OPEN BURN – A Talk With DELL HULL-ERIC W. JOHNS-GLEN COOK-JERRY HARTMAN

Posted on September 02th. 2018

Questionnaire by Official Nice and Stefan on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM


Hello guys, here is Rico, aka Officer Nice and Stefan from the Metal To Infinity webzine. Let us tell you it is an honor to have this opportunity asking you some questions. I hope you’ll enjoy them.

Officer Nice: Well, let us start by introducing the band. Who or what is Open Burn and where came the idea to start the band with these specific members?

Dell: The band consists of Eric W. Johns – vocals, Dell Hull – guitars, Glen Cook – bass and Jerry Hartman – drums. The band was started when Jerry, Eric and myself were asked to play some cover songs for a friend’s benefit. We all seemed to work really well together so soon after that we started working on original material.

L-R: Jerry Hartman – Dell Hull – Glen Cook – Eric W. Johns

Stefan: Who can you mention as the actual founder of the band – what about the predetermined ambitions?

Dell: I don’t think we really have a band founder, it just sort of happened due to circumstances. We really don’t or didn’t have any predetermined ambitions either. We just like playing original music and we all have basically the same influences.

EWJ: My ambitions were to immigrate from Argentina so that I could finally perform in something other than another revival of Evita.  Sure, it’s a fine musical, but it was time for a change…Haha

 

Officer Nice: Open Burn is a band with three ex-Lethal members. Does this mean Lethal doesn’t exist anymore or can we expect that Lethal and Open Burn exists next to each other? In other words.. what’s the future of both bands?

Dell: The future is wide open for Open Burn. If Lethal is going to continue to exist as an active band, that would have to be determined by whomever wants to remain involved I guess? I don’t see any reason why both bands can’t exist together if Lethal does remain active.

Glen: Actually, Lethal are finishing up a 5-song recording that we started 10 years ago which are the last songs my brother recorded. So hopefully available soon but this is for a different interview I suppose, lol!

Jerry: I think the future holds promise for both bands. All of us enjoy making music together in Open Burn and Lethal so I can’t see any reason why we would put an end to either project.

 

Stefan: Lethal fell under the radar for a long time, how does it feel to team up again with some older band mates, admittedly in a new band – you kept in touch during your absence?

Dell: It’s great. I started playing together with Glen in early 1983 and Jerry not too long after The Arrival so it’s a very comfortable situation for me. We all know each other really well.

Glen: Yes, it all feels very comfortable for me as well and not just with Dell and Jerry. Eric and I had another band together for about 5 years prior to Open Burn and share some common musical leanings.

Jerry: I have to say it’s always great to be able to make music with your friends. Eric ,Dell and Glen are some of the best people to jam with and just hang out and drink beer together. It’s a very comfortable atmosphere for me.

 

Stefan: In between Lethal and Open Burn, what kept you guys busy musical wise?

Glen: Eric and I had another band called Graves Road. We recorded a full album but unfortunately that band de-structurealized prior to a finished product materializing. It was good stuff so hopefully we will get back to it someday and make it available.

Dell: I wasn’t very active at all. Haha.

 

Stefan: The name Open Burn, what’s the story behind?

Dell: The term “open burn” is used in the U.S. when property owners are burning debris or brush on their property. They are required to have a sign posted stating “open burn” to let the authorities know it is a controlled fire. I happened to see one of those signs on my way to the studio one day when we were recording our ep. I mentioned it to the guys as a potential band name sort of as a joke. Glen said he liked it so we all took a second look at it and it stuck. Haha. I guess it actually means “controlled fire”?

 

Officer Nice: Where did you find this great singer? This man really stands tall on this debut album.

Dell: Argentina.

Glen: Dell is kidding, Eric is not even allowed in Argentina anymore, lol! Seriously though, Eric has been around our area for a long time and sang in some other metal bands such as Simple Aggression and First Born. Eric also did a half-dozen albums with David T. Chastain (Southern Gentlemen, Eric William Johns) so he is a seasoned professional.

EWJ: It’s true. I have not been allowed to return to the land of my brothers since the Falklan Revolution failed. My whole sad discography can be found at www.ericwilliamjohns.com .

 

Officer Nice: Let’s talk about the music now… I have heard a really strong release, varied all the way, delivering different moods. What’s your own vision to the album? Give us 5 good reasons why our readers should pick this one up….

Glen: We are biased of course since we tend to make music that has the qualities we want to consume in music but here are some things I like about our album: Strong melodic vocals, intelligent lyrics, catchy tunes, cool artwork and there is a picture of me on the album (I told you I was biased, hahaha!)

Dell: I think it does have a lot of different moods which are derived from some of our varied influences. From straight out metal to almost conceptual pieces. I like that I can listed to the album and focus on any individual instrument or the vocals and be entertained all the way through.

EWJ: My vision of the album looks nothing like your vision of the album or anyone’s elses’ really.

 

2018 No Remorse records
Cover art by Kostas Tsiakos
Layout by GooGraphix

Officer Nice: We can’t deny that there are Lethal members in this new band and all Lethal fans might expect to hear if this band sounds like the old Lethal. I wrote in my review “Divine Intermission” sounds like “Programmed”, although some sounds and songs are very recognizable.

How difficult or how easy was it to make Open Burn sound different? What was the goal when you started the process of song writing? After all we can’t deny each of you have an own typical style in performing your instruments…

Dell: I personally don’t have any goal set out when I write music. I just come up with ideas that I like and expand on them. I’m not intentionally trying to sound like old Lethal but at the same time I’m not trying to avoid it either. Of course there are going to be similarities because that’s just who we are and how we play so it’s naturally going to come out.

Glen: For me there is a natural difference between Open Burn and Lethal. When Dell wrote all those old Lethal songs with my brother, both of whom are very strong writers and guitar players, we ended up with a lot of layered guitars and big harmonies, etc…, but with one guitar player in Open Burn I have a lot more room for bass so Dell and I tend to weave our parts together in different ways.

 

Officer Nice: Did you read our review? Agree or disagree… Feel free to criticize us too!

Glen: I did read your review of the album and appreciate all the kind words! It’s clear you are not only familiar with our history but gave the album a fair shake so I cannot disagree with your analysis and certainly not your opinions.

EWJ: I saw that we were given a good review and a high score.  I was flattered and thankful, but I never read reviews and things like that. They just weird me out.

Jerry: Yes I read the review and feel you really gave us a fair listen. It takes me a few listening sessions before I can truly say if I like something or not. I believe your review reflects that so I must say thank you for your time and kind words.

 

Officer Nice: After all these years as a musician…. How do you look back to your own career, to the past and the future? How do you look to the Heavy Metal scène in general nowadays? If you would have the chance to step into a time machine and go back to those mighty Eighties…what would you change?

Glen: Wow, that is a good question. It is interesting to look back at how I started and where I’ve been but I’m not sure I would change anything. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of bad ideas and bad decisions I could erase from my past but I’ve learned the most from those incidents so I would not be the musician or person I am today without those life lessons.

Regarding the Heavy Metal scene, I am most familiar with the more progressive metal scene in Europe around festivals like KIT and UTH where you go to see great bands from the 80’s and the people just want to get together and enjoy the music from their youth. It’s very cool to be part of the community.

EWJ: My answer is everything. I would change everything.

 

Officer Nice: This is a professional produced album. How was time in studio and can you tell us more about the song writing? Where are the ideas coming from and can you tell us how you worked them out?

Dell: Thanks. Of course we could always make improvements on the production and music but I think it’s best to set a goal or deadline and then just move on. Otherwise it could be a never ending project. Usually I’ll come up with either parts or in some cases almost a complete song, minus the vocals, bass and drums. I leave those to the professionals. As Eric adds lyrics and melodies we all add parts to that and shape the song from there. I had all the basic rhythm parts to the songs worked out but as the songs came together in recording I changed or added things according to what the other guys are playing. There’s a lot of parts that I actually added in the studio during recording.

Glen: We owe a lot to our friend, Dave Swart, who helped us produce the album. He’s a very talented guy with a great ear.

The songwriting has been very easy up to this point. Eric and Dell both have good musical intuition so the song ideas come together very quickly.

EWJ: I have been recording with Dave Swart in one capacity or another for over 20 years.  No one else can get my voice to sound just the way I like it in the studio.  Our work together in the Woolper Creek Mafia, the American Rail Council and the Southern Gentlemen gave us a lot of experience and foundation to build on.  Glen had spent dozens of ours working with Dave Swart as well on Graves Road’s unreleased debut. Although it was Open Burn’s debut record, over half the band had already recorded with Dave at least once.

 

Officer Nice: What can you tell us about the lyrics? What are the messages Open Burn delivers us?

Glen: I’ll pass that question on to Eric but he usually prefers other people tell him what messages they received from the lyrics, hahaha!

EWJ: The songs mean whatever you need them or want them to mean.  You don’t need to know my story. Let my words tell your story.

 

Stefan: Open Burn released a self-titled, five song loaded EP back in 2017, independently. I’d like to know if the EP still available? All of the songs can be find back on the new album “Divine Intermission” as well, right?

Glen: Yes, the 5 songs from the EP are also on “Divine Intermission”. They are remastered but otherwise the same. I believe we do still have some of the EPs available. Our label, No Remorse Records, generously allowed us to continue selling remaining EPs however we will not press more once they are gone.

 

Stefan: Later on, you got signed by No Remorse Records. How did you come in touch with this label, who approached whom?

Glen: Our EP recording was well received so we had a couple of record labels approach us. Our friend Manolis Karazeris, who runs the annual Up The Hammers festival in Athens, put us in touch with No Remorse and we had a good vibe from them so it just felt like the right decision.

 

Stefan: Certain conditions were attached to the contract or not?

Glen: Well a contract is all about certain conditions but there was nothing nefarious. We have a standard agreement for Open Burn to provide music and No Remorse to make it available to as many fans as possible.

 

Stefan: Has the collaboration been smooth between Open Burn and No Remorse Records ?

Glen: Yes, absolutely. Chris at No Remorse Records has been great to work with. He is just a guy who loves music and tolerates a lot of nonsense from musicians like us so he can spread it around.

 

Stefan: What are the plans for the future, in regards to future releases?

Dell: We are in the process of writing new material for a second full length album. I would love to be able to get that recorded and released by spring next year.

 

Stefan: Can we speak of a world wide distribution of “Divine Intermission”?

Glen: It would be great to hear there is worldwide demand for it but we’ll certainly make it available where we can.

 

Stefan: Speak frankly, are you guys fully satisfied with the end result and what about the response from fans and media so far?

Dell: The response we have been getting has been great.

Glen: The response has been positive regarding both the EP and Divine Intermission. We’ve also had a lot of good feedback from people who were not necessarily Lethal fans first so it’s  great we are reaching a new audience with Open Burn.

 

Officer Nice: Is Open Burn a live band? Can we expect a tour, also in Europe or is it too soon for that?

Glen: We would like to play live and especially in Europe but do not have any immediate plans.

Dell: I would certainly love to get out and play new material live. I’m sure if the right opportunity pops up we would take it.

 

Stefan: Do you consider to play some Lethal classics for a live audience?

Dell: Who knows? I’m certainly not opposed to it but for now I would like to focus on new material.

Glen: Probably not, hahahah!

 

Stefan: One last question, do you guys have other ambitions than playing in a Metal band. I suppose all of you have its own profession to fulfill also…

Glen: Yes, I have a family and work for an IT Services company. All the other nooks and crannies of my life are saturated with music.

Dell: Of course we all have our jobs and family life but outside that, playing and writing music is what I love to do.

 

Officer Nice: Running outta questions so time to leave, the pleasure was ours completely to have you on board…. maybe some final words for our readers and the fans? Thanks for your time !

Glen: It was great to interview with you and we appreciate the opportunity to chat about Open Burn. MTI Webzine Belgium Rocks!!!

Dell: Yes, thank you very much. Hopefully some of your readers will give our music a listen. I think we will have a lot more coming in the future.

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