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3AM interview with Chino Burga

There’s something different about 3AM.  It’s too late to be early and too early to be late, but apparently magical things can happen then.  Just ask Chino Burga!  A minimalist drum loop that sounds reminiscent of The Raveonettes teamed with enough reverb and feedback to deafen anyone in the general vicinity Burga is a one-man army.  His motto?  DIY no-fi.  His mission?  To spread drone across the planet like a plague of locusts.  An accomplished musician in several other bands Burga created 3AM during a musical lull to literally prevent himself from going crazy.  The psycho-active psychedelic juices were just flowing too hard with no outlet, had it not been for 3AM he might have landed himself in an asylum.  As it stands Burga managed to create one of the most honest, raw and intriguing DIY bedroom albums that I’ve ever heard, The UFO Blues Tapes.  Scheduled for release in August via Levitation and Ogro Records, the album has been done since last year and streaming on SoundCloud ever since.  Thankfully I was tipped off to the stream by Lulu from Electric Moon and instantly began digging on the vibe of 3AM.  After listening to the album stream about a million times and getting tired of waiting for an album announcement, I decided it was time to track Burga down and get the skinny straight from the source!
The UFO Blues Tapes on SoundCloud.

What is the band’s lineup?  Is this your original lineup?

Well, in the studio it’s just me, Chino Burga on guitars, drones, loops and vocals.  On stage I play with the help of a friend in the rhythm guitar.  As I’m the only steady member, I’d say it’s the original lineup.

Are any of you in any other bands?  Have you released any material with any other bands?  If so can you tell us about it?

Yes, I play in La Ira de Dios, a psychedelic punk band who have released five albums through some German labels.  I also play in La Garua, that’s a heavy, dirty, psychedelic blues band with very Bukowski-ish lyrics, really saying something and we’re about to release the debut album on World in Sound Records.  Then there’s Necromongo, a crust punk band which has a 7” by Lengua Armada Records and Los Entierros which is a psych post-punk band, we’re actually recording now.  In all of them I play the guitar and in some (La Ira, Necromongo) I also sing.  Oh!  And Obskuria which is a jam band that formed when we were on tour with La Ira in Europe.  It’s a multinational combo with people from all around the world.

When and how did you all meet?

Every day in the mirror ha-ha-ha!

What led to the formation of 3AM and when was that?

Hmm…  Well, it was during a period in my life where I had nothing to do.  No job, no band, no nothing.  So I got to the point to where it was like I decide to start a new project or go crazy!  And because sometimes it’s hard to organize practices and recording sessions and stuff, you know, move your band partners.  I started to play with some software for programming drums.  Didn’t know much about it, and still don’t, but anyway, I managed to make some songs.  And then I quit it.  This happened like two years ago.  But last year, in August two weeks before I went on tour with La Ira, I decided to play over the programmed drums again but with new riffs this time.  One week after I was recording the eight tracks from the album and a couple more.  After the La Ira’s tour I returned home and mixed it, and that was the beginning of 3AM. 

Where are you originally from?

From Lima, Perú.  Born and raised.

Where is the band currently located?

I live in Lima.

How would you describe the local scene where you at?

Well the underground scene is a very active and cool one.  There are a lot of bands with fresh ideas and very different styles, everything from noise, electro, garage, psych, stoner and doom, to punk, crust, surf and more.  Nice audience too.  But it has problems like everywhere, lack of support by the media, lack of venues to play, lack of sponsors, same old bullshit.  But bands still play and have fun.

Are you very involved with the local scene?

To be honest not very much.  I’m very lazy and kind of a hermit.  I just go out practice and get wasted, and then to play live.  Years ago I was more involved, you know.  I organized shows and even had an internet radio show…  Now I just like to walk my dog and get stoned.

Has it played a large role in the history or evolution of 3AM?

Hmm, not sure…  I guess it had an influence on me somehow.  So did my experiences touring abroad.

What does the name 3AM mean or refer to?  How was it chosen?

I have an obsession with the number three and love the early morning.  There you go.

Can you tell our readers who some of your major musical influences are?  What about the band as a whole rather than just personally?

Loop, Suicide, Stooges, MC5, Hawkwind, Dead Moon, Spacemen 3, Alien Sex Fiend, Silver Apples, tons of 60s garage and post-punk.

I absolutely hate to label or classify music, how would you describe your music to our readers who might not have heard 3AM yet?

I would say it’s like Alan Vega and Martin Rev meet Ron Asheton on a very hard drinking binge, strung out on drugs and decided to play some Joy Division covers.  It’s drone, it’s haunted.  It’s rock’n’roll…

Let’s talk about 3AM’s writing process, is there just a lot of exploratory jamming or does someone approach the rest of the band with a more finished idea to compose and polish?

I just get a riff and then I build the drums and that’s it.  Lyrics come at the end.  I leave a lot of space for improvisation in the form of guitar solos when I’m recording.  It’s a very laidback and easy process.  And the riffs, I get them walking my dog, showering, cooking, whenever, wherever.

You are getting ready to release your awesome debut album UFO Blues Tapes.  Can you talk a little bit about the recording of that album?  Where was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  When was it recorded?

Yeah sure.  Well, we recorded in a friend’s bedroom over two nights, and then we recorded the vocals in my kitchen using a computer.  I had no money at the time and couldn’t afford a proper studio.  Like I said earlier, this was early August 2012.  When I returned from touring I took a break and in January this year (2013) started mixing it.  Two friends help me with the engineering and mixing stuff; Daniel Reyes and Sebastian Cruz Saco.  Daniel also took care of the mastering thing and I produced the whole album.

When is UFO Blues Tapes scheduled for release?  What format(s) is it going to be released on?  Who’s releasing it?

The album is coming out this August.  It’s being released on vinyl by Levitation Records in Denmark and Ogro Records from Lima is gonna release it on CD.

Other than UFO Blues Tapes do you have any other releases planned for this year?

Don’t know.  I’m definitely going to record some stuff, I would hope and guess it would be released later this year or sometime next year.  But I will record again very soon for sure either way.  I have a lot of new material already.

With the recent international postage increases where is the best place for US readers to purchase your music?  What about international and overseas readers?

We are looking for some distributors in the US.  For now, write to Levitation Records or you can probably get a copy through 

What do you have planned as far as touring goes?  Is there any chance of you making an appearance in the United States?

Tour Peru some more again and then next year Europe.  And If I find a way to cover the plane ticket, other expenses not to mention find a rhythm guitar player in the US, I will!!!

Who are some of your favorite bands that you’ve had the chance to share a bill with?

Orange Sunshine, Baby Woodrose, Spectrum, Gnod, Electric Moon and in Peru, I’ve played with Los Saicos and the singer of Autopsia, two legends in garage and punk down here.

Where’s the best place for readers to keep up on the latest news like upcoming shows and album releases at?

Fucking Facebook.

There’s something irreplaceable, almost magical about physical albums to me.  Having artwork to look at, liner notes to read and just having something to hold in my hands make the listening experience more complete, at least for me.  Do you have any such connection with physical releases?

Oh yes!  I have an obsession with vinyl and love exactly what you mentioned.  The thing is you have to drop the needle and take a seat, but then you have to stand up and turn the side, it’s like a ritual to me that helps me to focus on the music somehow.  I love the scratches, the smell, the big artwork.  Vinyl is almost like a fetish to me he-he-he…

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so can you talk a little bit about it?

Yes I do.  Not a really big one, but think it´s good so far.  It’s only on vinyl and I basically have lot of garage, psych, punk, post-punk and then some classic heritage from my father, lots of Peruvian 60’s garage 45s.  And of course, Johnny Cash and Kraftwerk; love them.

I must admit that I love having a digital copy of an album to listen to wherever and whenever I want but digital music is rapidly changing the face of the industry to say the least.  It’s exposing a lot of bands but destroying decades of infrastructure inside the industry and I’m always curious to hear artist’s opinions on digital music whenever I talk to them.  What is your take on digital music and distribution?

I think it’s good for information, you know?  I can download an album, take a listen and if I like it, I buy it on vinyl.  If not I just go looking for another album, simple.  I think the digital format is a good thing to promote your music like a flyer to spread the word.  I really don’t care about the music industry or any of that corporate shit.  For me it’s a good excuse to go back to playing live a lot and doing good albums, you know, all killer, no filler.  Not to mention a good reason to dive into the underground scene and stay there, ‘cause that’s the music that really matters.

In hopes of keeping up with at least half of the amazing music that’s out there right now, who should I be listening to from your local area or scene that I might not have heard of?

All the bands I mentioned that I play with HA!  And of course Ermitaño Reino Ermitaño, Serpentina Satelite, Liquidarlo Celuloide, Bondage, Chamanes, Grita Lobos, Varsovia, Bang Bang Band Girl, The Muertos, Sistemas de Aniquilación and Tica.  You have doom, psych, garage, drone, crust, noise and punk bands there.

What about nationally and internationally?

Well I totally love the music of some of my label mates like The Hedgehogs, The Road to Suicide, Spokraket and a Spanish band called Pyramidal.  Oh!  And Don Vito from Berlin, they’re a freaking awesome live band.

Is there anything that I missed or that you’d just like to talk about?

Drop the school, do drugs, hit the road, kill a politician and buy the album.  Not necessarily in that order.  Thanks for the support and DRONE ON!

(2013)  3AM – The UFO Blues Tapes – CD, 12” – Levitation Records, Ogro Records

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
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