If Dallas rockers the Burden Brothers seem familiar, well, they are. A collection of Nineties rockers — singer Vaden Lewis of the Toadies, drummer Taz Bentley of Reverend Horton Heat, bassist Casey Orr of GWAR, guitarist Casey Hess of Doosu and Texas scenester guitarist Corey Rozzoni — the Brothers are something of a supergroup.
And in fact, the band retains everything good about such collaborations: experience, tight playing, energy and swagger. But it does so without the bad: namely, fleeting commitment and dysfunctional ego. Their debut, Buried in Your Black Heart, is actually a grassroots affair, recorded in just a month with tight budget constraints. Band members pore over their Web site, routinely offering tour reports, chat-room updates and other treats. Not exactly supergroup behavior.
The record was released back in November, but because of label problems it’s just now hitting airwaves, and the band is about to head out on the road to support it. Crammed with floorboard-shaking rock, Buried booms with thumping rhythms and vocal yowls — the kind of heaviness, adrenaline and testosterone associated with rock lords Queens of the Stone Age and Audioslave. A comparison not lost on Bentley.
“None of us is breaking ground,” he says. “We all have that jam quality that we grew up to listening to. Rockers that just bust out into a jam.”
The Burden Brothers first twinkled back in 1994 when Lewis and Bentley met on tours with their former bands and discussed the possibility of someday working together. A year later they crossed paths again and “knocked around for a while, recording stuff that we thought no one would ever hear,” Lewis says.
As it turns out, shortly thereafter, their bands broke up, leaving both jaded and angry with the industry and its bottom-line demands — Lewis, especially.
“I didn’t want to have anything to do with anything musically,” he remembers. “But Taz called me up and asked me to play on some songs he had written. And I couldn’t say no to that.”
It so happens that Lewis and Bentley liked what came out and posted the results on the Web (one of which, “Walk Away,” appears on the album). And the fans agreed. So much so that the two decided to play live, recruiting a rotating cast of friends to help out. Next came calls from labels and lineup finalizing. The band then agreed to record a debut, with one key condition: No industry bullshit. And so began the Burden Brothers.
“It all goes back to the fact that we’ve done this for so many years,” Bentley says. “We threw away conventional methods. It keeps the atmosphere completely light-hearted. There’s no pressure from anyone looking over the band’s shoulder.”
That lax approach produced kick-ass rock. Ranging from aggressive shredding to melodic, tuneful wailing, the tunes are thick. The first single “Beautiful Night” starts off with a poppy guitar underneath Lewis’ more gentle singing (which isn’t really all that gentle). Soon though the attack launches, as big guitars and piercing solos overtake. And the rest of the album acts accordingly.
“With this band, the recording process was very freeing,” Lewis says. “But we retain that original fuck-it attitude. We wanted it to sound live and real. But at the same time we’ll put in a harmony guitar solo . . . so long as it kicks you in the balls.”
Burden Brothers tour dates:
4/15: Little Rock, AR, Clear Channel Metroplex
4/17: San Antonio, Fiesta Oyster Bake
4/20: Nashville, BB King’s
4/21: Ft. Wayne, IN, Pierre’s
4/23: Buffalo, Mohawk Place
4/24: Syracuse, NY, Club Tundra
4/25: Cambridge, MA, Middle East
4/27: New York, Tribeca Rock Club
4/29: Johnson City, TN, The Sophisticated Otter
4/30: Birmingham, AL, The Nick
5/8: San Antonio, TBA
5/14: Dallas, Gypsy Ballroom
5/15: Austin, Stubb’s
5/27: Kansas City, MO, Davey’s Uptown
5/28: Des Moines, IA, TBA
5/29: Minneapolis, RiverFest