Wormburner
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Wormburner

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
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"The injection of Moog synth adds just the right touch of energy and retro goodness to the yearning vocals and big buzz saw melodies to set it apart from your standard guitar-driven, pop-enfused rock. This is a must for fans of Elf Power, The Mountain Goats and Ted Leo." - UsedWigs.com


"They're loud, they're catchy, and they aren't trying to be anything other than what they are -- a fun power-pop band...sounds like Isolation Drills-era Guided By Voices."
- GloriousNoise.com


"Buried below the five-piece's indie rock are literary songs featuring clever wordplay....laced with New Wave and Powerpop, the album aims to please fans of Neutral Milk Hotel, The Weakerthans and
Grandaddy." - Spill Magazine


UK review of the Wormburner song titled "Autographed Copies" cited:
"the wonderfully warm guitars and crisp drum sound which perfectly capture the emotion of the song, further advanced by the clear American accent of the vocal." - The Mag


"Sharp lyrics with vocals that hint at '80s popsters Big Country and the English Beat."
- PopMatters.com


ROCK 'N' ROLL CHRISTMAS
Wormburner feel the holiday spirit after a successful year
By Crispin Kott

Christmas songs are usually transparent ploys by big-label artists to get a little extra seasonal cash. Local band Wormburner, however, never intended to write a rock 'n' roll Christmas track for a quick buck. But they'll debut "Bells of St. Ignatius" in front of a live audience this week as they co-headline "A Very Bowery Christmas" with the Knockout Drops—a fitting gift from a band that's experienced a year of incredible success.

The holiday tune entered the equation a year ago when Wormburner's lead vocalist, guitarist and super-promoter Steve Henry, aka Temptation Hank, wrote "Bells of St. Ignatius" over Thanksgiving weekend for a Yuletide compilation being put together by the Bogmen. The band recorded the tune on Dec. 1 and, three days later, they were giving it away on their MySpace page to fans.

"There wasn't a Christmas song in the Wormburner catalogue at the time, and we only had like a week before the deadline," Hank says. "I've always loved Christmas songs, but I had never taken a sincere shot at writing one myself. Nor had I ever written a good song on such a tight deadline. So I had my doubts about whether I could pull it off."

After a few frustrating attempts at finding the right tact, Hank boarded a PATH train to Hoboken for a show by the Hold Steady. "Something good must have rubbed off on me, because in my apartment the next morning, I picked up my electric guitar and 'Bells of St. Ignatius' practically poured out of me."

It wasn't just the Hold Steady that helped the song come together; it was a love of darkly tinted holiday pop songs filtered through the eyes of someone who'd been through the educational trenches. "I had a Catholic school education through 12th grade," Hank explains. "So it's not really a surprise that the lyrics would have images of bells, steeples and coins in church collection plates."

Wormburner's debut album, the David Lowery-produced A Hero's Welcome began gaining traction on the strength of its classic power-pop tunes and a host of legendary live shows throughout the city.

"Bombastic is a word people have used after seeing Wormburner play live," says Hank. "We're also a band that tends to switch up instruments during our live set. I think it helps to give each song more of a unique character."

But before the whole instrument-switching thing has you thinking prog-wank noodling, a Wormburner show has much more in common with amphetamine-fuelled soul revivals, if such a thing ever existed. In a world full of chin-stroking art rock Radioheads and junk-addled Babyshambles stumblebums, it's refreshing—quaint, even—to find a band like Wormburner, who so clearly believes in the power of the classic pop song to lift a room full of people clear off its foundation. But make no mistake; Wormburner may have a clear line of influence that runs back through The Replacements and The Cars and even the Beatles, but they're still very much a contemporary band.

Wormburner kick-started their career in 2004 with a series of self-released CD singles and EPs, building their fanbase one explosive, soul-stirring live show at a time. By the time they were ready to start thinking full-length release, they found the perfect producer by simply asking.

With technology moving at warp speed, talking about the good old days of a social networking website can actually mean a little more than two years ago. But that's where Wormburner was when they came across Lowery, who'd fronted two of the indie scene's most quirky pop bands, Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker.

"We actually linked up with David Lowery in the early days of MySpace, back when MySpace felt like a new frontier and bands were communicating with one another in earnets as opposed to giving P.R. teams and marketers involved," recalls Hank. "His studio in Richmond, Virginia sent us a friend request, and we replied by asking if David Lowery was into producing indie bands. The next correspondence came directly from him, which felt huge because David Lowery had long been one of my favorite songwriters."

Wormburner decamped to Richmond during the summer of 2005, returning home with the 12 songs that would make up A Hero's Welcome. The album is a stormer, with most of the songs falling somewhere between barnburner and fist-pumper, guitars, bass and drums occasionally joined by a buzzing Moog. Lowery captured the band as they are live, which is sort of like Mr. Miyagi catching a fly with chopsticks.

"Bells of St. Ignatius" successfully walks the same celebratory/tear-jerking path as the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York," a vibe expected to (loudly) fill the room when the Yule Dogs close out "A Very Bowery Christmas."


- New York Press - Dec 2007


Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Hero's Welcome is an odd album (except for the title track). At least I found a tendency to prefer every odd numbered track throughout the album. The abnormalities run much deeper than arrangement though. The artwork Wormburner chose, along with song titles, for A Hero's Welcome have a serious GBV vibe. Lyrically there is a little Pollard, but musically there are as many similarities to The Anniversary as there are to early psychedel-Genesis. What baffled me, and took me the most time to digest, are the many ways that Steve "Hank" Henry sounds like other vocalists that are neither from his genre or time. My Aunt Liz (O'Connor) is a folk singer down in The Florida Keys who once wrote a song for Gordon Lightfoot. When I was younger her acoustic would appear at every family get-together, and we'd sing songs like "Leroy Brown", "Cherokee People", and her originals which sounded a helluva lot like "Forty Dollar Pricetag" or "A Hero's Welcome". I fondly remember those times, but I've never made a habit of listening to anything that can even be likened to those early memories. The fact that Henry somehow bridges those worlds is unique, and possibly astounding, considering David Lowery, who once wrote "What the world needs now…", welcomed the opportunity to produce A Hero's Welcome.

"Autographed Copies" is the MVT (Most Valuable Track) on A Hero's Welcome. The catch of the moog make it as pop as "Friends of P", while the inner folk singer of Henry helps "Autographed Copies" become more than a flavor of the month radio song. I may identify a bit more with this song because I remember summer vacations in Wildwood ("down the Garden State Parkway"),I slept on the floor (we were on a limited budget), and my life revolved around baseball (particularly the Mets). I haven't met anyone who shared my experiences so closely until I heard "Autographed Copies", which shows the value of music. "A Hero's Welcome" is also a great track, behaving like a friend of "Motor Away" equipped with a Tommy Stinson descending bass line. I can't help but wonder if "Doctor's Orders" wasn't one of Lowery's personal faves. It seems to fit that gray area between Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker. The only track that is particularly irksome (the LVT) is "Skinny Leather Tie", which was eons better when Spoon called it "Fitted Shirt".

Guided by Voices and The Replacements grew mainly from dude rock. A Hero's Welcome shows that Wormburner does not necessarily use that mold even when it sounds or looks similar. Due to less bravado, their songs appeal to good time coed drinking, mingling, and dancing. It's not the feelings, beats, riffs, or choruses that make Wormburner new noise though; the stories combined with the aforementioned scenery make them new and, to this point, unmatched.

Tracks added to iPod: Sleepy Jane, Muscle Car, Autographed Copies, Forty Dollar Pricetag, A Hero's Welcome, Doctor's Orders

Rating: Four Stars

Review by Patrick Muldowney

- Anti Music


"Wormburner is one of New York's best rock bands. Period. Power-pop to a tee and not a slip up in the repertoire." - December 2007 - Sonic Parthenon


Wormburner Interview
by Patrick Muldowney

Wormburner is one of the great sounds rooted in New York City. Along with many other great bands in NYC (TV on the Radio, The National, etc.), Wormburner is an amalgam of great influences with a different approach. Steve "Hank" Henry, lead singer, interacted with antiMusic to complete a spirited interview about the band and A Hero's Welcome, their first release. Similar to his lyrics, Henry's talents as a wordsmith shine through each question.

antiMUSIC: What is the Wormburner mission statement?

Steve "Hank" Henry: First, it's about having a good time amongst ourselves while giving life to new songs in our practice space. Then it's about bringing those songs to the stage with a passion that makes for an exciting live concert experience. Someplace along the way we'll go into the recording studio, and that's where the songs can really reveal themselves to you in ways you hadn't foreseen.
antiMUSIC: How did Wormburner come into being?

Henry: Terry Solomone (guitar, Micromoog synthesizer) and I met years ago, and we shared a lot of similar tastes in music. I mean stuff like the early R.E.M. catalogue, and too many other bands to name really. Both Terry and I played music, but back then I think we were reluctant to take ourselves too seriously when it came to our own original creative efforts. Hence our self-deprecating band name.
antiMUSIC: Your lyrical style has a folk feel. Explain how that came to be, and how you fit it into the style of your music.

Henry: I'm a big fan of a song whose essence can stand on its own. And by essence I mean when the song is broken down to the most basic, bare level: chords, melody and lyrics. Years ago when learning to play the guitar, I found myself gravitating toward songs by Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Springsteen, Uncle Tupelo, early Wilco and other folk-inspired bands and writers whose songs could be just as impactful when played with a full accompaniment or stripped down to one acoustic guitar and one vocal. When I started writing songs of my own, a song's essence was really a necessity for me because back then I didn't really have any bandmates to speak of. So the songs needed to be playable on acoustic guitar if I ever hoped to perform them live. Then as the band began to take shape, complimentary players just fell into place. A driving rhythm guitar, strong harmony vocals, and melodic synth lines can really elevate a simple, lyric-based song structure into something louder and more forceful.
antiMUSIC: What's the best band story you have that no one forgets once they hear it?

Henry: That's easy. When we were recording A Hero's Welcome with David Lowery down in Richmond, mostly we would drive back and forth from New York for the sessions. But occasionally some of us would fly, especially when Jet Blue had these crazy $29 fares. Anyway there was a hungover morning when one bandmate (who will remain nameless) was aboard the short flight back from Richmond and his stomach was upset from the previous night's boozing. He really had to let out some gas, so he did. It was one of those "silent but deadly" releases, and within seconds the nearby passengers were reacting with disgust, squirming and covering their noses and trying to identify the responsible party. So this one bandmate, eager to deflect the attention from himself, begins covering his nose and acting all outraged as well. Then he spots a heavy-set woman across the aisle. She looked a little like Nel Carter from that '80s sitcom Gimme a Break. And apparently she had boarded the plane eating some bags of McDonalds. So I guess he thought he could make her the scapegoat. After what she'd eaten, it might be believable that she was the passenger with the gassy, upset stomach. So he looks directly at her and kinda squints judgmentally. To which she immediately, loudly replies, "DON'T CUT YOUR EYES AT ME BOY! I SAW YOU LIFT UP!"
antiMUSIC: A Hero's Welcome has been out a little less than a year. Where's it been? Where's it going? How is that influencing the band's direction at this point?

Henry: The album has gotten good reviews, and a whole bunch of the songs are being played on internet radio, satellite radio etc. One of the songs (Turndaround) was featured on a "Brooklyn Playlist" marketed by Domino's Pizza. At every live show, we're playing to bigger audiences. And it's a real joy to see complete strangers in the crowd singing along to the words. I think the entire band has a vested interest in continuing to see things succeed like this, and that's being reflected in a lot of the new songs we're writing. The
songwriting is feeling more like a collective effort than it did previously, and I think that's stretching us in good, new directions.
antiMUSIC: You make obvious allusions to other bands/songs on numerous tracks
of A Hero's Welcome. Yet you manage not to sound like you're ripping anyone off. Give the readers some insight into this statement, and disc - Anti Music


Discography

Joy In Mudville (2004 EP)
Autographed Copies b/w Wicked Game (2005 CD Single)
The Wormburner EP (2005 EP)
A Hero's Welcome (debut LP released on DIVE Records in October 2006)
Bells of St. Ignatius (Christmas single - 2007)
Placed by The Gideons (sophomore LP on DIVE Records in June 2010)

Wormburner music has been licensed to film and television. Many Wormburner songs enjoy airplay on terrestrial radio (KEXP/Seattle and WRXP-FM/New York)as well as on Satellite and Internet Radio.

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Bio

A five-piece from New York City, Wormburner plays anthemic indie rock with a punk rock kick. Wormburner began releasing EPs and CD singles in 2004, playing a steady schedule of Northeast shows that would earn them their reputation as one of New York's most bombastic live bands. When Wormburner's self-produced recordings found their way to David Lowery (frontman for Cracker & Camper van Beethoven), the band traveled south to Richmond, VA and crafted a proper full-length album with David Lowery producing. The debut LP (aptly titled "A Hero's Welcome") was a 12-song tirade melding smart lyrics with driving guitars and vintage Moog synthesizers. "A Hero's Welcome" was released on DIVE Records in the Fall of 2006. Wormburner's sophomore LP is titled "Placed by The Gideons". Recorded in Hoboken, NJ, the album features 10 new, hard-charging songs connected by one gritty narrative thread. KEXP in Seattle has played the album in heavy rotation, awarding Wormburner with "Song of the Day" accolades and inviting the band to an in-studio performance/interview as part of Wormburner's recent West Coast tour. Wormburner is a regular headliner at New York's Bowery Ballroom and has played opening slots for The Walkmen, Deer Tick, School of Seven Bells, Tommy Keene, Camper van Beethoven and Cracker.