- William Keihn
Since migrating from Indianapolis to San Francisco, Mark Tester and his group Burnt Ones have achieved impressive feats. From their slew of releases with Cali's infamous Burger Records label to their current U.S. tour (which featured a date with psych rock sultan Ty Segall), everything is looking rosy for the dynamic feedback-drenched four-piece.
And part of that success is informed by their Hoosier roots.
"Living in Indiana was indescribably informative to how I look at pretty much every aspect of life, and especially the value of space and distance, particularly the time I spent living in Muncie and Indianapolis," Tester says. "Working on art and creative prospects out of either desperation or amongst a small community of friends, without any ridiculous aspirations or expectations beyond one another, has continued to be inspiring and being able to see it firsthand when I come back to the city is always really refreshing."
The San Fran psychers are no stranger to Fountain Square, where they'll play this Friday, having played numerous occasions at Debbie's Palace of Noise and Laundry, which in prior years was the central hub of Indy's daylong psych rock fest Cataracts.
"The set that we played at Cataracts a few years ago is probably the most memorable show I've ever personally played in my life," he says. "Though I don't remember much about actually playing because I was transfixed on the mass of people gathered on the roof and on top of the porch of Debbie's Palace of Noise & Laundry."
Despite countless tour dates across the country, Tester fondest performance memory comes from the yard of Debbie's on that paradisiacal summer day in 2012.
"The set that we played at Cataracts a few years ago is probably the most memorable show I've ever personally played in my life, though I don't remember much about actually playing because I was transfixed on the mass of people gathered on the roof and on top of the porch of Debbie's Palace of Noise & Laundry," Tester says.
With the recent release of their third full-length on John Dwyer's Castle Face Records, the band looks to continue down the impressive path they have found themselves on in recent years. Recorded at the band's San Fran practice spot between September and December of 2013, GIFT is inspired by Tester's recent experiences as a driver and show bootlegger out on the road with Mike Donovan (formerly of Sic Alps), while he opened for Ty Segall on his acoustic Sleeper tour.
"After spending the last few years focusing on live music as an excuse to blast people with feedback, I got way more interested in space and incorporating all the types of sound I'm interested in, instead of just limiting Burnt Ones to being some sort of mediocre rock band," Tester says. "For me, it's the most realized chunk of music I've ever recorded and I'm excited to start on Volume 4."
While their upcoming show at The White Rabbit may not be as glorious as their appearance in the lawn of Debbie's, Tester and company still very much look forward to their return trip to the Square.
"The shows that we've played since we've been coming back [since moving to San Francisco] have been really humbling and supportive," he says. "It's nice to leave somewhere and be welcomed back with mostly open arms instead of rolled eyes and misguided accusations."