Recording Under the Influence is a recurring self-titled feature where we ask artists to ignore their musical inspirations for a minute and share what really went into the making of a particular record. Today’s installment is one of our best yet–a brutally honest breakdown of Woven Bones’ punk-in-drublic debut (In and Out and Back Again, out now on HoZac) by frontman Andrew Burr. The trio’s month-long east coast tour starts this week and includes a free South Street Seaport gig with Yellow Fever on July 2.
“I’ve been doing a lot better as of late, so the next record might just be about sobriety and down pillows with a girl’s perfume on them.”
FLIPPITY GIRLS/BANDS x INFINITY/AUSTIN BOOZY LIMITS
I’ve been doing Woven Bones in the form that is now for almost two years–basically the whole time I’ve lived in Austin. It’s pretty much a regular all-American town with a much larger dose of music, culture and arts injected into it than other non-coastal/port/art hub towns. A lot of people find this place to be very inviting because of all this combined with cheap rent, the college and a stable local economy compared to other towns of its size and proximity. So there are hip kids here for sure, dudes and girls alike, like-minded and good-looking, smart and also completely sheepish. It’s so inviting that we get new transplants after every SxSW.
That said, this town is so over-saturated with bands, ‘soon to be bands’ and their gangs of friends ready and willing to profess full allegiance to their rock ‘n’ roll creed of ‘making it’ (a term that definitely runs musicians lives here just as much or more than anywhere else). It’s a double-edged sword in all respects. You’ve gotta figure out how to take advantage of this place and just be happy with getting by if you’re really in the thick of trying to make things happen on your own. As far as getting gigs, bands gotta get ahead on their own and man up before they even get to the medium level plateau of getting paid well, or even decent. All the clubs here exist in the non-festival times and have bands every night. It’s a crazy thing. We all wanna eat, including the club employees, so the owners wanna scrape enough cheddar off the top so they can expand their own manifest destiny You’ve gotta learn how that shit rolls and just deal with it, ’cause it’s not going anywhere.
So I find myself looking for love in Austin, and it’s daunting. I’m not looking for the rock ‘n’ roll girl, or maybe I am–she hasn’t appeared like the Holy Grail or anything yet. I’ve actually always been really attracted to girls out of the rock ‘n’ roll line of site, though going to shows and what not is part of just about everyone’s lives here, and probably this mysterious girl’s life too. I’ve fell hard for a bunch of girls and gone back and forth, but I have never really been able to offer much because I’m the one in the band that doesn’t have a legit job and just runs things for us nonstop. It’s led me from one band friend’s couch or practice space room to the next; grime pad to nice pad, nicer to grimier, wherever the last tour has left me financially. We’ve been doing shit non-stop since we started, just like any other band that works. There are an ample selection of band dudes in Austin, so none of us are special. In fact, there are plenty of attractive, hip and smart dudes that have a nice apartment, solid job, and are here in town most of the time. Those dudes can offer these girls what a girl wants; I can only offer skinny ass Andy Bones and all the endearingly-charming qualities that come along with him…minus the fat wallet or comfy bed.
Waking up alone and hungover from a night of drinking with the bros at a show or on the front porch–with a throat as dry and ratty as a burnt pack of American Spirits–can become a regular morning ritual. It gets hella old, but I’m a stir crazy kinda dude, and unless I got some serious creativity or a bad-ass woman keeping me home and happy, my hermit stints are bound to bust. This town drinks and I mean fucking drinks, like as if some cowboys found the well of salvation back in the day and its name was Lone Star Beer. I might not look it, and I say “might not”, but I’m 30 and the only evidence to me that I’m 30 is that my hangovers are debilitating and depressing. I’ll wake up and be like, ‘What the fuck am I doing? This band shit is for the birds. I want a job and a girl, and a fucking cool hound dog, too, maybe.’. This has been going on the whole ride through this band so far, and I can say that it really influences some songs about love, and women, and the want/need thereof. In all honesty, some lyrics and the motivation behind songs is just the internal disclaimer in my head: ‘Girl you are so sweet and fine, I guarantee you I’m gonna dodge from you coming in my room to see my humble broke setup of air mattress, computer and dirty clothes. I’m also gonna try to do anything fun and free, and we might go dutch all the time for right now. I know i suck babe, but I really like you, I bet more than that chump over there drooling’.
I’m not complaining at all about any of this. It just is, and it’s an influence. I’ve been doing a lot better as of late, so the next record might just be about sobriety and down pillows with a girl’s perfume on them. I hope.
WOMEN BFF’S IN ROCK ‘N’ ROLL (DEE DEE PENNY/FRANKIE ROSE)
Both of our first singles (Dum Dum Girls‘ “Longhair” 7-inch, Woven Bones’ “With You Alone”) were part of the HoZac Hookup Klub in 2009; hers my favorite and ours hers. We traded E-mails and I would just be like, “Hey, I’m fucking serious, I will drop anything to help you get a band and do this live. All I wanna do is see it happen. I WILL PLAY WHATEVER.” She’d just say that she was working on it for the future and tell me how she had just DJ’d our singles at the local bar with her husband Brandon three times in a night. She’s been like a sister to me since that first communication–a huge inspiration and supporter.
This girl is solid gold. While her husband toured about 90-percent of 2009, and we just kept releasing singles, she sat at home and produced one of the most amazing albums in a very long time, all by herself. While critics don’t interpret it that way, it’s all hers. Dee Dee works harder than any other man I know, and her faith and confidence in what she does will outlive us all. She has been through some of the roughest things any human being can go through in the past two years with her head held high and never losing sight of what she was to be. She is a queen and a true honorary sister.
I met Frankie through Dee Dee, and I immediately knew why Dee Dee was so fond of her. The girl is a brick house–totally unfuckwithable. She has been the backbone of three of the greatest and most influential bands (Dum Dum Girls, Crystal Stilts, Vivian Girls) in world of modern rock we are all a part of these days. She has only left these bands for one core reason to my knowledge–she wants to do her own thing. She is not one to keep beating a dead horse or compromise her own values to keep on doing something. If she feels comfortable working a job and having steady money because that’s what she wants, and she can do her own thing on her own time and finally feel the pride of having her own, she does it. I’ve only been so broke myself and comprised comforts ’cause I’m still cheesing on living out my 12-year-old Kurt Kobain fantasy at 30. Frankie is the opposite; she has seen it all and does only what she sees fit for number one and her pack of gals. Did I say brick house?
Matty is my best friend, and Woven Bones’ bassist. When I moved to Austin, we clicked right away. He’s believed in what I had planned ever since, no questions asked. He has seen me through some dark shit since this started and some great times as well, and his friendship has never wavered. We’ve been through five drummers in the past 1.5 years and it hasn’t held us up yet. He’s been there for every practice to get drummers ready and up to par. Even if it’s drill sergeant shit and we practice everyday because tour has already been booked and it’s 10 days away. He sticks it out.
Matty and I have learned how to play with each other in a way that is totally instinctive. We could do anything together and it’s something i hope never goes away. A direct influence of this friendship on the record was when we were finishing our final two songs, one of which we dropped off the final version. One of our best buds and brothers, Colin Ryan, played drums on the record, and he was going through some anxiety and rough shit. The engineer and I suggested that we do a couple more takes on the dropped song. Colin reached his breaking point with everything else he had on his mind, combined with the taxing floor/snare beats on multiple takes through the song, and he walked out of the studio to leave the session–two songs away from being done, on someone else’s time and someone else’s budget.
We called him…no answer. We drove around looking for him…no answer. I begged…no answer. Finally after an hour and a half, he just showed back up to get it done, out of his own conscience and brotherhood with us. Matty helped keep me cool the whole time. He was like, “Dude, how many times can we go through this and still let it fade us? Let’s chill.”
The song we recorded next was “Blind Conscience.” We did it in one take. It was a song I had dismissed as being too epic and drone-y, and Colin always stated how much he thought we should at least put it to tape. At this point, the lyrics weren’t finished, and I just freestyled the live scratch vocals about the situation that had just ensued, and how much I value my friends and what we do together through the fog, fuck-ups, anxiety, and bullshit. When I laid down the real vocals, I just listened to the scratch track, wrote it down and sang it better. That’s that song–done. Couldn’t have got through it without Matty, and of course, Colin.
“I’m the self-proclaimed black sheep, and I’m trying to do this Rock thing ’cause it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do”
My mother is a stone-cold southern Floridian Irish Catholic beast of a strong woman. My parents have lived no-frills, been hard asses on me, and done everything in life solely for me and my sister–completely selfless our whole lives.
I lost my mind to drugs in art school; my younger sister finished school and got a master’s degree. I haven’t had a real girlfriend since the one of four years got away; my sister is married to a firefighter and has a child, good job, house, etc.
I’m the self-proclaimed black sheep, and I’m trying to do this Rock thing ’cause it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. When I get down and I speak to my mom, she tells me that I shouldn’t do this if we aren’t making a good living. I’m always like, “Mom, I’m fine, I’m just fucking up in general and want to talk.” After she realizes I’m not ever quitting the band, she always reminds me of past shit I have been through, and that if I wanna do this, it’s all on me. I make my own bed, and that I’ve came through way worse before.
The song “I’ll Be Runnin” is all about mom. I’m a wimp.
We have been really lucky so far as a band, and I have had nothing but good luck with people reaching out and wanting to do stuff for Woven Bones since I recorded our first track and put it on the web. A lot of bands don’t get that lucky off the bat. About 85-percent of what Woven Bones has written/recorded has been released right after they were finished. It’s basically the cataloging via vinyl release of the whole progression of a band. We feel really lucky to do what we do and we enjoy it more than anything.
Coming back from tour in December 2009, we had to finish the full record we promised Todd and Brett at HoZac some eight months before. They were the Bones’ believers from day one and I promised Todd when we were in Chicago that we’d give him a record that spanned everything he originally dug about Woven Bones, to the stuff we have been doing as of late. (He originally wrote me when the Bones was pretty much my solo thing and sounded way different compared to today.) I pushed for things to keep getting more and more punk and driving, and Todd originally found me on some way more spacious psych shit. I was glad for us to have the length of an album ahead of us to write and record, so we could sum up everything we’ve been doing and give someone something of sufficient size to digest.
So the future is bad ass. We have a record we love and nothing but touring for it to look forward to, which we are super stoked on. It’s exciting to know we have this coming, and we wrote the record to fuel that. Today, I’m mostly spending the free time I have working on the next Woven Bones record and pushing the shit forward and not looking back. We’re not gonna make the same record twice, and we’re gonna fucking make every ounce of inspiration count. The ideas are flowing, and I can’t wait to start seeing the new material come to fruition. I’m always ADD. I’m trying to make that a good thing. We’ve got a lot of time to keep it coming, so the future is a huge inspiration.