About a week before they were going to announce this year’s lineup for Black N Blue Bowl, I started to hear a rumor that of all the possible reunions this year, it was actually Burn who was going to be reforming. Hoping it was true but expecting the ever infamous rumor mill that is the interweb to once again play tricks on me, I was floored when BNB announced that it was indeed going to be happening. Then the disappointment of living 2200 miles away set in and the realization that I wouldn’t be there to witness one of the best bands of its era reunite. So I did what any zine dude would do…I hit up Gavin and hoped he would take time out of his busy day to day life and talk about this milestone in NYHC. Lucky for me he did, and now I have this to share with you. For those of you lucky enough to be going this year all I can say is, take some pics I can use in the next issue! For the rest of you I give you the results of that interview. Photos by Todd Pollock (Thanks for saving the day)
NLY: Gavin, thanks for taking the time to do this, I really appreciate it. So a Burn reunion is something that people have been asking about for some time now. What made you decide the time was right now? Who got the ball rolling?
GVV: As I told someone before, Myself and Chaka have a lot of different projects both musical and otherwise going on and it was hard to get everything on the same page to make it happen. Chaka was living in Europe and on the west coast and I have a business that requires a lot of attention. Things always seem to work out at the proper time the universe sees fit and I guess this is that time. As for the 2nd part of the question, it was a 2 mutual friends of ours that basically got this moving forward. Mass Appeal editor and music journalist Sacha Jenkins, and Black and Blue promotions/radio host Cousin Joe Camaratta got Chaka and I together to discuss doing it.
NLY: I know a lot of people who want to thank Sasha and Cousin Joe for this one! What will the lineup be for the Black N Blue Bowl? Will it be all original members or is there anyone who just won’t be a part of things?
GVV: The lineup will be myself, Chaka, Manny Cuerero (bass), and Durijah Lang (drums). We approached Alan Cage about it but he is currently a new dad and has several other projects he is involved in and couldn’t commit the time to it and I haven’t heard from Alex Nahpac in well over a decade. Manny Cuerero played on the Cleanse record and he and Durijah had played together in both Glassjaw and Saves the Day, so we knew they already have a tight chemistry which is super important for a rhythm section, so it made the most sense. Plus, they were both Burn fans coming up in music so that was an added bonus. We wanted people who really cared about the music and music in general.
NLY: Is this going to be a one-time thing or will there be more shows?
GVV: Right now for us the only thing that exists is this show and making it as amazing an experience for both the crowd and ourselves. First things first. I’m not meaning to sound coy but I personally have so much going on that sometimes life resembles juggling flaming cats, so I am only focusing on the task at hand and that can break down to a day by day or even hourly format.
NLY: And we all know flaming cat juggling is no joke!! Have you had a chance to get back together and practice yet? If so, how did that first time feel?
GVV: We have been rehearsing as much as we can afford to time wise. Our first time in a room together Chaka looked at us and said “Hey guys, let’s not rehearse this stuff….. Let’s PLAY this!!” I was really shook by that cause it put the urgency into the performance and took the stress out. I was really happy with how it sounded right off the bat. What Chaka said was some of the best direction I have ever experienced.
NLY: Wow, sounds like that took the weight right off your backs and just let it kind of develop in a more natural way. Burn reformed once before and it led to 2 new releases. Any chance of new material or new releases this go around? Anything left unrecorded from back in the day? (I remember reading about a possible discography from a few years ago and you mentioning some early demo stuff etc.)
GVV: Again, one thing at a time. Yes, there is unreleased /unrecorded material, but I can’t currently say if we are going to get that stuff down or write new material.
NLY: (Man did my ears perk up at the mention of unreleased Burn material!) Do any of you have any current musical projects going on?
GVV: I am a musician. It’s part of me and I am always writing and experimenting with ideas. My intention isn’t to constantly release material. If I get a chance to put some of it out then I’ll do it, but honestly I’m perfectly happy writing songs and pieces that only me and my dog ever hear.
NLY: What originally broke you guys up? What happened after the first reunion, had it just run its course?
GVV: I Thought I wasn’t happy with the direction Burn was moving in but the truth is that I just wasn’t happy. I went through a very weird, dark, but cathartic era in my life that I projected a lot of anger and fear towards things I really cared about and systematically drove things and people away from me that I should have embraced more. At that point in life I did a lot of things very knee jerk and was very reactionary. I have always been a bit of an iconoclast and although that’s something that I nurture now in my behaviors, if not directed properly that kind of tool can take the form of a gun that is usually aimed at your own foot. As for the reunion, it just wasn’t right. There was so much talent in that line up but the personalities and dynamics were really difficult to keep in check.
NLY: Like any relationship, sometimes it just takes more than you have in you at the time. What one song do you think best embodies the spirit of Burn?
GVV: I REALLY WANNA SAY “WHEEL IN THE SKY” BY JOURNEY!!! HAHA!
That is such a tough question because as we grew our songs grew and it always depends on moods. Very few things get a reaction like the opening drum parts to “Shall Be Judged”, or “Drown”, but the depth of “Tales of Shatu” is almost evangelistic, but then the pure bombastic nature of “Cleanse” speaks volumes. That is a really tough question. I gotta go with “Wheel in the Sky.”
NLY: Wheel in the Sky it is, perhaps a cover will be in order!! Have a great Burn story from back in the day?
NLY: (and this is where my advice of wording your questions carefully comes in. I followed up with Gavin a couple times but just couldn’t pry a story loose. You got me this time Gavin, I owe ya! What’s everyone do for a living these days?
GVV: Trying to get as much awesome stuff done as possible before our time is up, I hope. Chaka is working on a lot of new music and recording often. I have so much stuff going on that it’s almost like I’m living 3 lives. I work as a Strength coach and consultant and am currently building out a facility that should be ready to open early April.
NLY: (Gavin wasn’t kidding….check out his Instagram for pictures of the new facility, it looks incredible) You work as a trainer now, how did that come about? Do you enjoy it? Do you work more with every day people or people training to be fighters? (New Mexico is the land of MMA it seems with Jackson’s being located her., I feel like everyone here is training to fight)
GVV: I’m actually with Caveman Coffee Co. which is owned by Keith Jardine and Tait Fletcher, both Jackson Alumni. The only fighters I currently work with work for me as coaches themselves. Most of our clientele is general population and people who just want to move and feel better. A lot of them are hobbyists in martial arts be it Muay Thai, Judo, or BJJ but honestly I am more interested in working with people who want to rediscover movement and get healthy. I work with some amazing coaches in my crew and we honestly all feel people tend to “work out” to much and don’t “play” enough. Training to fight is not a healthy endeavor. It takes a lot out of you and I believe that people don’t pay enough attention to the recovery aspects of the personal training regime.
NLY: Keith actually comes in my shop sometimes when he’s in town. How did you first get into music as a kid?
GVV: It was just something that made sense to me. It’s friggin’ magic. Who doesn’t want to be able to do magic??
NLY: Too true. What drew you to hardcore?
GVV: See my last answer!
NLY: Can you give us a rundown of your musical history and what bands you were in throughout the years?
GVV: No. I don’t find it important. That information must be out there on the internet. If someone is interested in that then have at it.
NLY: With such a substantial musical history can you look back on one of your bands and say it was your favorite?
GVV: That is a really cruel question. No. Most of what I did was appropriate for who I was at that time. There were projects I went along with at times because there wasn’t anything else I felt like doing and I just wanted interaction (here is where you call me a slut) but picking a favorite, nope, not gonna bother with that.
NLY: One of my first interactions with you was at the old Ritz and you almost kicking my ass (might I say it would’ve been well deserved had it happened) You had a rep back then of being one of the NY guys not to fuck with. Do you think it was more a product of your environment type thing or was fighting your way of dealing with other things going on in your life?
GVV: Back then New York was a different planet and those were the tools myself and others used to deal with situations. I am not going to rationalize my behaviors as I look back at a 16-21 year old Gavin and almost blacken my own eyes face palming. Let’s say it was most likely both of those and a severe lack of better coping mechanisms.
NLY: You had a dark period in your life, dealing with drugs and alcohol. I remember hanging out with you, Andrew and Keith at a Die 116 show in South Jersey and not being able to comprehend how you had drank as much as you had and were still able to play. How were you able to overcome these “demons”? Is it something you still struggle with?
GVV: Drugs and Alcohol are the tour guides of a low level spiritual search. I’m not going to delve into Metaphysics and theology here as I am not at all that smart and am sure to offend someone out there, unintentionally or otherwise. At the end of the day you can retrieve pretty much anything in life that you lose….money, health, love, cars, real estate, prestige, but the only non-redeemable is time and in my opinion at this juncture of my life alcohol and drugs are huge time wasters.
NLY: I’ve seen you talk about an interest in Buddhism before, how did this come about? How important is Buddhism/spirituality in your day to day life?
GVV: Again, not that smart!! I try to make the next right conscious decision and attempt to get through the day by being of service to others and not fucking anyone over.
NLY: Sounds like a good way to live to me. Who would you say are the 5 most influential hardcore bands?
GVV: Discharge, Bad Brains, Adolescents, X, Negative approach.
NLY: 5 great ones right there. If you were going to start a band and could pick any members from the past or present who would you pick and why?
GVV: Uhm, I’m doing a Burn Show…….Duh???
NLY: Touche! What’s the best show you ever saw?
GVV: Either Crash Worship, Cop Shoot Cop, or The Laughing Hyenas. Never heard of these??? Go hunting kids!!
NLY: One of the things Not Like You has a love for is skating. I remember seeing you show up to CBs sometimes on your board. Do you still skate ever?
GVV: Only long board cruise for transportation nowadays. No crazy stuff.
NLY: Looking back on your life who would you say are the 3 people who had the biggest impact on you as a person?
GVV: My oldest sister worked 3 jobs to put herself through college and support the family cause my Mom had cancer. She was the “Man” of the house. Sergio Vega, because he is the most honest musician and friend I know and my Dad for breaking out when I was 2 years old. That was really sucky of him but over the long haul I got to believe if that was the best you could do then so be it.
NLY: What’s the last thing that made you cry? (I don’t ask this one mocking, I love this question especially with people who I think are sometimes misjudged or looked at based off of their past)
GVV: Watching the sun drop into the sea while surfing in Nicaragua and having the stark realization that it had been doing that with or without my appreciation for literally millions of years. Man, we as humans are minuscule.
NLY: It’s funny how it’s usually simple, beautiful moments like a sunset that bring us to these realizations. I got to agree with you. There is so much more to what’s out there than humans, we just act like the know all, end all. Tell us one thing about you that most people don’t know?
GVV: I was raised by wolves and drag queens.
NLY: So street smarts and fashion sense, nice! What brings the greatest peace to your life these days?
GVV: Not taking myself so fucking seriously. NLY: Any final thoughts?
GVV: I’m sure I will have some on my death bed and I hope they’re hilarious.
NLY: I’m sure they will be. Thanks for doing this for us and for the laughs!