How about a little love for my hometown, eh? Syracuse, NY 4-piece rockers Bridge Under Fire are proof positive that family, work, school, and life in general do not have to detract from having fun in a band. With 4 years under their belt, B.U.F. has maintained a fiercely DIY ethic, independently releasing their music and traversing many states with their crunchy brand of Melodic Punk. The aforementioned responsibilities may be a hindrance on going at it full time, but hey… Everyone has priorities.
Drawing comparisons to and inspiration from bands like Hot Water Music and others of the ilk, Bridge Under Fire’s biggest asset is their passion for music and unending desire to make a mark in the local/regional underground music scenes. You can be certain that if you want to see a few good guys put everything they’ve got into their music and performances, Bridge Under Fire is a solid bet.
Very recently releasing a new 7” on LRS Records//Orange S.L.S. Records titled “I Got A Guy For That,” I caught up with Vocalist/Guitarist and long-time friend Mark Turley to talk about B.U.F’s history, the new tracks, LRS Records, and the ever bouncing teeter-tauter that is the life of a working working musician.
G- Hey Mark and thank you for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! We miss Syracuse way out here in Austin, Texas… How is everything going and what’s happening in your neck of the woods?
M- Hey Greg, currently things are going pretty good. Summer is winding down, and everyone’s making plans for the onslaught of snow we are sure to get.
G- I’ll send you a picture of a margarita in January if I’m still down here.
But down to business: You recently released your latest EP, “I Got A Guy For That” on your own label, LRS Records, in conjunction with Orange S.L.S. Records. How do you feel about the final product, and how did the dual label idea come about??
M- I’m incredibly proud of it. It’s always been a goal since we started this band. We sort of made a bucket list of everything we wanted to do when this project got going and being on vinyl was pretty close to the top of the list. We’ve been features on a vinyl comp by Unbuckled Records, and did a split 7” for L.R.S. last year, but this is our first vinyl record that is 100% Bridge Under Fire.
The idea of doing the records with Orange S.L.S. came about a few months ago. Scott, who runs Orange S.L.S. out of Utica, NYU got in touch with Nick (the other half of L.R.S. Records) and myself. He had mentioned that he had been doing CD’s, tapes, and digital releases but wanted to get into vinyl and was looking for some guidance. We struck up a friendship and pitched the idea of doing this record together. Each label is doing its own exclusive artwork, and its own color vinyl for the release.
G- Can you tell us about the recording process for the album? Where did you record it, who was behind the boards this time around, and how long did the release take to record and get ready for release?
M- We recorded this record like we did the last split 7” and our previous full-length at my studio Across The Street Studios in Cicero, NY. I was manning the board during it, but everyone had a lot of input. It was a fun relaxed time, since it was in the same room we practice in there wasn’t that shock of hearing everything in a new setting. It was also cool to take our time and make sure everyone had their opinions heard.
G- And with the new release, fans will want to know if/when you have plans to perform and tour the tracks, new and old. Does Bridge Under Fire have any plans for upcoming performances or tours in the near future?
M- Right now, we have a release weekend planned in upstate NY. L.R.S. Records is doing a release show in Syracuse on Sept. 26, our friends in the Built4BBQ cooperative are planning a release show in Albany for Sept. 27, and Orange S.L.S. Records is having their release show Sunday Sept. 28th. After that, we have a few one-off shows in the works, but nothing is confirmed yet. We usually do a late January tour, but not sure of any specifics yet.
G- I touched on it during the introduction, but B.U.F. members work, have families or are looking to start them, go to school, and still manage to get together and doing your thing. What would you say is the most difficult thing about being in a band and/or on the road? What do you tell yourself when you are in doubt about your music/band mates/future as a performer?
M- The past 2 years have really been a big test for us. In 2012 Matt, our bass player, was living in DC. We were able to work around it, and we toured a lot that year. In the Fall, Nick and I formed L.R.S. Records to release the Bridge Under Fire / The Slaughterhouse Chorus split 7”. In the beginning of 2013, we toured to support it, and around that time things got a little complicated. Our drummer quit to go back to school, and Matt’s job in DC ended. This situation left Chris and I here writing this new record and playing some acoustic shows for most of 2013.
Since then, L.R.S. records has gotten bigger and busier putting out 10 releases in under 2 years. I got engaged, our new drummer Steve has a new baby, Matt has gone back to grad school in Virginia, and some other things have come up along the way. Our friend Dylan has been filling in on bass and helped with the recording of this record when Matt can’t make it back to town.
(This next sentence is a key point for EVERY BAND. Kudos to Mark for bringing it up.)
It is definitely not the ideal situation for a band, and it has made touring more difficult. We had a talk a while ago and blatantly said, “Why are we doing this?” The answer came pretty simply: Those creative voices in your head don’t stop. If this band ended, I would still be playing guitar and writing songs… and they would probably sound like Bridge Under Fire songs. We all love the band life of writing, recording, touring etc. But we all also love our personal lives and sleeping in our own beds. Matt and I started this band because our last band, The Andrea Doria, ended and we weren’t done playing music together. We knew what was on our bucket list of what we wanted to do and we knew there was a ticking clock to get it done before the next chapter of life kicked in. So, Bridge Under Fire decided to do as much as possible. As long as we can still get together and play, we probably will. When it gets to the point where we can’t do it anymore or it stops being fun, that’s when we will hang it up.
G- What have you found yourselves listening to for inspiration or pleasure lately? Are there any new artists or albums you can hip us to right now?
M- Currently I’ve been listening to Against Me’s latest record, Jack White’s new record Lazaretto, Del Paxton’s record is really great and the new Rx Bandits’ Gemini, Her Majesty.
One of the things I really miss about being on the road is finding all these cool small bands that we end up playing with. That’s how we met The Slaughterhouse Chorus from Albany. We played with them and I remember 3 notes in, I looked at Chris and was said “This is my new favorite band.”
G- And taking the last question a bit further, what 4 albums should every fan of B.U.F. should know about or have in their collection, and why. Go!
M- Wow, this question is going to take me a minute to think about…
- O Pioneers- Neon Creeps
This band was one of the reasons Bridge Under Fire sounds the way it does and works the way it does. This record is maybe their most polished, but it is the best way for a casual listener to get into them. The titles are funny, the artwork is great, the vocals are raw but catchy, and the music is fast and loud. The coolest thing, I think, is that for the entire album the guitar tone is clean throughout. The guitar is bright and jangly, but it is still super raw and powerful. Also this band has a HUGE discography of singles and 7”s that I’m always on the hunt for. I spoke to Eric (the singer/guitarist) and he told me “I’m really good at writing songs. I’m not that great at writing albums because we have so many lineup changes with recording and touring. So we just write a couple songs then release them.” That’s what I wanted Bridge Under Fire to do. If someone gets into our band, I want to have a bunch of material for them to hunt down after we are done.
- Hot Water Music- Till The Wheels Fall Off
Yes, this is a B-sides and rarities record, but it is amazing and stands up more than your average b-sides record. This was playing heavily when we were first forming. Kill The Night was the first song we covered when we were auditioning drummers. I love this record and think it a major corner piece of our sound.
- Hey Mercedes- Every Night Fireworks
This is an album we were all super into that doesn’t sounds directly connected to Bridge Under Fire, but this is playing every time we are all in the van. It’s the catchy poppier side that we go for especially with our guitar leads.
- Marathon- S/T
If you ever lived anywhere in upstate NY and played in a punk rock band, you’ve already heard this record front to back a million times. And if you’ve heard it, you’ve tried to make your band sound like it. The album has just got that un-namable thing that perfect records have. The vocals are spot on with harmonies and the changes from singing to shouting. The 2 guitars work as one but then split up and each has the perfect voice to compliment the other. And the rhythm section is one of the best. This is a desert island record for me, and a must listen if you like our band.
G- Do you have a favorite song you have ever written? If you could only give 1 song to someone who’d never heard of you before, to try and make a new fan, what song would you give them and why?
M- I guess really the newest one is always my favorite. We are always writing so the set list is always changing. Right now, I love playing “Previously On The West Wing” because its so balls to the wall fast and loud. We’ve played it at our last few shows and people seem to respond really well to it. But I’m sure as soon as we start writing again I’ll find something new. I’ve been told some favorites of new listeners are “Clayton’s Song,” “There’s Always Money In The Banana Stand and Liter-A-Cola.”
G- Are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future? Give us a 3-BAND DREAM LINEUP that you’d love to be a part of?
M- My 3-band dream lineup, would of course have Bridge Under Fire opening, followed by The Foo Fighters playing The Colour and The Shape beginning to end, and headliners would be The Clash (it’s a dream lineup) playing for no less than 4 hours.
G- What is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like? Tell us about it.
M- I think the craziest show we’ve done was when we opened for Chuck Ragan at Stronghearts Café in Syracuse. Its known that Hot Water Music was one of our biggest influences, so playing with Chuck was a dream come true. We were added to the lineup but told to play acoustic. We had never done that before. Josh had just joined the band playing drums and learned all our songs in like 2 weeks. He showed up to practice and I told him “we are opening for Chuck Ragan…. But we have to rework all of our songs.” It was a real fish out of water experience, but that’s part of what made it one of my most memorable shows.
A year later we played at Pouzza Fest in Montreal with Hot Water Music and I got a moment to talk to Chuck and he remembered that show and we talked about it for a minute. That’s one more thing off of the bucket list.