Interview: Burn

When a band goes on hiatus, upon their return it is hard not to get a little bit nostalgic, go through their back catalogue and get re-familiar with the work they have produced. So when pioneers of the New York hardcore scene Burn announce that they would be returning with their first full-length record in 16 years in the shape of ‘Do or Die’, the natural reflex would be “well this is going to be old Burn but released in 2017”.

However, this was not that case and as guitarist Gavin Van Vlack tells Already Heard this is for a very good reason. “I am not a fan of nostalgia, it is good to have a history but if you keep looking back at how things used to be, then you are missing the moments which matter, the moment that is now,” said the guitarist. “If I am there pouring my heart out of CBGB’s then I am missing something that I could be listening to, something new which could absolutely rock my world and make me want to write new music.

"There are no solutions in nostalgia. We need solutions. We need music which is going to feel and inspire us to do great things. We have a finite time on this planet and I have an urgency to create.”

And it is this urgency to create that rings out loud and clear from the 49-year-old, who just having a brief conversation with his passion to make something is unbridled. Van Vlack is very much a man of living in the moment, and that moment right now is in the Burn bubble. With the tag ‘New York hardcore’ on their back, there may be a certain expectation for what Burn’s output would be. But one listen to the new Deathwish Inc release and even the ‘From the Ashes’ EP for that, it is clear that Burn do not fit to any mould.

“I don’t think you should judge music,” adds the Burn guitarist. “There’s what you like and what you don’t like but you can’t go bashing it anything in particular, unless there is something bigoted then that stuff needs to get out of music. But you can’t judge music, its art. There are two things I have learnt about art. All art is subjective and all art is theft.

"We set out to create music that we wanted to create, our objective is we want to hear new sounds. I like to tinker with music and I like to experiment and its something that has been in me since I was a child.

"Every bodies soul speaks differently and that is what we need to give out when we make music.”,/I>

With passion in abundance for Van Vlack and vocalist Chaka Malik, the question always was how was new music from the band, who have been so instrumental in shaping the hardcore scene for the past 20 years going to be received? And for vocalist and guitarist alike, this wasn’t going to be a quick flash in the pan release, the band wanted to put their all into Burn once again, hitting the road as well, and this was the daunting part of it for Van Vlack.

He adds: “We got offered to play the Black and Blue show by our good friend who just wanted to see us live again. When we agreed that we were going to do it, we both said to each other we wouldn’t do it unless we were going to see it all the way through and write new music.

"It’s always scary putting out new music because it is your creation and your art and you hear the beauty in that, and that’s quite scary because you are just wondering are other people getting it as well.

"You want to do something that people love, and people can buy into and it resonates with them in a way that they can create their own.”

Van Vlack is hoping that his and Burn’s creativeness will be the inspiration the younger generation needs to pick up an art form. The guitarist added, “music programmes in school are lacking, so if some kid can hear a record that I played on and that inspires them to do something creative, then that’s great.

"I’m a big believer of art heals and it is one of those things that we need good art that speaks to people that inspires people and bridges gaps.”

‘Do or Die’ by Burn is out now on Deathwish Inc.

Burn link: Website|

Words by Tim Birkbeck (@tim_birkbeck)

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