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"Owlsburg stays clever with lyrics"

Thursday, October 8, 2009 » Don’t expect trite or overtly religious lyrics from Owlsburg – this is a band more subtle than that. Owlsburg writes with themes of spirituality and identity, but leaves room for interpretation.

“Lyrics [that’s] meaning is too obvious and too straightforward I have a hard time being interested in, especially when it’s religiously-based,” said Owlsburg’s guitarist and vocalist Burke Sullivan (’08).

“A friend of mine said to me a while back … ‘Christian music may be uplifting to the soul, and comforting to the heart – or whatever tagline you might have on a Christian radio station – but it’s not very pleasing to the ears,’” said Sullivan. “And that’s not 100 percent true. … [But] religious or otherwise, I don’t like super-straightforward lyrics unless they’re done in a more clever way.”

Owlsburg tries to be more honest and ambiguous with their lyrics, according to drummer Brad Atkins (sr).

The listener must be able to make the connection, without thinking, “This guy’s bearing his soul so much that there’s no room to connect,” said to Sullivan.

At the heart of Owlsburg’s lyrics are issues young adults are dealing with.

“It sounds like I’m trying to appeal to some demographic, but it’s just kind of what’s going on with me right now,” said Sullivan. The lyrics tend to reflect real-life problems Sullivan and others his age are facing.

“There are themes of having questions – be they about God, or what it means to grow up, or to do something with your [life] and frustrations therein,” said Atkins.

Sullivan and Atkins formed Owlsburg a few years ago. The guys met in high school and jammed together for fun before starting the band. Eventually bassist Derek Miller and guitarist Michael Mathias joined.

Stylistically, Owlsburg sounds like 90s alternative rock, New Wave, experimental and what Sullivan describes as “dreamy.” Quite a mixture, but Sullivan said fans can make it easy and label their genre “rock.”

Currently Owlsburg is working on a six-song EP to be released in the next few months. The songs featured on their Myspace page will be included on the CD.

“I want us to be a serious band,” said Sullivan. A lot of kids experiment with music and playing in bands, he said, but Owlsburg is not just fooling around.

“It’s not like a flighty interest with this kind of music we’re doing,” said Atkins. “It’s something that we’ve been interested in for a long time.”

Owlsburg is committed to being a team, a “band” of guys putting forth equal effort.

“That’s the magic of a band to me,” said Sullivan. “Everybody has [his] own place and does it really well.”

Musical bands have broken up for a variety of reasons, but many because one member viewed himself as more valuable than others. What makes a band successful is each member’s unique touch, Sullivan said.

“It’s terrifying how thin the ice is,” said Sullivan. “One wrong step and people can lose interest. You can have so much power and lose it all in a second because you’re selfish, or whatever it was. I feel like if you can be true to the people who care about you – that’s the best you can possibly do. If you can’t do that honestly and consistently, it’s going to be hard to continue any sort of career.”

Check out Owlsburg on Myspace: www.myspace.com/owlsburg. - Indiana Wesleyan University's Sojourn


forthcoming debut self-titled EP - release date TBD 2010

Space Cowboy Records



A lot of weird stuff happened in music in the 90s. Some of it was good, some of it less than. And in the middle of this spectrum was the stuff we didn't know what to do with: Some of the good stuff had bad timing and some of the bad stuff had good intentions, and both of these seemingly useless offerings were catalogued in the collective attic of rock to gather dust. But what goes around tends to come around, and Owlsburg, like many of us, love nothing more than a good rummaging.
Coming from small towns in central Indiana, Owlsburg practically grew up in an attic. But instead of going west, these young men seem content to find inspiration in the decaying and slightly desolate places with which they are most familiar. Singer/guitarist Burke Sullivan says, "There's a magic in the run-down and forgotten places, especially in rural settings. There's hardly anything around, but the air is thick with this invisible content, like a yearning, that it's hard not to be inspired by."
Owlsburg certainly pay homage to the alternative we know and love, but they make it their own: Melodic guitar lines and solos in songs like "Creature" and "Count To Three" recall the likes of Nirvana or Smashing Pumpkins while seeming to exist in a hazy dreamworld instead of the harsh reality of grunge; "I Believe" is reminiscent of Foo Fighters. But a slew of references perhaps not as widely recognized are fitting for Owlsburg's overall theme: The atmospherics and introspection of alt/new age/electronic act V.A.S.T.; the electronic/industrial alternative pop of Filter; the early work of underground bands like twothirtyeight and mewithoutYou in their single-string riffing, or the shoegazing dream pop of Starflyer 59 (a favorite comparison among fans).
While many new bands rely on the ever-changing "hip" to achieve relevance or recognition, Owlsburg are picking up the pieces of a broken aesthetic, a forsaken purpose, to aim the future of rock at what is classic. And what is classic is always relevant.