What is Busking?

busk –verb (used without object) Chiefly British. to entertain by dancing, singing, or reciting on the street or in a public place. Origin: 1850–55; “to make a living by entertaining,” (italian) buscare to procure, get, gain (spanish) buscar to look for, seek (of disputed origin).

How’d you get into music? Where are you from?

We didn’t get into music so much as music got into us. It can’t be helped. The six of us have known each other for twenty years, in a variety of contexts, and although our bands with other people have played with each other, all of us had never played in a band together. At the time the band started, we were looking to do something strictly for our own amusement; music therapy, if you will. A founding principle was that we would perform without the use of electricity in order to play whenever and wherever. Being able to play our songs on a street corner and not having to deal with club promoters, power issues and late weeknight gigs was an immediate benefit.

We come from the Americas; only half of us were born in the United States. However, we will gladly present US citizenship papers, if you happen to be from Arizona. db grew up in Santiago, Chile during the Pinochet years, where he played with OrgAsmO, the first Chilean punk band. “Pank” they called it. Not only did it sound spicier, but it also involved cutting the gig short when you heard the secret police were on their way. His Cheap Moves is from Costa Rica, and has lived in Mexico and Israel, though he’s been stateside for some time now. brYan came from an undisclosed village in the Midwest, where he heard ragtime and had to learn to play it. He started wandering his way south, no doubt attracted by the rocket contrails we see from our backyards now and then.

There’s more? There’s six of us, and you did ask. Anthony Darmana comes from New Jersey, you got a problem with that? He’s been shamaning around drum circles for a while now. Jared Campbell is an insidious Canadian, whose adolescent dalliance with Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath later blossomed into… something else. Tom Van Dyke, originally from Pennsylvania, was born to beat drums. His earliest memory was finding a Peanuts drum in a toybox at his godparents’ house. Then breaking it. Jared and Tom have the most history together, playing in a string of bands starting with Ivan Blavetsky and the Brothers Toad, an outfit with songs about robots, Catherine the Great and her loving horse, and how to reduce someone to jellyflesh. It only goes downhill, or uphill from there. There’s a hill in there is what we’re saying.

Who are some of your influences?

There are many of us, and we’re all musical omnivores. You name it, one of us will be into it. Shredding guitars? Check. Beatles and XTC? Check. Tom Waits and every project Mike Patton has ever involved himself with, no matter how worthless? Check. Late ‘70s Christian Rock? Uh, wait a minute… no there it is. Check. Balloon and Violin Duets? Didn’t know you’d heard about it, but check.

People say we remind them of Frank Zappa, Gogol Bordello and They Might Be Giants. These bands sound nothing like each other, so they must be tuning in to some alternate dimension. We’re trying to sound like Adrian Belew, Alex Lifeson, Anthony Bourdain, the Asylum Street Spankers, Billy Squier, Charly Garcia, Christ, Clifford Simak, Gabrielle Roth and the Mirrors, Gandhi, Ginger Baker, Heavy Vegetable, Hefner, J. Giles, Jimmy Page, John Hartford, John Trudell, Keith Moon, King Crimson, Metallica, Mickey Hart, Mitch Mitchell, Mr. Bungle, Pixies, Robert Heinlein, Rocket from the Crypt, Salvador Dali, Silla Electrica, Steve Vai, Talking Heads, Tijuana Sound Machine, White Hassle, World Music (not worldbeat), Yann Martel, and the Young Fresh Fellows.

What have you been up to recently?

We’ve been playing a variety of gigs. A lot of art festivals, many benefit concerts, a couple of live performances on the radio. We seem to be occupied with “legitimate” gigs and don’t have much time to play the streets lately. Right now, we’re participating in the Battle of the Bands popularity contest in order to play at the Warped Tour stop in West Palm Beach. We’ve been surprised by all the support we’ve been getting on there — we enrolled on the outside chance we would get to play, but it’s been going really well. People enjoy the alien primitivism of our music, even without the freakshow of six guys swapping over 30 different musical instruments in front of you.

What improvements would you like to see in the industry?

No improvements need to be made in the industry. What needs to happen is that people need to connect with artists as directly as they can — buy their music from their website, or go see them at a live show, get the t-shirt — and bypass the “music industry” as much as possible. Don’t give them their cut. The “business of music” is an institution that’s seriously broken, but it’s also becoming seriously irrelevant, so why bother fixing it? Unless you’re interested in signing us. Then the only way to fix things is to sign acts like the Brevard Busking Coalition to your label.

What’s next for Brevard Busking Coalition?

We’re working on releasing recordings to meet the demand. We’ve made a couple of EPs of live recordings available in the past month, and we’re working on a studio recording, hopefully that’s done in another month or so. Everything we release is and will available as a free download, licensed under Creative Commons. Our goal is to get our music heard, and we encourage anyone who is even vaguely curious about this hooharaw to check out our website and download the tracks. Double your money back if you don’t like ‘em.

We’d like to thank everyone who has helped us push this cart up the mountain… every little nudge has helped. We’re not going to bore the readers by listing out names, but if we’re lucky one day all those little shoves will put us over the top and down a rollercoaster of fame, glory, debauchery, and eventual reunion tour.

If you have a question you’d like answered, send it to faq@brevardbusking.org