Interview: Backyard Tire Fire


Photo from My Old Kentucky Blog
Interview by Tim Cigleske

You just can’t separate some bands from their birthplace. Think Seattle and Nirvana. New York and the Velvet Underground. London and the Sex Pistols. So it is with Backyard Tire Fire and… Bloomington, Illinois.

Though not the first place you think of for rocking, you feel like you grew up in their hometown by the time you’re done listening. Their new album “The Places We Lived” has a sense of place that Wisconsinites should also be able to identify.

“We’re regular, hard working Midwesterners that make interesting rock & roll records,” says vocalist Ed Anderson.

Anderson spoke with Fan-Belt before their show with Rusted Root on Monday, December 29, at the Rave …

Fan-Belt: All I know about your hometown of Bloomington, Illinois, is that it has a Culver’s. What is the most awesome thing about it? Educate our readers.

Ed Anderson: It’s also the home of Beer Nuts. It’s small but big enough to not feel like a one-horse town. Three major interstates run right through the middle of Bloomington and it’s an affordable place to live. It’s also home to Illinois State University and Illinois Wesleyan University. The most awesome thing about Bloomington? The corn fields that surround us in the summer time.

F-B
: I think your description “workingman authenticity and indie-rock eccentricity” — from your bio — will resonate with our Milwaukee readers. Can you explain what you mean by that?

EA: My brother (Matt Anderson, our bass player) and I grew up in a blue collar family where our father was a plumber and instilled a hard work ethic in us. We’re not afraid to get our hands dirty and to bust our asses. I think that comes out in the tunes. That said, we’re also not afraid to take chances in the studio and to try things in an unconventional manner.

F-B: You’ve maintained “loyalty to analog recording by cutting everything to tape.” That seems crazy in this day and age. Why did you decide this?

EA: We are lucky enough to have a friend in town that owns an analog studio (Tony SanFilippo at Oxide Lounge Recording) that gives us a decent deal. He’s co-produced all of our stuff and puts a lot of thought and care into making the best possible recordings. Working with him on tape has always been a no-brainer to us. This is not to say we’re never going to work with anyone else and all of our future records will be cut to tape, but thus far that’s the way we’ve always done it.

F-B
: The listener really gets the sense that “The idea of ‘home’ is at the core of this record.” Was that planned for this record or did it just sort of happen?

EA: It just sort of happened. I think we felt that theme developing during the recording process and simply let it happen. I wrote a bundle of tunes and most of them had something to do with home. Leaving home. Longing for home. Returning home. Wasn’t on purpose, but I’m very pleased with the end result.

F-B: To me, it seems like bands that have a strong sense of regional identity are thriving — from The Hold Steady to Kings of Leon. Is that helping you? Do you think we’re seeing a trend, and if so why?

EA: I really don’t know. I’ve stopped trying to put any rhyme or reason to any of this. Somebody decides you’re “cool” and it’s like a switch gets flipped and everybody jumps on board. I just keep trying to write songs, play good shows, and make interesting records. Most everything else is out of my hands and always has been. It’s good to be proud of where you are from and I think that certainly shines through in our music. Hopefully folks can identify with that regardless of their geographical location.

F-B: I also have to ask about your beer preference, since you’re playing in Milwaukee. I hear you’re PBR drinkers. What are you favorites?

EA: I dig PBR. Budweiser is usually the beer of choice though. As long as we’re not paying for it, most anything will do. We’re not picky.

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