Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty has created a new DVD series that spotlights live performances from notable rock acts in a given city, all recorded in a single day.
Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty has created a new DVD series that spotlights live performances from notable rock acts in a given city, all recorded in a single day. The catch: the bands play one song each in an empty house that faces imminent destruction. In the initial installment of "Burn To Shine," taped Jan. 14 in Washington, D.C., the house was burned to the ground at the end of the day as a training exercise by the Montgomery Fire Dept.
"In D.C., bands always break up and disappear before their time, but the artists always regroup," Canty tells Billboard.com. "I thought it would be great to catch these bands doing whatever they were doing on that day. I said, 'just show up and do whatever you're interested in right now.' Using a house that was going to be destroyed basically marks it in time forever."
The first DVD, directed by Christoph Green and due Jan. 20 via Trixie, features performances by Ted Leo, Q and Not U, Fugazi guitarist/vocalist Ian MacKaye's new band the Evens, Weird War and Bob Mould (performing Sugar's "Hoover Dam" solo acoustic), among others. A second installment taped in Chicago and featuring Wilco, Shellac, Tortoise and Freakwater, is expected next summer.
"Part of the idea is, you get a few leaders, like Bob Mould or Ian or Ted Leo, then you get to check out what else is going on in the city," Canty says. "It contextualizes the big bands in a scene. These guys all know each other and see each other all the time. But people don't really think regionally. You realize all these people were in town that day, and it was nothing for them to come over for an hour."
Although it was freezing cold on the day of the D.C. taping, Canty says he had few complaints from the participating bands. "For the most part, they were pleasantly surprised it was as comfortable," he reports. "Most bands spend their time in houses, practicing in basements or whatever. The sonic qualities of a living room, though they may not be optimal for recording all the time, are certainly what a band would be used to."
Future "Burn to Shine" editions are already being planned for Portland, Ore., New York and San Diego. "This is all I want: decent film of people playing their songs live," Canty says with a laugh. "The technology is finally there, and it's not just sh*tty little video. The stuff looks great -- it is shot all on HD. Why wouldn't we do this, except for having to buy plane tickets for nine people?"