Burnt Ones, low-fi and loving it

From left: Brian Allen, Mark Tester and Amy Crouch of Burnt Ones. Photo by Rumi Sakuraeda.

If

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."

Sitting

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.

And

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.

It's

all part of his dream for Burnt Ones, which seems to revolve around one idea:

simplicity.

"Once

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."

His

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."

According

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."

For

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

needed.

"I

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."

Dodge

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.

At

the Vollrath

On

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.

Between

the sullen-looking Tester on guitar/vocals and the surfer-looking Brian

"Cookies" Allen on bass stands a sweetly dressed, poker-faced Crouch.

"Who

are these guys again?" says someone in the crowd.

"Uh,

we're Burnt Ones," Tester murmurs into the mic.

Crouch

— 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.

Under

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.

Three

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.

Somewhere

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.

All

Night Long

7-inch

300

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

will.

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)"

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