you ask Mark Tester about his music, or why he likes the guitar, or how he wants
people to feel when he performs, or anything else about his new band, Burnt
Ones, his initial response will likely be, "I don't really know."
in the back corner of Dorman Street Bar, wearing head-to-toe black and drinking
a Bloody Mary at one p.m. on a Tuesday, Tester is rehearsedly unrehearsed,
carefully careless. It's almost like he prepared for this by reminding himself
not to prepare.
even though he demoed all the band's tunes by himself on his laptop, and
engineered most of their recordings for their upcoming EP in his home with
"primitive" equipment, he'd rather not get into how incredibly cool that is.
all part of his dream for Burnt Ones, which seems to revolve around one idea:
you strip it down to the basics of what's good about rock and roll or pop music...that's
what I'm interested in," says Tester. "The whole point of the band is that I
don't really want to write anything that people will relate to. I'm not trying
to write deep lyrics or intricate parts. I just want it to be simple.... that's
when it's better."
drummer (also his girlfriend, Amy Crouch) never picked up a stick before she
joined the group. As he puts it, "good drummers tend to overplay. I kinda just
wanted someone who would play a straight beat."
to Craig "Dodge" Lile of My Old Kentucky Blog, "Tester is a student of music,"
who "knows what he likes and has a vision for his sound."
a year, Dodge had been mulling over the possibility of starting his own record
label. When he heard Burnt Ones, following on other projects with which Tester
has been involved — now-defunct Muncie-based experimental art-rockers Ari
Ari, still-alive local psych-rockers Thunders — he got the extra push he
love their sound," he says. "They pull from glam, psych, garage, surf and 50's/60's
girl pop....I love their desire and work ethic. They have big goals, and they're
willing to work to attain them."
is calling his label Roaring Colonel Records. Its first order of business?
Releasing the Burnt Ones' debut 7-inch EP April 15, at Locals Only.
a Saturday night at the Vollrath Tavern, Burnt Ones step on stage to a sputter
of applause. The crowd, drowning itself in PBR, is ready for music, but doesn't
recognize the non-descript trio now plugging in and tuning.
the sullen-looking Tester on guitar/vocals and the surfer-looking Brian
"Cookies" Allen on bass stands a sweetly dressed, poker-faced Crouch.
are these guys again?" says someone in the crowd.
we're Burnt Ones," Tester murmurs into the mic.
— the least "burnt" looking Burnt One — lowers her head, her wispy
brown hair closing over her face like curtains. On Tester's count she begins
ruthlessly and robotically banging out a clean beat, her whole body stoic
except for her arms below the elbows.
green light in the drafty, dark Vollrath, Burnt Ones sound like the band at a
1960's zombie prom. Tester's whiny vocals, nursed after every song with a swig
of beer, wash over the room through a wall of reverb.
or four songs into the set, people in the crowd are be-bopping in their Vans
with their eyes closed. Someone yells out a request for an album. By the end of
the show, everyone's cheering for an encore.
between Crouch's primitive drumming (sans anything more complicated than an
eighth note), Allen's basic bass lines, and Tester's always-a-little-bit-flat
doo-wopping, there was indeed good, unpretentious garage rock.
of them have been pressed, and each comes with an mp3 download card pointing
the listener towards an additional track, "Come Back Home," the C-side, if you
Fader, by the by, is on the
story, and have featured "T-Rex" on their blog with the following comment
— "You will probably not be surprised to find out that it rings of salad
days T. Rex, but with appropriate modern twists like lo-fidelity."
You'll have to actually buy the record to hear that bonus track, but we've got the A- and B-side right here for you to audition.
A-side: "Gonna Listen to T-Rex (All Night Long)"
B-side: "Alright (Sha-la-la)"