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Glen Burtnik interview 

Glen Burtnik
Submitted by Pär Winberg on 2010-09-18
Back in 1996 I did an interview with Glen Burtnick and he gave me some cool answers to things that are still interesting about his past. So I thought I should add it for you. // Pär
What are you doing for the moment?
Writing w/ a new singer named Beth Hart for her upcoming record. Also working w/ Phoebe Snow AND recording some of my stuff for a possible next solo album. I also just finished a track of my covering a Cheap Trick song for an upcoming tribute album.

How have palookaville been recieved in the U.S?
It seems everyone who heard it loves it. I feel it's my best work.

You're writing songs with an awful lot of different people. Danny Malone, Bob Burger, Trey Bruce and Darden Smith to name a few. Are these songs always meant for your solocareer or are they written for other artists as well?
Well, when I write a song I like to stay true to THE SONG. If a song would be better by taking a country turn, I follow it there. Now, I'm not a country artist, so instantly that'd rule me right out!
If I write a song that is of interest to another artist, I'll usually get out of everyones way and invite the artist to record it. It's a thrill and flattering to have others sing my songs. Besides, the song could probably do better without me!

How do you work when you write songs. Is it like a 9 to 5 work for you or?
It's not like a 9 to 5 thing. I wake up late. But I ALWAYS have a number of songs on my mind that I'm working on at any one time...and that means if I come up w/ something in the middle of the night, I get right to it. In a way, I work ALWAYS. For example, today is sunday, and Beth Hart will be here any minute. She was here yesterday. We're working straight thru the weekend.

You have worked with Plinky Giglio since your marvellous debut from 1986. Do you consider him as your right hand?
Well, he's a very gifted musician and a good friend. I'm fortunate to know him and be able to work with him. Besides, I married his sister!

6. What did you do before Crank It Up? Any weird records that we could look for?
My first record was called I HATE DISCO MUSIC by the SIDES (who were basically Marshall Crenshaw and myself). A very hard one to find I'll bet!
Followed by HAMMER on Elektra/Asylum in 1979 (I was lead singer/guitarist in Jan Hammers group for one album)...HELMET BOY on Elektra/Asylum in 1980...then I went to work in bar bands in New Jersey for awhile, playing alongside Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny, other locals...

7. What about the blues project you did in the early 90's (The Slaves Of New Brunswick I think it was called...). Is Blues something you like a lot and what kinda project was that?
I love the blues, but I'm no blues man. The Slaves Of New Brunswick isnt a blues album, either! It's a 'concept' album about life in the town I'm from. We had 60 musicians make appearances on the record, all from New Brunswick. A silly but wonderful little rock n' roll record. Some of my hardest rocking songwriting, actually!

You wrote Spirit Of A Boy Wisdom Of A Man (great tune btw) with Trey Bruce, a guy known for writing country. Have you plans to write more for Nashville yourself like?
Thanks. I've been down to Nashville occaisionally and have enjoyed collaborating with writers from that fertile environment. Trey is one of my favorites. Alot of what I write there is not applicable to my solo music.

What about your time in Styx. How did you end up in this supergroup and why did you leave them?
Basically, I was in legal trouble and Tommy Shaw was doing Damn Yankees. So when Styx wanted to do a reunion record they asked me to take Tommy's place, and it really couldnt have come at a better moment for me. And later, when Tommy was interested in rejoining the group, I was relieved. Dennis DeYoung is no picnic.

The album Magnus and you did for MTM contains some major AOR tunes like Roar and River Of Fire. Where these songs meant to be a followup to Heroes And Zeroes in the 80's or perhaps Styx?
Many were written with a third solo album in mind, but others were written for various purposes; LOVE was written with Styx in mind...LOVE IS MORE THAN A FOUR LETTER WORD was written for Meatloaf, who recorded it, but it was never released.

What do you listening to yourself for artists? Any favorites to mention?
I'm crazy about the Ben Folds Five.

You changed producer on all your three albums. First Landis, then Prater and now you yourself. Where you not happy with the sound on the 'Heroes' and 'Talkin' - album?
Well, Richard Landis is nuts. David Prater is a good friend and a wild and talented mn...but I felt I'd come to the point where I wanted to change my sound and produce my own music.

I love the sound you have on Palookaville. Do you have any plans to produce other artists??
Thanks. Yes, we're talking to a few acts right now. I actually recently recorded a childrens album.

You wrote River Of Fire with one of my favorite songwriters Stan Meissner. Have you work with him anything in the 90's?
It's been awhile. He's a very talented guy.

Are you out touring Palookaville and if yes is the answer who're in your live line up?
We've been playing a bit, although lately I've been very involved with a number of other things. The band usually consists of: Jimmy Leahey guitar (appears on Palookaville) Pat Petrillo drums (appears on Palookaville) Mindy Jostyn violin/harmonica OR Rob Paparozzi harmonica (BOTH appeared on Palookaville) Greg Novick bass Tom Brislin keyboards

And what about the magic stuff you've done with Kasim Sulton from Utopia? How did you come in contact with him and do you still work together?
Max Weinberg introduced us. We've become great friends. He's currently touring with one of my favorites, Todd Rundgren.

And at last a silly question - what is the story about your name Burtnik vs Burtnick...which is correct?
Not so silly! I have managed to confuse EVERYONE. I was born GLENN BURTNICK. After Helmet Boy I dropped an "N" and became GLEN BURTNIK. After Heroes & Zeros I dropped the "C" and became GLEN BURTNIK. All because I felt like it at the time.

Well thanx for taking your time to answer the questions. Do you have anything else to add??
Just that it was fun and thanks for asking!
By Pär Winberg

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