Calexico is one of Greece’s beloved bands and as they recently released their album “Years to Burn” with Iron & Wine, we communicated with them. It is the second time that they collaborate with him and it is their eleventh studio album overall. Joey Burns is one of the main members and co-founder of the band and he talked to us about its release. What is the story behind their relationship with Iron & Wine, and how could they manage to combine their different, musical styles?
As we mentioned, Calexico’s new album make references in nature and Joey explained us the reason why they chose to do it. Their aesthetic and their musical ideas don’t evolve by chance, but it is a mature choice and an organic procedure for them. Joey also talks to us about the biggest danger in an artist’s career and share with us the “secret” solution to overtake it.
He recalls some memorable moments while performing in Greece, and especially last year’s concert at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. How was their experience? Closing this introduction, we would like to share a phrase of Joey Burn’s interview:
“If Calexico were to relocate to the Mediterranean we would choose Greece as our new home.”
Read the whole interview that Joey Burns gave to SounDarts.gr below!
photos by Piper Ferguson
Joey, thank you in advance for this interview! Recently, you released your new Calexico album, entitled “Years to Burn”. What does it mean to you?
I’m really happy to reunite with Sam Beam and get to add another chapter to our musical collaboration. It also gives John and I a chance to try something different in regards to working in a new studio and reaching different audiences.
You collaborated with Iron & Wine again, after 14 years. What’s the story behind this collaboration?
We first met thru our mutual friend Howard Greynolds who released “In The Reins”. Since the recording went well we decided to take both bands on the road. While on tour we really became good friends and traveled around the globe. Part of those tour dates unfurled like a Rolling Thunder Revue style where we invited a lot of guests in cities throughout the States to join us in the spirit of collaboration.
What is that ‘ingredient’ that made him special and appropriate for your albums? Do you share common paths?
We both share a similar style of songwriting and arrangements. There is enough difference in our own styles and signature sounds and those qualities of vocals and instruments work well when combined together.
Also, what differences can you mention between the albums “In The Reins” and “Years to Burn”, as there is a 14-years gap?
The first recording session in 2004 had more musicians and instruments. The more recent album “Years To Burn” is more minimal and perhaps more raw in some ways.
Most of the songs in “Years to Burn” make a reference in nature. What’s your relationship with nature and environment in general?
Lyrically nature helps connect characters and emotions. I suppose it’s a path that not only is important to my life and Sam’s but the symbolic reference helps take the listener into our musical and lyrical worlds. Nature is the bridge.
In what ways has your sound evolved through these years? Was it a need of the times?
All the changes or evolutions in our music feel very organic and grounded within our own choice and decision. The sounds and style have grown without losing sight of the general aesthetic of both of our groups.
How easy is it to remain active in music industry for more than 20 years? Do you believe that there are dangers lurking?
We love what we do and yes there are dangers that occur since day one of working on music. The biggest danger is your own insecurities as an artist. They need to be quelled. Finding like minded people to collaborate with and record label etc people to work together with is super important. It can be very challenging but follow your gut instinct. Ask yourself if you’d want to be spending long hours in a small car together.
Greece is one of your destinations while touring. What makes you come back everytime?
The people, The Food and The music pull me to return to Greece. Always I want to return and always in the summer. This is the best time.
As the Greek audience enjoys your live performances, what is the most remarkable and memorable moment with it?
This is a tough question to answer. I recall some of the early shows very well as if they happened only yesterday. I love some of the hot and sweaty nights while touring throughout Greece and playing the Island of Crete as well. Along with the performances I remember sitting down to so many incredible meals in Greece. My favorite dish is grilled octopus.
Last year, you performed at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. How was your experience?
It was a dream and one I will never forget. I wish I could replay every hour of these two magical days and collaborate again with all of the Greek musicians who taught us all so much. We are forever grateful for this opportunity and gift.
What does success mean to you? What would you choose: a crowded venue or the most streamed songs through the digital platforms, and why?
Success is having your friends and family sharing the best times together. I dream one day to do this in Greece.
Would you like to give us some further information about your on-going tour?
The live concerts have been going very well and there is a sensitivity that is enchanting when we all perform together. I think the Greek audience would like this latest installment of the Calexico and Iron & Wine chapter. It’s soulful and deep as the blue sea.
Joey, what is your message to the Greek audience?
If Calexico were to relocate to the Mediterranean we would chose Greece as our new home. There is passion, soul and melancholy as part of the daily life that I feel would best match the character of our musical group.
Interview: Elektra Limnios