Something to *Fight For- An Interview With Kelly Burdge of NoMara

November 4, 2009 at 4:45 PM (Interviews, Music, Concerts) (, , , , )


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NoMara: The band name derives from the Buddhist Lord of misfortune, sin, destruction, and death, Mara. Mara is the ruler of desire and death, the two evils that chain man to the wheel of ceaseless rebirth. Mara reviles man, blinds him, guides him toward sensuous desires; once man is in his bondage, Mara is free to destroy him”. Mara can be defined as the evil in all of us. In relationships, especially with people close to us, many of our actions including words can be used like darts to hurt and inflict pain. Over time, those words and actions wear and tear down others to the point that we lose them from our lives. NoMara means our partner is not Mara and should not be abused as if they are the evil one. The answers to our individual issues lie within us, not others. She is not Mara, she is not your fight!

I have the pleasure to know Kelly Burdge; the lead singer of NoMara and to be introduced to his music- his band.  I was inspired by his story and his music. The words to his songs are something we can all relate to; his passion to drive on through and make his dreams a reality should tell us that we can do anything we set our minds to.  This Ohio based rock band has been working hard to get their music to us and Kelly has kindly given me an interview to share in depth about his fervor and dedication to his life long dream.



Your band just emerged in 2008. What drove you want to start a band?

You know, who doesn’t want to start a band?  I can remember growing up and listening to KISS Alive and thinking to myself, “Wow, this is something special…which reminds me…I should be eligible for some kind of benefit for being in the Kiss Army all these years.”  At any rate, I chose a different path which included sports, college, 9-5 and so on.  I always kept music close to my heart and frequently attended tons of shows whenever possible to see the bands that gave me that spark inside.  To me, it all comes down to the connection between myself and the band at the live show.  I can listen to CD’s all day long, but until I see them live and “feel it” in the flesh, it does not become burned into my soul.  It really wasn’t until the past few years I honestly gave any serious thought to becoming a musician.  In fact, it all started a couple years ago when one of my favorite bands, Fuel, announced online they would be seeking a new lead singer and would be holding auditions.  I thought to myself, “Self….could this be a sign?” Well not having the courage to submit an audition tape, I did reach out to a long time friend and one of the world’s most amazing rock drummers, Troy Luckketta from Tesla.  I told Troy I wanted to do a song together and I didn’t think he took me too seriously but nonetheless, he was very supportive.  Troy suggested finding a few local guys and start jamming. Well, where else to find a couple local musicians but at your neighborhood coffee shop? We jammed one day in my apartment and the addiction kicked in.  Over the course of the next few months, I literally began writing tons of songs, mostly in the form of short stories without the music.  Looking back, anyone who has ever known me always knew that being a front man in a rock band was my true dream and fantasy in life. Music has been the one thing in my life that has always been there, never failed me, and has always done what it set it out to do, heal and sooth.

How did you start the process? Who co-writes the songs with you?

Process is a good description. Starting and maintaining a band is certainly a process, not an event.  Not really any band experience, I kind of assumed finding a group of musicians to give up their lives and go on tour with me would be easy.  Come to find out, the music business is a bit more complex.  Typically, a band gets together as friends or colleagues from a local scene and writes music together. My situation was a little different than that; I wrote all my music with already established musicians in a studio.  A good friend of mine named Phil Taylor (Future Leaders of the World) had recently teamed up with ex-Evanescence band member John Lecompt on a new project called “Machina” that was based out of Little Rock.  I contacted Phil telling him about all these songs I had been working on and he suggested I come work with him and John to see what we could come up with.  The next thing I knew, I was down in John’s studio and before I knew it we had 12 really good songs and POOF! I was a front man!  So, the next step was to find a band.  In September of 2008, I spent a weekend with Troy and let him hear the final product for the first time.  He was very surprised and proud at how far this dream had come in a very short period of time.  We immediately began the process of putting a band together.  For most of 2008, the band was based out of the San Francisco Bay Area.  We toured a bit with a great band called Pop Evil, but the chemistry was just not there with that line-up, so I had to make a few changes.  Currently, the band is based back in Ohio but still has nationwide roots with our lead guitar player coming from San Francisco (Nicky Now) and our bass player (Matthew Paul) coming from Atlanta.  Our other guitar player (Steve Prater) and drummer (Andy Perkins) are Ohio boys from Kenton.  I am extremely pleased with this line-up and truly feel they are connected with the music; each bringing their own energy and vibe into the songs giving them life.

You told me that you didn’t know you could sing for the longest time; what happened to make you realize you can?

I am still very much a student of singing and learn more about it every single day.  If you could hear the first time I stepped into the studio box to sing you would laugh your butt off. Again, I had never been in a band, had a lesson, or been on a stage other than one or two times doing karaoke.  In fact, the first time I ever stepped foot on a stage was opening for Tesla at a sold out show in California; I think I fooled them.

What kept me going was I could hear in my head how it needed to be sung.  I would also imagine how singers like Brent from Shinedown or Jacoby from Papa Roach might sing the song.  I would take all that in and let it out with my own flavor and style.  I have been taking lessons and asking lots of questions when in the company of talented local and national artists on how to keep getting better.  My vocal coach Stephanie is amazing; she really helped me gain the confidence I needed. I also do my best to keep my voice healthy by not drinking alcohol or smoking.  Water is also key.

Your lyrics are drawn from relationships and the hardships from them; what emotions and memories do you draw from to pen the lyrics?

Well, if there is one thing we can all relate to it’s the pains and joys of being in a relationship. For me, my life struggles have always been about accepting my place in the world and being content day to day.  For some reason I have always felt like I was missing something and just not complete.  Having children certainly filled most of that void but having that true connection with a partner has seemed to always flee over time in my past.  I frequently ponder and wonder why this happens and I still do not know.  The current songs of NoMara do stem from a particular point and instance of time in my life not too long ago.  The record actually tells a story from beginning to end.  The first track is called “Last Call” and is about the end of a relationship.  It’s about that last call, last text, or email…when we finally realize this relationship is over.  The remaining tracks are about the period of time after a break-up detailing the thoughts and process we go through in getting back on our feet.  Relationships are great practice for personal growth.

Which song is the closest to you heart and that you are the most proud of?

Without question Fight Song means the most to me.  All I ever wanted was someone who wants to be with me as much as I want to be with them.  That song is going through some changes right now and I think the updated official version will be even better. We are playing the new version live on this upcoming tour and do see it being released on radio soon if things continue to progress for us. Personally, I don’t think the world needs another love song. I think we what need is a fight song that will keep us together so we never ever fall apart.

What obstacles have you pushed through (and currently) to make this dream your reality?

I think the biggest obstacle has been maneuvering around in today’s music business. Everything is so different than bands experienced prior to 2002.  The biggest challenge is getting your music out to the people.  Yes, there are more tools today than ever before with social networking and online music stores but there is also a tremendous amount of bands out there saturating the consumer.  Getting yours into their ears is a challenge.  I have always been a firm believer that the cream comes to the top and if the music is good enough it will eventually be heard and embraced.  As a band, we need to stay focused and healthy while on the road.  All of us are committed to doing whatever it takes to get the music to the people.  Hopefully, the people will respond by becoming NoMara fans and coming to our shows.

How are you defying yourself as a band?  How are you making yourselves stand out from the rest?

I think our band is in a position to accomplish some great things.  All of the guys are seasoned musicians that have been down the road before and have experienced what works and what does not when it comes to “surviving out there”.  We just had this conversation tonight at practice as we processed our shows from the past weekend.  We all want NoMara to be a class act from the minute we enter a town to the time we leave.  We don’t subscribe to the stereotypical “up all night- sleep all day” rock and roll lifestyle.  Don’t get me wrong, we have our fun on the road but we do our best to keep things balanced and in perspective.

What would/does “success” mean to you?

Well for years I viewed success by the how much money I had, but over the past few years’ success has been defined as living life chasing dreams.  In my old job,I was surrounded by people counting the days to retirement.  I never subscribed in my heart to that mentality and did not want my children watching me live my life doing something I was not passionate about.  Everything I do today or become involved with has to have a purpose.  It must have something to do with making the world a better place.  Aside from this rock and roll life, I am a licensed substance abuse counselor.  I recently co-authored a book that uses the languages of sports to reduce high risk behaviors in youth and young adults.  I would like to eventually get the book out and be able to visit local high schools during the day while out on the road rocking and rolling during the nightshift.

Who and/or what is your inspiration/muse?

My children are my inspiration.  Without question they are the best thing that ever happened to me.  It’s difficult being away from them while on the road but we manage to stay in touch daily via cell phones and this trip out we are going to try some web cams.  They both rock!

You are going on tour soon; how are you preparing for it?

The band finally arrived in Ohio a couple weeks ago.  We immediately began daily rehearsals and played a few regional shows.  Nowadays the band has to play the part of management, marketing department, promotions, booking agent, etc.  If we are not rehearsing, we are talking to venues, reaching out to new fans online, or sleeping.  The tour kicks off Friday at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus. We then head down to Nashville and into the northern U.S. for a few weeks.

NoMara will be playing at Columbus, Ohio’s Newport Music Hall November 6th!  To check out other tour dates, please go to their Myspace music page:

http://www.myspace.com/nomaramusic

Follow NoMara on Twitter!  They follow back!

http://twitter.com/NoMaraMusic

To buy tickets for their shows:

http://www.nomaratickets.com/

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