Late in the day, but just before midnight! Check out Burden Limbs, today’s Band of the Day…
We’re a London-based band, featuring members from all over the place. Some of the places we call home are Birkenhead, Bournemouth and Tunisia. But I suppose the idea of a citizen of nowhere status would probably be something that most, if not all of the band would subscribe to.
How did you meet?
Predominantly we met through the website Echoes and Dust which myself, Sam (bass) and Gareth (guitar) are all writers / “critics” for.
Myself and Sam met in person at a HEALTH gig back in 2015, which was the first show I reviewed for Echoes and Dust, and I met Gareth in person for the first time at the Echoes and Dust Christmas party in 2016.
Rory had known my brother Jake for a little while before I met him, as Rory’s old band Violetic and Jake’s band In Violet were both featured on E&D on the same day and they’d been speaking for a while. I guess they hit it off because they both love the same colour. Some time after that myself and Rory joined In Violet, and met through that. Rory and I were hanging out often and constantly sharing music, so it made sense to have him join Burden Limbs and revive Glasshouse Records.
I first met Omar at a gig Sam and I were putting on with Joe (who plays with Sam in For Breakfast) at The Windmill in Brixton. I don’t remember which gig it was but it was a few days before I played on stage with Gnod R&D at Corsica Studios. Omar said he’d come to watch me play with Gnod after just we’d met and he did, and we ended up going to the Echoes and Dust Christmas party together where he met the rest of the gang and then came tripping for my birthday on the weekend.
So we hit off pretty fast.
How long have you been playing as a band?
I started writing the first Burden Limbs stuff in 2012/13 on acoustic guitar in my bedroom in my mum’s house. The project was originally called Shizaru and the first album and mantra was to be “Do No Evil”. The name just didn’t feel right and I had written the four songs that later became “There is No Escape” and a few others that are still yet to be released. After I started really hanging out with Sam, I guess 2016, I started trying to form a band with what was essentially members of Sam and Omar’s other band For Breakfast, who at the time were on hiatus and the band would’ve been completed by a rotating cast of friends. I think we started rehearsing in my bedroom at the warehouse Sam and I used to live at in late 2017 but it actually took until the start of 2018 to get us in a practice room with a drummer.
Before you get sick of being asked… Where does the band name come from?
It’s a misheard Sparklehorse lyric from the song “Apple Bed”. He sings “and burdened limbs of its weight, to break and rot; a whispered fate” and I heard it as “burden limbs”. I used to think about his lyrics and their meaning a lot and I took the words and attached them to a song I wrote about my life. I think of that song as probably the best way of showing my perspective to the world because it kind of tells my life story without telling you anything that actually happened, which now that I think about it is in itself somewhat revealing.
What are your influences?
Childhood trauma mostly. Then after that it’s just everyday trauma. Musically, we have a wide array of influences but I’d say the key bands to Burden Limbs are Gnod, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Nirvana, Joy Division, Low, Sparklehorse, Morphine and Nick Drake and I guess a bunch of others. There’s a Spotify playlist on our Facebook called “Burden Limbs: Forebodings” where I tried to put the essential tracks to understanding the band and I think that is probably the best place to go if you want to unravel us.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
Our music is a perspective. I try to honestly channel things that I want to say that I think I either wouldn’t usually say or that I think need saying. Additionally, I try to make music that other people aren’t making and as a result of that spent a lot of time researching new music and try to make conscious efforts to reevaluate what we’re doing and what direction we’re heading in. Our lineup is a contributing factor though, we’re intended to be (and on our EP ‘There is No Escape’ we are) a six-piece with two bassists, three guitarists (with Omar and Gareth also playing synths, keys, drones and loops), a drummer and my vocals. I suppose my accent might be unusual as well.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
Conceptually I think of Burden Limbs as being rooted in existentialism, cynicism and solipsism. The idea of the band is very much tied in with the notion of a flesh prison; a sense of strong disassociation and there’s a lot of writing about trauma, feelings of rejection, sadness, pain, suicidal ideation. Hopelessness but also resilience. Sociopathy. Disillusionment, predominantly politically. Agnosticism and anti-organised religion. Environmentalism. Rage. I guess there’s a sense of being chewed up, spit out and not pleased about it.
My favourite Burden Limbs lyrics so far are from a song called “The Horrors To Come” and an excerpt is as follows: “make me into something else, liberate me from myself, I’d shed this body like dead skin but what new horrors would that begin?”. I think that song overall just captures everything Burden Limbs is and it comes from a time when I was really fucked up and lived with this dream of killing myself but basically couldn’t do it cause I was scared that everything would get worse.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
Our live show is essentially just all of our most intense music hurled at the audience. I like pretty relentless music and I want our shows to be overwhelming and intense and just musically and emotionally heavy as fuck, basically.
I suppose technically there’ve been five Burden Limbs shows to date but in different formations. I played two solo acoustic before the band formed up – the second was as we were just getting going and the first was crucial in getting the band together – and then our first show as a full band was opening for Echoes and Dust’s Poly-Math show in 2018. Earlier this year we accidentally headlined a show at Brixton Windmill with (the phenomenal) Tor supporting us, which was initially intended for us supporting Taman Shud. We also played an experimental set at Flashback Records in London that was kind of electric/acoustic/ambient with a special reworked set.
Our last show was our EP release on on 6th September, again at Flashback Records which was the first time we performed as a 5-piece with Rory swapping from bass to drums.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
I dropped acid at Rocket 20 and saw Teeth of The Sea and Gnod whilst peaking. Both were life-changing experiences, but Gnod (I think) debuted their epic masterpiece Donovan’s Daughters and blew my fucking mind; best thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Apart from my fiancee.
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
I have a Burns Cobra guitar, I like the tri-sonic pickups. I usually borrow Omar’s guitar for our song “Scorched Earth” as it’s in a whack tuning that I decided was a gold idea. We’re not too much of a “gear heavy” band so apart from that I just use the best of what’s available. I use whatever amp I can get my hands on and no effects pedals. I actually didn’t start playing my music electric until we started rehearsing as a band, and all the songs both Gareth and I have written have been written acoustic, but the stuff we write as a band tends to be electric now.
Gareth’s main thing is his heavy use of loops, reverb and delays to create drones and atmospheres on guitar, and he got an E-bow not too long ago which he uses a lot. Omar creates synths/weird noise patches on his laptop running Ableton and VCV Rack, controlled by Keylab 125 midi controller. As well as playing guitar, he also plays a modified guitar that he built an optical theremin into that he calls a “guitaramin” or he’ll sometimes just grab weird folk instruments from all over the world and run it through pedals and amps and make it sound really interesting. Rory and Sam use lots of pedals on their basses, mostly fuzz, often chorus and always a wall of noise.
What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
We’re plugging our debut EP There Is No Escape which we released on our own record label Glasshouse Records on Friday 6th September, taking the format of a t-shirt with a digital download. We’re not doing CDs cause they’re fucking antiquated. We’ll be launching the EP at Flashback Records in Shoreditch, London on the same date where we’ll be playing the EP live as well as other songs that are yet to be recorded.
We also recently put out out first video, a lyric video with weird graphics that I made for ‘How Many Times Must I Reset?’, taken from the EP and can be checked out on Youtube and our Facebook page. We’re also encouraging people to remix songs from the album. Contact email@example.com if you want to.
What are your plans for 2019?
Release show, recording, additional musicians, writing, teaching the band new songs. Smoking shitloads of weed. And hopefully playing one more show!
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
It’s really tough! I’d love to open for Gnod and I’d love to support Taman Shud but I guess that’s not really the question.
We’d love to do a Glasshouse show that had In Violet headlining, us as main support and For Breakfast opening just because I feel like that’s how the sound would merge together best. It’d be all our best mates together at the same time, plus we’re all in each other’s bands anyway so we save on beers.
I do wanna shout out to a band called Tor though, cause they’re fucking amazing, as well as their spin off Torso, which features a fucking automatic drum kit. I just think their frontman is one of the funniest and most intriguing performers I’ve ever seen live. Their music is pretty similar to Arab Strap but still has its own idiosyncratic charm. They seem to just not give a fuck at all, they’re brilliant. I’d also really love to play with We Wild Blood.
Sorry, I have a tendency to ramble.