Burlap to Cashmere returns on tour
Published: Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 21:10
Christian folk-rock band Burlap to Cashmere, on tour for the first time in 12 years, brought their unique sound to Iron Horse last Thursday.
The audience was small and subdued, while the band looked clean-cut in solid v-neck t-shirts, jeans and Converse; there were no tattoos or piercings on these five young Christian musicians.
But when Burlap to Cashmere started playing and harmonizing, delivering a sound reminiscent of a Mediterranean Simon and Garfunkel, the band's dress faded from mind. They loved and respected music; they were connected with each other and the audience.
The group redefined what it means to be good live: their tight five-part harmonies filled the space with an energy too explosive to be captured in studio.
"I was blind, blind, blind, but now I see," lead singer and songwriter Steven Delopoulos sang, his faith woven into these mostly uplifting, very mellow songs. Guitarist John Philippidis played with more feeling than anyone I have ever seen, his fingers flying up and down the strings, his voice raw and full.
In 1998, Burlap to Cashmere released their debut album Anybody Out There?, which won Rock Album of the Year at the Dove Awards. But constant touring took its toll, members went their separate ways, and fans feared B2C was dead. In 2005, Philippidis was severely beaten in a road rage incident near his home. He remained in a coma for a month and a doctor told him that he might never play the guitar the same way again. This brutal reminder of life's fleetingness in part sparked the band to reunite and record eponymous Burlap to Cashmere in 2010. The record was released July 19, 2011.
Annie Berman interviewed band member Steven Delopoulos:
Annie Berman: Part of the reason you guys took a break was that touring was exhausting. Is there anything you plan to do differently for this tour to make it less soul-sucking? What wisdom have you gained, about touring and being a musician, since then?
Steven Delopoulos: Well, you try to stay unattached, and do your best to not attach yourself to the world's standards of success. Keep it even-keeled as much as possible. The road tests your wits on every level. There's also the physical aspect, like staying healthy when there's only Taco Bell or truck stop food.
AB: People often say your sound is similar to that of Simon and Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, Mumford and Sons, Fleet Foxes. I agree but could you try to articulate what makes your sound your own, because I hear something unique?
SD: Well, you start off trying to play other people's songs to start. So their voice is naturally [going to] be in my songs. But everyone has his or her own DNA. I would say what makes us unique is our Greek heritage. I write with Greek and Mideastern time signatures.
AB: What role does your religion play in your music? And can you talk about what it means to be a Christian band to someone who might not be familiar with the genre?
SD: Well, my religion is the Greek Orthodox faith. It naturally shades my lyric writing. It is a big part of my life, especially as a child. The liturgy is sewn into my daily routine; how can it not be in my music? A Christian band is a faith-based or Christ-inspired-lyric-based music.
AB: That is awesome that you are a "touring band." What happens on stage? What makes a show a good one? Or, if there is one show that stands out in your mind as being one of the best ever, can you tell me about it?
SD: A good show is when you lock with the band on stage and the audience off stage. There is unity that creates mystery. It's that feeling of oneness that brings everyone closer. I think it's why we go and see live music. In some ways it's like going to church. I think we connect like that from time to time; it feels great when it happens that way.
AB: I have really been enjoying all the songs on the new album, but "Love Reclaims the Atmosphere" was an instant favorite. Is there a story behind this song?
SD: A happy accident. I was listening to some of the newer bands that are out today, and I felt like I should write like that. More '60s, '70s and Simon and Garfunkel. I'm never fully aware of what I'm saying when I'm writing, but it felt good. It felt right.
AB: Do any of the songs on the new album reflect Philippidis' horrible experience and the thoughts and reflections that might have come of it, for him and the rest of the band?
SD: No, not consciously. I'm sure it was in the back of my head. [His] accident was reflected in my song writing for a solo record I made called Straightjacket.