Brison Bursey is a young singer/songwriter who’s been making significant waves on the Texas Music scene since releasing his sophomore album, Expectations and Parking Lots last year. It found a place on many year-end best of lists and opened some doors for Brison. Currently, Brison’s still touring on that record and making plans for his next one. Check out this edition of 20 Questions to learn such things as how being from a small town influenced his music, the ways fatherhood has impacted his career and even why Justin Bieber might be a good duet partner.
1. It’s been about a year since you released your Expectations and Parking Lots record. What’s on the horizon for Brison Bursey as we are at the midway point of 2011?
As of right now, we have a new single out that we are pushing, “Solid Ground,” which is off of the record we released last year and we’re still touring all over to promote it. We hope to have another single or two off this record and then hopefully put together something new for next year.
2. You worked with producer Justin Tocket on Expectations. He’s known for his work with soul revivalist Marc Brousard among others. How did working with Tocket influence your music?
He played an intricate role in the creation of this record. Justin is completely proficient in the studio environment whether it comes to production, engineering, or playing. He developed a unique mood and tone for each song on the record and his years of experience in the studio really made the process flow smoothly and we were able cut the whole thing in five days.
3. Name association:
-Bobby Duncan- Golfing buddy and collaborator
-Wade Bowen- Mentor and one of my all time favorites
-Stoney LaRue- Incredible voice
-Evan Felker of Turnpike Troubadours- Good friend and one of my new favorites
-Cody Canada- Awesome performer/musician/composer
-Willy Braun- Ireland! Great songwriter
-Bart Crow- One of the nicest guys I know
-Josh Abbott- Prankster!
-Drew Kennedy- Really dig his style
-Rich O’Toole- College
4. What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve received…and who was it from?
My grandmother once told me when I was young that, “you are what you are, and you do what you do. And sometimes you have to keep knocking ’til they answer.” I don’t know how much it has helped my career, (laughs) but it’s a thought I’ve always kept in the back of my mind.
5. There are many cool aspects to a music career and some parts that aren’t too fun. What’s your favorite part of being a professional musician…and your least favorite?
My favorite part is writing and composing new music, recording, and then going and playing it for all our fans. Generating something new is always an exhilarating process. The downside, I suppose, would be the business side and paper work, and all the gas station food we consume on the road!
6. I’ve compared your voice to Gary Allan crossed with Ken Block from Sister Hazel. Many young artists take a long time to find their own voice. Was your singing voice natural or something you had to develop?
Well, I think for me it has always been a natural development. I started singing in church when I was young. Never have had any formal training, but there are lots of artists whose singing voice I admire and would aspire to sound like, so I think in my pursuit of that, my voice has developed over the years and will hopefully continue to do so.
7. Favorite touring memory of the following towns:
-Houston- Crawfish at the Firehouse Saloon
-San Marcos- Our first show at the historic Cheatham Street Warehouse
-New Braunfels- Sold out show with Sean Mcconnell. Amazing crowd!
-Dallas- Mardis Gras Texas style! Lots of great music and friends.
-Oklahoma City- Finding $20 in the upstairs couch at the Wormy Dog
-Fort Worth- Wolf Dance!
-Stephenville- The Agave food!
-Huntsville- Fight Night at the Fox!
-College Station- The Goat
8. You’ve recently become a father. How has fatherhood informed or changed your music?
Well, it has certainly cut down on the time I have to create it. (laughs). I love being a dad though. It is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. My daughter, Stevi Rose, inspires me in many ways and having her has also given me some new perspectives on life I didn’t previously have. So, being a father has definitely had a direct impact on me as artist, and it also makes it that much harder to head out on the road.
9. You’re quite the scratch golfer. How long have you been playing? What’s your favorite course? And, when will we see the Brison Bursey tournament a la Wade Bowen’s charity event?
(laughs) I don’t know about scratch these days! I don’t get to play as much as I would like anymore, but I’m making an effort to get back out more and more. I’ve been playing since I was 6 and have loved the game ever since. My favorite course is the Quanah Country Club because its my home course and where I cut my teeth, there’s nothing like having the home course advantage! I would love to put together a charity event like Wade’s. Cant say when it would happen but anytime you can get people together for a good cause and in a golfing environment, everyone wins.
10. I’ve talked to other musicians who’ve brought up your record as one of their favorites from the past year. Have you come across anyone that surprised you by telling you they dug your stuff? Maybe a musical hero or influence.
Yeah, I have had some of people we get to open for tell me they like my stuff and lots have been really supportive, even to go so far as to collaborate with me, like Josh Abbott, Bobby Duncan, and more.
11. A lot of the material on your record is emotionally draining. Yet, your live show is energetic and upbeat. How do you find that balance? And, do you find it difficult to put yourself in the place you were in when you wrote those songs each night onstage?
I think each show we play is different and commands its own unique atmosphere and mood. We usually try to keep the show upbeat and moving for our audience but there are certain atmospheres more conducive to a slower more intimate rendering of the song , so we try to match our performance with the mood of each show.
12. Stories behind the following other songs:
-California Can- A nostalgic reflection that summons surreal emotions and irrational thought.
-Solid Ground- Wrote this in English class at Sam Houston State, (laughs) True story.
-Hearts to Break- Friend of mine was dating a younger girl that had some rights of passage to still pass through…one of them being the breaking of hearts.
-Look At You Now (Wedding Gown)- I say I wrote this from entertaining a hypothetical situation in my head…but my wife believes I wrote this about my high school love getting married. I claimed if it was generated by that event, then it was done so subconsciously. (laughs)
-It Ain’t Always Easy- Wrote this because I was tired of reading happy endings and wanted to concern its content with daily struggles of life.
-Balloon- Thought I’d be okay if I could tie my troubles to a balloon.
-Some Time- Wrote this with Bobby Duncan. It’s concerned with the uncertainty of life and time being the ultimate healer.
-Save Me- Inevitable self-destruction with no means to communicate.
-Done My Time- Took some time away from my then significant other, who is now my wife, during college. Wrote this song more as moment of realization than a call of desperation.
-I’ve Been Waiting- Wrote this about not achieving a preconceived notion in the amount of time you’d perceived and the struggle to continue with the pursuit.
13. Who is another young artist in the Texas scene that you think more people should be paying attention to?
I’m a big Ben Danaher fan. I’ve known him for a while and really dig his stuff…he keeps getting better.
14. You’re from a small town. As a fellow small-town survivor, I know that live music isn’t always the easiest thing to come by growing up. Do you think growing up in a small town made you more creative, and more seduced by the muse of music?
Yeah, I would say it certainly influenced me as an artist. There was limited live music there, if any, and I never really went to a live show until 8th grade. So up until then my relationship with music relied heavily on albums and MTV 2, which still showed music videos at the time. That’s how I found about some of my favorite artists…Pete Yorn, Oasis, Gin Blossoms etc.
15. You’ve been known to whip up some pretty cool meals in the kitchen. What’s your favorite recipe?
I love cooking. I have always been a steak and potato guy my entire life, but I whipped up and pretty good Chicken Curry the other day which I served over some Basmati Rice with curried Chick Peas and Nan bread.
16. Like most musicians in this scene, you first started gaining traction with your music while in college. Could you describe how you felt pulled to this scene during your undergrad years and what you think makes college crowds respond to this type of music so well?
I was attracted to it because I had performed in a band in high school, sans guitar, and wanted to get back to performing now that I had learned to play. Lots of my buddies were doing it and I just some how fell right in as well. I think it generates a significant response from the college crowds, because like me, lots of artists in the scene got into it in college, so the crowd feels they already have an established relationship with the artists, whether they know them personally or not.
If a successful artist is an alumni of a university, then that also instills a sense of allegiance and pride to the listeners that attend that university which would prompt them to respond to their music as well. There are multiple ways this music scene reaches out to the colleges and their towns.
17. If you were forced to co-write and sing a duet with one of the following…who would it be and why?
Justin Bieber Ke$ha Colt Ford
Oh man. I’m not sure. I guess I would have to say Justin Bieber, because is the only name I recognize in this list…(laughs) and I know he sells lots of records!
18. Rapid fire:
-Favorite Beatle? Lennon
-Willie or Waylon? Wow…that’s tough…Wille.
-Salsa or guacamole? Salsa
-Favorite live band? The Cardinals
-Most played album on your iPod? Pete Yorn’s Musicforthemorningafter
19. What’s your favorite George Strait song and why?
“Ocean Front Property”. First song I learned to sing along to on the radio.
20. What do you think sets the music you and your peers are making apart from the stuff coming straight from the mainstream music pipelines?
You know, I’m not really sure. If I had to speculate I’d say that I think down here we are concerned with making music that is important to us as writers and artists and not with what would do well for 10 weeks in a national chart. You get a genuine feel to the music down this way.