WOVEN BONES: WE WOULD LIKE TO MELT FACES
Austin-based Woven Bones are the next installment of dark lo-fi weirdo rock to be introduced into L.A. Bandleader Andy Burr (vocals/guitar) talks to L.A. RECORD about melting faces, being buried with a Velvet Underground record and turning heartache and anguish into rock ‘n’ roll. This interview by Camella Lobo.
I couldn’t find a single interview with you guys online and it’s not for lack of blog and press coverage. And most all of your EPs have sold out. It feels mysterious.
Andy Burr (guitar/vocals): Yeah, it’s pretty remarkable how our music has spread around for how small the pressings of our records are. But there’s not really a personal identity out there for us as a band.
I think it’s better that way sometimes, though.
Andy Burr: I think so too. It’s random that you might actually get somebody who’s going to portray the band according to exactly what we said. And fuck it—I think the music should speak for itself.
So what should we tell L.A.?
Andy Burr: We just wanna rock out for people and hope that they get it, you know? We don’t have any sort of mission, like …
Like melting brains?
Andy Burr: We would like to melt faces. If the sound guy can make it loud enough for people to really get into it and get melted that would be pretty cool. At the most, I just hope when we come out to California, all the people who have been asking us to come out there come out and get to see us for the first time. We’ve been sort of like ghosts.
There’s a lo-fi/neo-garage scene that’s been developing into this critical mass—especially in L.A.—over the past few years, and Woven Bones seems to be getting a lot of recognition alongside it.
Andy Burr: Yeah, there’s definitely an element of appreciation for old bands that have been really influential in what we’re all doing, but I think the scene for what we’re doing is more eclectic. Instead of being a carbon copy of one of those bands, I think there’s a youth to it and an understanding that all of these bands are standing out in a very modern way. All these bands—like Dum Dum Girls, Crystal Stilts, Times New Viking, the Crocodiles, Jacuzzi Boys, Blank Dogs and Thee Oh Sees—none of us are making throwback ’60s psychedelic posters or any of that shit. At the heart of it, we’re all kind of like punk bands that have evolved out of our influences. The Velvet Underground was a punk band. Whatever people think we sound like at the core, the Velvet Underground is my favorite band. I’ll sit around and listen to that shit for the rest of my life. It’ll never get old. I know people keep talking about this ‘lo-fi’ thing and how there are so many bands like that now. It’s kind of like what happened in the ’60s with the garage scene. There were so many garage bands. When you think about it, there were just as many garage bands then as there were punk bands when we were in high school. We’re just trying to take the past hundred years or whatever and move forward. It’s the dawning of all the nerdy kids who were sitting around and listening to the same stuff and wanting to do something. We’re recording all of this stuff ourselves and putting out records on our own, or through strong, small labels. Now that the record industry is no good for the most part … you get the idea.
You’re not trying to get into a TV commercial.
Andy Burr: Whatever happens, happens. We just wanna be on the road. We wanna play and we want to put out records. We have no ambition to sit around town and be bored because we’re not doing what we want to do.
Even though your music is really primitive and minimal, your lyrics resonate in this broad and powerful way.
Andy Burr: I think that comes with keeping everything—even lyrical content—on a simple but intelligent level. I write about stuff that’s relevant to me and my everyday life and stuff that I’ve been through. Some of the lyrics are about a really dark time in my life when I dropped off the face of the earth. Sometimes they’re just about me and my friends—honest dudes who go through regular stuff. It’s less of me feeling sorry for myself as it is more of me belting out a story about what happened at the darkest point in my life.
Would you rather that some crazy shit happened than not?
Andy Burr: I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I might have turned out to be some graphic designer dude living in New York, wearing really expensive jeans. When I hit ground zero, the only thing I had to keep me moving was a guitar and an amp. It was something that was totally self-gratifying. So lyrics, you know, sometimes they’re just about girls—or a girl—some bad ass girl that rules your mind and you’d rather have her kick your ass than ever think about another girl.
Andy Burr: Yeah. We were in art school together and we promised to move to New York afterwards. In the meantime, I fell into this dark abyss and didn’t end up graduating, and she did. It was a really fucked up thing and I was left behind. We sort of both knew what was going to happen and then one day she was just gone. It wasn’t either of our faults. You can read that song from my perspective, or from hers. You know, ‘My baby left me crying.’ I really love the lyrical style of the Modern Lovers and Jonathan Richman. Or like when Lou Reed sings, ‘She hit me with a mop,’ you know exactly what that means. It is what it is.
I came across a blog that likened your music to ‘drinking warm beer out of a carburetor’ and someone else said one of your songs reminded them of ‘waking up too early on a Saturday morning, shuffling into the kitchen and noticing the table is filled with a bunch of empty beer bottles.’ Another called your music ‘venomous, sweat-stained rock.’ Are you guys really as feral as your music seems to suggest you are?
Andy Burr: I mean, we party with all our friends and I’ll wake up on somebody’s couch because we were too drunk to go home or whatever, but I think a lot of that perception has to do with the drawl in my voice, or the fact that we’re from Texas. Our songs are dirty and I see that as more about our influences than us being from Texas. None of us are even from Texas, anyway. I mean, we like to get just as fucked up as anyone else. We just play primitive rock ‘n’ roll, so take it or leave it.
You’ve mentioned that in the past you’ve felt a little ‘green’ up on stage. I remember when we saw you in St. Paul you broke a string mid-set.
Andy Burr: It takes crazy voodoo to unite the three of us. If it’s not there, it’s really stressful. Now we’re not worried about it at all. Once we had been together and played together for about five shows, we felt solid. Since Colin—our drummer—has been with us for a while now there’s not really much of that green-ness left. And Matty’s my best friend, so at this point we’re just running on our subconscious.
Which album would you request to be buried with?
Andy Burr: Velvet Underground—self-titled. I could listen to ‘What Goes On’ forever.
WOVEN BONES WITH THE FRESH & ONLYS, THE TIJUANA PANTHERS AND COBALT CRANES ON FRI., DEC. 4, AT THE 5 STAR BAR, 267 S. MAIN ST., DOWNTOWN. 9 PM / $8 / 21+. THE WOVEN BONES’ THE MINUS TOUCH EP IS OUT NOW ON ZOO MUSIC. VISIT THE WOVEN BONES AT WOVENBONES.COM OR MYSPACE.COM/WOVENBONES.