Life on the mend with Austin's Woven Bones

Road out of ruin
By REYAN ALI  |  October 19, 2010

BONE COLLECTION “Through art school and whatever, I was a jack of all trades,” says Andy Burr (left). “I’ve been talented at many things and never really taken them to the next level.”

"Woven bones" suggests a serial killer trying to consolidate many corpses, or something a bloodthirsty despot might use to fashion a crown. But when Andy Burr named his garage-rock project, he saw it as an auspicious sort of phrase. "I went through some tough times before we got going with this, and the name is kind of superstitious, like crossed fingers for good luck," says the frontman, speaking from the band's home base of Austin as they prepare to play T.T. the Bear's this Sunday. "It's also remotely spiritual: human existence and history — everything that you walk on every day and everything the earth built up for centuries, all woven together."

Let's rewind to "tough times." To Burr, that means "having a four-year relationship fall apart, drug usage, and wild times that flipped around on me to not being the best times in the world — stuff it took soul searching to get out of before I could get my head straight." He prefers not to revisit the details of that period because, as an intimate interview on divulged, it involved some sordid shit. In his mid 20s, Burr experimented with LSD and grew enamored of the Situationist movement. After getting out of art school, he moved from Florida to New York City in order to "live free in the spectacle of the modern world." In fact, he got lost in drug-fueled jags, drifting through the city devoid of sleep, human contact, and eventually funds.

Upon his return to Florida, a trespassing-related violation landed him in jail. His mom refused to bail him out so he'd learn a lesson. Burr spent his 50-day stint in the clink playing basketball and making collages from magazine scraps. "Woven Bones is something I had wanted to do for over seven years or so. It took me hitting borderline rock bottom to be like, 'Man, nobody else around you is really doing anything to be creative or bring themselves up, and you don't need to sit and wait for everybody else.' "

In and Out and Back Again (HoZac), Woven Bones' debut, channels Burr's aggression into a scrappy trio. Malaise wafts out of the lo-fi clatter, which conceals shades of bubblegum pop under healthy amounts of distortion. Burr sings like a reptilian Joey Ramone, crooning lazily while the music heads in another direction. The words are barely intelligible, but what can be gleaned suggests his jail art: lyrical collages cobbled out of experiences and ideas rather than true-to-life revelations. Woven Bones' potency comes less from their hooks and more from the beauty of a garage band's being as feisty and imprecise as they want to be.

Their own DIY efforts have gained them some momentum, and Burr plans on beefing up the ramshackle sound. The day we talk, they're opening a one-off for Pavement, and he sounds excited and a little nervous. "We're not rich or anything, but we have fun doing what we do, and even the marginal success we've had is the most concentrated and real success I've had in any sort of project. Through art school and whatever, I was a jack of all trades. I've been talented at many things and never really taken them to the next level. This is the first time I've ever been able to actually see it succeed."

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