Today we have our Spotlight – Spencer Burton. We sit down with Spencer to talk about what he’s doing during COVID, his pig Spike and his newest release Coyote. There’s also a mention of Dallas Green so check it out now!
You started out in the punk scene back in the mid ‘00s and had quite the prolific career with Attack in Black. What was it like performing before social media was as prevalent as it is now?
Before social media, it seemed as if there was a certain “had to have been there” mentality about live concerts. With social media and constant access to internet, it’s hard to miss anything these days, even if you actually miss it! I find it unfortunate, this constant access to everything. It’s causing life to rush by in a sense.
Over the years you have gradually had some major stylistic changes. The pipeline from punk to trad-folk is not uncommon, but what drew you to slowly transition over?
I want to say that these changes come with age and experience! However, not everyone who plays music makes these changes. Some of the most talented and wise amongst musicians are still playing the same style of music they’ve been playing for 30 years! For me, my stylistic changes come simply with the fact that I, myself, have changed. Be it for better or worse, I’ve become a different person, although my core beliefs and message haven’t changed. One love!
Having such the prolific career over the last 15ish years, what are some of the highlights that have really grounded and connected with you?
I’ll give the answer, I’m sure, that most give when asked this question. The people, the places, the food. I can remember every good soul I’ve met, even some of the bad ones. I can remember every place that brought warmth to my heart and, of course, I remember every delicious meal I’ve had. Really could go for a taco right now.
You are also notable for being a long-time associate of City and Color. How did you [and Dallas Green] meet and begin touring together?
Dallas and I met through a series of strange circumstances. I’ll keep the story short, but had it not been for him, a stallion named Jupiter and the world’s largest bowl of cornflakes I don’t think I’d be making music in the way I am today.
Your new album Coyote just dropped, it is hauntingly beautiful and really takes the listener on a journey. What was your mindset writing it, and what were you hoping we the listener would take away?
I wrote this album with love in mind. Most music I write with love in mind. I hope that, you, the listener, take that away from it if nothing else.
You decided to go with ‘Hard Times’ as the lead single, why?
“Further” was a song on the album unlike any other. It stuck out to me. Maybe like a sore thumb, maybe like the thumb of someone trying to find their way. It felt like the first one that needed to be heard.
Personal highlight on Coyote for me would be ‘Nothing’s Changed’, can you indulge me a little about it some more? It really sticks out from the more sombre tones of the other tracks.
“Nothing’s Changed” is about beauty, in landscapes and people. Unlikely places that breathe life into into the lifeless.
What is (if you can pick) your favorite track, or the one that stands out the most?
Asking a parent to pick their favourite child is a question that cannot be answered. I love all these songs equally and for different reasons. They all mean something to me. They all bring back a memory.
You are a father now. How has being a parent changed your world view, writing, touring (pre-Covid) etc.?
Being a father has changed everything about me. It’s changed the way I live, write, tour. It’s changed the way I see the world. It has made me realize that we are all in desperate need for change.
Just before Coyote you released a children’s album as well! What was it like moving to such a different medium?
My children’s album, The Mountain Man, was never meant to be heard by any ears other than the ones resting at the sides of my childrens’ heads. It was for them and them alone. Something I wrote to help peak their interest in the things I knew they were already interested in. Love, life and nature. The label I work with caught wind of this endeavour and wanted to help me bring these sounds to the ears of others. I eagerly accepted. I’t not too different a medium than what I’m used to. I sing songs of love. Be it for kids or adults.
I absolutely love how vocal about nature conservation you are. Your sweatshirt is gorgeous and raising funds. Please tell us some more about it! The design is exceptional.
We were fortunate enough to partner with Ontario Nature on this release. We decided a sweatshirt would be best! Ten dollars from the sale of every eco friendly, made in Canada organic/recycled sweatshirt goes directly to Ontario nature to do as they see fit. The world is crumbling and we need to save it. Our forests, wetlands and wild places are more important than ever.
You have been living on your 10-acre farm now for several years. What made you decide to take up farming? What has it taught you about yourself, and the world at large?
I’ve always had a passion for the wonderful things the earth and soil can give. What we do here is simply a hobby. We grow our own food, we raise our own livestock and we harvest as much wild game and forage from the surrounding forests as we need. The earth is a beautiful thing and if you treat it right, it will provide for you. I think living like this has taught me that there is always a better way, to everything. We need to think about the way we treat, not only this planet but also the things living on it. Including ourselves.
With the loss of smaller, live music venues and the rise of online shows, how do you think that will impact artists in the future? What is your opinion on them?
What we are all living through right now will forever have an impact on the way we live our lives, but I do think things will return to some kind of normal. We need human interaction. Online concerts and live streams can help fill a void but it’s not substitution for the real thing.
With Coyote destined to be a success, what are your upcoming plans for 2021 (as much as we can plan into the unknown)?
My upcoming plans for 2021 are as follows…. Live. Take every day as it comes and try to spread as much love as possible in any way that I can.
Shameless indulgence here, but I am obsessed with your pig Spike. How are they handling things?
There is no shame involved in anything related to that sweet beast. I believe he’s loving what’s happening right now. Someone is always home, he’s getting more back scratches than ever, and the extra produce scraps he’s getting has him squealing hot happiness more so than ever.
With most of us glued to our TVs for 2020, I am curious how many of Dario Aargento’s films have you watched on lockdown? I know you are a huge fan.
You dig deep! I am a big fan of Argento’s stuff. Oddly enough though, I’ve spent most of my free time with my nose in a book. Currently reading all about the anatomy of cervid animals.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat today. What is one thing you wish that people knew about you that they would be surprised about?
I’m an open book! No surprises here. If anyone wants to know anything, just ask!
What are some words of advice you would like to give to artists that are struggling right now?
The struggle never stops, but it beats doing something that makes it hard to wake up in the morning.
Spotlight – Spencer Burton is a wrap. I want to thank Spencer for taking the time to chat with us
Check out Coyote which is out now
Keep up with Spencer right here
This was a great Spotlight so why not get your own?