Backyard Tire Fire is back with a new single and more surprises to come
Backyard Tire Fire was formed 20 years ago in Asheville, NC, and after a ten-year hiatus, the band is back together and ready to rock. The alternative country group, led by acclaimed singer / songwriter Edward David Anderson, will be back in September with their first new album in 11 years, Black earth, blue sky. They are also eager to resume performing live and will be hosting their second annual Black Dirt Music Festival in Bloomington, Ill., Led by Wilco on September 11.
The band’s new single, “Little Wren”, is due out tomorrow (July 15), and it’s the song Anderson credits as the inspiration to put the band back together after a full decade. It captures a slow paced and relaxing country lifestyle where birdsongs inspire country songs.
Singer Edward David Anderson spoke with the American songwriter to share the story of the single, his personal journey to reunite and reunite the group. From 200 miles on the Appalachian Trail to a little bird singing to him every morning for a week, Anderson’s musical and personal revelations flow from a common entity: nature.
You can listen to the exclusive premiere of “Little Wren” here now.
American songwriter: Hi Ed! Where are you currently based?
Edouard David Anderson: We [my wife and I] live outside of a small town called Havana and there are only 3600 people, and it sits right on the Illinois River. We are about an hour southwest of Chicago. We kind of changed things… we were in the middle of the pandemic in Bloomington, Illinois and we have a baby girl, she is only 22 months old. During the pandemic, we decided we wanted to start trying to live in some sort of homestead. Now we have this five acre property with a garden, chicken coop, and trails. It’s a good place to raise this little girl for sure. And I feel like that’s the weird way the pandemic actually helped. I don’t think we could have looked for places to live with me touring and playing music as much as I usually do. But because we had all this downtime, we started looking at bits of property here and there.
AS: Everything about your rural lifestyle makes sense with the lyrics to “Little Wren” because it sounds like a slower, nature-connected type of life.
AED: It’s kind of interesting. I wrote this song while still living in our old home in Bloomington when my wife was pregnant. I would get up and go down the stairs and take some time out on the back porch and drink coffee. And this little bird kind of appeared out of nowhere. We were just hanging out, and it started singing this song and it kept coming back for a week. I was going down the stairs, and for a few days I played this song with the bird. But it was more of a city. You know, we used to live in Bloomington and we’re only a couple of small houses off the main road. And we lived next to the hospital where our daughter was born, so there were a lot of mermaids and it was kind of an urban scene. And then the place we just moved in is actually a certified bird and butterfly sanctuary. It’s just kind of weird that I wrote this song with this bird when I was still living in Bloomington, sort of in this urban area. And then a few months later, I record the song and I end up living in the bird sanctuary where literally the troglodytes are so numerous that I can hear them singing all day now. I think you can have a kind of mood of the song, a very happy mood.
AS: Tell me how the single was born in this new framework?
AED: The song “Little Wren” has been put together in a strange way. Not all of the recording was done in the general way we have made music before. The whole new album was a pandemic recording and we did it in isolation; we were never in the same room together. It seems to be getting more normal these days in recording, but I’ve never made music like this. So that was kind of a methodical way to put it in place. All that [the normal recording process] was kind of removed this time. It was like, ‘Okay, well, we’re going to put this together the only way we can because we can’t go into the same room together.’ This is all part of the pandemic in a strange way. I found this beautiful new place to live with my family, and I think we made a pretty cool recording of it. Just because of the bad circumstances I think it turned into something pretty cool.
AS: The song almost foreshadowed your lifestyle now. You found joy there in a certain part of your day, and now that part of your day has become a part of your life.
AED: Which is strange because I’ve never really been a bird watcher. But now we have several feeders on our property and there are Eagles and it’s just amazing. My wife and I were actually hiking the Appalachian Trail [right before the move] and we spent a month there and did the first two hundred miles. This is where we kind of decided to have a child. We decided to take some time on the road, and I had a record in the box, and it was done. We were like, “Let’s take some free time and go for a hike and see how long we last on the TA. We would hike all day, through the mountains. We didn’t know what to do other than talk. So we talked a lot about having a child and it was a total metamorphosis for us. You know, we’ve gone from smoking Camel Lights and drinking a 12 PBR pack, being on the road. We just changed everything, it was on this trajectory. And so I reconnected with the band, Backyard Tire Fire. It seems like we were, at the time, kind of prepared for something bigger, and it just imploded… I lost touch with my little brother who was playing bass. And been through a lot. And I felt that after this transformation, I had to reconnect with my brother.
AS: Was it the single “Little Wren” that made you feel called to reconnect with the old band members?
AED: It occurred to me, “Wow, ‘Little Wren’ really has to be a Backyard Tire Fire song.” As in hindsight, when I think back to the songwriting, it sounded like Backyard Tire Fire from the start. You know, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out given the circumstances.
AS: Now that the band is back together, what’s the next step?
AED: We are having a music festival, the Black Dirt Music Festival in Illinois, on September 10-11 to celebrate the Castle Theater 10th anniversary; Wilco is the headliner! I think there’s a kind of specific sound that comes from the Midwest, so that’s the whole idea of Black Dirt. And I really like Wilco. They were number one on the list to arrive at the headliner of the festival. I thought it would take a lot longer to get to the point where we could have a band like Wilco and develop this stuff a bit more than we’ve done this year, so it already looks like a huge success. We’re just excited to be doing the festival and releasing a new album around the same time. We saw the Castle Theater open 10 years ago and then shut down shortly thereafter, and now the festival is celebrating the theater’s 10th anniversary.