Backyard Tire Fire

by Paste Magazine

By Tim Newby
Band of the Week: Backyard Tire Fire

Hometown: Bloomington, Ill.

Fun Fact: George Wendt (AKA: Norm from Cheers) is a big fan. He discovered and met the band a few years ago when it opened for Alejandro Escovedo. They’ve been friends every since.

While It’s Worth Watching: Brandishing a raucous live show and inventive studio albums, these Midwesterners sound like a drunkenly angry Tom Petty crawling out of a Florida swamp.

For Fans Of: Neil Young, Uncle Tupelo, Cracker

In conversation, Backyard Tire Fire singer/guitarist Ed Anderson is quick to point out what he likes—Neil Young, Tom Petty’s Wildflowers, making analog records, David Lowry’s songs, albums from the 1970s, Budweiser, Mike Campbell’s guitar.

With Backyard Tire Fire’s new album, The Places We Lived, all of those personal favorites found a home, and with Anderson at the helm it’s unsurprising. “I am a bit of a control freak,” he admits, “I have always just gone off into my own little world when it is time to write. I know what I want.” And what he wants is to create an album that “can go from some real heavy rocking two-guitar thing to a waltz on piano with brushes, that will take you on a roller coaster with its ups and downs.” He laughs before finishing, “It doesn’t always have to hit you over the top of the head with a guitar.”

Despite Anderson’s strong personality and dominating influence, Backyard Tire Fire is not simply a one-man show. Along with brother and bassist Matt Anderson and drummer Tim Kramp, the trio has become a live beast.

While previous albums have been a stunning mix of Uncle Tupelo’s soul and Pavement’s guitar freak-outs, the band’s new album is the sound of them making an about face. Where as 2007’s Vagabonds & Hooligans was dominated by Anderson’s guitar and the barreling drive of his brother and Kramp’s pulsating rhythms, The Places We Lived was birthed from a quieter place. The majority of songs were written on piano, an instrument Anderson admits to not being wholly comfortable with. With that as the foundation, the band crafted a record that more closely resembles Neil Young’s ‘70s masterpieces, the ones Anderson loves so much, with its honest feelings and longing for home that are brought to life with a storyteller’s touch and a guitar god’s muscle.

Backyard Tire Fire has had multitudes of praised heaped on it in the past few years, and Anderson clearly relishes the accolades bestowed up his band. He excitedly pointing out that guitarist Johnny Hickman from Cracker has been calling Backyard Tire Fire his favorite new band. A compliment that means all the more for Anderson as Cracker’s Lowry and all his various bands have been heroes of his But he is quick to recognize that people’s opinions are out of his control and, “if you believe all the good reviews, you also have to believe all the bad ones as well.”

His solution to dealing with the negative opinions is simple, though, something entirely in his control. “I just keep my head down and keep writing good songs, making good records, and playing good live shows.”

Backyard Tire Fire will be Performing at the Walnut Room February 27th, 2010

Backyard Tire Fire – “How in the hell did you get back here?”

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