Hearts Bleed Radio: We usually book indie rockers for HBR shows, but it felt right to go in a really bluesy direction to open up our Valentine's Day show. How do you feel about V-Day? For it or against it?
Chuck: Well, in general, I would say I am against the holiday itself, mainly because it is a big money making venture for the Hallmark Company. But we're really looking forward to the show. we're gonna make the theme of our set a cynics Valentines Day, one for the broken hearted. We'll be raking up an ancient song of mine called, "Fuck You, I Love You," which I'll be singing as a duet with Sophie from Madam West
HBR: Awesome! I think I agree with you on Valentine's Day, on the other hand it's hard to really be upset at a holiday so pointless...
Chuck: Well said. I think its a perfect irony for us to be playing on V-Day, because so many of my songs come from this place of heart break.
|Chuck, looking the part.|
HBR: Who are your biggest influences? Are they passionate or cynical in their delivery?
Chuck: I guess my biggest influences, at least lyrically are the underground traveling singer-songwriters, people like Paleo and Jeffrey Lewis. That said, I get a lot more aggressive in my singing, which I suppose I owe to Tom Waits, and old school growlers like Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters ets.
HBR: How does it feel to growl like that? I think my voice would break. Does it come from the back of your throat? Is this a stupid question?
Chuck: The first band I sang for was dredge metal, and I've found there's a lot of overlap between low-down blues singing and some types of metal singing. It's really about getting just the right amount of air from your lungs to distort, but not so much to make your vocal chords crack like a pubescent boy. The trickiest thing is getting the air going through for a growl, and not losing your pitch.
HBR: How long did it take you to hone your skill? And do you have any recordings of the metal band?
Chuck: That was ages ago, I unfortunately don't. It was way back in high school that I was in that band, and I forgot about growling for a long time until I started writing songs again in college. I was actually singing a lot of soft falsetto, but wanted to add an accent to the more bitter lyrics, so dug that lost skill up from the past. That was about 4 years ago that I started working on songs that would become what today is Chuck Burns Band.
HBR: Do you feel like the blues is antiquated? Can it be modernized? Should it? Or is it timeless?
Chuck: I think it definitely can be modernized. While old recordings will always be timeless, it's instinctual for an artist to cross genres. A natural blend that I wanna hear more of is blues and grunge. We're really going for that on the upcoming EP, there's a fair amount of familiar chord progressions, and references to the road, and bluesy things like that, but we're trying to not be afraid of breakdowns, distortion, and reverb. By no means is the blues sacrosanct.
HBR: Have you heard Slothrust? They are total blues/grunge, in their own words even. You should check them out, they're local.
Chuck: I have not, will do... Listening now. Digging it.
|The band in action at Arlene's|
HBR: Other than the sweet show on Valentine's Day, what else is on the horizon for Chuck Burns Band? You mentioned working on new material this evening...
Chuck: Yeah. Well, the main thing is we'll be having an EP out by the end of the month and will be doing a small tour of Philly, D.C, and Richmond in April. Our new material will be sprinkled out as singles, and takes us in a much more psychedelic direction than we're used to.
HBR: So before I let you go, one last question.
HBR: Say a single person comes out to the show, looking for some Valentine's day magic... Do you have any advice?
Chuck: I'm gonna need to think about that a sec.
HBR: Haha, take your time
Chuck: Well, to this hypothetical person I would say that love crops up when you least expect it, so if you want to find romance, don't go looking for it. Just relax and have a beer with the band. Then have another beer, and know that someone else feels that gray New York loneliness too. Valentine's day doesn't have to be all about romance, it can just be another Friday night where you might find another human feeling the same way you do. That's enough for me.
Check out Chuck Burns Band's newest (leaked last night) tracks on Bandcamp.
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