Sunday, June 24, 2007

Interview: Bob Burns and the Breakups

BOB BURNS AND THE BREAK UPS are from Stevens Point, Wisconsin. They have a number of releases under their belt including their latest full length titled “Terminal Breakdown” out on Gearhead. They were in town in June of 2007 and so we did a live studio 3 session with them. Here is the conversion that transpired. Interview by Stephe Perry.

Introduce yourselves and tell us what you do in the band ?
Bob (B): My name is Bob and I play guitar and I sing.
Zac (Z): My name is Zac. I play bass and I sing sometimes.
Bryce (Br): Bryce. I play drums.
And how did BOB BURNS AND THE BREAK UPS form ?
B: Basically Zac and Bryce played together in numerous bands about four years ago and none of them really stuck and I kind of appeared out of high school and just asked them if they wanted to start a band. We went from there. We started playing. I think we played a show a week or two after we first played together and it worked out really good.
Where did the name come from ? BOB BURNS AND THE BREAK UPS. Is it a play on the fifties bands ?
B: A song.
Tell us about it.
B: It’s from a Jerry Lee Lewis song.
What’s the song ?
B: What was the song again ? It had breakup in it.
Z: That is news to me. I thought it was because Bob Burns is Bob Burns’ name and we are the break ups because me and Bryce were in three or four bands together that kept breaking up so it just kind of went together, but it might be from a Jerry lee Lewis song I guess.
B: There was no real planning involved. I just knew that they wanted my name to be in the band so it would be scarred for life.
Z: So it would be a real long name that people would get sick of saying.
Have people reviewed your stuff ? What have people said you sound like ? When I listen to you I hear a lot of NEW BOMB TURKS.
B: It’s all over the board actually.
Z: Yeah there has been some pretty oddball comparisons but mainly it is a lot of NEW BOMB TURKS, DEVIL DOGS. There is a lot of local Wisconsin bands that we play with and come up with.
Br: I think my favourite is Buddy Holly meets FEAR.
Z: Yeah. I mean we have been compared to FEAR, DOA, and a lot of old school, but we are what we are.
If you had to limit your record collection to five punk releases what would they be ?
B: My record collection would consist of CATHOLIC BOYS “Psychic Voodoo Mind Control”, and I don’t really know. We don’t really listen to music anymore.
Z: I would probably have the GORDON LIGHTFOOT boxset.
B: We’re all jaded. I like CAPTAIN SHRIMP AND THE SHRIMP SHACK SHOOTERS. That’s my new thing.
Z: The JEFF HEALEY BAND. We are big into JEFF HEALEY these days.
You mentioned something about the Wisconsin scene. Tell us a bit about some of the bands that you are influenced by locally.
B: When I was younger bands like BORIS THE SPRINKLER were still playing. I don’t know if they were an infl uence or not.
B: THE APOLOGETICS are probably our biggest Wisconsin pride band.
Are some of these bands current now ?
Z: A lot of them are gone now and have done other things. A guy in the APOLOGETICS is now in GOOD NIGHT LOVIN’. JAZZ MUSIC THAT KILLS came out of that as well. A lot of stuff is still going on I guess.
Act as punk rock ambassadors and tell us about the scene locally, currently.
B: It is pretty much when you flush a toilet and that big turd goes down the toilet that is pretty much how the music scene in Wisconsin is right now.
Z: It’s kind of hurtin’ but there is still a lot going on.
Because we seem to have a lot of bands come through here from Wisconsin. And they are all really good.
Z: Yeah like the LEGHOUNDS. Two of the three LEGHOUNDS turned into the JETTY BOYS and they are coming out with some pretty rippin’ material. I am a big fan of theirs.
Br: The SHUT UPS came from the LEGHOUNDS too didn’t they?
Z: That was happening simultaneously.
B: The TOUGH BANANAS are ex-CATHOLIC BOYS. They are a really good power-pop punk band. Really there hasn’t been any new bands featuring new members in a long time out of the Milwaukee Wisconsin scene. Everybody kind of gets recycled. It is all like the same band over and over kind of.
Br: I think JUNK YARD is probably my favourite one.
Is there other things happening ? Like is there good clubs to play at ? Or is there good record stores or anything like that ? Whereabouts from Wisconsin are you ?
B: We are from Stevens Point, which is about two and a half hours north west of Milwaukee so we are kind of separated from the main Wisconsin punk scene.
Is there any bands from that area ?
Z: From our area ? There is a few. I don’t know if there is any worth mentioning.
B: There is an awesome punk / hardcore band called the MUDGETS. I think they may have recently stopped playing.
Z: But they have been around for a while. They have held it down in Central Wisconsin for a long time.
B: They are like the Central Wisconsin house band.
Z: Yeah, they have pretty much played it all. There was a really great band called the BEAT DOWN DESTROYERS from back in the day, but they have disbanded and gone on to careers in the correctional field. There is record stores and everything around in Wisconsin you just kind of got to dig for them.
You have a new CD out called “Terminal Breakdown”. Can you tell us about that?
B: We’ve got a new full length LP and CD coming out June 26th on Gearhead Records called “Terminal Breakdown”. Basically we recorded it in my basement with 16 tracks.
You were saying this really isn’t uncommon because some of the early BOB BURNS recordings were recorded that way.
B: Right. This marks the third recording done in my basement.
It is incredible sounding.
B: Of thank you.
I can’t believe it was recorded in your basement. That’s amazing. Good job.
Z: Yeah we recorded it over a day and a half. Maybe two days.
B: Yeah we only spent a weekend recording the whole thing. The ceiling was dripping water and all sorts of crazy stuff.
Z: You know the harsh winters in Wisconsin.
B; Tuberculosis.
Z: Cube fever. It went well. We didn’t really know the material on this album too well so it made it interesting. These shows, we have been touring since the first of June and it is kind of fun for us because we learned them as we recorded them. We were finding out the intricacies playing them live.
Well you guys were knocking them out tonight. It was great to watch you downstairs. And you have a video for “I Hate the City”. What’s the deal with that ?
B; We shot on the 6th of June in downtown San Francisco. We shot a music video. It was something that the label set up for us for “I Hate the City”. It was pretty surreal.
What’s in the video? Did you have some fun with this?
Z: It’s a pretty classic cliché hating the city video.
B: We paid a bum a dollar to hold up a sign.
Br: The director kept on telling them that they need to really hate and feel the hate of the city.
B: We got into it stomping around downtown San Francisco. We were live playing at a construction site.
Did anyone come around and watch you guys play ?
Z: The best was we started out on the bridge right in Chinatown. A big landmark. And we actually set all of our gear up and did the whole deal about two times through and we had a nice crowd of old Asian men behind peaking around. Then the director would try and get them to come in the shot and they would run away. It was kind of fun so hopefully he caught some of that and that will make it’s way in.
Br: One of them was hiding behind a tree. I remember that.
B: But people were scared of us a little bit I think.
Z: People didn’t know what to make of it but I think they enjoyed it. Hopefully the video will come out looking sweet.
B: It should be all over the internet and youtube and that sort of thing in about three months. I think he got some good shots of me so ….
Z: Bryce was really good in that. He is going to wank it out.
B: He actually took his shirt off for it and you can see his ripped abs. Some girls were going nuts for that one.
Alright. Tell us about some of your earlier releases. You had a CD out called “Frustration”. It came out on Mad Cook. Is Mad Cook you guys ?
B: Mad Cook is basically my label and that was the first release. The vinyl came out on
P-Trash Records of Germany. Basically he only wanted to do vinyl which is cool and most of the records ended up staying in Europe so I decided to go ahead and put out a CD to get more copies of it out there. I did it myself. It turned out really well. Everything went fine. It was my first label experience. It was pretty cool.
Will you do more ?
B: Probably but it will probably be when I’m old and going bald and I am really bored sort of thing. For now I just want to continue playing music. “Hydrostatic Heart” Did that come out before or after …
B: That came out about a month after the “Frustration” album came out, but it was recorded about a year after the “Frustration” record. The “Frustration” record took about a year to come together and to be put out. The “Hydrastatic Heart” 7” basically we jammed it out and recorded it in four hours and Plastic Idol Records, were really happy with three of the songs so he decided to do a 7” and he turned it around really quick in a month or two. It was really good.
Did you have any releases before this or after this ?
Z: There was one release. Our first release. It was a six song 7” on Dingus Records, which at the time was co-owned by Danny K and Nate from the MODERN MACHINES and they helped us out.
That’s how I heard about it through the MODERN MACHINE guys.
Z: So that was pretty cool. We went down to Cincinnati and recorded ten songs with our friend Mike Ingram. He did an awesome job. He kicked them out for us and then Nate and Danny hooked it up and put it out.
So you have some other unreleased stuff off that ?
Z: Yeah. There is four unreleased songs floating around out there.
B: Buried in the basement.
Z: I mean actually before that if you want to get real down and dirty there is a five song ep that was recorded in a television studio in Minneapolis. It’s called the “Rock ‘n Roll Dance Party”.
How did you get into a television studio ?
Z: At that time my brother worked there. We figured they had microphones and a computer so we tried to record on it and it turned out pretty great. It is probably our best work. We made one hundred CD-Rs and we sold them all. There are one hundred copies of “Rock ‘n Roll Dance Party” floating around.
B: Probably surfacing in the finest record stores in about twenty years for about one hundred dollars. It might be on e-bay.
But do you have any plans of releasing it officially ?
B: No.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Zach on bass and Bob on guitar. You are just moving forward I guess.
B: We just like to concentrate and move forward. Every new release is a lot more exciting than the last.
It is just interesting because I find that bands often have a lot more out there.
B: Oh yeah. For every ten songs there is always about fifty more.
Z: Yeah. There is songs out there.
What are the future plans for BOB BURNS AND THE BREAK UPS ? Hopefully not breaking up.
B: After this tour we are going to take a long nap. We might be sleeping for about a month straight. And then after that it will be a just local and the mid west shows.
Z: We are hoping to get to Europe.
How long have you been on the road right now ?
Z: We have been out on the road since the 1st. twenty four days.
B: But we went home for about four days.
Z: Passed out for a while. Now we are back out. So it’s been a long trip, but it’s been great. We have had a lot of fun. Got our tour manager, Jim, along with us. We couldn’t have done any of this stuff without him. Hopefully you will see him making some cameos in the band in the future. But we live for the moment.
B: There is no real planning involved. The only real thing that we can say is that there is definitely going to be a tour in March of ’08 of the South by South West festival in Austin Texas. That’s our only real solid plans for right now.
And hopefully to get to Europe.
B: Yeah we are trying to get to Europe.
And get out of your home town. How can people reach you ?
Z: There is a variety of ways.
B: We have an e-mail address at and we also have a myspace which is and everyone is more than welcome to go on there and post nasty comments or do whatever they like. We enjoy that sort of thing.
Z: There should be a website surfacing sometime in the near future but really it will just be a really great picture of our ugly mugs and that will re-direct you to the myspace site.
B: And if people are interested in our brand new full length on Gearhead Records they can order it from and if you are really anxious you can get it before the street date you can go and order copies before it hits stores. The vinyl is yellow so that is pretty sweet. It is limited edition on vinyl. And the it is also on CD.
Z: We are pretty pumped about it. We are hoping for the best.
Any last comments ?
B: No. We just want to thank the station.
Z: And you for having us on.
I was very excited that you were going to play tonight and I want to thank you for bringing in the Nymphets with you.
Z: They are our brand new friends from Montreal.
Br: I saw them put it away in a parking lot so I think they are going to rock. Shotguns will be going off.
B: They played a really awesome set last night at the Adrift Skate Park and they really ripped it up so we are really looking forward to it.
Z: Looking forward to hear some more from them.
B: They are on tour. They are making their way all the way out to Vancouver. Tomorrow night they are playing in Sault Ste. Marie and then they are going to Thunder Bay so keep your eyes and ears open.
Since this interview was done Zac and Bryce are no longer in the band and have been replaced by Eric and Jon.

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