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What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood

Author: Anneliese Curtis Place
03/02/2010 | Spinner.com | www.spinner.com | Feature
Laura Burhenn's new band, The Mynabirds, are set to release their first album 'What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood' on April 27th. Inspired by loss and recovery, she has returned to her roots with a soulful voice she developed after years of listening to everything from The Monkees to Nina Simone. A contemporary mix of soul, gospel, and country, their first single 'Numbers Don't Lie' is one of Spinner's Free MP3's of the Day. Spinner recently spoke with Laura about her band's new album and their upcoming trip to SXSW.

Describe your sound in your own words.

I had always wanted to make a record that sounds like Neil Young doing Motown. After Georgie James broke up, I went back to the idea of hymns and melodies that have been passed from generation to generation. I went into the studio to make this Neil Young doing Motown thing. I had been listening to a lot of Dusty Springfield, Bobbie Gentry, and other amazing female singers like Carole King and Grace Slick. A little bit of gospel, soul and a little bit of straight country. There is something very comforting about it. The whole record is really about loss and recovery, I wanted to make music that felt comforting, that people felt familiar with, like family.

What are your musical influences?

I just love music. I grew up listening to a lot of radio. Classic pop, R&B, top forty stuff from the 60's and 70's. In high school I found Carole King and Nina Simone. I think ever since then I've had a real appreciation for people with voices the first time you hear them you're not so sure of them and then you just can't get enough of them. This record in particular I was really thinking about George Harrison. Writing a record about loss and recovery, I was referencing a lot of eastern philosophy just as George Harrison was when he wrote 'All Things Must Pass.' Even the title of the record, 'What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood', is very reminiscent of his work.

How did you come up with your band name?

This is actually a great story. I always wanted to make a record that sounded like Neil Young doing Motown. My friend Molly sent me a list of female characters from James Joyce novels. One of the names on the list was Mina and I started thinking "mina, myna, myna birds," I liked the way that sounds. The Mynabirds. Low and behold I found that The Mynah Birds was an original Motown band with Neil Young and Rick James and a couple other really amazing musicians. They recorded some tracks in 1966 but they never officially released any of them. And I thought, "That is my band name!''

What's your biggest vice?

My biggest vice is Jack Daniels. I love whiskey. My mom's side of the family is from southern West Virginia. I have a sweet spot in my soul for bourbon. For that reason I think that I'm genetically predisposed. I've also come to appreciate good quality time with friends and family. Maybe this is too wholesome of an answer for a vice, but it's good friends, family and bourbon.

What's in your festival survival kit?

Jack Daniels, a good pair of boots, fresh food and flexibility.

Who was your first celeb crush?

Davy Jones from The Monkees, I had an enormous crush on him. I used to watch 'The Monkees' on TV after school. I didn't realize they were re-runs. I thought, "He's not that much older than me, I'm going to find him." And then of course when I got older I realized that he was much older than me, so our romance was never complete.

What's your musical guilty pleasure?

When it comes to music I don't think there is such a thing as guilty pleasures. I think you can learn something from everybody and every type of music has it's place. I have a soft spot for music, there's nothing that I would feel guilty about. It's like eating chocolates, I'm going to eat them and enjoy them.

The Beatles or the Stones?

The Beatles. I love The Stones, but I grew up with The Beatles and I reference them a lot more in my song writing. I still love you Mick Jagger!

What's the craziest thing you've seen or experienced while on tour?

I don't think this is actually crazy, but one of my favorite things is how small and interconnected the world is. Georgie James was flying over to Europe on tour, and John my band mate says, "Do you remember the time we played in Brooklyn with that band Vampire Weekend?" We're laughing about how much fun we had together, then we land at the airport and end up in a bar with Vampire Weekend totally by surprise. Then I look around and see Adam Green is there. Adam and I did open mic nights together at the Sidewalk when I lived in New York one summer. We all just happened to be in the same bar at the same time in Hamburg, Germany. It was one of those wonderful moments.


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