|Photo by: Facebook.com|
It’s not every day a band from Athens is recognized for its talent on an international level. The Burning River Ramblers, with roots in both Cleveland and Ohio University, are doing just that.
Since entering the Hard Rock Rising Competition in April, the Ramblers, featuring Conor Standish on vocals, Zach Catania on guitar, Chris Rush on bass, Jesse Catania on drums and Dave Young on keys, have brandished their flexible prog-rock prowess to beat out hundreds of competing bands and represent the city of Cleveland on an international scale. The group, which consists of all Ohio University students and alums, is competing for a chance to play in London, sign a record deal and plan a world tour.
With a wide following in Athens and Cleveland, a sound that can appeal to any listener and is maturing every day, as well as a new album due out in June, the Burning River Ramblers are proving they have every right to win this competition and showcase some Cleveland-Athens talent to the world.
The competition is based on voting through the Hard Rock Rising’s Facebook page. The top 25 bands travel to London to perform in front of a panel of judges for a chance at world recognition and many more perks.
With Cleveland’s own Hey Monea! winning it all last year, it’s not surprising that Cleveland’s Hard Rock Café and many more Cleveland businesses, organizations and fans are showing full support for Burning River Ramblers. The deadline, May 1 at 4 p.m., is quickly approaching.
ACRN’s Mike Kasarda sat down with lead singer/guitarist Conor Standish and drummer Jesse Catania to discuss the competition and the band’s future.
ACRN: In light of the Ramblers’ recent success, it seems there’s been a real maturation in the band. How does this relate to the new album?
CS: I think that compared to our first album, the second album is more of a collaboration between the whole band, and we’ve matured as a band. We’ve been together for about two years now and we just got Dave [Young], so he adds an entire new aspect to our sound.
JC: Me, Conor and Chris were together for a year more or less, learning the Trip C’s tunes. Then we picked up Zach [Catania], my brother, then Dave joined in, and we put together our first album.
CS: We’ve had more time to think more about what we’re doing and a lot more time and money to spend making the new album. Our first album was very ‘breezy’--that’s how a lot of people would describe it. A lot simpler. The new album is more rock-oriented with some jazz, funk and even a little hip-hop in there. We didn’t have that at all on our first album.
ACRN: The Ramblers have roots in both Athens and Cleveland, two cities with deep-seated but distinct musical atmospheres. How have these music scenes contributed to your sound?
CS: I would say Athens contributed more to our sound since we’ve played down here a lot more often. And we’ve had such a great reception down here.
JC: [Athens] has probably contributed more since most of the bands down here are similar to us in terms of style and feel. We’ve had a lot of influence from Cleveland as well since it’s the place to be for rock 'n' roll.
ACRN: What would a win mean for the band, Athens and Cleveland?
CS: To start with Athens and Cleveland, it’s not often that you get a band that is recognized on an international level. I feel like it’s kind of a rarity to have that these days. I think it would be huge for Athens and Cleveland, especially since it’s the home of rock 'n' roll, to win an international battle of the bands.
JC: In terms of the Ramblers, this contest has made us more professional just this past month. We’ve been trying harder to be as tight as possible and get our feel down. It’s really opened us up in social media and as a band.
CS: Also, just the opportunity to represent these cities in a global competition is a huge honor. A win would be tremendous; and a world tour is something we would imagine farther down the road, but this competition can really accelerate our career. Just to be where we’re at is amazing. We’re so humbled by the support.
ACRN: The opportunity to play in London is undoubtedly an exciting possibility. Which city or venue anywhere in the world would you most like to play?
JC: London, really, is the shit! To play at Hyde Park where The Beatles, The Stones, Hendrix and everybody has played would be incredible.
CS: I think it would just be amazing to play in a foreign country, honestly. It would be such a trip to play for a foreign crowd.
ACRN: What’s your favorite Athens hot spot, venue or bar?
CS: The Union is probably our home, pretty much. The Union has treated us really well since we became a band. Jackie O’s and Casa are awesome too. We’ve received great reception there.
ACRN: What truly separates the Ramblers from the other 95 bands in this competition?
JC: Versatility is the main thing, really.
CS: I know a lot of bands say it but we definitely have a lot of different style going on simultaneously. Every song on the new album sounds completely different. I think nowadays people listen to specific songs rather than an entire album, so I think we have that going for us where every song is unique and has its own flavor.
JC: I think that we can really jump around in other genres. Even in “Don’t Wait On Me” we feature pop, funk, rock in the chorus, some hip hop--just in one song.
ACRN: A Cleveland–based group, Hey Monea!, won it all last year. Are you following their lead at all in promoting the competition?
CS: We’ve been making a lot of YouTube videos that are funny and get people’s attention. We’ve had a lot of help from 87.7 Cleveland Sound, Fox 8, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Clinic and a lot more Cleveland organizations.
JC: I don’t think Hey Monea! had as much support as we do this year. We’re lucky to be fully backed by Cleveland and Athens. It’s been great.
ACRN: The band obviously has a large appeal to its audience. What about your sound, persona or vibes do you think contributes to this?
CS: We’re a very easygoing group of guys for sure.
JC: Yeah, definitely easygoing. I think we really appeal to the college atmosphere with our feel, which some people relate to maybe Dave Matthews Band. I think we really draw the college crowd because of our jammy, groovy style, even though we try to include more structure in our music at the same time.
CS: We’re a fun group of kids, easy to talk to and easy to relate to.
ACRN: Explain the band culture or dynamic.
CS: We’re all goofy and the one thing that makes us so versatile is that we all have different personalities and tastes in music. But when it comes together it just makes sense.
JC: We’re definitely just a group of five best friends and that carries over when we’re onstage. The music helps us bond a lot off stage too, though.
ACRN: After the Hard Rock Rising Competition, where is the future of the Burning River Ramblers headed?
CS: We want to get out there and just be all over the place as much as we can be. We’ve been focusing our shows in the Cleveland and Athens areas but after we all graduate we just want to start playing out at any venue possible, spreading throughout the Midwest and, hopefully, across the nation.
JC: We’ve met a lot of bands from Colorado, New Orleans, Florida and New York. So we’re going to keep making connections since that’s what it’s all about: meeting bands, getting out there and spreading music.
Click here to “Like” the Hard Rock Rising page and vote for Athens’ own The Burning River Ramblers.
ACRN sits down with Athens' own The Burning River Ramblers to discuss the band's participation in 2013's Hard Rock Rising Competition.
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