BURN RIVER BURN – A Talk With JOHN PATTERSON (Vocals) & KEVIN AMANN (Drums)

Posted on September 19th. 2017

Questionnaire by Jason Houston of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM

Answers by JASON PATTERSON (Vocals)



Jason: Hello John and welcome to Metal To Infinity. Thanks for taking the time out of your very, busy schedule to speak with us. We really do appreciate it.

Jason Could you please share with us the story of how you hooked up with the other members of the band and came to form Burn River Burn?

John: Burn River Burn was formed out of a previously failed band called “The Van Gogh Effect.” In that group everyone was trying to push their own songs to the front and we had 3 singers that would rotate. In the end no one was satisfied with the way it was going and the style was all over the place – so we gave up. Chuck ( lead gtr ) and I decided to try again with a focus on 1 “style” with 1 lead singer. We wrote lots of new tunes but if they didn’t fit the mold they were scrapped. Having that focus really helped us move forward as a group.

 

Jason: Who were the bands / singers who had the greatest influence on you when you were growing up John?

John: I grew up playing classical piano and the first bands that caught my ear had to have keyboards in them. Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Emerson Lake and Palmer and Deep Purple were some of the first groups I got into. As for specific singers it would be Robert Plant in Zeppelin, Chris Cornell in Soundgarden and David Lee Roth in Van Halen.

 

Jason: While I know you’re the band’s lead singer, I was curious if you’ve always been a singer or if you became a singer out of necessity in that you couldn’t find anyone else to sing the material you write the way you wanted to see it performed?

John: Burn River Burn is the first group that I have been the lead singer without playing an instrument. I had been the lead singer in bands before but always while playing either keys or guitar. When we started the group we made the choice that I would be the only singer and took it from there, writing the songs with that arrangement of personnel.

 

Jason: How old were you when you first started singing? Did you take lessons or would you consider yourself to be more of a self-taught singer?

John: I began singing in high school in the chorus and choir of my school. I also sang in musicals at school. Other than that basic instruction I consider myself self taught. When Burn River Burn started I feel I really stepped up my singing game as all of a sudden I had to compete with the loud guitars and Pounding drums. I had to learn to breathe properly and sing from the gut instead of from the throat.

 

Jason: Could you please share with us the story of how you came to name the band Burn River Burn?

John: The name was Chuck’s (lead Gtr) idea. Chuck and our bass player at the time are from Cleveland Ohio. Cleveland has a river that caught on fire multiple times from pollution – the last time it caught on fire in 1969 was the inspiration for the US government to create the Environmental Protection Agency. For us we loved the visuals and idea of a large burning river and so the name Burn River Burn came about. If you listen to the track of that name from our first album you can hear a little about the history of the river and the fires.

 

Jason: After watching the video for your latest single “Thanks For The Ride”, I have to tell you right away I wanted to hear more music from this band!  Just listening to this one song, watching just this one video I was really impressed with the fact that the band has a really fresh / original sound, you really don’t sound like any other band I’ve ever heard before. Is that something you and your band mates set out to do when you formed the band?

John: Thanks! We set out in the beginning with the goal of keeping the music to one “style.” What’s funny is that I’m not sure we knew exactly what that meant but we all knew when a new song wasn’t our style. The sound has evolved over the years with members coming and going but we still have that feeling when something is really working and also when it’s just not us.

 

Jason: What do you remember most about the band’s very, first gig?

John: I remember being really nervous! It was the first time I had been on stage fronting a rock band with no instrument to hide behind. I didn’t know what to do with my body. I remember thinking am I supposed to be running around up here? Am I supposed to be head banging? I think I just stood there with one hand in my pocket trying not to forget the lyrics! It was a rush for sure.

 

Jason: Is there an album in your music collection that you could still point to all these years later and say that’s the album that really had a major influence on me and really helped play a role in me becoming a professional musician?

John: For me that album is Stevie Wonders Original Musiquarium. To this day those songs still inspire me through the energy and real emotion of Stevie’s singing and writing.

 

Jason: While everyone loves to read positive things about themselves does it bother you all that much to you when you go online and read a negative review or article that someone has written about the band or would you say that maybe you value more what your fans have to say about the band?

John: Nobody is going to like everything…and while yes of course I would rather hear that our music has inspired or energized someone, a negative review wouldn’t change a thing to me about what we are doing and where we are going.

 

Jason: Talk a little bit about the power of the internet. How important is it for you to interact with your fans on-line?

John: The best thing about the internet is the ability to reach potential fans all over the world. What comes with that is trying to find a way to stand out against all the content that is available.  All of us in the band try to stay on top of our social media and respond to the fans out there. There is no better advertising then a personal recommendation from person to person.

 

Jason: Is everyone in the band involved with the songwriting process or are you the primary song writer in the band?

John: In the beginning it was mostly me and Chuck that wrote the tunes. But now we are all completely involved in the song writing. It usually starts with someone bringing a riff to practice and as the band is working on that riff and adding parts I’m singing along in my head with melodies and trying to write lyrics as the song comes together. It’s always a really fun process. Sometimes we can finish a song in a day – sometimes we don’t finish a song until after a year of waiting for the right part/combination of grooves!

 

Jason: Has the band had the opportunity to tour out of your local San Francisco area?

John: Yes! The band has toured twice up and down the west coast and we are really looking forward to an upcoming tour in November out to Texas and back.

 

Jason: Are you currently involved with any other bands/projects that you’d like to let our readers know about?

John: Burn River Burn keeps me pretty busy and that is where my focus is! I do occasionally sit in with friend’s bands playing keyboards or bass when the time allows just for fun.

 

Jason: Anything left that you’d like to say to all the Burn River Burn fans out there?

John: I want to say thank you! We make this music firstly for ourselves because we absolutely love do to it and hope to never stop. When someone gets a vibe and feeling from our songs and becomes a fan it means a lot. It’s a bit of validation of what we are doing as a group and when we can perform for our fans there is nothing like the energy we can all experience together in that moment. I’m personally addicted to it!

Jason: Thanks again John!


 Posted on September 19th. 2017

Questionnaire by Jason Houston of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM

Answers by KEVIN AMANN (Drums)


Jason: Hello Kevin and welcome to Metal To Infinity. Thanks for taking the time out of your very, busy schedule to speak with us. We really do appreciate it. I know that the band is from San Francisco and I have to ask if you were at all influenced by the Bay Area thrash scene when you were growing up?

Kevin: Most definitely, although I’d say there is only a touch of thrash in our music.  I, however, still listen regularly to the bay area thrash bands – namely Testament, Exodus and Death Angel

 

Jason:  While it’s a well known fact that the Bay areas where the band had a major thrash scene back in the day I was curious if there’s still much of a metal scene there these days, let alone a rock scene?

Kevin: Metal has always had a home here.  I’d call the scene we are involved in more of a “post grunge” heavy rock scene.  Speed is not really a factor.  It is more about groove, melody and heavy grinding riffs.   There is indeed a scene bubbling up here with many great bands of that ilk.  We are all pals, and we are all of a similar mind musically.  I do believe the Bay Area Rock scene is on the verge of something big.

 

Jason: Who were the Drummers who influenced you when you were growing up?

Kevin: So typical, but Neil Peart is my man still. He’s a drummer and philosopher and has taught me not only drumming, but also given me some serious words to live by.  Mikkey Dee (King Diamond) was very influential on my style.  Mike Portnoy  (Dream Theater) and Thomas Haake (Meshuggah) are a couple others that come to mind.

 

Jason: How old were you when you first started playing the Drums? Did you take lessons or would you consider yourself to be more of a self-taught player?

Kevin: I started officially in 4th grade, although I have an old photo of myself at age 2 – playing on the couch pillows in the shape of a drum set, with chop sticks.  I played in the school band for some years and took 4-5 private lessons, but I was just bursting at the seams to learn on my own and didn’t feel I was getting enough out of the lessons.  So, I consider myself self-taught.

 

Jason: What do you remember most about the very, first Drum kit you ever got?

Kevin: I set it up like a moron.  I had the snare drum off to the side instead of between my legs.  I has no idea what I was doing.  I have a (never to be shared) photo of that as well.

 

Jason: I saw on your band’s official website that you guys sell a Burn River Burn Flash Drive. That’s quite a unique piece of merchandise. Talk a little bit about this product and tell people what they get with this Flash Drive.

Kevin: With the dying medium of the CD – It hit us when we released our first album that we should dupe fewer CDs and instead give the people our music as well as something they can also use for their own crap.  It’s been a real hit.  It has both our albums, some bonus tracks, a few of our best videos, an interactive PDF and even a BRB screen saver!

 

Jason: One thing that I have to say Kevin is that I just got done watching your band’s latest video “Thanks For The Ride”. I have to tell you I love both the song and the video. Talk a little bit about the song. After hearing this song which I found to be quite a catchy tune with a lot of great hooks, just an all-around great tune and also watching the video I instantly wanted to hear more. What’s the song: “Thanks For The Ride” about?

Kevin: Thanks for the Ride is a song that wrote itself – I don’t even really remember writing it with the band.  The night we put it together – Someone in the band was talking about the old Creepshow movie – Creepshow 2 actually.  If anyone remembers – there’s a scene in there where and un-killable zombie hitchhiker haunts the woman who struck him on the road – constantly taunting her with the words: “Thanks for the Ride, Lady”. There you have it.

 

Jason: Talking a little more about the “Thanks for the Ride” video, how long did it take you guys to shoot that video?

Kevin: That was a 1 day shoot at a Karaoke bar in SF.  Such a blast – some pals came down to act as extras– the bar was so stoked to have us, they lined up a round of shots for everyone at the shoot!

 

Jason: How happy are you with the way the fans have reacted to the video?

Kevin: Extremely!  Lots of really good feedback.  it’s been a break through video for us in terms learning what it takes to make a quality vid.  We picked a theme, and executed it and came it came out great.  We are taking what we learned from that into our next video project for the song “The Rift”. It’s going to be insane.  Will be out near the end of October.

 

Jason: Why did you choose the drums as your instrument of choice Kevin?

Kevin: In 4th grade it was time to pick an instrument.  I was actually set on guitar when it was time to pick out my instrument, cuz I just wanted to rock out.  I remember my mother taking me to the store to pick out killer red axe.  The clerk said something like – well actually, if you wanna start with guitar – you have to start with this plain old acoustic guitar.  I said:  umm, F*#^ THAT – and chose drums instead – on the spot.

 

Jason: Do you remember what was the very, first album you ever bought?

Kevin: If so what was that album and could you talk a little bit about the influence that album had on you?  The very first album I remember buying was RUSH – Moving Pictures when I was in 1st grade. I had heard “Tom Sawyer” on the radio – and was hooked.  I was so young at the time, that the song “Witch Hunt” actually gave me nightmares. It is still, decades later, just about my favorite album of all time.  It is highly influential.

 

Jason: We were just talking about buying this music. A lot of people these days don’t even know what a record, or a record store for that matter is. With there being less and less music stores these days do you feel a lot of music fans are missing the experience of going to a store and purchasing a complete, full length physical cd in their hand vs. buying their music digitally where a lot of times people will just purchase one song at a time vs. buying an entire album?

Kevin: Yes – The album format itself is still so precious to me that I feel bad for youngsters these days who miss out on that experience.  I mean – opening that plastic wrap, placing it in the player, anxiously pressing play and awaiting the first note – was like church.   Reading the lyrics on hard copy as the album played – was just the greatest memory of my youth.  So, we still focus our writing into the form of the album – we just can’t help it.  We like making a large group of songs that mark a certain era in our band.  We have talked about releasing singles and EPs, but we just keep going back to what we love – the LP.

 

Jason: Because of the current state of the music industry a lot of bands these days have opted to just live off the catalog of music they already have and play live and not write, record, or release any new music.

I have a ton of respect for bands such as Burn River Burn who continue to release new music. With the music industry being what it is these days what motivates a band like Burn River Burn to continue to release new music?

Kevin: Writing is on the same par as playing live for us.  We get almost as much of a rush when we put together a perfect song as we do when we connect with a crowd.  The art of collaboration is really special.  We are thankful we can still put our egos aside to make killer rock n roll that has 5 peoples mark on it.  It becomes better than anything 1 or 2 people can write on their own.

 

Jason: What is currently going on with Burn River Burn?

Kevin: Lots and lots.   New video in the works as mentioned, we are writing like mad and heading on tour through the South West in November.  We have some label interest and plan on releasing our third LP in 2018 with some killer label support!!!

 

Jason: Are you currently involved with any other bands/projects you’d like to let our readers know about?

Kevin: Chuck (Guitar) and I play in a Misfits cover band every Halloween. I play guitar and sing in that one.  We do a really unique and ripping version of classic Misfits tunes.

 

Jason: Anything left that you’d like to say to all the Burn River Burn fans out there?

Kevin: We head out on tour through the South west of the USA in November – dates will be posted soon at http://BurnRiverBurn.com.  You can purchase all our goodies on that site as well.  Grab yourself a thumb drive!  Thank you Metal to Infinity!!!

Jason: Thanks so much Kevin once again for doing this!

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