Culture Shock 2012 Interview: New Terrors
Brendan: How did you start off with New Terrors?
Burke: New Terrors started as new material for my old band, Owlsburg. I was frustrated with certain things about that band not working out, and I wanted to do something where I could have complete control and work at my own pace. The stuff I was coming up with sounded much different, and the old band sort of fell apart, so I just decided to make it a solo project.
Brendan: Very cool, I’ve listened to some of the songs on the album you have coming out and I’ve really enjoyed it, what would say are your influences for the material?
Burke: I really like 80s pop, but I’m also strongly influenced by the harsh alternative rock that was on the radio when I was a kid, so I kind of see New Terrors as those two genres fighting with each other. I don’t know if it actually sounds like that, but that’s how I tend to look at it.
Maybe it’s the soundtrack to a movie about a kid who is torn between two different groups of friends, because neither group likes the other one, so he’s being pulled in two different directions. Sometimes one group has a stronger influence for a period of time, but in the end he retains his personality and emerges independent of both extremes, while also synthesizing them.
How’s that for reading into it? (laughs)
Brendan: Did you have that similar thought while you were going through the making of the album? And I’ll add on another question, what led you to the name of the album - Mother?
Burke: No, I didn’t really plan the sound that way, it just sort of emerged as I was experimenting with the instruments and equipment I used to make the album. I guess it had more to do with what was already inside me than with trying to make a certain type of record. That’s one of the main things that made me happy about this album – the process of discovery, the things I probably couldn’t have planned if I had been trying to do it.
The title was the last decision of the whole process. I was going to make it self-titled, but I felt like that would be a cop-out, and I thought there was enough depth to the songs and the artwork that it deserved a title. I realized there was a lot of bird imagery, from words like “eggs”, “flying”, “dove”, and so forth in the lyrics to song titles like “Seagulls” and “Feather Fingers”, to the cover art with that eagle mask. Once again, it wasn’t really planned that way. But I looked at those themes, and I thought of how birds seem like very communal animals, and you always have the mother making the nest and coming back and forth to take care of the little ones, and the way the babies think the first thing they see is their parent or caregiver (at least that’s what I’ve always heard). So in that context, I thought “Mother” would be a nice way to convey a feeling of comfort and safety amidst the uncertainty and chaos happening outside the nest.
Brendan: Wow it is really awesome to hear about the process behind the album. How would you describe your sound and yourself to someone picking up your album, which is coming out April 10th right?
Burke: Yeah it’s out 4/10 on Flannelgraph Records. I’m just a regular guy trying to communicate the feelings I have about life. That’s definitely the vaguest answer so far! But as for the sound, I would say if you like 80s music, good melodies and things that are a little creepy, you might like my EP.
Brendan: If you could play a show anywhere in the world and with anyone, where would it be and who would you have play?
Burke: I would play a big outdoor show in Europe with Peter Gabriel. Or I would play anywhere in the world with Fever Ray.
Brendan: When you’re not working on New Terrors material, how do you spend your free time?
Burke: I have a day job at a coffee shop, and I play drums for a local rock band called Husband & Wife. And I just started a side project. I don’t do much that doesn’t involve music, actually. But I like movies and good food. I also like warm climates and Disney World.
Brendan: What has been your most memorable concert of yours or one that you’ve attended?
Burke: One of the most memorable shows I’ve played was also one of the first of my life. It was basically a cover band, and we played on this stage in the cafeteria at my high school. We played some Weezer and a punk cover of “Earth Angel” and everybody seemed to love it.
As far as shows I’ve attended, some of the hardcore shows from the old Kokomo, IN scene were pretty amazing. Also there’s a band called mewithoutYou – they started as a sort of post-punk band and they have this wild singer who would flail around so dramatically that he would hurt himself sometimes. I saw some of their early shows, and to this day they are probably the most passionate and enthralling performances I’ve ever seen.
But then again, I haven’t seen very many shows!
Brendan: Very cool man, what would you say you are most excited for at Culture Shock?
Burke: I don’t know what to expect from Culture Shock, but I hope to have a good show and introduce some new people to the project.
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