When asked to name cities in which rock bands are emerging, San Antonio doesn’t come to mind. Furthermore, progressive rock doesn’t quite fit in the land of rodeos and ten-gallon hats! Burning Circle, fronted by Scott Kronenthal, has been experimenting with guitar riffs and drum kits since 2005. Alan Baird, who provides backing vocals and lends some serious guitar talent, wants you to know that there is a lot more going on in San Antonio than just tumbleweeds!
Q: Alan, Scott! It’s very exciting to me to know that rock is alive in San Antonio! I obviously don’t have a tight grasp on the music scene there so tell me what it’s like?
A: Alan – Amanda, I would first like to thank you for this opportunity; it is exciting to get a chance to share our story. San Antonio has always had a big rock scene as far back as I can remember. Like any other city, if you’re in a band, you have to beat the pavement and do your homework to get out there and let people hear you. San Antonio is filled with talented musicians who play all kinds of different genres of music. Austin, home of SXSW, (South by Southwest) is just 70 miles north of us and is a mecca of talent. People come from all over the world go to Austin to be a part of this acclaimed event. If you’re in a band and looking to get discovered; SXSW is one of the premier events to get involved in. We aren’t really focused on trying to become famous; we have all been through the hoops and this project is more about fun. We just want to share what we love with as many people as possible. There is nothing more fun that writing a song bringing, it to birth, and going out and playing live and seeing everyone really getting off on what you are playing.
Scott – There’s a lot of talent out here. The club scene is harder now to navigate than it used to be in the 90’s or 2000’s. Clubs are much more focused on the bottom line of what you will bring as a band, so if you’re starting off and have a smaller fan base, many clubs just won’t talk to you. Clubs want to see a lot of online action and presence in many instances.
Q: When did Burning Circle form?
A: Alan – I’ll leave this one for Scott, he started and conceived the whole idea of Burning Circle.
Scott – Originally BC was a “one man show” with myself as the solitary member. In the late 90’s, I was slowly building my home studio to the point to where I could create a band sound with what I had acquired there in the studio. I figured that should give a collective name to represent the music that I had created. I was watching the graphical output of a music player on my PC one day and saw what looked like a circle on fire and thus the name Burning Circle was coined. Bill (who is my father) learned bass and helped write some of the early music at that time. Alan, my musical soulmate and lifelong friend, came back into the picture at around 2005. That’s when the music really took off as a real band effort.
Q: In listening to your tracks on ReverbNation, I notice that, as a band, you are not afraid to venture into new territory. I hear a lot of dual guitar in your tracks that could easily turn into ‘jam sessions’ when songs such as “Lines” are performed live.
A: Alan – Scott and I have been playing together for so long that we have become, in a since, extensions of one another’s minds. We can, at any given time, take off on a tangent of a song and the one knows where the other is going to go just from instinct. Unfortunately, in most of the gigs we have done of late, we have to stick to the script; so to speak, because of the time window we have to play. We have about a 90-minute set, though very rarely ever get to play it in its entirety. So, we pick and choose what songs to play for that night.
Q: Speaking of live performances, the band has some dates around San Antonio coming soon, correct?
A: Alan – Yes we do have shows coming up this summer Amanda, thanks for asking. W have Bonds Rock Bar on August 5th. It’s one of our favorite places to play here in San Antonio. You recently did an interview with Eden Burning’s, Phil Salazar who is a good friend of mine. He has sold me both of the Les Pauls I play. We are also playing Rock 4 Paws which is at Fitzgerald’s also in S.A. It is an all day event to benefit sheltered animals. We just finished in the studio with our new release Perspectives and have been working on some new material as well. We kinda’ needed to just take a break and catch our breath. Now fully recharged, I am pushing full steam ahead on playing live again. I am working some gigs in Corpus Christi, Austin and Houston. Trying to stay fairly close to home as we all have families and jobs that don’t allow for us to just pick up and go on tour, though that would be a blast.
Q: How do you handle the presence of strings such as the cello in your live performances?
A: Scott – thanks for this question as I think this is a huge aspect of what could make our live performance interesting and set us apart from other rock acts. Up to now, it’s been myself on the keyboard. I actually wrote the line on keyboard with the hope that I could capture the nuance of the cello so that it could be played on the actual instrument later. I always have my eyes open for a good cello player!
Q: I like the way your tracks are rather unpredictable in terms of sound. It doesn’t seem like the band has a set formula, is that right?
A: Alan – There are so many influences that we draw from we decided to NOT to try and create a singular sound for the band. Plus every member of the band is a songwriter and contributes to the creativity of our music. In fact, we just recently had a discussion at rehearsal, about trying a round robin approach to who gets to write the next song… very democratic (: It is nice to know that there is no shortage of ideas in this line up.
Scott – I totally agree with what Alan said above. All of us listen to a very diverse mix of music. My early training in music theory was classically based, yet I frequently love a good dose of Motorhead to get my blood pumping.
Q: I hear some Chili Peppers, some Creed, and maybe a little Staind and Godsmack in your sound and style. Do you draw influences from any of these or other bands?
A: Scott – Our bass player, Bill, is a HUGE Godsmack fan as a matter of fact. He loves those heavier low-end riffs and definitely brings that in. He also listens to a lot of Alice in Chains, which I also like. I love the “wall of sound” they create with their guitars in that you can’t distinguish each guitar line, but they come together as a massive sound. I think I bring that aspect into our music when I am on guitar.
Alan – I draw a lot of my approach to my guitar playing from several bands including those that you mentioned but my cut to the bone influences come from Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple), and Alex Lifeson (RUSH). I love playing with FX on the guitar, in fact the middle part of the last song on our current release, Perspectives, “Sedition”, is filled with swirling and screeching sounds all done on my Les Paul. They are greatly enhanced by Scott with a Hammond B3 keyboard sound. I love taking the guitar to places that you just don’t expect. It tends to catch people off guard.
Q: Mark Edward Euston provides backing vocals as well as serves as your drummer. Can you tell me, in your opinion, some of the advantages to having a drummer in the band that sings?
A: Scott – LOVE IT. It’s pretty practical for me. He has a great voice and it takes the pressure off of me! I’m hoping that one of our next tunes will be something that he is singing lead vocal on.
Alan – Totally true! In fact, Mark took the basic lyrical idea that Scott started on the song “Another Time”, also on our new release, and went home after practice that night and brought back the completed version of the lyrics you here to next practice. A great lyricist!
Q: Does the band wish to undertake the task of opening for a larger scale show or do you prefer to keep your shows to your local fanbase?
A: Alan – We would love more than anything to play for big crowds, festivals and the like, but our first and foremost intent is to have fun. We aren’t trying to get famous or become “Rock Stars” but there is no greater feeling than playing for large audience and having them really get into the music that you are playing. I would like to take this opportunity to let everyone know how to find us out there in the massive maze of music.
Thanks again Amanda for giving us this opportunity.
All photo credit to Burning Circle Members and Staff
Writer: Amanda Knight