Rusty Burns original interview (November 2009 by Yves Phillippot and John Molet)
Does this new record, Fight On, correspond to what you aspired
to do, and to the image you want to give now from Point Blank?
I feel that the Fight On record is simply another musical photograph of Point Blank.
Each record we have ever recorded was nothing more than snapshot capturing a musical moment in our musical lives. Our roots are constantly growing and evolving in
maturity and experience so we generally write from the experiences in our lives.
For me personally, writing isn't a thinking process as much as a feeling process.
I play by feel, I create by feel, and I produce by feel. I never have musically/emotionally felt the same today as I did yesterday so it's a spur of the moment reaction for me.
My aspirations for Point Blank are very simple...to allow the music inside of us to get out.
I am not very image conscious as that isn't my strong suite. When we first started as PB we weren't very pretty so in order to compete with pretty bands we
had to try and blow them off of the stage. Our image became a musical image
which is something we have always felt comfortable with. Good music is all we are about.
How came the idea to insert in the album the magnificent instrumental
"My Soul Cries Out" (on this point, I agree with John : the title is one of the peaks
of the record), where Johnny seems to be unemployed (laughing)?
I was really wanting to put the song on the record but wanted the band to make the call on whether it was included as they all knew the meaning and intimacy of the song.
It was written for my dad. In 1995 When my Father died I was terribly distraught, lost
and without my best friend in the world. When grief and mourning became so overwhelming that
I was unable to contain it I walked in to the studio that my dad and I owned and wrote
"My Soul Cries Out". I look back on it now and realize that all I did wasput the pain inside
of a melody and it became a song. We put it on the record to show another musically emotional side of the band. It is a band aid for your soul and a tribute to my Father, Robert Burns.
How went Mike "Mouse" Mayes' integration in the band?
Mouse has been one of the premiere guitarist/vocalist from Dallas for many years, he has also been a great friend of all us. When Buddy Whittington released his new CD he wasn't able to tour with us last year we immediately ask Mouse to come aboard. He is a wonderful guy and is very talented. He stepped right in to a tough situation and never missed a step.
He's been a great asset to Point Blank and will continue to be.
What was his real contribution for this album?
Mouse played guitar and sang and brought all the needed tools to make this record good.
His abilities and talents are coming to light more everyday and I assure you that he is becoming
a stronger force in the sound of the band with each note he plays. He is a great writer too
and the next record will have some of his music included.
What is your way of functioning for the guitar parts' working out?
Do Phillip or Larry step in?
Generally I just listen to whatever idea I am recording and give it the ear test. If it doesn't work out as I intended I continue to manipulate the notes, the attack and the attitude until I hear the recording emulate what I am hearing in my head. It's very much like sculpting...
I intentionally play too much and then begin the process of stripping away that which doesn't fit. If the piece of music still doesn't work I completely start over with a different mind set and repeat the process. Some guitar parts are complete in their essence without having to sculpt while others, that are not so focused, need a lot of work and thought. Larry and Phillip both
are very honest and will tell me whether or not the parts work from their perspective.
Mouse and I just keep working the parts out until everyone says "that's it!"
Phillip is back in the band bringing a view of what he wants to do, besides he contributed
to some of the new songs. We know that he left the band in the past because of
divergences about the musical direction the band wanted to take.
Is it difficult to restrain him to play more "FM" formated songs like "Made of Stone"?
Not in the least. Phillip, like the rest of the band loves music of all styles and is always looking
to expand his musical horizons. We have all had to expand our visions as music is always changing inside of us as well as outside of us. Music is a journey and he is here for the whole trip. I can safely say that everyone in the band has had their own musical journey and aren't ready for the journey to stop. Playing music is something that only stops when we decide to stop it ...
we aren't stopping.
Can you explain to our readers why you seem to be loyal to the same lonely guitar and to your pedalboard, that intrigued some musicians when they saw you play, just like your incredible sound, whatever the amp used?
The guitar that I play is a Schecter Strat built for me in 1981 by Strings N Things in Memphis Tennessee. I have owned many guitars but this particular guitar is the tool I find that inspires
me beyond any other. It's tone and it's feel provokes me to play what I feel without restriction.
I have played this guitar non stop since 1981 and plan to be buried with it. It has been my best friend and my musical wife. The pedal I use is a small Boss ME-50. It has several effects and some specialty sounds that fit in to my personal style. It's a great pedal and I am very happy
with what it does for my playing no matter which amp I am playing through.
Have you tried once to play on a guitar setting the lower strings up, like most of the people, even lefthanded like Hendrix?
Yes, I have and it was terrible... had I not learned to play upside down I could safely say that
I would not be a guitarist today. It was very unnatural and awkward with the small strings on the bottom and as a result I now have a new admiration for right handed players...
I could never play fluently if I had to play orthodox.
Really, do a lot of fans in Texas (or even in the whole
U.S.A.) remember Point Blank ? And do they exprimate it ?
It seems there are many fans out there in the US. When we play Nicole in the show you can see the look on their faces change ... they suddenly remember. The problem is that in America if you didn't have a couple of top 10 hits you are not on the "radio" radar screen. We only had a top 40 hit which was an accomplishment back in those days but by todays standard is nothing. America
is more about being "fashionable" when it comes to promoters and radio and not at all about being "appreciated".
It has always been that way here and is such a sad situation for the many great bands that get
no attention from radio. The classic rock stations here are still playing the same 40 or 50 songs that they were playing 30 years ago and has become terribly stagnant. It's always been about the money not the music...a very sad situation indeed. Had Point Blank not continued to grow and musically expand we would have only been a 2 record band and would have never had a top 40 hit as that didn't happen until the 5th record. We learned early on that it's all about how much money the record label spends to promote your records to radio. It was and is a somewhat corrupted system and lends itself to what I said earlier about "fashionable versus appreciated".
As I view some videos on YouTube, I feel that the expression of the Blues Rock bands in Texas find itself mainly in the little bars. No more big stage for a band like Point Blank ?
I have to agree that many bands are relegated to the bar scene and I don't know if that will ever change...it all stems back to the last three words from the last answer I gave. In the bar it seems the appreciation level is genuine. Radio makes you fashionable which allows you to sell more tickets to your shows. Without radio a band will just continue to play for smaller audiences that truly love the music. With radio on your side you can become fashionable. if you have enough money to continue to stroke radio then you may have a shot at having a hit record. It's still a pay to play world here unfortunately. Hit records are bought and paid for by the labels ...period. Without a hit you will continue to play wherever you are now playing and labels here are looking for young bands not older guys like us. There's an old saying about record labels in America----labelsare looking for 23 year olds with a 28 inch waist. I'm 57 with a 30 inch waist so it doesn't seem that I fit the criteria. So, what do you do? You continue to play wherever you can for people who appreciate your music because it touches them. Point Blank was never fashionable but is definitely appreciated and I can live with that.John described us his cruise (Simple Man Cruise) beside bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, Marshall Tucker, aso ... Would Point Blank be interested in such an event ? Absolutely, we would love to do the cruise. I have had many friends who have taken the cruise and loved it. It would be an honor if someday soon Point Blank could rock the boat!
Did you have recently touches with some "heavy weights" of the southern and texan rocks (ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Michael B. Smith, Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot, etc…) ? Did they propose something to Point Blank?
Point Blank played a show in Indiana with Blackfoot a little over a year ago. It was a great show and so good to see our friends Charlie, Greg, and Bobby. We all missed Jackson Spires...RIP.
I saw ZZ Top a while back in San Antonio, Texas and saw Billy but only for a moment and really had no opportunity to talk other than hello.
Some times ago, we discovered a MySpace with the name of Kimbo. Unfortunately, he doesn't want to communicate... Would you be able (above all without getting down to the polemic!)
to explain, just explain to our readers this fuss that seems to be quiet complicated between
Kim Davis and you? We have red some articles on Internet that would tend to confirm that you aren't on good terms anymore, et for a long time. This question isn't here to create a polemic,
just to set straight our readers who have during a long time dreamed to see again one day
Rusty Burns et Kim Davis side by side!
Let me say this, speaking for myself only... I have absolutely no hard feelings regarding Kim...
he will always be my musical brother and I will always love him as such. We spent so many hours, days, and years focused on one thing...guitar. Unfortunately we did have some problems during our litigation in the 80's. I feel that whatever ill feelings were prevalent then are gone completely. He is a great guitarist and will always be special friend that I spent some of my most memorable musical years with.When we reformed the band for the 2007 tour we asked him to play with us but it wasn't possible for him to make it as he is a Peavy Represenative and travels the world doing his job for them. It sure would have been a lot of fun if he could have played the tour.
It hasn't been possible to find a video material from the era "Point Blank seventies" ?
Actually I have come in to the possession of 2 shows from 1980...one was recorded at the Capitol Center in Washington,DC with Molly Hatchet and another from Houston, Texas at the Summit
with Styx. We are currently editing this footage to add to a DVD. We will keep you updated on the status of this project. There was a filming from a Point Blank ZZ top show in 1975 but somehow this footage cannot be located. We will soon bereleasing this live show footage on DVD once
the editing and audio finished.
A more personal musician's and fan's question : on "On The Run", great song from the album "The Hard Way", we can distinctly hear three main guitars, especially during the intro,
two Gibson together and a Fender Stratocaster. Is it you playing the Strat' ?
Can you tell us a little more about the phenomenal arrangement of this title's guitar parts ?
The intro was indeed two Les Pauls and yes I played the strat as well. Kim's solo was also played on his Les Paul. He then doubled the part playing octaves which made his solo sound like a twelve string guitar. I also played a Gretch Tennesseean for the chicken pickin parts throughout the song. "On the Run" was one of my favorite songs on "The Hardway".
Will we have soon the pleasure to see you again in Europe ?
I certainly hope so. We are very aware that you guys paved the way for Point Blank to come
to Europe and our appreciation is without limit. We are very thankful that you were touched
by our music and I sincerely hope that we can continue to see you each
year. We love you guys and I really mean that.
Traditional question for RTJ (but not the records this time!) : you've been lucky enough to have outstanding partners to give you the cue on guitar. But outside of them, and without any restraint, can you name five guitar players that you would have liked to express themselves with you in Point Blank ?
When I was forming the band in the very beginning and auditioning all kinds of players
I approached a few guitarist that I was interested in but things don't always work out theway
I would expect. The first guitarist I checked out was Stevie Ray Vaughn. We jammed together several times and he was a great player but he was completely into the blues and I was leaving the blues so it just didn't work out. Another was a Texas player named Jack Holder. He was a monster in the early 70's and I was very impressed with his style. Unfortunately he passed away
a couple of years ago...RIP. The guitarist that I had most wanted to share a stage with was
one of my ultimate influences and one
of the world's best. His name is Snuffy Walden and in the 70's he had a band called "Stray Dog". They recorded two albums produced by Greg Lake (ELP) on the Manticore label. He was and still
is one of the greatest touch players I have ever known or heard. One of my guitar heroes for sure.When Kim joined us in early '74 I knew that my guitarist search was over. He and I fit together like a hand in a glove and we constantly pushed each other to play better in our performances. I have never before or since had the guitar intimacy that we shared together.
I don't think I can come up with a fifth so four is all I can offer.
Again I want to thank you so much for everything you have done to keep Point Blank alive in the hearts and ears of our European fans...words just don't do justice describing our appreciation.
Also, a huge thanks to the fans of Point Blank...without you there is no Point Blank!