Backyard Tire Fire: Never Came Easy

 
I'm really proud of what we do. I hear somebody say, 'When people talk shit about my band it doesn't bother me.' Well, it bothers me a LOT. It's like saying something bad about your family. What drew me to this band in the first place was I was looking for someone who wrote great songs and sang real well, and Ed definitely fits the bill. I listen to the words and I fuckin' believe in them. That's why I'm in the band.

-Tim Kramp

 
Photo by Eric Schwab

"I always think, 'This is the one. This is the recording everyone is gonna latch onto.' I've thought it about every new thing we've ever put out. I think you almost have to think that, to think that someone will fuckin' hear this and it'll get us out into the national and international eye. When you stop thinking like that you're fucked," continues Anderson, tapping into the absolutely necessary intestinal fortitude to lay your guts out on vinyl or a stage. And guts Backyard Tire Fire possesses in abundance. "You have to have some of that [pauses looking for the right word], well, spark to get the job done."

Backyard Tire Fire by Eric Schwab
Beyond all the circling and theories, Tire Fire is simply a great rock 'n' roll band in a time with too few of them.

"I'm really proud of what we do. I hear somebody say, 'When people talk shit about my band it doesn't bother me.' Well, it bothers me a LOT. It's like saying something bad about your family," says Kramp. "What drew me to this band in the first place was I was looking for someone who wrote great songs and sang real well, and Ed definitely fits the bill. I listen to the words and I fuckin' believe in them. That's why I'm in the band."

BTF is ripe for wider discovery, perhaps the next in line behind other recently anointed working artists like The Hold Steady, Alejandro Escovedo, the Truckers and My Morning Jacket. The music is all there on Places, and a great trail of tunes lays behind it. Listening to "Everybody's Down" or the title cut, one wonders why they aren't packed in like sardines at every BTF gig, why these guys aren't opening for Petty or Dylan. If talent, sheer appeal and quality meant a damn in the record and radio industries at large, well, Backyard Tire Fire would already be big.

"There's some smart guys who want to see this band succeed and are doing everything they can to make that happen. It's just a matter of it clicking in. Luck probably has a lot to do with it," sighs Anderson. "There's a lot of good pieces of the puzzle in place, a lot more than five years ago when I was booking this band and Matt [Anderson, bass, Ed's younger brother] was working at the DuPage Airport and Tim and I were delivering pizzas during the week."

Places has a timely subtext of simmering discontent, folks fed up with how things are going in their lives and all around them, people a little less patient with assholes than they used to be, a little closer to desperate than even a few years ago, but all of them trying to keep their hand from curling into a fist or their lips to snarl into an unkind word. Anderson's songs jump between bubbling frustration and the happy surprise of daily pleasures, time clock watching consternation and the simple sweetness of a lil' time with the one you love. His songs understand how hard it is to keep your temper tied down or live day after day with a delayed dream, and as such provide soundtracks of Springsteen proportion for have-nots working their fingers to the bone and imagining a time when they won't be cleaning up after the haves.

"I've never been one to write happy songs [laughs]. There's stuff that's tongue-in-cheek and bouncier but I find I'm a lot better at writing about the things that bother me," says Anderson. "I'm not saying I don't want to write happy stuff; I just write whatever the hell comes out. I never try to write anything. As soon as you try to write something you force it and you get that cheese factor. Our songs aren't cheesy. They're real from the gut, and I like to think that's accessible to people in a way they can identify with. Believe me, I've thought, 'Oh, here's another downer [laughs].' Maybe it's alright to be like this."

A choice example of Anderson's writing prowess on the new one is "Rainy Day," which has the mood of a nice afternoon bummer until you realize he's celebrating being indoors watching the sky cry.

Continue reading for more on Backyard Tire Fire...


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