INTERVIEWS

Cosmic Rock

From the mysterious rock trenches of New Orleans, LA to the latest underground vibes of Charlotte, NC everyone who knows multi-instrumentalist Von Bury has mad respect for him. A super talented musician crossing genre styles, groups and changing scenes without a beat and natural ease, Von Bury has carried the guitar, bass or held down the drum kit without a pause for many years. Every group he has been part of shines with excellence and have made their mark in many genres. An old friend of mine and solid figure in the seas of underground music, I caught up Von Bury to discuss his history, inspirations and insights on music. Bury also laid down his no-nonsense views on many interesting subjects. These days you can find him rocking the guitar in acclaimed alternative country group Diamonds and Whiskey. Enjoy this wicked interview with one of the bright lights in underground rock.

1.Hey man how are you doing today? Good to speak with you. Hey Gid! I am doing alright today. Just catching up on things. Good to speak to you too!

 

2. Tell us a little about your background, you grew up in New Orleans? I did. I spent the first 26 years of my life there. The mid 80's was a fruitful time there musically. A lot of bands that went on to do big things were just percolating around then ( Exhorder, Eyehategod when they were Crawlspace, Shell Shock who went on to become The Slugs, then Crowbar, Graveyard Rodeo, Acid Bath, The MoonKrickets ect). You could see amazing shows almost every night of the week. Back then, the drinking age was 18, so.......if you had a fake ID, as I did, you could get into most every venue and see great shows. I literally seen a thousand shows down there. If I wasn't playing a show, I was at a show. New Orleans was kinda getting it's footing back after the oil patch kinda moved to Texas. So there was a good bit of tough times for a lot of folks. The music definitely reflected the times. New Orleans is the most resilient city in America. They been through it all, dust themselves off and move on.

 

3. What inspired you to sing and play guitar in rock groups? You are a multi-instrumentalist and I know you spent some time singing too in past projects. What inspired you to create music? Well, just the whole Post-Punk movement/ New Wave-Goth thing that was happening REALLY got my gears turning. It was pretty much Ground Zero for anyone who didn't fit into the norm at that time. As far as wanting to play guitar in a band? The Cult. No question. They were the center of the musical storm in 87. You would go to Metal bars like The Last Stop, they'd be playing Wildflower. Go right around the corner to Club Berlin, the token Goth club (where I also was a bartender) and Goth folks were DANCING to Wildflower. They were the completer crossover band. Guys wanted to be them....girls wanted to be with them. :) Billy Duffy was a very unlikely guitar hero for kids like me. The riffs were catchy and kinda easy to play. The whole "White Falcon" guitar vibe wasn't the norm. Pointy guitars in flashy colors were. So they made sense to me and many others. I was at a transition point in my life where everyone I know went to college or went into the working world. Neither appealed to me. I wanted to rock. so I went into the working world to "fund" my musical aspirations.

I really never wanted to be a singer, like it wasn't on my radar. It was more of "I can't find the right one-so I'll do it until I do" situation. I always liked bands Like The Cure, Siouxsie, Jane's Addiction at that time, so I played Bass for a few years in bands too. Those bass players were doing some really cool things back then

 

4.Did you have any essential albums or groups that inspired you during your early years? OH YES!!! Where do I start?????? Ok...In no particular order. Albums. The Cult-Love, Total game-changer! The first B-52's record. I get SO much shit for this one, but let me explain/ shed some light on this record. Ricky Wilson was the only guitarist in the band. He played a 4 string guitar ( E&A strings, B&E strings) They had NO bass player. They weren't Surf rock, Punk or New Wave, but combined all elements in such a new way. At 11 years old, that was one different sounding record and still is today. And side note, when John Lennon caught their show in NYC in 79, he at that very moment decided to write music again. So the story goes. I digress.... Jane's Addiction- Nothing Shocking, New Order-Low Life, Siouxsie and The Banshees JUJU, Gene Loves Jezebel-Discover,  Concrete Blonde -BloodlettingThe Smith's Meat is Murder & The Queen is Dead, Killing Joke -Night Time,  That one really got me going!!!  Man, I could go on for days.....

 

5.What about favorite concerts that inspired you and in what way? Now that one is tricky. Because There are bands that I don't listen to nor own their records that I've seen the most amazing shows from. Like the Rage against the Machine, don't care to listen to them but I've seen the 5 times! Ok...Jane's Addiction at Tipitinas in 89, White Zombie at The Varsity Theatre in 92, The Cure in 89 for sure, they played like 2 1/2 hours nonstop. The Violent Femmes in 85 at Tulane University and got to meet them. And Siouxsie in 86 there too. Those stand out because I was seeing something SO different each time. I learn SO much from going to see good bands. I always say, I won't buy every band I hear, but I will go see ANY band. Never know what you will learn...

 

6. I know you’re a big gothic rock fan. How do you feel about the history of gothic rock and its state today? What about American and British gothic rock music? Ok, this is a tough one. I first and foremost, as you well know, am a HUGE Goth rock fan of all kinds. From Bauhaus at it's earliest to more current acts like She Past Away. If it moves and has an interesting vocal, I'm in. Saying that, I haven't heard many bands really kick it to the next level and you see in other genres. They all or most seem to default to a familiar sound and look we have all seen many times. Oddly enough, I though Marilyn Manson was on to something about 20 years ago. He kinda put a fresh set of tires on it. He quickly shifted gears though. I mean, Like Sisters of Mercy, they should have been the AC/DC of Goth. Just keep giving your fans more of what they love about you. I dunno, I have WAY too many opinions on this. But the newer stuff I have seen lately like Feeding Fingers, She Past Away, these bands seem to be making some good inroads. Someone will come along and really turn Goth on it's head and get some attention to this great genre' of music!

 

7.What life skill do you feel everyone should have? Easy, People skills. Just the ability to understand and deal with people. Know how to talk to people. SO many people literally do not know how to communicate with each other, it's all texting. There isn’t any emotional connection when you text and it is all interpretation. The ones who will make it in the future will be the great communicators.

 

8. What do you feel were some of your mistakes in your life and some of your best choices? I have made SO many mistakes I could write a great book on what not to do!!! LOL!! I should have done the Courtney Love audition, I let her manager talk me out of that one. I think I could have written some really great songs with her at the time. My best choices???? Going to school to learn how to build amps. It is a pretty good skill set that continues to rear it's head.

 

9. What do you feel best embodies strength in a musician and freedom in music? Not listening to people who don't follow their dreams. Anything they say has no weight. Listening to negativity in any form is creatively stifling. Hard work. It's so important. How hard people work at things in ALL aspects of their life is key. I will say, my singer Jen Webb in Diamonds And Whiskey is a great example of this. She spins more plates than anyone I ever met. Never misses a rehearsal and she drives 3 hours each way to do them. Completes every task at hand and NEVER once complained. Hard work ethics are absolutely essential!

 

10.What advice would you give to a younger artist starting out today? Being a musician/ artist is a choice, almost like it chooses you. It is also a privilege. Not everyone can do it or has the ability, means, etc. to do it. If you do and you are not doing it to the best of your ability, you can never blame anyone or anything for your shortcomings. If you don't quit, you're halfway there! Save your money, it cost a LOT of money to get things rolling.

 

11. How do you feel about the changes to the music industry with the internet, social media, etc. verses the old days of pre-net music? It has never been easier to make music, get it out there, ect. At the same time, anyone with a laptop with Ableton and Garageband can be "a Musician" This is creating some pretty mediocre music in all genres. With Social Media, you can make your band look bigger than it actually is. I was in a Doom Metal band a few years ago that had an amazing Online presence, but when you book a tour on a "false" presence the result tells the real truth, no one shows up to your shows. If your band has 400 so-called fans in Atlanta and 2 show up, in a city of 4 1/2 million people, how good is that online presence? It's not, you lose , the venue will never book you again and it was all in vain. I see it often. And people wonder why venues are closing at an alarming rate. Shows have to have legitimate support, the bands have to have REAL fans, not just Facebook fans. Facebook fans don't pay the bills. At least in the "old" days which were only a few years ago, people went to shows WAY more than they do today. That is for all styles of music. Many reasons for this. One being that Live music isn't the main entertainment mediums for most people anymore. We have Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Postmates, 50in. TV's, a million channels. Who needs to leave their house anymore? Also, now even myself being a lifer musician, get really frustrated when I make plans to see a band. This is how that night unfolds... First, I get home from a 10-hour day at work. I have to eat, shower, whatnot. Call an UBER, $10, get to the venue. Pay cover, $7. Shows says it starts at 9, bands not even done setting up. Show starts at 10 ish. Sound is usually shitty. Band ends, next band sets up, 30 or so minutes goes by. Buy more drinks-$20. This happens 2 more time before the band I want to see goes on. Buy band merch $20-$30 (always), and head home, UBER $10. Now, this doesn't bother me because I love the live band experience, but to most people who live in an immediate gratification world, they have ZERO patience for this. I hear this from people all the time on why they just don't go to many shows anymore. I think the waiting around thing burns people out. Also, you see more people on their phones than actually watching shows. We played in Seattle last summer and there were about 50-60 people there, ALL WATCHING THE SHOW! No "phone-glow" Was such a treat!

 

12.You’ve been in bands for many years in all kinds of projects and seen many things come and go. In you time in music scenes. In what ways has your perspective shifted about underground music scenes since you began playing? I say this all the time, THE UNDERGROUND WILL ALWAYS DEFINE THE MAINSTREAM! Everything that is on the radio had it's roots and/ or influence from the Underground. The great folks in the Underground music scenes of ALL genres take chances. They are not influenced by the norm, they are bucking against the shitty homogenized music that radio programmers "think" people want to hear. Where the internet is winning is it allows any kid in any city on the planet the option and resources to "discover" new music. No longer should you have to think what is force fed to you from radio programmers is "good music" That day is gone. The underground is what keeps new music happening. Always has always will.

 

13.Do you have other creative interests outside of music and your artwork? I build handmade custom tube amps called King Magnus Amplifiers. They are early Fender, fiber board, hand soldered amps. I love doing this kind of work. It doesn't even seem like work, and it is so rewarding seeing them on stages!

 

14.You play many instruments; do you prefer guitar and in what way is one instrument fulfilling for your music over another? Great question! I like any and all instruments equally. Reason being, is when I started, if you played guitar and your bass player quit, if you had a bass you switched to bass. Same with drums and guitar and vocals. I always wanted to be a part of a great band, I was never particular to a certain instrument. It was always wanting to play in a cool band. I like them all for different reasons. Guitar is the easiest to communicate basic ideas with. Bass glues everything together. But when you play drums AND are a songwriter, it is the best position to be in because you HEAR everything so clear. When you play guitar you tend to kinda dial in to your tone or whatnot, but the drummer is listening to all the nuance. I do enjoy playing drums. But I'm a simple pocket drummer, no blast beats here :)

 

15.If you could jam with any musicians out of your all-time favorite bands who would you choose? Jam? Probably Concrete Blonde because I can play guitar bass and drums on most all of their songs and Johnette is a cannon of a vocalist! You should SO do an interview with her one day! She has a lot to say! Killing Joke would be pretty awesome too! Geordie Walker is one of my all-time favorite guitarist, So underrated.

 

16.What classic bands have you missed over the years you would love to see live? Motley Crue and Rush. Have had more than a few chances to see them both and never did. The Sisters of Mercy, they have never toured where I could have seen them.

 

17. In what ways do you feel music enriches your life experience? It is the soundtrack to our lives. When you hear a certain song, it takes you back to that place and time. Totally triggers memories. It has given me all my friendships that I have today. I met you through music!

 

18. Any last words for your fans? We will have a new Diamonds And Whiskey album out this year. Always working on other things as well. They will see the light of day when ready. Might be a Goth vibe happening from this camp in the near future, you will be the first to know Gid! Always a pleasure to talk with you. I know I talk a lot but I really love this music thing! See you soon my brother!

 

Always great to speak with you too brother, thanks for making the time today. Look forward to hearing your new records and projects.

 

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