Bradley Wik and the Charlatans' Burn What You Can And Bury The Rest (1/17/12) proves that rock and roll is not dead but it is in fact alive and well. Bucking the recent trend of popular bands that don't rock Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend, The Decemberists, etc. Wik saw the (his) future of rock and roll and yes, as Jon Landau predicted, it was Bruce Springsteen. Wik delivers eight straightforward, somewhere between Born to Run and Nebraska era, Bruce influenced and inspired tracks. Bradley paints moody rural scenes of snowplows, cars, girls, beers and dreams. No cowboy hats, pickups or whiskey, Burn What You Can, doesn't pretend to be anything it is not. Yeah, there is a touch of alt-country/Americana but a better description might be blue-collar rock. Wik is a talented songwriter mining the same thematic workingman's highway as Springsteen and Tom Petty (and before that the Stones and Chuck Berry) . If this disc was available on eight-track these eight tracks of guitar, bass, organ and drums would sound just right blasting out of the speakers of your " '66 Chevelle" on your drive home from the factory on a Friday night. Follow the links and you can stream "The Old House" with Brianne Kathleen and you can download "Midwest Winters" (courtesy of XO publicity). Although it is only January, I'll predict Burn What You Can and Bury The Rest will be my pick for debut disc of the year and it should be a contender for a Top Ten Discs of 2012 when December rolls around. The album is currently available at CDBaby and iTUNES.
HB-Congratulations on a great disc Bradley! It almost made my Top Ten of 2011 until I realized it won't be officially released until January 17, 2012. It look at it as you've got a running start towards my NoDepression best of 2012 list!
HB-You can't write "You can hear the plows at 2:30 in the morning" without having experiencing it. What was your experience with snowplows and "Midwest Winters"?
BW-Yeah, I wrote this song while I was living in New York but the song comes from when I was eighteen, still in High School and working at the factory. The place almost exclusively manufactured chrome accessories for Harley Davidson, so needless to say, I thought it was such a cool place to work. Except very soon I realized what hard work really was. It was a great learning experience for me. And even though I was only supposed to work a certain number of hours since I was still in school, they didn't care at all. They just paid me cash for any time I worked over the legal limit, so I worked there a lot.
That whole first verse is just me talking about working those days (some of which I skipped school to do) in the winter when we started at six in the morning and ended at five at night. Those plow companies must have made a fortune cause they were always working, and all night if need be. But it only took an hour or two and everything was immaculately white once again, so needless to say they had their work cut out for them. But I wasted so many days driving in the snow only to catch a glimpse of the sun before getting to work and, like the song says, it was gone by the time we were done. I remember those days as a big turning point in my life. I exclusively worked and hung out and lived in a world so much older than my days. I lost touch with my High School peers as they seemed so immature and naive as far as I saw it. Some of those mornings, heading out, I felt torn. I knew, on one hand, that I was still in school and mostly still a child so I shouldn't be sweating such a tough job. But I also knew I was on the cusp of adulthood and very quickly moving towards it. I wanted to be carefree and irresponsible but there were other people(co-workers) who depended on me to show up and do my thing. It was a ball-busting work but I wouldn't trade it for anything. We had a lot of good times too though, as those guys liked to party hard and brought me along to a lot of things I, in retrospect, probably shouldn't have been doing. Well, so it goes...
HB-I've never heard of your guest vocalist Brianne Kathleen? She adds a nice touch to the two tracks she sings on.
BW-That actually came about quite randomly, as it were. She had recently moved back to the west coast, as I had, and was singing in my guitar players’ band, Jettison Bend. He had invited her out to one of my shows and she obliged. Needless to say, she liked the show, since they are always a fun, rockin' affair.
Well, fast forward to a few months later, I was in the middle of recording my album and I had always wanted to have a girl sing on "I am not Afraid" sort of a duet type deal. She happened to be free that day and she came in and sang. I have to say I was so blown away by her performance, as she had never heard the song before, that I had her sing on "This Old House" as well. If I can say so, and I can since it’s my interview, she is just as beautiful as her voice, and I'm still in awe of both her performance and her. Brianne also just recently released her debut album entitled "Blue Heron Grey" and I had the pleasure of being a part of it, both in singing and mixing the record.
HB-Could you name a few albums/artists that have inspired you? Obviously Springsteen but maybe a few surprises?
BW-Well, AC/DC(Bon Scott era) is a huge influence on me, though you may not always be able to hear it. "Love at First Feel" "Big Balls" the whole High Voltage album I mean, come on. "Rock 'N' Roll Singer" is my anthem, my whole inspiration for rocking practically. Led Zep, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, CCR, Christ I could talk music all day. I am huge Hold Steady fan. I've seen them so many times, especially since I used to live in Brooklyn. Mountain Goats, Neutral Milk Hotel. Possibly surprising is Linda Ronstadt. Her album Heart Like a Wheel is so well produced, the sounds on it are amazing. And the song selection, I love it, Little Feat, hell yeah. She was the first Lady of Rock N' Roll, touring stadiums and whatnot but that album is by far her best..
One of the biggest influences on me, most of my favorite music, is old R&B. I'm talking Motown, Smokey Robinson, the Marvelettes, Marvin Gaye and Martha Reeves topping that list, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, I could go on. I love all of it. But by far the first and biggest influence on my was Michael Jackson. He was the first musician/performer I really loved. I used to go up and down the aisles at the Piggly Wiggly singing "Bad" and embarrassing my mom when I was six and seven years old and have never lost interest in that amazing record or Michael. If it weren't for him I don't know where I would be, probably still working in that factory...
HB- Weirdest gig?
BW-This would definitely have to be a show I played whilst I was living up in Seattle. I worked with this guy who was well connected in the music scene of Seattle. He was kind of a hipster right when hipsters were gaining strength as a people. He was the kind of guy who on his company insurance questionnaire said he drank at least 12 alcoholic drinks a week. So he wasn't very smart but he liked to party so thats what appealed to me. Anyways, he invited me out to this music venue which was new and cool but I couldn't go for whatever reason. But I figured I'd book a show there because back then I was a folk singer and played anywhere they'd let me bring my harmonicas and play a few tunes. So I got a show there, without ever seeing it, and was quite excited about it to boot.
So the day of the show I set out to the venue and I can't find it. It has an address which doesn't seem to exist. Finally I knock on the door of what looks to be an abandoned building which is within the street address of where I'm supposed to be. After a few minutes of knocking, someone comes to the door and says "Who are you?" I say "I'm Bradley Wik I'm supposed to play tonight but I'm not sure where" I explain what's going on and he says I'm at the right place. I walked in and it looked like, no was, an abandoned warehouse. There was shelving full of shit and debris everywhere. I again told him I was scheduled to perform that night and he directed me to the "backstage area" which was outside behind the warehouse. All there was out there was a couch, which looked like it had been found on the curb, and a fridge, outside mind you. The fridge was full of beer so I didn't complain. Even weirder was the fact that the guy I was playing with was from Wisconsin as well. Somehow we had both found the shittiest venue with a fully stocked beer fridge. It almost seemed fitting. The stage was a piece of concrete that had fallen off the wall and there were speakers somehow, and very precariously, hanging from the ceiling. We got hammered and played the show. There was a surprising amount of people who were there just hanging out and drinking. It ended up not being too bad. I sold some cd's and got drunk... Can't ask for much more.
HB-Wik's recs: You really need to check out ________ if you haven't heard them.
BW-I love talking about music but I'll keep it fairly short. One, the Joy Formidable. Their debut record is awesome, full of hard rocking and noise and wonderful pop melodies. The aforementioned AC/DC record High Voltage which is unbelievable in its awesomeness. Ryan Adams new record Ashes and Fire is so amazing, the production of that record rivals anything he's ever done. Also, his voice just continues to get better and better. I just saw him live and its even better than the album. Brianne Kathleen's debut record Blue Heron Grey is phenomenal, and not just cause I got a chance to work on it. It was always amazing and I am lucky she let me help her with it. If somehow you haven't heard Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, get a clue and make it happen. His version of "Way Over There" is one of my favorite songs ever.
HB-Thank you and best of luck in 2012 with Burn What You Can, Bury The Rest!
Bradley Wik and the Charlatans
(Left to right) Nick Kostenborder:Drums, Brian Bergstrom:Lead Guitar, Bradley Wik:Lead Vocals, Guitar and Sasha Shybut: Bass