Road Atlas: Joey Burns (Part 1)
We are proud to begin our journey with Tucson Arizona’s Calexico as they embark on their European tour this November. 2012 sees the release of Calexico’s strongest work to date with ‘Algiers’, an album immersed in a creative vibe where music and song rises up and fills the human space. Calexico’s Joey Burns shares his thoughts and feelings on traveling, experiencing different cultures, and music’s deep connection.
Words: Joey Burns, Illustration: Craig Carry
Being a handful days away from the start of a new tour, what do your routines/schedules consist of?
JOEY: In between tours I normally hang out with family, relax, spend time at home and help out in any way I can. This past week, I voted early, took care of the kids and spent as much time at home as possible. Tucson is a great city for that. It’s relatively laid back and I love taking walks around the neighborhood with the family and dog.
On the back of one U.S. tour and one European tour, what do you take from these recent experiences and (if and how) does this tap into the music for the next tour?
JOEY: It has been a while since we have toured in three successive months on a new album release. I think the last time was in 2008 for the album ‘Carried To Dust’. So it feels really good and I have been enjoying the current band lineup a lot. There is a lot of good musicians who have brought multiple talents to the live shows, so for me it is very exciting to see how the dynamics have been lifted. I feel more confident now with songs from ‘Algiers’ under our belt, and look forward to diving into more rare material from past albums and hopefully writing a few new songs to play on tour. The three week tours always help the band lock in together more and I wish we could tour three weeks at a time more often rather than the one off shows on weekends which has become the norm in the states.
Your feelings as a musician when you see all these great venues sold-out around the world for Calexico’s concerts.
JOEY: John Convertino, the whole band and crew are extremely happy and feel grateful for this opportunity and it makes the shows even more exciting. We have all been playing and touring for a long time. We love what we do. We love meeting all of the local promoters, venues and staff. I feel really lucky especially with such record high numbers of unemployment. I take what we do very seriously but love how the night changes according to how the audience is feeling. More times than not, the crowds enjoy the mood of celebration and want to have a good time. I look forward to meeting the audiences on this coming tour in November in Europe and doing just that.
Spain is the first part of your next tour. What is in the Spanish culture that strikes such a personal chord with you?
JOEY: There is a lot going on here in the Iberian Peninsula. Spain, Portugal and all of the neighboring regions around the Mediterranean Sea. It is a fascinating and vibrant place. The people and cultures here are stunning. The last time we toured here was in January of 2009. We played Barcelona the same day that President Barrack Obama was inaugurated. The energy that night at the Apollo Theater electric. People were so happy and after the show some were in tears. I walked out into the audience and hugged as many people as I could. Spain has always had that feeling of welcoming arms.
How travel inspires you.
JOEY: The road is the canvas and the tires help push the paint. Movement itself is inspiring. When we pull up to a venue on tour. I usually take a walk around the neighborhood to get a feel for the place. Staying backstage and hanging out with the local staff and crew, working on building the vibes for the whole day is important. I like seeing how the whole stage is set and sound check changes from day to day, venue to venue. I may try learning a new cover song and practicing it at sound check. I am looking for ways to make each and every show as unique and special as can be. I want to find out what makes the people tick and where the music can go in order to connect as deep as possible. This is the true path that I am on.
Calexico start their European tour on Friday November 9th at the sold-out Teatro Kapital, Madrid, Spain.
Calexico’s new album ‘Algiers’ is out now on City Slang (Europe) and Anti (USA).
For more tour dates, please see: www.casadecalexico.com/tours