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Progressive Rock Interviews

Burnt Belief

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Burnt Belief from 2016
MSJ:
Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – both individually and as a band?
Colin Edwin: I've played the bass since my teenage years. It's been a long journey which really did start in a garage, and it's been (mostly) onwards and upwards. I have never made plans, but one thing always leads to another, and I have gotten involved in everything from ambient music to intense heavy material via improvisation, progressive rock and even Eastern European folk music. I try to get involved in things that are at least new for me and offer a chance to be creative, and where interaction is uppermost.  I first worked with Jon on his solo album Dance of the Shadow Planets, which was such a fast, easy and inspiring process that continuing to work together on was "no brainer." Emergent is our third album together. I think the next stage is to take the music to a live environment. We have done it before, so we know it works, there are challenges however....
MSJ:
If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
Colin Edwin: I would try to combine travel, photography and animal conservation into something concrete.

Jon Durant: I am also active as a photographer and have also been very involved in food. 

MSJ: How did the name of the group originate?
Colin Edwin: "Burnt Belief" was the name of our first album together as equal collaborators. The album was inspired by the real life story of a UFO cult in the 1950s. Basically it deals with what happen whens people have their beliefs destroyed: in this case the complete failure to be taken to a distant planet on a flying saucer at the appointed time. The book is a serious study and it's both farcical and tragic. But it highlighted something Jon and I were both interested in, which is the ability for people to delude themselves and also to simultaneously hold opposing viewpoints. Most people do this to some extent, and it's good to realize when you might be doing so.
MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
Colin Edwin: I see the people I work with as a bigger influence on me than my record collection. Various people have been very instrumental (no pun intended) in encouraging me and shaping my approach. A big shout out to Geoff Leigh here (my partner in Ex-Wise Heads), over the course of six albums (and many informal jam sessions) he really expanded my thinking.

Jon Durant: My early influences were in the early days of progressive rock—Yes, King Crimson, Genesis. From there I moved sideways into fusion, but in 1978 I heard the Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal. That began a fascination with the label ECM records which, to this day, I consider my biggest source of inspiration. 

MSJ: What's ahead for you?
Colin Edwin: I am working on a second album with O.R.k. and also getting a plan together to release more collaborations and solo material. Later this year I'll be playing live with both Tim Bowness and Twinscapes, and probably Obake as well.
MSJ: I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
Jon Durant: Progressive ethno-ambient fusion music - quite a mouthful! But we pull elements from ethnic music, progressive music, fusion music and ambient textures, as well.  
MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
Colin Edwin: Too many to mention!

Jon Durant: I’ve always loved the bassist/composer Eberhard Weber, but since his stroke, that doesn’t seem possible. Trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer is also extremely interesting to me. 

MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?
Colin Edwin:  Not getting paid for your work and efforts is a massive hindrance to anybody, not just musicians. I've certainly met people at gigs where they freely admit to me they've downloaded my albums without paying. Arguably they may have bought a ticket, but touring is not the easy path people think it is.

Jon Durant: At this point it strikes me as impossible for an artist to make a living from making records. As a society, we have devalued art to the point where people are only interested in instant gratification, and the notion of buying a record or piece of art is simply not something that is considered. The upside is: this means that the only reason to make a record is because the artist thinks that the music has merit, and hopefully that will result in music being less driven by format and more by actual creative desire. They’ll have to do something else to survive, of course.  

MSJ:
In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?
Colin Edwin: It used to really bother me. I would prefer not to have an off night or a really rough audience recording being the first thing that someone might hear, but I have come to realize most of the "traders" are really uberfans who just want to hear everything, for better or worse. And with the ease of recording technology, it's impossible to stop anyway.
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why? 
Jon Durant: I really don’t have any idea where to go with this. I don’t do superhero movies and can’t imagine what a musical arch nemesis would be. Personally, I dislike the notion of music as any sort of competitive event. 
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
Colin Edwin: I really like the idea of improbable combinations, so rather than a bunch of people from similar musical backgrounds, something like Jeff Beck jamming with a Moroccan trance ensemble lead by Diamanda Galas with Aphex Twin on electronics would get my vote.
MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
Colin Edwin: There are a few people who would need re-incarnating first, so it could be a little scary!
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
Colin Edwin:  William Burroughs in Dub by Dub Spencer and Trance Hill, and I have been listening a lot to Russian singer Inna Zhelannaya's last album Izvorot.

Jon Durant: I just bought the box set of Peter Erksine’s trio recordings on ECM. Absolutely stunning music. 

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
Colin Edwin: Bruce Robinson (the man behind cult film Withnail and I) - The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman 

Jon Durant: Jonathan Franzen’s Purity was fantastic. 

MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Colin Edwin: I caught Killing Joke on their most recent UK tour, which was impressively intense. I was also mesmerized by Italian bass and drum duo Zeus when they were on the same bill as Obake earlier this year.

Jon Durant: Steven Wilson recently played a fantastic show in Boston and managed to get through the show very well despite a terrible flu. Nik Bartsch’s Mobile in Portland this spring were brilliant!

MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Colin Edwin: I don't really understand the concept of a "guilty pleasure." If music which may be considered cheesy by others appeals to you on any level, just go with it. It may be a gateway to something amazing.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Colin Edwin:  I am always having "Bobbi Fleckman" moments since my memory for names never functions correctly. However, I never forget a face. I just can't match it to a name.
MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
Jon Durant: Richard Dawkins, David Torn, Salman Rushdie.
MSJ: What would be on the menu?
Jon Durant: A tasting menu from Naomi Pomeroy (Beast PDX)
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Jon Durant: Please support the arts. You really don’t want them to go away!

 

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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