May 18, 2005

Audio Adrenaline's Tyler Burkum

(Filed under: Interviews)

When guitarist Tyler Burkum joined the Christian rock band Audio Adrenaline at age 17 he left behind a blossoming career as a busboy at a local college. But he joined a musical juggernaut and can now polish Grammys with that old dishtowel. Their last album, Worldwide, with the hit songs "Ocean Floor" and "Leaving 99", scored the band's first Grammy after five nominations. Later this summer Audio Adrenaline will crank out their 10th release, tentatively titled Until My Heart Caves In.

Was joining a rock band at 17 fulfilling your wildest dreams of becoming a rock star?
I definitely didn't want to be a rock star, and that's probably the Minnesota in me, the shy, Lake Woebegone part of me. ... I always just wanted to do my thing, I wanted to play music and do it well whether I was jumping around or not.

I'm not a rock star now. If somebody came up to me and said 'Man you're a rock star,' I'd probably be embarrassed. If somebody came up to me and said 'I dug the show, you did well,' I'd be honored. I want someone to feel like they got their money's worth, but I don't really care if they walk away thinking I'm a rock star. If they think I'm a rock star, maybe they've missed the point.

Can you tell us about the new album?
The new album is going to be called Until My Heart Caves In. It's a record about unbridled passion, and burning out and not fading away. It's about our passion for Christians trying to be better men, trying to be unapologetic for who we are in Christ. We're still making it, so it's a little hard to say the way it'll come out. We're singing about the hunger inside us, for something deeper, too. The title track for the record is called "Until My Heart Caves In." The lyric of the chorus is "I will sing your name until my heart caves in." In some ways it's intense. I'm excited about this record—I think it's the best record we've ever made.

Where did the idea come from?
We're a band that's been around for a long time. To some extend, you start thinking, man, I don't want to sing this stuff half heartedly and just kind of fade away, I'd like to go out screaming.

There are a lot of things more important than our rock band. I want to be completely sold out, and not be the person who at a certain place is a Christian and at certain places isn't. I want to be who I am all the time.

So much of the time I think God plants ideas in your head that you can't really figure out and you're just along for the ride. When you get done with the record, someone's like, 'Wow, you're geniuses for doing this one thing' and you're like, 'We really didn't know about that, we didn't really try.' At that point it's not you being some genius, it's God working through you.

What's the new album sound like?
The title track is rock and roll, definitely. A few songs in a sonic way are rock and roll but have this undertone of worship.

We have a song called "Are you ready for Love," and it's all about [how] so many of the things in this world are blindfolds to reality. ... The very first line in the song is "Broken widow and fatherless child / I've turned my back on you / I missed the point, I over-analyzed it, I never had a clue / Are you ready for love? / Are you ready for real emotion / Or are you too comfortable to join the revolution?"

The song's all about that the kingdom of God is one person at a time. I feel like so many times we're looking for this really lofty goal of something that's going to make us a Christian. In your search for being like Christ I think we look in these really high, lofty places, and in the Bible Jesus is saying it's widows and orphans, it's the way you love people around you.

What have you learned from this record?
I've realized in how many ways I need to grow. The smarter you get the more you know you have to learn. I feel like this record is confronting our own complacency and crying out for [something] more.

What's the future for Audio Adrenaline?
The future is unknown. Ever since I joined the band they're like 'Who knows what's going to happen next year, and who really cares?' ... It's kind of funny that we're even a band. We're a bunch of guys that God has put together and we can't figure out why anybody wants to see us. There's a lot of strength in our weakness and that's been a theme for Audio A.

All I know is that when Audio Adrenaline isn't a band anymore we'll still be friends, and that's the most important thing. We're not going to break up because of some power struggle. We're all grateful that we tour the country with people we love, playing music for crying out loud. Every once in a while I think to myself, 'I can't believe this is my job.' Sometimes I have guilt because I feel like I don't work, but I'm like 'Wait, I'm gone so many days this year.' But still I love my job.

Posted by kevin at May 18, 2005 12:52 PM

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