Monday, December 27, 2010

Backyard Tire Fire blazing a trail beyond Chicago music scene


By ERIC SCHELKOPF

Bloomington-based Backyard Tire Fire continues to expand its musical horizons.

The band, www.backyardtirefire.com,  is headed by former St. Charles resident Ed Anderson, a 1990 St. Charles High School graduate. The band's lineup also includes his brother, Matt, on bass, and Tim Kramp on drums.

Backyard Tire Fire's latest album, "Good to Be," has been getting play on Chicago radio station WXRT and was produced by Steve Berlin, who has worked with the likes of R.E.M. and Sheryl Crow and is best known for being a member of the band Los Lobos.

Anderson will return home when the band performs New Year's Eve at Chord On Blues, 106 S. First Ave., St. Charles, www.myspace.com/chordonblues.

Also on the bill is Alberts Folk Revival. The show starts at 9 p.m., with doors opening at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $20. 

I had the chance to interview Ed Anderson about the band's current activities, which included sharing the stage recently with Los Lobos.


Q - Your new CD has been getting airplay on WXRT. Was that a goal of the band, to get heard on Chicago radio? Has your fan base expanded as a result?

Definitely. I grew up listening to XRT, so getting into rotation on such a respected station in such a great city has been satisfying to say the least. 

I've met quite a few folks at Chicago or suburban shows that say they heard us on XRT and came to check us out, so it's certainly helping our cause.

Q - Steve Berlin produced "Good to Be" and of course you guys recently opened for Los Lobos at the Vic Theatre. Have you guys developed a good working relationship with Los Lobos? What are the chances of Backyard Tire Fire ever collaborating with Los Lobos in the studio?

Those guys have been really good to us. We've done several shows with them over the past year, including their record release show in NYC. Not sure if we'll ever get in the studio with all of them, but we would love to get the chance to make another record with Steve for sure.

Q - What were the band's goals in sitting down to make the album?

The goal is always to make a great record; to give the songs what they deserve. I think I was also thinking about a single. Something that could break through and get us on the radio across the country. And the title track "Good to Be" did just that. We were in over 60 rotations through the U.S.

Q - What's it like being in a band with your brother? Are there more advantages than disadvantages to the situation?

It's been good. And bad at times. We're very different people and probably talked more and got along better before we worked together. When there are things going on at home and we're on the road, it sure is nice to have a family member out there to help you through.

Q - How would you say the band fits in the Chicago area music scene? Is the Chicago area still a good place to make music?

Chicago is the greatest city in the US. And I think I've played in most of them. Chicago is overflowing with art, music, food, sports, culture, hard working folks, etc. 

I think of us as the Central Illinois boys that come up every few months to play our rock & roll songs, and then we slither back down to our inexpensive lives in the middle of the state. Having XRT on our side has certainly helped legitimize what we do in the Chicago area and beyond.

Q - Backyard Tire Fire has its own Wikipedia entry, a lengthy one, I might add. Is that a sign that the band has made it?

I'm pretty sure that anybody can have a Wikipedia entry, so I don't think so. I'm not really sure what it means to “make it.”

Q - It seems like it is easier these days for bands to get their music out. How has Backyard Tire Fire taken advantage of the technology that is out there?

You know, the usual stuff like itunes, Facebook, blogs, etc. I kinda miss the pre-cell phone, computer, technological overload days. I liked when people went to record stores and bought albums and went home and put them on their turntables.

Q - You released "Good to Be" on your own label. Do you see signing other bands to the label someday?

Not sure really. If the situation presented itself and made sense, why not?

Q - What are the band's short and long term goals?

Gonna slow things down a bit next year, get the finances back in order and take it from there!
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