The Burning Hell Q & A. It wasn’t that long ago that i reviewed The Burning Hell’s last double A side single here. They are finally coming off a big tour and have time to talk to Louder Than War.
LTW: Hi guys! Where are you? What are you doing right now?
The Burning Hell: We just finished our last show – gig #60 of 60 – in Vancouver, and now we’re taking a day to relax before heading back home to PEI to chip away at renovating our farmhouse.
LTW: You are currently on your seventh (!!!) LP (Public Library) with the excellent ‘Men without hats / Fuck the government, I love you’ as a lead double a-side single. What has the reaction to your output been so far?
TBH: Overall I think our records have been getting better (I hope so, anyway) and getting more positive attention. It’s hard to have perspective on things that you make and then send out into the world. Ultimately I hope we keep making records because we love making records.
LTW: And the new single?
TBH: I’m happy that Men Without Hats seems to be relatable beyond the specific experience it uses as a departure point. Buying your first record is a memory nearly everyone has, and however you feel about that record now, it had an important role to play in your development as a music fan. I think that’s something worth celebrating. People seem to really enjoy Fuck The Government, I Love You at our gigs, too. It’s very cathartic to sing those lines with a roomful of people.
LTW: What are you musical/cultural influences?
TBH: All of us would probably list different ones but since it’s me (Mathias) answering these questions, these are specific to me. A list of all of my musical influences would be way too long to read (really, aren’t we all influenced by all of the music we hear, even the stuff we hate?) but a condensed version goes like this: I grew up listening to CCR and The Beach Boys on long drives through Manitoba with my dad, and those two bands are still so important to me several decades later. Some of the lyricists that inspire me most are Tom Lehrer, Dan Berman, and Jonathan Richman. But these days most of my strongest musical influences are my friends: Stanley Brinks, Freschard, Steven Lambke, Construction & Destruction, Susie Asado, Fenster… I could go on and on but I find so much inspiration in the incredible work of these people and bands.
As for cultural influences, I think that popular films of the late 1980s and early 90s have left an indelible mark on my brain, but I also draw a lot of inspiration from fiction. Obviously songwriting is its own beast, but language is language.
LTW: I have to admit, you are new to me here in the UK, yet i am very thankful for the opportunity to finally hear you! What are your immediate goals to conquer Britain!! J Are there any festivals/events that you are eyeing up?
TBH: We’ve only been coming to the UK for a couple of years but we love it. Audiences have been really kind and we have plans to come back in December again. My favourite part about touring in the UK is that it’s such an inspiringly international place, and I love the energy of being around so many people from all over Europe and the world. I hope that doesn’t change.
LTW: Who do you see as your peers at the moment?
TBH: We have lots of friends who make music, such as the ones I mentioned above, and I suppose I’d consider them our immediate peers. But really anyone who plays or loves music is a peer.
LTW: Do you think that this rather depressing time of political and socio-economic turmoil is (unfortunately) a fertile time for creative expression?
TBH: “Brexit: The Musical?” I don’t think it’s necessarily true that people make better music / art / literature under times of extreme stress and political turmoil. Usually when things get really bad people just focus on survival. But I do hope that we see some kind of popular resurgence of protest in music. It’s really crazy, but at least in English-language music, it’s been decades since being pissed off and writing about actual political or social situations was popular. Has nothing bad happened since the late 80s? You’d think that the days of Trump and Farage would be worthy of at least some popular musical evisceration. I think maybe there’s a ray of hope in hip hop, that we might see a return to political consciousness there. Otherwise, it’s pretty bleak.
LTW: So after this single and LP release, what are the recording plans for The Burning Hell?
TBH: no plans at the moment, but there’s been some talk of an acoustic album in the future where we all play instruments we’ve never played before. Possibly a recording session in Mexico, if we can swing it. First I need some downtime to write and think.
LTW: Are you planning on coming back to the UK anytime soon?
TBH: Dates won’t be announced until late summer, but we’ll be back in December…
By Ioan Humphreys. More writing by Ioan Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.