burke?
JB: Next for me? I'm gonna get up off this damn computer and watch “Boardwalk Empire.” I love that show. I'll be playing shows in Texas all of November, back to L.A. in December, back to Austin for shows around Christmas, back to L.A. in January. You get the point. We've finished up “Distance and Fortune” and we'll send out some free downloads around the holidays. You can sign up for those on the mailing list at www.myspace.com/jonnnyburkemusic. We'll start the release tour in February/ March. And then do another one. Then we'll make another record. And keep on going. And going. And going. Chew on that, Energizer Bunny.