Burntsienna Trio

Burntsienna Trio - November 2012

Burntsienna Trio Session
Violitionist Sessions

Session Date: September 22, 2012
Posting Date: November 12, 2012
Artist Hometown: Denton, TX
Links: Facebook, Bandcamp
Recorded by: Michael Briggs

Lucky One
The Late Show
County Seat 1
3 QUESTIONS
ONE: What’s the back-story of the Burntsienna Trio?
Justin Collins: Pretty much…I had a roommate that bought a banjo on a vacation and never played it, and then I started playing it, just in an open G tuning. I’d been playing a lot in that tuning on guitars. Then, I had the terrible idea to start a band with a banjo, so, that’s pretty much the long and the short of it.
DJ: Did you get your own banjo at some point?
JC: I did, finally, get a banjo of my own. The original banjo is still around. Sinevil has the original banjo. It’s precious. It has a little butterfly inlay on the back.
DJ: It sounds beautiful.
JC: Yeah, it’s gorgeous. It’s probably better hanging on a wall than it is being used as a musical instrument, but, if you’re under the impression that you can tune a banjo at all in the first place, the banjo is probably not the instrument for you.
DJ: You released your most recent album No Lord Baby back in April. How did that come together?
JC: We did that record out at the Echo Lab, so, it’s pretty much all self-produced. We started…we started a long time ago. We went into the studio without any songs or any idea what we were going to do, and I was fully confident that we were going to leave with probably seven records, since we’re so talented and creative. We left with about three minutes of useable material. So then, over the course of the next…five years, I guess…that was in ’08, the first session, and then there was a session a year after that, and then, after the second session, I realized that I had sort of put the cart in front of the horse. I forgot to write songs and then learn the songs. That’s normally…that’s a normal recording process. Like, you write some songs, then you record the songs— no, wait, then you learn the songs. See, I still can’t do it. You write the songs, learn the songs, then go record the songs. That’s probably the most efficient way to use studio time.
DJ: The safest, anyway.
JC: It seems like that makes the most sense. So, after the second session, and trying a lot of things and coming up with another 90 seconds of usable material…so, in two years, we were up to 4…nearly 4½ minutes worth of really great, excellent material. So, then for a year and a half, I wrote some songs and we learned those songs and went and recorded them, and in about four months, we were done with the record. The record that we put out in April. It’s actually half of what will all be finished. The plan is to take the other half of the…it was 18 or something songs that we were all working on at once, so, take eleven that seemed to go together— I think it was eleven. Ten or eleven that seemed to go together, and finish those, and the other songs are a little more broad in scope. Just different kinds of sounds. This record is very much just live takes, vocals, not a whole bunch of extra harmony, just some simple percussion…We tried to keep it as clear-cut as possible. The next one— the songs that got left off of those collection are way more fleshed-out and geeky, as you would expect from a bunch of dudes sitting in a studio with a lot of time on their hands and not a lot of material to work with. “Hey, you wanna try pluckin’ the piano?” “Yeah, pluck the piano. See what that sounds like. Hit it with a feather.” “All right, cool. Should we take a break for four hours?” “Yeah, we probably should.” “All right, let’s get…cigarettes and beer.” “That’s right! We should get cigarettes and beer!” “And then we record twelve takes of kazoo?” “Yes, definitely. At least twelve takes of kazoo.”
DJ: It sounds like maybe there isn’t much of a sense of urgency.
JC: Well, you know, Geffen stopped calling me. Universal is no longer pounding down our door. So, yeah, we kind of get to work at our own pace to make the record we want to make. The record that we put out is just released online. The next one will probably be the same, and then if there seems to be some kind of urgent reason to make physical copies of them, so we can turn a huge profit and all buy nicer houses and cooler shoes, we probably will.
TWO: I assume you have a vicious, ongoing feud with the Burnt Sienna Band?
JC: Oh, man! The Burnt Sienna Band…they’re in Delaware, right?
DJ: Yeah.
JC: We exchanged emails with those guys probably ten years ago. I’ve been playing in this band, Burntsienna, since I was in high school, basically. There’s been a couple of other members, three other members who have gone their separate ways. We’ve been doing this since 2006, I think. Something like that. When was that first trip to Electrical? ’04?
Sinevil: ’02.
JC: ’02? Is that right? I don’t think that’s right. I think the Tijuana Folk Song record, which was all electric guitars with another band member, another songwriter, which we record and mixed everything up in Chicago, and I’m pretty sure that came out in ’04, and then the Trio record came out in ’06. I think that’s how it worked. We’ll go with that. So, even before Steve was in the band, we found out through Google searches about the Burnt Sienna Band. No actual ongoing feud. I think there’s some…there was a brief period while I was still working for a bank, doing a day job, where I sent some kind of email. There may have been some ‘Cease and Desist’ or some kind of legal action threatened on their part, since they seemed to have…they play a sort of hilarious menagerie of covers at frat parties and shit, so they probably have way more money, but it wasn’t pursued, and I still have the URL, so…Hopefully they’ll buy it from me someday.
DJ: Have you been approached by Girls Gone Wild, or any of the other companies that they work with?
JC: You know, for a long time, there was a steady stream of emails that would come through that were obviously intended for the other band. Like, asking me if I could book a wedding, and they’re favorite song is Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” and they just want that played at their Bat Mitzvah or whatever, and how the bass player is so hot and they wanted his personal cell number. There was a steady stream of those for a while, but I don’t really get those anymore. I don’t know why. I never deleted them. I’m sure I still have a folder of them in an old Hotmail account somewhere. They’re ancient but it’s totally true.
THREE: You have a new album in the works—
JC: Pretty much. It should be done, probably, in December.
DJ: What else is on the horizon for Burntsienna Trio?
JC: That’s as far as I’ve thought through it. It’s pretty adventurous and athletic for me to think even as far as throughout the rest of the year. I’m…I’m pretty slack when it comes to organizing the group. But, if somebody decides they like the records and wants to put them out for me, then that’s great. I’ll go play a bunch of shows and try not to make them look like a fool for giving me money.
DJ: So, open call for cash.
JC: Mhm. Just send me your requests to love my art and give the gift of our brilliant songs to the masses. Until then, it’s just going to sit online, and if I feel like listening to it, I’ll listen to it, and anybody else can listen to it, too.
- Interview and transcription by Dale Jones