Backyard Tire Fire: Never Came Easy

We can play a waltz with brushes and piano, and we can also drop a bomb in open-G on you that's gonna split your head open.

-Ed Anderson

Photo by

Ed Anderson
"It's fun to take on well-worn phrases and make them your own. That one is kind of sardonic. I think that one catches people off guard because it comes after the most rocking song on the record ['How In The Hell Did You Get Back Here?'] into this waltz. It's my tip of the cap to Tom Waits. I'd been listening to Nighthawks at the Diner probably 24-hours-a-day for a couple weeks when I wrote that song," recalls Anderson. "It's funny but the good ones don't seem to take much effort. With this one, I'd been talking to my mom and I'd been playing this waltz before she called. It was raining and I told her, 'I think I'm gonna write a song about this rainy day and how I like it.' I was just being lazy and sitting around and the song just flew. The best ones just seem to drop out of the sky. I like it because it shows the diversity of this band. We can play a waltz with brushes and piano, and we can also drop a bomb in open-G on you that's gonna split your head open."

To wit, the Rust Never Sleeps worthy "Welcome To The Factory," which feels dangerous, as if some part of it – the snarling vocal, feisty low end or cantankerous guitar – could slip off the rails at any moment and kill someone. You want something with a touch of menace if you're going to wander into Neil's territory, a place full of bodies by the river and powder burns on children's hands.

"I have worked on an assembly line and it really is like, 'Welcome to the fucking job, dude. Get ready to be bored off your ass while you stare at the clock under shitty high school style lights.' Everybody just stands around with that blank look on their face until they get that fifteen minutes to go smoke a cig," laughs Anderson knowingly, a songwriter capable of drawing out the essence of shitty experiences and finding some flotsam wisdom within. "The greats – Petty and Dylan and Neil Young – they've always been able to do that. When you listen to Petty how can you NOT identify with what this guy is talking about? He knows how to appeal to and identify with anybody. He writes a song like 'American Girl' and every fucking girl in America thinks that song is about HER. That's why that song was played at the Super Bowl thirty years after it was first written. Everybody still loves it! I don't feel like I try to do anything except be totally honest in my songwriting. You hope that people identify with it, that the song says something about them."

Backyard Tire Fire by Eric Schwab
Time is a ghost that floats behind much of Places, ruminations on the experience of hours passing and minutes passed, the way we survive long stretches in our personal prisons and where we've left behind a chunk of days.

"I think I write about time more than I recognize," says Anderson. "The older I get I think the concept of time just freaks me out more. The more people you love and lose, well, it's hard to not think about time when I sit down to write."

Rock as religion isn't a new thing, but like the Catholics, there's less and less folks willing to endure the rigors and sacrifices demanded of them. Fame and cash are easier, more socially acceptable pursuits but they won't get you into rock 'n' roll heaven. Eyes turned towards the sky, Backyard Tire Fire are unmistakably acolytes of the purest kind. They'll be traveling around with their new album and a bunch of good songs they've written since they completed Places. The van waits outside and the starter seems like it'll turn over for one more autumn. See if you can't get to a show and throw a little something in their collection plate. Trust me, you'll walk away feelin' sanctified.

"A guy like Ed can't get to this age in life and this level of success without really believing in it. You can only keep doing it and doing it and doing it and doing it if you HAVE to write songs and go and play them in front of a bunch of rowdy motherfuckers. Unless you really believe in it you're going to get real sick and tired of it fast," observes Kramp. "Sure, we look forward to having things like health insurance but we could do that in a week in a regular job at Starbucks or something. But it's never gonna replace the feeling of making music that makes people feel good when they light one up and put your record on."

Here's an acoustic version of "Shoulda Shut It," a track from their new album.

The boys take us down to "Crack Alley" in this 2006 performance at Schubas in Chicago.

Finally, BTF play "Jimmy & Bob & Jack" at the legendary Sun Studios.

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[Published on: 8/28/08]

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Chaloupka starstarstarstarstar Thu 8/28/2008 05:03PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


This is probably my favorite band. And their new album is the shit! Go TIRE FIRE!!

PS - Come back to Colorado soon!

NRC starstarstarstarstar Thu 8/28/2008 05:49PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

great band, great article dennis!

leedub35 starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/29/2008 07:42AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Great story mam. BTF is one of the realist bands out there.

phish0 starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/29/2008 10:32AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


This is the first time I have listened to them and I have to say that they are pretty damn good! I love that southern bluesy feel! I guess I was thrown off by their name at first, but I really like what I heard! Kudos!!!!!!

chuckus starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/29/2008 11:36AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Even though the article talked about still travelling in a van, this band is definitely bus-worthy!

nuke_ticketbastard starstarstar Fri 8/29/2008 12:19PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

hmmmm , saw them last year for free at a local brewhouse....

it was just okay , nothing spectacular stood out for me anyhow....

but hey it was free!

FreeHawk Fri 8/29/2008 01:01PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I hope these guys are around for a long,long time.

Panic6459 starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/29/2008 08:25PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

These guys are fuckin allstars. I can't wait for the Metro show in Chicago.

yourfavoritebandsucks starstarstar Mon 9/1/2008 04:53PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

these guys are good but not the saviors of rock and roll people hype them up to be. they are from the same town as me and i've seen them a million times. their live show is mediocre, nothing less nothing more.

OurBandCouldBeYourLife Tue 9/2/2008 06:24AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Hi "Yourfavoritebandsucks" -- you sound like a positive guy.

Tire Fire are one of my favorite live bands. Hell, even Johnny Hickman from Cracker was spouting out about them on my favorite local blog Muzzle of Bees: -- I look forward to hearing the new record at The Annex next Friday!

Great article Dennis, you really get to the heart of a band once again!

yourfavoritebandsucks Wed 9/3/2008 04:55PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

i'm actually a very positive guy and honest when it comes to music. sorry if you can't take a joke about someone's id name. that's a bummer.

i wasn't knocking the band. they have made some great records and they have come a long way in their live shows from when i used to see them at house parties almost ten years ago but i'm sorry. not anywhere on the level of the great live bands out there right now. i do wish them well though.

MyFavBandIsTheBestYoursSucks starstarstarstarstar Thu 9/4/2008 11:13AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


^ plagiarist, By the way, these guys are are pretty good, not great I agree.

mrbrownstone419 Fri 9/5/2008 08:18PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


brother jedd was a totally different band.

spacetruker starstarstarstarstar Wed 9/17/2008 08:05AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Great story! I love BTF's early stuff like "LIVE at the Georgia Theater". It was the FIRE that I appreciated. Vagabonds, not so much fire and not my favorite. Guess that's the natural progression to try new sounds and instruments but hopefully this new one goes back to their roots of the gritty blues mixed w/ southern rock approach. Wish these guys lots of luck.

OurBandCouldBeYourLife Thu 9/25/2008 06:42AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Hey Spacetrucker - yeah, their new stuff is much more song focused and less "guitar rock" focused. I guess my tastes have changed along with the bands progressions. The Places We Lived is def one of my favorites of 2008 thus far. I don't think choruses come much catchier than "Shoulda Shut It".