Interview by Scott Preston
Backyard Tire Fire has released their new studio album, The Places We Lived, on August 26, 2008. It’s the first long-player by the Bloomington, Illinois-based band to be released on independent label Hyena Records. Distinguished by a rare combination of workingman authenticity and indie-rock eccentricity, The Places We Lived is defiantly contemporary in the face of its deep Midwestern roots. It’s an approach that led Daytrotter.com to recently rave: “Backyard Tire Fire are the choice we make when the extremes always sound too extreme, the bright lights feel too foreign, the money’s not important, the beer’s on ice and the clothes we like most are the ones that we’ve had on our bodies for decades and we know what made all of the holes and rough patches in them.”
Cincy Groove: How did the three of you get together as Backyard Tire Fire?
Ed Anderson: Well the bass player is my brother so we obviously grew up together and played together from time to time. He is 6 years younger than me so it took a while for the both of us to get on the same page musically. It was about 5 years ago that he joined up with us full time to play. Tim Kramp, our drummer, we have known each other for about 10 years. I had invited him down to North Carolina a while ago to live in my basement in Ashville. Thats where Backyard Tire Fire really started. My brother then joined myself and Tim once we moved from NC back to the midwest. Eventually we got my brother to quit his day job and com eon the road with us (laughing).
We have been playing at least 150 shows a year for the last several years. We have done upwards close to 200 shows a year in a few of those years. In the last few months actually we just added a friend of ours on guitar, keys and vocals. We didn’t give him any kind of time frame, he started coming out and playing. It kind of turned into you can keep playing with us as long as you want to, kind of thing.
Cincy Groove: How has bringing in a 4th member affected the dynamics of the band?
Ed Anderson: Its been a lot of fun, we kind of felt we took the trio thing about as far as we could. For the most part he is at all of our gigs now. We have been able to play the songs now the way they were recorded in the studio. I have written songs on piano, guitar parts, harmonies, so the sound really has been coming together over the last couple months. For years we have been able to take songs that were produced in the studio and translated them into the trio format, and it worked. I think we were ready as a band to evolve and try some different things.
Cincy Groove: I understand your most recent album, The Places We Lived, just came out.
Ed Anderson: Yeah, it came out just a couple weeks ago. Its been fun playing those songs the way they were recorded. By adding another set of feet, hands, vocal chords, we were able to transform those songs. Since the record came out we have just played a handful of shows, but we are going to be coming to Cincinnati for Midpoint Music Festival, then we head up to New York for a handful of shows. We have a gig in NYC, Brooklyn, Albany, one in Buffalo, then we head back to the midwest. The last time we were in New York we played the lunchroom of Billboard Magazine’s corporate headquarters. We do those type of little showcases from time to time.
Cincy Groove: I noticed on your tour schedule the band has some pretty good opening slot gigs this fall.
Ed Anderson: Once we get back from New York, we go out with Rose Hill Drive, we have a gig with Los Lobos, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Reverend Horton Heat, and I don’t think its been announced yet but at the end of year we are doing a 5 show run with Rusted Root. I suppose once we end this run of shows, we will do what we did at about this time last year which is to go into the studio and start on the nest record. Its really the prime time for us to record. Because who really wants to drive around the midwest in January. Some other bands that I think we would be a good fit to tour with would be Sun Volt, Wilco. Obviously those are some pretty big names, but we are working towards something like that.
Cincy Groove: Are there any shows that the band has played that were just not ordinary, that stick out in your mind?
Ed Anderson: There was a dive bar we played in Central Illinois about 5 years ago. I remember at the end of the night kicking into “They Call Me The Breeze”, which Lynyrd Skynyrd made famous. A fight broke out in the bar as soon as we started into the song. There were these two guys who were fighting over a bet on a pool game. One guy was about 30 and the other one was around 50 and wearing a Hells Angels jacket. So I’m watching all of this happen in the beginning of the song. They started choking each other and wrestling around and then the young guy had the older guy back peddling straight towards the stage. The Hells Angel guy then fell straight back right on to the stage, right on top of my guitar pedals, knocks over the mic stand. At this point I’m standing in the corner of the stage holding my Les Paul like a baseball bat ready for anyone that comes near me. After the fight we just packed up our gear and go the hell out of there (laughing).
Cincy Groove: How do you feel the internet has affected the music industry?
Ed Anderson: There are good and bad points to that answer. Its hard to see which overrides which because the internet makes it easier for a musician to a degree. For example, I’ll look at our myspace page and see 300 people listened to our songs in one day and we didn’t even have to play a gig and people listen to us. Which is amazing to me because back in the day before the internet that wasn’t really possible. It makes it easier to reach out to people in different states and countries. But at the same time, nobody really sells records anymore. Even the biggest bands in the world record sales are probably half what they were 10 years ago, because people are burning the cds and downloading for free. Its to the point now, where to make any money you have to tour.
I remember being on tour, before the band had email, a website or even a cell phone. I was making all the phone calls for directions for 30 gigs from a land line a week before we were to go on tour. I would be hand writing all these directions out to places in cities we have never been to before. There is no GPS, there’s no magic box that tells you when to turn. We used to get so turned around in cities we hadn’t been to , because we were using maps and hand written directions. The internet has definitely made getting directions a hell of a lot easier. We also use Priceline.com for hotel rooms that are way out of our league for less than the cost of a room at Motel 6.
Backyard Tire Fire:
ED ANDERSON – vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, percussion
MATT ANDERSON – bass, vocals, percussion
TIM KRAMP – drums, percussion, vocals
Backyard Tire Fire tour dates:
for complete show details visit http://www.backyardtirefire.com
09/17/08 Blue Note 9th Street Summerfest – record release shows! Columbia, MO
09/18/08 Record Bar – record release shows! Kansas City, MO
09/19/08 Josie’s – record release shows! Emporia, KS
09/20/08 Vintage Vinyl – instore performance! St. Louis, MO
09/20/08 Lucas School House – record release shows! St. Louis, MO
09/24/08 Grog Shop – record release shows! Cleveland, OH
09/25/08 The Basement – record release shows! Columbus, OH
09/26/08 Spin Nightclub – record release shows! Indianapolis, IN
09/27/08 LUNA music midtown/broad ripple – instore performance! Indianapolis, IN
09/27/08 Lodge Bar Cincinnati – record release shows! Cincinnati, OH – part of Midpoint Music Festival
10/02/08 Piano’s – record release shows!New York, NY
10/03/08 Union Hall – record release shows!Brooklyn, NY
10/14/08 Burt’s Tiki Lounge Salt Lake City, UT
10/15/08 Knitting Factory Boise, ID
10/16/08 Nectar Lounge Seattle, WA
10/17/08 Eastside Club Tavern Olympia, WA
10/18/08 East End Portland, OR
10/25/08 Bloomington Center for Performing Arts Bloomington, IL
10/27/08 Orange Peel Asheville, NC
10/28/08 The Music Farm Charleston, SC
10/29/08 Variety Playhouse Atlanta, GA
10/30/08 Bijou Theatre Knoxville, TN
12/03/08 Mercy Lounge Nashville, TN
12/06/08 Majestic Theatre Detroit, MI
12/07/08 Intersection Grand Rapids, MI
12/10/08 Otto’s Dekalb, IL
12/11/08 People’s on Court Des Moines, IA
12/12/08 Cain’s Ballrom Tulsa, OK