Vinny Burns: A killer new album, a fresh melodic vibe and life outside of Ten.
Hi Andrew. How are you. Hope that you are well.
Hi Vinny. Great to see you at The Gods this year - how did you enjoy the show?
I enjoyed it a lot. I love playing live and it seems like ages since I had
played a gig. The venue was a great and it was a good crowd.
And did you get the crowd reaction you had hoped for? I thought it was rather good considering the material was almost all new.
It was weird doing a show with material that isn't yet released but the response was more than favourable. As long as we did not get bottled off we were happy. Seriously though, it was the first ever gig for this band so I thought we did a good job. People still spoke to us afterwards :-)
Besides having a pint, what do you do to warm up before a show?
Believe it or not, I don't really drink before we go on. I might walk on with a beer but that will be the first of the day. I make up for it after the gig!
Before we go on, I usually like to be on my own or have very little conversation and just collect my thoughts. Most of the time I sit there playing my guitar to warm up. I don't have any special rituals though and I hate pep talks to get the band in the mood and all that. The people who do them normally do it because they are nervous :-)
For most of my career, the bands I have been in normally have a no wife/girlfriends or guests in the dressing room for half an hour before and after the show. That way the band can just relax without anyone bugging them. This works pretty well as there is nothing worse than having someone annoy you before you get on stage.
How do you find the dynamic of your new live show as compared with that of
Well, it's more light hearted and fun. No long epics and wizards and elves, swords, stones and cloaks and other Spinal Tap stuff. It's just 4 minute fun rock 'n' roll songs. No deep hidden meaning or anything. The music is just what it should be and that's fun. Just look at the photo's of ourselves inside the CD to know what we are about.
That does not mean we don't take ourselves seriously as far as what we are doing but we are just trying to inject a fun element back into rock.
Everyone is so fucking miserable or serious these days. Lets get back to the fun element that Van Halen were having in '78.
Did you ever consider including any tracks from your previous bands in that live set or future sets?
Yes, we have discussed it but we are trying to break a new band here and it's sometimes difficult to know what to do for the best. I mean the original interest in the band will be from the very people who have bought material from previous bands we have been with and I am sure they want to hear us do some of that material but on the other hand, we don't want to get too bogged down in the past and depend on that to pad the set out.
Sam and myself have no problem doing it but at the moment, we just wanted to promote Burns Blue. In the future there may be some Dare, Ya Ya and some of the solo stuff we wrote though.
Do you miss performing with Gary and the Ten guys?
Not really. When you leave a band you should mean it and not be looking back afterwards. I have spoken to Greg a few times on the phone.
I noticed that you are happy to let Sam take the lion's share of the limelight on stage - do you prefer to be the man behind the action?
I haven't really thought about it that way. It's a team effort really. I do usually move around a lot more than that but with it being the first gig, I was not really on the kind of autopilot that I am usually on after a few dates.
Saying that, I am not going to be diving round like an idiot while Sam is singing because everyone will be watching him anyway. He's a good front man and always holds the crowd well. He did when we were both in Ultravox together.
I agree that Sam's a great singer - how did you originally hook up with him?
Well, my old manager Sir Harry Cowell called me to ask if I would do a one off gig with Ultravox because their guitarist had walked out. I went down to rehearse with them but I thought the singer was not too god. I mentioned this to Sir Harry and to cut a long story short, we started auditioning new singers.
I felt bad because I had only gone down to do one gig and got the singer fired. We started auditioning singers and Sam was one of the guys who came down. He had a great voice and we hit it off straight away.
While we were on tour, we were into the same bands, albums and always said that we would get together and write sometime. When I got offered the solo album, he was the first person I called.
You used Sam on the majority of tracks for your solo The Journey album -
why the name change to Burns Blue for this release?
Well, that was supposed to be a solo album and this is supposed to be our band Burns Blue but I see what you mean. Nobody can really see a difference but the difference is that because I was not in another band, we could concentrate all our efforts into this album rather than work on it whenever I was not working on one of the other five albums that I played on while we did The Journey.
We had no distractions from other things like being in another band. This was our band and this was all we worked on and it made such a difference. We thought that Burns Blue was quite a cool name as in "It Burns Blue". Unfortunately everyone has just seen it as a project name but this really is far from being a project.
I suppose the answer lies in the fact there is quite a difference between the albums musically speaking - what was the plan going into writing this album?
Just to get together and write a bunch of good British sounding songs.
I was actually surprised just how pop the album is - it has a very 80's pop vibe, while it certainly doesn't sound dated, it does have a good fun vibe....
Well, it's just the way they came out. We did not have a template or anything, we just wanted it to sound fresh and fun.
Can you detail some of the process behind recording the album - there's several different sounds and textures to the album and I was wondering what thoughts went into that?
To be honest, it was just doing what I heard in my head. I heard sax on a couple so we got a sax player in. I wanted the keyboards that I played to be mostly Hammond organ type sounds so it was more UFO'ish but with an up to date production.
I bought a Custom Audio Amplifiers pre amp for guitars too so that my guitar sound was different than it has been. I spent thousands of pounds on new amps and effects for this album.
We also recorded the whole thing in 13 days. The album, from starting recording to mixed and mastered was only 26 days. I have never done an album that quick before be we all had our shit together. I have always spent 3 months just recording. I think this helped to achieve the live feel we wanted.
Even simple things like putting a tambourine on some of the songs made a difference. We approached everything with a fresh open mind and tried what we heard.
We also demo'd the tracks a couple of times in my place so I had time to
work on the majority of the sounds and textures before we started the album.
I also felt that Sam's vocals were light years ahead of The Journey did he do anything to change the sound/delivery of his voice? Or does the material just suit him better?
The material just suits him better.
Have you ever heard the Ya Ya stuff? Its brilliant singing and delivery. Everything was more together on this album.
I really had my stuff down with the production so that everything ran as smoothly as possible with no major surprises. On the Journey, I really was not prepared. There was so much other stuff happening and I did not do enough homework.
The thing is, once you get in the studio and you don't have everything prepared, you feel like you are just about keeping your head above water.
Simple things that are obviously wrong pass you by because you are too busy
and don't have time to pick up on them. A lot of the tempos of the songs were simply too slow but I was so busy that before I noticed, the drums had gone down and then it's too late.
I never wanted to go through that again so I made sure that I was on top of all that before we went in to start.
It's nice to come up with a few things under pressure but not the whole album :-)
Vinny, you have played with several bands over the years - with the material varying - do you consider Burns Blue to be a return to where you started - a more pop/melodic player?
I am not comfortable doing the Iron Maiden riffy type stuff or even for that matter the really heavy stuff. I grew up listening to UFO and Lizzy, I am more of a Toto, Journey, Y&T kind of melodic guitarist. Too be honest, I have always been more interested in writing songs than wanking off on guitar.
I'm no slouch on guitar but the guitar hero thing, well it's not what I am about.
Everyone was surprised what I could play with Ten because I never really did it in Dare but you have to do what is right for the songs at the end of the day. It's not that I suddenly got better, it's just that there was more of an outlet for it.
Because this is a new band, I can do what I like on guitar. There are no preconceptions of what we should sound like.
In that sense, it's very much full circle and back to Out Of The Silence
because no one had any preconceptions about that album and we were allowed
to do what we wanted. It's great that Sam and myself think along the same lines about this band. We both pretty much know the direction a song will take when we start it. We are both into very melodic stuff.
The debut Dare album is still rated as an all time classic album. Do you play that back on occasions and what do you think of it now?
Yes, I still play it. It's still a good album although I do think that the drums sound dated now where as the second album Blood From Stone, I think the drums sound current on that one.
Did you chat with Darren at The Gods or see the Dare set? (Actually I saw you drunk that night, so scratch that part of the question!!)
Yes, I had a chat with Darren back at the hotel bar. I think we were up until about 4 or 5 in the morning having a drink. We had a good laugh. I also had a chat with Andy, Dare's guitarist. He was a cool guy. I did actually catch most of Dare's set but as you noticed, I was rather drunk :-)
What's the favourite album you have recorded/played on to date?
Oh, that's a hard one. My favourite at the moment has to be 'What If' with Burns Blue. I am not just saying that, I really am proud of this album and I love it. I also think that the first Dare album was very special and will always be one of my favourites. It's a great album and sounds like nobody else.
Ten seemed to be very much Gary's band - was your departure more to do with taking control of your own material, or did you feel you had done all you could with 6 albums?
As I said earlier, I like to write songs. I want to write songs. I am not in the business of lining someone else's pockets forever.
I thought the songs on the last Ten album were unoriginal. I felt I had played half the songs before and there is more than a few fans who have mentioned this. The other half just sounded too similar to other artists songs.
Again, fans have mentioned this. I was getting uncomfortable with where the vocal range of the songs were heading. It was getting lower every album. It all started to feel uncomfortable. Add to this the fact that I felt the songs Sam and myself were writing were better by far and it's not going to be too long before I walk.
Ten is in a ridiculous situation. Just look at it now. Paul Hodson is writing great stuff for his own band and Bob Catley but he will not get more then the odd song on a Ten album (if he's lucky) no matter how good they are and how bad the Ten material is.
There is something seriously flawed in a set up like that. It's too frustrating after a while and the only motive behind no one getting a look in on the songs is greed and not wanting to share song writing/mechanical royalties and publishing advances. I don't
miss it at all.
I kind of touched in this a little earlier but do you feel equally as home playing heavy riffs like you did in Ten, or the more melodic riffs as in Dare and Burns Blue?
No, things like Thunder In Heaven from Babylon and The Phantom on Spellbound
I was a little embarrassed playing. I have said this in other interviews before I left the band that I didn't like them. The Phantom sounds like a cabaret song to me. I don't like the drum pattern Greg was asked to play When the vocal comes in it sounds like some hotel show from Vegas.
I just prefer to do something less generic and Iron Maiden sounding and with more melody. I know this sounds like sour grapes now but I have said all of this a long time before I left the band.
What's next for Vinny Burns? What can we look forward to?
We are just starting to write material for the next Burns Blue album. We are also trying to work out some sort of way to get the band out on the road. In-between that when Sam is next up here writing, we are probably going to do a few low level gigs off our own backs to have a bit of fun. Just local bars and stuff. I have not done that since I was 18 years old and it would be fun to do again.
We have a great band with Sam, myself, Craig Fletcher on bass and Kev Whitehead on drums. Also looking forward to Rockin' Ralphy S, Shane and Todd coming over to
record. I can try and steal some new guitar licks!!
And finally - what are you listening to right now?
Recently, loads of old Rainbow (with Dio) and some old Rush (first four albums). Must be going back to my second childhood or something :-) I also listened to some Talisman after seeing them at The Gods. I thought that Nexx and them were brilliant. Best of the weekend for me.
Just got the new Bill Leisegang album but not had a chance to listen to it yet. He's a great guitarist.
Thanks again mate!
No problem Andrew. Look forward to talking again. All the best.