Band Interviews

  • MuzicNotez – Jessie Blitz: Can we establish everybody’s name and contribution to the band (instrument or otherwise)?
    • The Burroughs:
      Johnny Burroughs – lead singer, band co-owner
      Mary Claxton- drums and vocals, band co-owner
      Briana Harris – alto saxophone, band co-owner and manager
      Brian Claxton – bass
      Sean Hagemeister – guitar
      Alec Bell – trumpet
      Jeremy Fallis – trombone
      Hayden Farr – baritone saxophone

      (We don’t currently have a full-time keyboard player, but have been performing with a rotation of regular subs)

      In addition to these instrument roles, everyone in the band contributes to songwriting and arranging music.

  • Website:
    Instagram: @BurroughsSoul
    Twitter: @BurroughsSoul

    MuzicNotez – Jessie: How did you guys find each other? How did the band get together?

    • The Burroughs: The band was actually the brainchild of one of the group’s original trumpet players, our friend Craig Basarich. (Craig is actually a full-time military musician now who plays in The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own”!) At the time, Craig attended The University of Northern Colorado, and knew Johnny because he worked at a nearby coffee shop and played some open mic sessions in downtown Greeley. Craig approached Johnny and said, “I’d like to start a soul band with you.” Johnny found the rhythm section, Craig found the horns, and originally the band planned on playing just a single gig. The show went so well that the group immediately had some other offers for shows and private events, and it continued to evolve from there.

      The lineup has changed pretty significantly since the very beginning (the only folks on that very first performance were Johnny, Sean, and Hayden), but we’ve had our current lineup for almost 5 years. Most all of us met in some way through attending the School of Music at UNC; it’s a really strong program, and we feel fortunate to have worked with so many great musicians who have passed through that school.

  • MuzicNotez – Jessie: Now something that your frontman says a lot is “We are all in the Burroughs.” What exactly does that mean to you, Johnny? Why do you say that?
    • The Burroughs: Our main goal at every show is to leave people feeling better when they arrived. We want our music to be uplifting, to create joy, and to build community. One of the strengths of having such a large band is that we’re really able to lean on each other for support; I don’t think we could have had such success so far without everyone’s contributions. That also extends to our fans: we literally couldn’t make this music without them. “We’re all in The Burroughs” is a sentiment that recognizes the energy and spirit our audience brings, and that celebrates the belief that we’re all better when joining together.
  • MuzicNotez – Jessie: What’s the new project?
    • The Burroughs: We’re really trying to level up creatively and professionally this year, and we’re trying a lot of new things: in the studio, in our business, and in live performances. We have several recording projects in the works that will get released throughout this year. We’re partnering with some new collaborators in the studio, and we’re super excited to see where that takes us creatively. We’re also traveling to some new places, including the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska (!) for Salmonfest in August. Plus, we’re shooting for some plays at larger venues, including a special Woodstock tribute show headlining Washington’s in Fort Collins this October.
  • MuzicNotez – Jessie: Do you have a vision for your group? Like a long term goal?
    • The Burroughs: Our long term goal has always been to continue finding ways to make our music in a sustainable way for all of our band members. We’re a band of professional working musicians, and we feel really fortunate that we’ve been able to build a model that has kept such quality players in our band.

      Our current goals in the near future are to find ways to tour in a sustainable way, and to get our music in front of a more national audience. Taking a large band on the road is a challenge- we can’t just all fit in one mini van- so we have to find creative ways to approach touring in order to cover our expenses and compensate band members fairly. We’d love to play larger festival bills and bigger venues, as well as find the right partners to continue recording and releasing new music in the studio.

      Though the music industry is really unpredictable, we hope we’re able to do this as long as possible. We’re in it for the long haul, and I hope we’re still doing this in 20 years.

  • MuzicNotez – Jessie: Who are the top influences in your music?

    • The Burroughs: We have so many diverse influences! The fun thing about having 9 members is that everyone is always bringing in something new to check out. Here’s a few favorites:

      – Stevie Wonder
      – Parliament Funkadelic
      – Childish Gambino
      – Tedeschi Trucks Band
      – Donny Hathaway
      – Aretha Franklin
      – The Beatles
      – Brian Wilson
      – Alabama Shakes
      – Sly and the Family Stone
      – Anderson.Paak

      Plus a million more…

  • MuzicNotez – Jessie: When writing new music, is there someone who spearheads the process?
    • The Burroughs: Johnny is most often our primary songwriter, though other members of the band have brought in music and lyrics too. Usually our process is that he’ll start with a basic outline of a new song (lyrics and chord changes), make a demo, and bring it in to rehearsal. We’ll workshop it together, add ideas, take it home to re-write, and work it again in the next rehearsal. We’ll roadtest something new at a live show, tweak it, and play it again.

      Sometimes songs emerge almost fully-formed from the beginning, and sometimes the arrangements continue to evolve for months or years. Recently it’s been really fun to have more members jumping in as lyricists for some tunes, or adding vocal harmonies, or bringing something unexpected to the table. I think we’ve all gotten way more comfortable in this collaborative process over the years.

  • MuzicNotez – Jessie: Can you tell us how The Burroughs motto came to be “sweaty Greeley soul?”
    • The Burroughs: Haha- quite honestly this started as a bit of a joke that has sort of stuck, and we love it. Early on people would ask the band what kind of music we played, and the answer was something along the lines of “soul music…but really sweaty.” This captured the idea that we were taking all these old school soul influences, and then presenting them in really high energy live performances that would have the whole audience dancing and sweating together.

      When we made our live album in 2015, it was a true community effort from Greeley. Ely Corliss at the Moxi Theater hosted us for two nights of performances and recording. We had some small business sponsorships in town to help fund the costs of the project. We promoted the live shows by doing short performances and video recordings around town for months. Wiley Roots Brewing made us a beer! One of our favorite local artists made the album art and merch that illustrated Downtown Greeley. When naming the project, it just felt right to proudly credit our community and call the album Sweaty Greeley Soul. We have felt really fortunate to call this city our home, and it’s been an amazingly supportive community to grow our band.

  • MuzicNotez – Jessie: I know that live performances hold a lot of significance to your band. What is it that you want your audience to be thinking or feeling after The Burroughs perform?
    • The Burroughs: I think I mentioned this a bit above, but our ultimate goal is that everyone leaves our shows feeling better than when they walked in. We literally want to take people’s burdens and carry them…even if only for a few moments that we’re together in that show. We believe music is a huge force for positive change, and the beautiful thing about music is that it brings such a wide variety of people together. We hope people are able to look around the room at one of our shows and feel that the world is full of love and joy, and that we’re all able to create change by starting with what’s right around us.

This interview was conducted by MuzicNotez writer Jessie Blitz

MuzicNotez Admin

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