Fireworks Magazine Online 39 - Vinny Burns

Vinny Burns Interview by Ant Heeks.

After chatting to Darren Wharton, I decided it would be a good opportunity to also catch up with Vinny Burns to get his perspective on the reunion with Dare, and to see what else he has been up to recently:-

How did you become involved with Dare again?

Darren and myself had been talking for a couple of years before Swedenrock in 2008 about trying to do something special for the 20th anniversary of the original Out Of The Silence release in '88.
Nothing really happened though as most promoters wanted to get all the original lineup back together and of course that was not what we wanted or intended as Darren has had a fully functioning band for the whole time since I left in 1991.
We sort of gave up on the idea. I think Andy Moore was not too interested any more in playing live so Darren gave me a call to see if I was interested in Swedenrock and any other live dates that were coming in.
It all worked out great and just fell into place.

Darren says he would like you to be a part of the next Dare album, do you plan to be involved with the composing?

Yes. Again, this is something we have spoken about over the years.
When I first started playing the gigs again with Dare, they were already 4 years or so into writing and recording the latest album Arc Of The Dawn. This was also the first ever chance Richie has had to do all the guitars on a Dare album and he had done a lot of work already so we didn't think it was right for me to come in and disturb that process.
We plan to get writing for a new album in the new year. We have already discussed a couple of things direction wise but it will be much easier to just get together and see what direction things take.
Looking forward to writing with Darren again. I think we wrote some great classic tracks together and it was always fun doing it. We used to spend from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday writing and working in songs back in the day but it never seemed like work. It was enjoyable.

You have also performed with Bob Catley recently, how was it working with Bob again, and will you be working together again?

It was great working with Bob again. We always make sure we have a lot of fun off stage and that we get it right while on stage. The gigs were really good. I had a ball.
Not really done any acoustic shows since Gary and me did an acoustic tour of Japan a long time ago. Then though, we were just doing record shops etc to promote our then latest live album. This tour with Bob was paying customers and a lot more pressure. One voice and one guitar and if someone makes a mistake, everyone knows who it was. Like I said, it was really good though.
We were supposed to be doing the new Bob Catley solo album at my studio with Gary writing it but not heard anything back about that recently. Not really sure what is happening now. Hope something does as I was really looking forward to starting it but that's all between Bob, Gary and Frontiers.

You have recently built your own studio, The Viper Room, does this give you greater freedom to record your own material, and will you be producing for any other bands?

Well I moved from Manchester to Ashby De La Zouch in 2006. When choosing a house, the studio was a massive consideration. We luckily found somewhere that was perfect and it's all fallen into place.
I spent a lot of time getting this studio right and it was all built from scratch. It has a nice live room so I can get the amps up to a level they like to be at (full). It's so nice to have all my gear just setup permanently.
Have a lovely classic Ludwig Vistalite drum kit. My vintage Marshall amps. My Mesa/Boogie amps and my Soldano plus all my favourite guitars.
Got all the right mic's I needed too. I can do everything here now from start to finish where in the past that was not possible. The only thing I won't do here is the mastering as that is best left to a qualified mastering engineer.
Bob has just done his vocals for the new Avantasia album here and they turned out really good.
Looking into starting producing a few bands here too. I learned a lot from working with Mike Stone, Mike Shipley and Keith Olsen as well as all the other stuff and I think I can bring that experience to a project. When you work with people like that, you make sure you know how and why they are doing things and arriving at those sounds. I personally have a lot to thank the late great Mike Stone for as he was so free with all his information. He always seemed surprised that anyone was even remotely interested in how he did it. Gary and me had a lot of fun working with him.
Production is not something I have focussed on fully before until I did the Burns Blue album. When producing my first solo album The Journey, I was completely out of my depth. I hate the sound of that album and even things like most of the tempos are wrong too. I could not see the wood for the trees. I have spent a long time since then getting things together and putting all I have learned into practice.

I read on your MySpace page that you have re-recorded one of your old instrumentals 'Sicilian Kiss', playing all the instruments. Do you enjoy playing drums and keyboards, and are you likely to do it more?

I like to write on keyboards as I write differently than I would do on guitar. I played all the keys on my solo album The Journey and the Burns Blue album too. Would never feel comfortable doing it live though. I think my mind would just go blank. For an album, it would definitely be better for me to get a real keyboard player in though as they are all much better than me. I always run out of time though and what I have done ends up staying.
I actually played keyboards on the Ten tracks 'Someday' and 'Standing On The Edge Of Time' from 'The Robe' but we decided to just credit Ged for all the keys to keep things simple.
The drums were just done on Sicilian Kiss for fun as I had just bought the Ludwig kit for the studio and wanted to try them. I originally played drums for a few years before switching to guitar at 12 so it was fun to have a bash around a kit again.
I put those clips up on myspace as demos and they are not really a reflection of how the studio sounds at all. It's nice to get a quick sketch up there to get some feedback on the actual idea.

What other projects are you involved in at the moment, any plans for a new solo or Burns/Blue album?

I want to drag Sam out to do another Burns Blue as I was very happy how that album turned out. He's always very busy though. I will keep pestering him.
I keep toying with the idea of doing a full instrumental album and pretty much have all the songs in the bag. Just don't really know if anyone really cares for another guitar album or not.
I have kept a low profile since leaving Ten and doing the Burns Blue album. I virtually pulled away from music all together. Sam and me put so much work into that album and we were so happy with it. Unfortunately, Now And Then records went bust pretty much as soon as it was released and the album just died. I was gutted. It really deflated me after putting two years of my life into it.
I guess I felt so burned out too after doing all those albums I did from 88 until 2002. I just felt I needed a break away from it all. I could not face doing another album which was weird as I was normally playing on at least two whole albums a year. In hindsight, I now feel I have wasted the last few years and should be getting off my arse and doing something. I am now playing guitar for hours everyday and that is something I have not really bothered doing since about '96. I am however only going to do things I enjoy. Life if is too short to be stuck doing something I am not happy doing.

What are you listening to at the moment?

I only really like all the older bits of my music collection. Just lazy I suppose. I can still listen to those albums from before I turned professional for what they are and enjoy them for what they are without analysing them in any great detail. When it becomes your job, you don't listen to things the same way. It kind of spoils it really. You are too busy listening to the drum, guitar and vocal sound rather than the songs.
So, to answer the question, it's still the things that I grew up listening to. Like Michael Schenker. Assault Attack is a current favourite from that era - what a fantastic album! Still sounds great today. Stuff that has been released fairly recently that I love are David Meniketti's solo albums. Can't stop listening to those. Great player with great songs. From the really new crop, I was really impressed with the HEAT album and also loved a lot of the Threshold stuff. Heard both these bands on MySpace and went and bought the stuff off itunes.

Out of all the bands you have worked with over the years, which would you say has been the most enjoyable and rewarding?

They were all good for different reasons. Dare was always the really special one though as it was my first big thing I was involved in. Darren taught me the ropes. It was a completely new world for me. I was only doing the pubs and had just started doing sessions at a local studio. We spent a long time trying to get a record deal and make it all happen in the early days but it was fun and I think 'Out Of The Silence' is testimony to all that hard work we put in initially.
Getting back in rehearsal again with Darren for Swedenrock was quite emotional for me. I really hadn't realised just how special it was or how much I had missed Dare until we started playing those songs and it had 'that' sound again. The hairs on the back of my neck actually stood up. The same at the gig in Sweden. We had a little bar behind my stacks of gear on stage and we were both grinning from ear to ear between songs grabbing a drink.
Ten was great too. Again, it was started from nothing and to go on and shift 250,000 CD's just in Japan was pretty spectacular especially as the record company over there thought we would only shift a few of thousand.
I am still proud of the Burns Blue album as well. There is nothing I would go back and change on that. I think it sounds good still.

I have to ask you this question; Are you still in touch with Gary Hughes, and if the opportunity arose would you ever rejoin Ten?

Well, to be honest, there has been talk. No one has spoken to me directly. It's all 3rd hand by the time I hear anything. Someone from Ten unofficially speaks to someone else who used to work for Ten and they call me.
I had an approach about a year ago and I instantly asked for a really prohibitive amount of money for me to do it because there are still a few things I am smarting about concerning Ten and what went on back then (and after).
I suppose it all depends really. I honestly don't need Ten back in my life and have not since I left.
I am loving working with Dare again. It's so laid back and is a lot of fun to do. We had a fantastic time in Sweden and Spain last year and we have some more dates coming up early in 2010 too. We are planning a new album and writing together again. I have more than enough things to keep me busy with Dare, my own stuff and my studio.
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since I left and a lot of things have happened good and bad. It's only since the band's popularity, record sales and quality control plummeted that steps have been made to get me back in. I am not totally naive, it's not because they miss their old mate Vinny, haha. We all know how it sounded when I was in the band and how it sounded when I was not. There was a classic lineup and the fans - and probably record company - want that lineup back together. It was a good band but there were lots of things going on behind the scenes that were not too pleasant at the time. At 44, I am too old for all that. I am sure Ten still have my email address or phone numbers. If they really wanted to get in touch, they could do so directly. That's all there is to it. I know all this sounds terribly negative. I am just being truthful without getting into specifics. It's just business I suppose, nothing really personal. It's probably not even as frosty as most people imagine. I was really looking forward to doing the next Bob Catley solo album that Gary was being lined up to write - would love for that to still go ahead. It's all just business that gets in the way. So there we are. That's my cards on the table for everyone to see.
On a positive side, I had a great time in Ten for absolutely most of the time. I think this next Ten album would be the tenth album so I suppose it would be nice to do something special and tour Japan etc. There are just a lot of things that would need ironing out first for me. Maybe too many? Never say never though.

Thanks for your time Vinny, any message for Fireworks readers?

Yes, thanks to you all for your support over the years. I feel very privileged to have been part of this scene for so long and that's all down to the fans of this music that have kept it alive and supported the bands I have been lucky enough to be involved with. Time to get off my arse and play again! Hope to see you all in 2010.

Read the full interview with Darren Wharton in issue 39 of Fireworks Magazine

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