In which the band offers some thoughts about "Red Velvet"

 

We're awfully excited about our new vinyl LP "Red Velvet". Here's a little track-by-track breakdown with the band's behind the scenes personal commentary.

NIGHTLIFE

Cory: I wrote the lyrics and main hook to this song while thinking about going out on the town and raising hell all night, inspired by that little voice inside your head that tells you that you are invincible.  The irony in the song is that eventually reality will set in and you’ll crash, whether that is puking your guts out or getting your ass kicked.  From the opening melody of the introduction, you get this feeling that all hell is about to break loose.  The song continues to build that way until the end, which to me seems like a perfect representation of what it’s like when you’re in the mood to close down all the bars in your town.

Jereme: The synthesizer droning in the background really came to life on the vinyl presentation.  I love how simple that part is.  Cory’s guitar tone in this song is particularly delightful for me to hear.  I don’t know if it’s the chorus effect or the performance or both.

Ben: The bridge bit where things get quiet and the synth washes and vocals command attention- it sounds highly nocturnal and liquor-buzzed to me. Appropriate. You learn something about dynamics when you've been a band as long as we have.

Josh: Nightlife has one of my favorite intros. I always feel like a 70's police program is about to begin.

SHAKING THE FOUNDATION

Cory: We had no drummer for about a year and had been working on writing different types of songs.  During this time period, it seemed like a lot of relationships were ending around us.  And so that loss of love found its way in to our songs.  Jereme had written the main composition which had this dark, stompy feel to it.  We wrote all the instrumentation around the piano, which allowed the guitar to focus on accents and lead melodies.  It was one of the more challenging compositions, singing and playing with all the syncopation and melodies.

We came up with the idea to write a narrative the fit the tone of the music, and so the song became a story about a couple whose relationship ends violently with an exploding house.  It’s similar to something that actually happened not too far from Ben’s old house.

Jereme: This song took a lot of work from the four of us to get to where it’s presented here on the album.  The backing vocals come in at just the right parts.  It’s my favorite performance of Ben’s.  He’s right in the pocket the whole time.  I tried my best to make my bass melodies lock up with his.

Josh: I enjoyed trying my hand at "Shatner-ing" vocals on Foundations. Even though it didn't make the cut.

Ben: Another entry in the BDB songbook about burning the whole damn house down. The contrast of the growly, minor key verse and the George Harrison-y major key pre-chorus conveys a bit of the emotional instability that inspired the subject matter. I'll pat myself on the back for getting the backing vocals in one take.

BULLETS IN MY GUN

Ben: I came up with the descending chord progression and the 7/8 time signature. Using this somewhat awkward framework, Cory whipped up a deft vocal melody and keen lyrics with amazing quickness. This went from an absent-minded guitar noodle to a full-fledged song within a week or so. I love it when that happens.

Cory: Sometimes you write songs for people you love, and sometimes for people you don’t like so much.  This song is both about the anticipation of wanting to see someone, and wanting to punish them for making you wait.  In the darkest interpretation it is about two people trying to hurt each other, and how spitefulness usually backfires.  The song verse is in 7/8 time, which has a jerky feel to it, almost like getting smacked upside the head.  The choruses smooth everything out as the message gets more contemplative.  It’s my favorite performance by the band on this album.

Jereme: This song started out as more of an exercise in playing in 7/8.  It turned out better than any of us expected.  Lyrically I think its my favorite.  The guitar solo is pretty fucking great.

Josh: Seven.

MS FEBRUARY

Josh: Ms. February is my favorite song on the album. It was so much fun to record. I actually got a little carried away with the tempo a few times. I was excited.

Ben: Every rock band needs a drum intro like this on at least one song per album. This is probably the new waviest sounding thing we've ever recorded.

Cory: After the NSA leak, it seemed like there might be a good chance someone has been spying on your online activities.  So I wrote this ska and new wave inspired tune about coming to the realization that this may have happened during an intimate moment.  It turned out to be really a fun party song with a good driving beat and quirky bass line.  It’s a self-gratifying song about self-gratification.

Jereme: It’s comical to me how the tone we got out of the organ reminds me so much of Dire Straits.  This is probably the most straightforward pop song on the record.  It always gets the most dancers out on the floor when we play it live.  

ABANDONMENT DAZE

Cory: Forever remembered as “Banana Mayonnaise, this track is a schmaltzy goof we would crank out when we got bored at practice. We recorded this album for a vinyl release, and most of the songs on side two were six minutes or more. We only had a couple of minutes to spare, so I decided to push for this track as a “palate cleanser” from the previous side.  It’s a curveball, a Syd Barrett lounge act in front of a studio audience.  We’ve performed it live a few times for shock value.  In the end, it showcases both my vocals and Jereme’s piano skills in our typical smart-ass, cynical way.

Jereme: This is my least favorite track. It was a waste of resources that could have been put towards something less stupid. The song clearly stands out because it has no place on this record.*

Ben: A lounge-inspired gag or a cry for help? Big men also cry.

*Jereme has long been valued as the most brutally honest Dirty. Bless him.

NEAR EARTH

Ben: Not everyone you meet inhabits the same planet as you. Sure, their driver's license address might be in your town, but it's a different orbit, brother.

The intro is the finest example of musical conversation on the record, I feel. Building up to the thunderous transition and tempo shift is always a rush.

Cory: Surviving the Cold War, living through Y2K, and all the realities of post-9/11 America inherently leaves some potential catastrophe lingering in our minds.  For this tune, we decided to look to space and consider the possibility meeting our end the way of the dinosaurs at the hands of an asteroid or comet.  It’s definitely the most dramatic tune on the record: from Ben’s somber bass intro, to Jereme’s spacey synth, to the surf-rock style guitar hook.  The finished product sounds like the Silver Surfer catching a tasty cosmic wave into an apocalypse.

Jereme: This part-surf rock, part-prog epic about fearing the end of times was made for a good set of headphones.  The interplay between piano and guitar at the beginning is still as magical to me as it was when we cut it in the studio.  There’s a lot of dynamic going on here.  All the layers.  Josh worked very hard on the drum tracks and I think it shows.  This song was borne out of Ben’s bassline.  Driving and hypnotic. The vocal performance from Cory is as powerful as they come. 

OLYMPIC FUCKERS

Cory: This song is inspired by the Olympics, and the Greek god Pan.  It is also about fucking.  I was in a good mood from a “gold medal worthy” performance in the bedroom during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and wanted to write some lyrics with a bunch of swagger.  I came up with the idea to do it from the point of view of Pan.  As the song developed, I recalled the way Pan was described in the Tom Robbins novel “Jitterbug Perfume and created a different context.  So it became a little less autobiographical and sexual, and a little more literary.  

It’s the most simple and powerful song on the record.  We created variations and different feels to make each verse distinct.  We added a little something to the chorus for everybody to scream along. You feel cool listening to the song.

Josh: I had more takes on the fills of Olympic Fuckers than all other songs combined. It took a while to find something that felt right.

Jereme: It’s a loud-ass anthemic rocker that deserves to be played in a very big room with the coolest fucking lights you’ve ever seen filled with people yelling the words back at the band.  If Cory were to channel Bono, it would sound like this.

Ben: It's taken over five years, a few personnel changes, and multiple recording sessions to finally get this one recorded. Why are the three chord songs about sex sometimes the hardest to get right? Sorry about the naughty language. Feel free to sing "Suckers" or "Truckers" as mixed company dictates.

KINGDOM OF WEEDS

Jereme: We were really hitting our stride with this track.  It’s my favorite piano performance for obvious reasons.  When we play it live my favorite part that I get to play is the string machine at the end. Having the kids in the studio to sing at the end was a real treat, too.

Ben: A verse taken from an old bit of rehearsal improv. An intro/bridge that had been sitting in my notebook for nearly a decade. Serendipity. Probably my favorite group performance on the album. I insisted on the sub-bass, so if your speakers blow, that's on me.

Josh: Sub. Bass. Whomp whomp whomp!

Cory: Epic.  Imaginative.  This song is like three dreams in sequence.  It’s a soaring waltz where the band brings all of its stylistic tendencies into one.  This is the quintessential Burning Dirty song.

 

 

 

 

 

Burning Dirty Band: The Teenage Years

 

Thirteen is called "unlucky" by the unimaginative. The Burning Dirty Band prefers to embrace other aspects of this auspicious number as we celebrate our thirteenth birthday. The bonus in the baker's dozen. A boy becoming a man. White stars on a flag that launched a revolution. Since the spring of 2000, the Burning Dirty Band has been restlessly experimenting in Virginia's valley country, proudly crafting a distinctive rock sound as trends have risen and faded in the meantime. Original songwriting has always been the focus, and thirteen years together has sharpened our senses and fostered a tightly knit group dynamic that can only come with such extensive experience. The thumping kick-drum heartbeat of rhythm and blues. The ferocious snarl of punk. The soundwave-warping surrealism of electronic music. The keen wit and genre-bending of so many of  our musical heroes: David Bowie, The Flaming Lips, The Clash, Pavement, Beck. We've distilled all of these influences into an original blend and allowed it to age for thirteen years. Come drink it up with us.

 

"Dark Side of the Moon" Revisited

 
I think like most of us music fans who get into Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon was the album that wormed its way most deeply into my consciousness, a subtle kind of infiltration that manifested itself prominently during my late teenage years. It's an album with a tremendous kind of seductive power and those heady years between 16-19 seems to be the age when almost everyone identifies strongly with the sentiments DSOTM covers: alienation, mental anguish, and the thoroughly unfair cold human facts of time, money, and conflict. It's an album you "outgrow"- that's at least the common perception among a lot of other music fans. At the very least, it's an album that is absorbed during so many hazy evenings in a dorm room or parents' basement that it becomes unnecessary to keep listening to it a decade or more after first hearing it. Those notes are in your DNA. It had been quite some time since I, at the advanced age of 28, had given DSOTM a proper front-to-back listen. Cory offhandedly tossed out the idea at a rehearsal early this fall- "why don't we cover Dark Side?" We chuckled at first, but then instinctively noodling around realized that we knew the chords to "Breathe". I knew the main riff to "Money", a line that I think every bassist picks up within a few weeks of buying a bass. Jereme knew those haunting opening chords to "The Great Gig In the Sky". Hmmmmmm. We've covered plenty of Pink Floyd in the past: "Fearless", "Astronomy Domine", even the leviathan that is "Echoes". Maybe we’re up for this. But tackling their most famous work, and an album that is so meticulously produced and arranged? Would we have to pipe in sound effects? What about the synth weirdness in "On the Run"? What about the saxophone? What about all those female vocals? We'd figure it out. We gave ourselves a few weeks to listen, learn our parts, and then give things a whirl at rehearsal in a few weeks. And so I revisited Dark Side, this time with the perspective of a musician dissecting sounds that I thought I had practically memorized. You may have noticed this, but DSOTM is an awfully good album. And surprisingly, most of the chords and melodies are fairly easy to grasp. Floyd had monumental talents, but flashy virtuosity was not what this album was about. Most guitarists or keyboardists with just a few months' experience could make it through pretty much all the tracks with little difficulty. E minors, D majors, pentatonics- I know this stuff. The minimalism really struck me after a few listens. That wonderful verse progression on "Us and Them" is just two notes on the bass, and the chorus has a whopping four different notes. "Money" is a blues in B minor basically, despite all the time signature and dynamic shifts. Hey, being Roger Waters is easy! That first run-through... well, maybe it isn't so easy. Nailing the beginning of "Breathe" takes some work, dammit. And it's only through playing that you realize how truly laid-back the tempos are in these compositions. Restraint became the order of the day. The feel makes or breaks music with this kind of slow-brewing might. "Time" was a little busy when we first went over it. Cut back the keys, make sure the drums and bass lock and take it slow, and remember that we aren't in Abbey Road Studios, and will have the benefit of just a single guitar track. Our attitudes were adjusting to where we needed to be. Think Pink. All that synthesized craziness in “On the Run”? Well, we came to the conclusion that note-for-note recreation was not only unfeasible, but ultimately pointless. We had to nail the spirit of the song. And for that, we found that there’s little weirdness that effects pedals and ingenuity can’t accomplish. The edge of a metal slide dragged down bass strings with a distortion pedal makes for a fine plane crash. No virtuoso diva available for "The Great Gig In the Sky"? Cory managed to work out a fine facsimile of the vocal improv using slide guitar. Saxophone? We made contact with Justin from the band Jazz Delinquency, who were extremely impressive at a gig we played with them in early October. This might just work. A date was secured at the Strasburg Theater. Our friend Jay whipped up some impressive looking flyers. Word spread. The rehearsals kept tightening up. November 30th came, and we waited backstage after Jazz Delinquency warmed up the nearly 200 folks in attendance with a ripping set. Anticipation was high as Jay took the stage for his introduction, Ryan kick-drumming the famous album-opening heartbeats. We went out there, made a little ambient noise that approximated “Speak to Me” and then Cory screamed and we were off to the Moon with that huge clanging E-minor that announces "Breathe" and a roar from those in attendance. Note perfect? No. This was Dirty Side of the Moon, after all. Cheers greeted the familiar introductory drum roll to the verse of “Time”. This wasn’t just a band serving as a jukebox for some vinyl and black-light nostalgia. People still love these songs. 1973 or 2007- it makes little difference. The emotion tied up with this album is timeless. This is a language we all speak, and the little parts of the whole, like the tremolo-drenched chords in “Money” or the delicate piano sparkles of “The Great Gig In the Sky”, these are all the secret syntax shared by speakers of this language. Justin completed our sound on “Money” and “Us and Them” with his saxophone skills- no other way of putting it. We were getting palpable chills on stage by this point. “Any Colour You Like” was instrumental, spacey, and funky- right in our wheelhouse. This was the bread and butter sound of our earliest days as a band. The opening jangle of “Brain Damage” elicited another roar of approval. The home stretch. This is a tune where dynamics play a key role, a reflection of our own more current song-oriented focus as a band. Jereme’s synth solo was perfect during the outro as we came to the time-shift into “Eclipse”. The drums and bass locked in, and the vocals accumulated power as the song built. Everything under the sun was in tune. The crowd was right there with us, transfixed near the bar area or down in front of the stage, and several dozen people leaned waaaay back in the theater seats absorbing the entire sensory experience. The sun is eclipsed by the moon. The heartbeat resumes, the circle is complete, and everyone simultaneously realizes that this was a unique moment for us as a band and as performers. The crowd went nuts, and we walked off stage. We had undertaken a journey and acknowledged a landmark of our own musical development and inspiration while learning a little more about the incredible reciprocal power of performer and audience. The lines for us blurred between being jaded musicians and being listeners excited to hear one of our favorite albums again in an entirely new light. For one show at least, everyone in the room was purely a fan and a music lover, tuned into the same heartbeat. There is no dark side of the moon. -Ben
 

I know what you are thinking...

 
You're thinking "Why is there no Burning Dirty Band movie?" Also, "What would a movie made by the Burning Dirty Band be rated?" And lastly, "Why would a bunch of hillbillies from the VA sticks want to make a movie?"... Well, we're making a movie with our good friend Jim T. Rated? "Unrated". Because we say so, and we've got a ton of live footage plus new and unreleased material. You're going to love it. You're going to want a copy. You're going to wish all bands with names as ridiculous as ours made such beautiful music. (Take that all other bands with one too many adjectives in their names.) Yep. We're starting a war! It's time to hop on the Dirty train or eat the big turd sandwich.
 

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