Waylon, Neil and Ed Anderson
by Brent Owen
Ed Anderson and Scott Tipping (of Backyard Tire Fire)
with Thirty Spokes
Friday, July 22nd
3801 Frankfort Ave.
You may know Ed Anderson and Scott Tipping from their work with the critically acclaimed band Backyard Tire Fire, and this weekend they will be coming to Gerstle’s for a very special acoustic duo performance. The show will feature some of your favorite BTF songs, some old cover tunes, and of course, some new material they’ve been writing with side project Magic Box. They will also be stopping by WFPK at 2 p.m. the day of the show for an on-air chat, and maybe even a song or two there. Lead singer and guitarist Ed Anderson took time out of his schedule to speak with me about the upcoming show and about just a little bit of everything else.
LEO: We’re definitely looking forward to the show this weekend.
Ed Anderson: Yeah man, we’re looking forward to getting back there. It’s been a little while since we’ve returned. I like Louisville. We did a Waterfront Wednesday last year.
LEO: Yeah, I really wanted to see you all but I had Neil Young tickets that night.
EA: Oh, that’s right! Bert Jansch opened up that show, too … right? That’s a tough choice and, I hate to say it, but you made the correct choice.
LEO: You all play Louisville a lot, what keeps you coming back?
EA: Yeah, we’ve met a lot of good people in Louisville. WFPK has been very good to us. We’ve done Live Lunch and Waterfront Wednesday and been in rotation for years. It makes you feel like you’re wanted. You wanna go back to towns where you know you have that support.
And this will be a little different of a show, it’ll just be Scott (Tipping, BTF guitarist) and I – it’ll be acoustic. We’ve never done anything quite like this in Louisville before – it’s always been the big, full-on rock show. I’m going to be playing some banjo on some stuff – acoustic guitar, the two of us working on harmonies, and working on quite a bit of new stuff. It’ll be a different show than what anyone has ever seen. Even though it’s acoustic, it’s still a rockin’ show – bad ass guitar playing, it’s very in your face … you won’t fall asleep, trust me.
LEO: Tell me about where the acoustic shows came from?
EA: To be completely and brutally honest with you … Backyard Tire Fire is kinda on a little hiatus right now. We’ve got a drummer who’s got a wife that’s about to have a baby in a couple of weeks, and my brother – our bassist – is about to get married, so there’s a lot going on in Tire Fire world beyond gigging. So, we’re playing less and just breathing a little bit after the last decade of insanity.
LEO: Gerstle’s is a great club to play in.
EA: Oh yeah … it’s one of those classic venues. The longer I stay in this business and tour around playing gigs, the less there are places like that. It’s got a little bit of history in there and you can feel it, but a lot of those places don’t last.
I just spent the weekend in Nashville … and wow. We couldn’t find a place like that, with real music anywhere. They don’t call it Nash-Vegas for no reason. It was so gaudy; we really had to work to find something that we wanted to hear. The more buzzed I got, the saltier I got. It was all just bad cover bands and really uninspired stuff. A lot of bad people doing bad cover versions of bad songs. Country music just ain’t what it used to be. Just this morning – I’ve got fourteen Waylon Jennings records on vinyl, I pulled them all out and I’m on the third one. I’m going to listen to every single one of them today trying to wash away the dirty feeling from some of the dog shit I witnessed in Nashville on Saturday night.
LEO: Critics loved “It’s Good to Be”, but I interviewed you for another publication not long after it came out last year, and you all seem like pretty grounded guys. Is it difficult to stay levelheaded among all that praise?
EA: Not really. The thing is with Backyard Tire Fire, we’ve definitely been praised via the media, the critics, and whatnot – and that feels good – but I can’t take it seriously because if I do, I also have to take the negative stuff seriously, too. And sometimes the negative stuff can be pretty hurtful.
And we’ve always played small venues. It’s never been this massive success. We were never in a tour bus or anything like that. So when you’re playing a little tiny place and you’re a long way from home, and you haven’t been home in weeks – you don’t feel like you’re anything special. It is what it is … you can’t get a big head, because you’ll get knocked back on your ass in two-fucking-seconds.
LEO: You write very personal songs, have there been any you’ve written that made your wife feel uncomfortable because you took something so private, public?
EA: I’ve got free reign, really. Maybe she recognizes that aside from songs, I’m probably not the most open person, or easy to get to know, as the average Joe. I keep my distance. It’s where I get my feelings out, I think she recognizes that and wouldn’t wanna stifle that in any way, shape, or form; she knows it’s crucial to my existence.
LEO: You seem like a guy with a hefty record collection is there one album you couldn’t live without?
EA: There’s so many I couldn’t live without. One of my favorite pieces of vinyl I’ve owned and have always loved is Tonight’s the Night, Neil Young. I’ve probably listened to that record more than any other record I own. After the Gold Rush is pretty close, too. But, Tonight’s the Night I just love, there’s a vibe that’s undeniable on that record … that’s probably my favorite piece of vinyl.
I was born in the early 70’s, 1972 – right around the time “Heart of Gold” was a hit – within a couple of months of when I was born. My old man, my dad, loves that song, so it’s interesting thinking about him maybe holding me as a child listening to that song on the radio. Because even as a kid I had a connection with Neil – he’s like the coolest cat on the planet.
LEO: Does Tonight’s the Night sound better re-mastered through earbuds or on vinyl?
EA: I don’t know. I don’t even own it on a CD; I only have it on vinyl. But everything sounds better on vinyl as far as I’m concerned. That’s just me. I’m old school like that in a lot of ways, really; but especially like that. There’s just nothing like dropping the needle on a record and hearing a crackle.
LEO: Everyone seems to be getting drug into the iPhone, iPad, iPod era – is digital access to music good or bad thing for a band like yours?
EA: I have no idea. I used to think it was a good thing, but I don’t know if it is anymore. It’s too easy. A friend of mine was saying last week, that the first records he loved … he knew the liner notes, when he was a kid. But something tells me that someone who is in their teens now, there won’t be a sentimental memory of, “I remember when I first downloaded it off iTunes.” There are no liner notes anymore, there’s no artifact – and that’s sad.
Overall, as far as internet goes, in the beginning I was amazed at how much you could do with it, and how you could get your stuff out there. And I think I still am. I guess a little part of me just misses before there was a fucking internet or any of this shit. Back when people had to go into stores and actually interact with one another, and maybe instead of sitting around watching Netflix they went out and saw a fucking band. I kinda miss that.
LEO: How many great conversations did you have around the counter of a record store?
EA: Yeah, I know, how about it? Where you knew the person that owned that store, and you could go in and order something special from them. Where people could go and interact and talk about art. It doesn’t happen as much; or maybe it does, maybe it’s online and you’re chatting it up – but there’s something about looking at a person, and hearing their tone of voice, and reading their non-verbal communication – and interacting with a human being instead of just typing on a keyboard. It’s a lost art. I think conversation is becoming a lost art, because people would rather stare at the plastic-pieces-of-shit in their hands than actually talk to a human being. This is where I become the grumpy old Archie Bunker, but I use the internet for all its worth …I’m as beholden to it as the next guy.
Post-script: During our interview Ed stumbled into discussing Louisville rockers My Morning Jacket. Here’s what he had to say about the band.
EA: I’m not a new stuff guy. I’m not huge fan of a lot of what’s going on. But My Morning Jacket, that’s a band that the first time I heard them I was like, “Fuck yeah … cool… these guys get it.” They’re a rock and roll band, with good tunes; they’ll stretch out when they want to, but they’re a song band. And you get the feeling from them that they don’t give a shit, they’ll do whatever they want; he’ll write whatever he wants to. They don’t fit into a formula of what they’re supposed to be. Y’know, what’s “Off the Record”? That sounds like nothing off of It Still Moves. That’s another thing I dig about those cats … it’s kinda funny I’m kissin’ the local band’s ass … but they do what they wanna do; you get the feeling that cat just writes what he wants to write and everybody else can fuck off. That’s awesome because it worked, they’re happening; it’s inspirational.
Check some BTF videos:
and find out more about Ed Anderson, Scott Tipping, Backyard Tire Fire, and other projects: