Erich Burger

Erich Burger

Musician

Organization:

Blue Midnight Highway

Website:


Playing a dark brand of electronic rock with punk prowess and hip-hop influence that calls to mind Nine Inch Nails, Erich Burger has been in the Toledo music scene — and beyond — for a while now. Nevertheless, he is still as hungry as ever, looking to push his current band, Blue Midnight Highway, as far as possible. Toledo.com caught up with Burger to talk about his past projects, the five albums he would take to a desert island and Peter Gabriel. 

Tell us more about some of your past projects?

Musically, my 1st was a four-piece punk band called the Irregulars (featuring Brian Sullivan on drums, Eric Skowron on bass, Bill Bischoff on guitar, myself on vocals). The name came from the comic that was about a punk rock Sherlock Holmes called “Baker Street” created by Guy Davis out of Ann Arbor. That was out in the 80s. Then I was on to Trashcan Tribal, an industrial electronic project that began as a solo project but eventually became a three piece, featuring Dave Wilson on Drums and Nick Koroshevsky on guitar. Highlights of TCT were playing with Thrill Kill Cult and BabyLand and playing at CBGB’s. TCT then morphed into Blue Mountain Highway just before we relocated to LA. 

What current projects are you working on?

Our main focus lately has been on the business development of BMH’s big vision. It’s exciting, we’re working with a consultant with extensive experience and he’s brought in another consultant who’s a major player in TV and has extensive specialized experience in the music and production business. I’ve also been getting advice and assistance from Don Dibartello from The Right Direction X sports youth program. I’m not too sure who I’ll be hiring for the web development yet. But it’s definitely time to take BMH into the big leagues and unleash the full vision of what BMH. 


What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts?

Cheap rent.

But on a serious note: recently I was hanging out, while members of the UGN (Underground Graffiti Network) were painting (Legally). Greg Lukasik brought up how exciting it was that Toledo had artists doing things of an original nature that was as good as anything else out there. It was a perfect time and place for the conversation given all that were present. 

Hazard, an OG B-Boy, an OG BMXer, an OG (graf) writer and an amazing photographer. Tradgic, an OG B-Boy, an OG BMXer, an OG writer, Toledo’s best turntablist and best beat boxer by far and a sick beat producer. And myself, an OG BMXer, an OG Punk Rocker, an OG electronic musician and music producer and promoter. OG writers Havek and Swade were also present.

Hazard pointed out that, basically, Toledo is too small for anyone in any subculture to isolate themselves in cliques. It’s inevitable you’ll cross paths with all sorts of people of varying styles and disciplines. And no doubt in my case this has been a major influence on my style of production.

Tell us about one of your greatest successes.

One of my favorites would have to be getting invited to perform at the Toledo School of the Arts year-end performance show at the Valentine. It’s an honor to get such an invitation and I was blow away by how well the kids pulled off such huge production. Not to mention the opportunity to perform in such an amazing venue where you can feel the history coming out of the walls. 

Tell us who or what gives you inspiration?

Sound and all of its endless possibilities.

Tell us about your background.

Music started for me very early on my grandma Burger’s piano at the age of two,  although I never really took lessons. These days I do take lesions from off the web. I love the web. But, so, in 1985 when I was in Junior High, I got my 1st electronic keyboard: a Casio. And my 1st BMX Bike. This is where it started. It was BMX Stunt “Freestyle” as it was called back then that I was focused on.

In ’94, me and a partner Jerrid Collins started Skinny Studios/Records. During this time I worked with so much local talent as an engineer and producer. Bands such as  Saul, Porn Flakes, Billy Blade, JP the Unknown, the Society, Xebec, Dish Dogs, Social Decay, Kindred Idol and Civil Disobedience. It really was a time that has had a lasting impact on me.

I then headed off to Phoenix, AZ, to the Conservatory for Recording, after that it was off to LA and a position as a personal assistant to Steven Smith and Abbey Entertainment. Steven was Lenny Kravitz’s 1st manager, was the assistant director of The Jeffersons, the executive producer of Square Pegs. During my time with him he was doing music supervision (the music licensing) for the Penelopy Spheeris directed Marlon Wayans film Senseless and her documentary Decline of western Civilization Part 3. And he was still managing the electronic music group Yellow from Ferris Buller’s day off fame.

After that I went to Guitar Center Hollywood and eventually ended up as Pro Audio Manager, which is still where I learned more about music production than even school. Don’t get me wrong school was important and I learned a lot, but at GC I worked on a daily basis with top artist, producers and engineers. There were these almost daily eureka moments where I would witness some production practice that would blow my mind in its logic.

Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by?

“Never quit” and “Listening Pleasure”. These and every other ancient mantra. They all ring true.

Favorite place for local culture?

It’s closed now, but the original Woodville Skatepark. 

Toledo’s “best kept secrets” are . . .

The Pythian Castle, Fifth Third Field, Blind Bobby Smith, BMH

My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . . . 

Side Cut Park

When I’m not working hard, I can always be found at . . . 

For me these last 7 years, I’ve pretty much been locked away in my studio. When I began this production I made myself the promise that I would complete it to reach the standards and compete with any and all of the artists and productions that inspired me. And I would not ease my focus until BMH reached that goal. 

   
If you could change anything about the current landscape for creative, progressive people . . .

There are some serious obstacles with the attitude today’s culture has towards musicians and artists in general. Perhaps because of the combination of the over-saturation of bands and the effect that the Internet has had on people. Both by devaluing music and the experience of music to either zero, i.e., Napster or the single version and .99 cents, i.e., iTunes. For better or worse things have to evolve from where they are. 

I see one of the biggest issues artist face is that through the nature of social media people really feel offended by organized marketing or promoting attempts of art and music. In every way the landscape of music and art is over-saturated: too many festivals, too many bands, too many websites to either exploit the artist or their fans. But I believe it’s a good thing, it’s just a transition and I personally find it awesome and I’m stoked that I can’t keep up with all of it. There’s so much amazing art & music out there. 


Any exciting collaborations (past or present) you would like to tell us about?

Hazard on some artwork for BMH shirts and stickers. Raine Wilder’s track when the full-length finally drops.


Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with. 

Peter Gabriel.

Name a CD, book or website you can’t live without. CD?

The Watchman Graphic Novel. 

3 words that best describe me or my work are . . . 

Above & Beyond Expectation

Give us 5 Desert Island Album picks.

The Cure, Disintegration

Jane’s Addiction, Nothing’s Shocking

Beastie Boys, Anthology

Rage Against the Machine, Rage Against the Machine

Blue October, Sway

I’d like to see ________ in Toledo.

Better sounding rooms and solar road tiles.

What’s the last dream you recall having? 

I’m living it.

The last lyric that moved me was . . . 

They all do; I’m an artist, I’m sensitive. It’s like surfing a never ending set that just keeps coming. I’m stoked on it all. But, the last lyric the really hit me: “It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back.” 

One movie character I identify with is . . . 

Cru Jones from the movie RAD. 


The best gift I’ve ever received was . .

There’s no re-paying Andrew Appold for the space and support he and his right hand man Jay have given me.


My most inspiring moment was/is . . .

The 1st time I heard my voice through a Neumann U48. That or miking Stephen Perkins’ (drummer for Jane’s Addiction & Porno for Pyros) drum kit for a drum demo while he played mountain song and told me about what was going on with Perry in the studio during the albums recording.

I want my last meal to be. 

With someone I love. 


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