Interview: UK’s Echotape Begin a New Era with Impassioned Protest Anthem “Backstreets of America”

Backstreets of America - Echotape
UK indie rock band Echotape discuss their timely new song “Backstreets of America,” an impassioned anti-gun protest anthem full of anguish and pain. It’s a heartfelt, raw, and unintentionally spot-on soundtrack to the present from a band who have been ready to spread their wings soar for quite some time.
for fans of The Killers, Neon Trees, Arcade Fire
Stream: “Backstreets of America” – Echotape




“Dreams are fired away,” literally meaning lives are lost at the end of a gun.

Echotape didn’t mean for their latest song to so unequivocally capture this moment in history; it’s a poignant coincidence that the anti-gun violence anthem “Backstreets of America” coincided with the revival of Black Lives Matter and one of the largest civil rights protest movements in living memory. That’s the world this song was born into, and that’s how we will embrace it: An impassioned protest full of anguish and heartache, “Backstreets of America” ignites a fire within as Echotape deliver a raw indie rock soundtrack of pain and preventable loss.

Backstreets of America - Echotape

Backstreets of America – Echotape

awful news on the tv screen
blood spills out again
on the backstreets of America
are flowers left in the shade
someone’s son never made it home
he was trying to find his way
on the backstreets of America
mothers kneel and pray

This song should make you uncomfortable. This song should make you mad. This song should make you want to cry, kick, and scream.

Out since May 22nd, “Backstreets of America” wasn’t inspired by any single cataclysmic moment, but rather by the overwhelming gun violence that has plagued the United States in recent years. From school shootings to music festivals and beyond, it’s been harder to feel safe in public now more than ever. I say this as a New Yorker living in Manhattan, but Marc Burford felt that same sensation from his home in the UK. “The song is an observation of a news report from crime and life in America,” Echotape’s lead singer and songwriter says. “A lot of shootings are being covered on the news. It’s stories that popped up on my screen over here; I just write stuff down.”



An enduring rock song built off undeniably strong hooks and even stronger emotions, “Backstreets of America” seems to mark the beginning of Echotape’s third and most exciting chapter yet. Formed in 2010, Echotape have been one of Britain’s best kept secrets for the better part of a decade. Hailing from Wallop (just outside Hampshire) in the south of England, the DIY four-piece of Marc Burford, Dan Bowman, Mike Burford, and Joe Stickland weave a compelling tapestry of uplifting, melodic indie rock that both ignites and soothes the soul. Feverish, raucous early tracks like 2014’s “Whiskey Bar” remain personal favorites – sounding as fresh now as it did six years ago – and as the years have passed, Echotape’s vision has only become more confident and inspiring. Their 2016 debut album Wicked Way captured a provocative spectrum of sound, color, and feeling – from rollicking, garage-y explosions like “All My Days” and “Friend Like Me,” to more tranquil and bucolic enchantments like “We’ve Been Dreaming,” which remains their biggest hit to date.


“I listen back to it now and it takes me back to the feelings I had whilst making it – trying to find the sounds and lyrics for it…” Burford says of his band’s full-length. “I always find it hard listening back as I always hear parts that could change and little notes slightly out of tune! But I guess that’s what makes it what it is.” Those charming moments add character, showcasing a band who take pride in doing everything themselves. More recent efforts like 2017’s This Could Be Anything EP found Echotape expanding on their sound and exploring new areas of conversation, all while sticking to their rock roots. The band spent much fo the past few years honing their live show, and their chemistry has shined with every new release.

All of this leads to 2020’s sobering “Backstreets of America,” an outpouring of emotion into which we can inject our own grief.

another white gun
and another sad song
another one cries
and the other ones run
you never live long
you never live long
on the backstreets of America
dreams are fired away

“’Dreams are fired away‘ literally meaning lives are lost at the end of a gun,” Burford says of the song’s lyrics. “The chorus starts with “another white gun and another sad song” – trying to survive on the streets.” On the whole, it’s a relatively simple message that doesn’t try to sugarcoat things or add superfluous context. We know what this song is about; you know what this song is about. Burford, an outsider looking in at a dire situation, tries to find some morsel of hope in hopelessness – and ultimately does so (whether intentionally or not) through Echotape’s inspiring melodies.

“The song is quite sad in its content,” Burford reflects. “I think observing and documenting moments that are happening and writing about them, gives a platform for people to see. Most people are aware of what’s happening… [it’s] good to just to remind them… There always must be hope for people, a view for a better place.”

violence spreads into empty heads
and guns fill up the rooms
on the backstreets of America
the pain, it continues

In short, though “Backstreets of America” embraces a rather dismal message, Burford hopes people who listen to it are jolted awake by the direness and urgency of its subject matter. That’s all one can hope for: That music like this has an impact, no matter how big or small.

Backstreets of America - Echotape

Backstreets of America – Echotape



For their part, Echotape are soldiering on. COVID-19 has put plans for a sophomore album on hold for the moment, but we can only hope that Hampshire’s bright sparks – a band so full of promise and energy – reconvene soon enough. An indisputable artist-to-watch, Echotape find balance between chaos and control in every song; their music is inspiring, whether it’s a rowdy, unshakeable get-up-and-go number like “Whiskey Bar” or a more mature and affecting upheaval like “Backstreets of America.” Whatever the future holds, we’ll be keeping a close eye on this band in the months to come.

For the time, dive deeper into Echotape in our exclusive interview with Marc Burford below!

another white gun
and another sad song
another one cries
and the other ones run
you never live long
you never live long
on the backstreets of America
dreams are fired away

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Stream: “Backstreets of America” – Echotape



Backstreets of America - Echotape

Atwood Magazine: Hey Echotape! So, we first connected about five or so years ago, when you just had a couple singles out. Marc, how do you feel the band has grown since that time? Could you have made the music you’re making now, back then?

Marc Burford: Ha yes well, we’ve had a lot of experience in the last five years. We’ve made a few wrong turns getting this far! I hope there are some right ones in there too.  The main growth has been in ourselves as people, and I also think I’ve learned not to be so hard on myself when it comes to achievements. I feel the songs have always reflected the moment, a kind of healing for myself. So no, I don’t think I could have made the same music then.

I’ve always wanted to know, what inspired your band name?

Marc Burford: There was a rumor that the British intelligence in WW2 used to record secret conversations between German officials on analog tape. They had a backup copy called the “Echotape” We since discovered that there was no proof! But had already named the band by then.

If someone has never heard of Echotape before, what are three words you would use to describe the band?

Marc Burford: Uplifting, Indie, Rock

To dive a little deeper into you as a band, what would you say is the glue that binds Echotape? What is it about the music that happens when the four of you are together that, to you, makes it so special?

Marc Burford: I think it’s the aspect of family. We are all so close to each other and have experienced so much together. There’s a kind of energy that is created whilst we are together. Everyone has their own role.

Echotape's Marc Burford

Echotape’s Marc Burford



It’s been four years since you released your rollicking debut album Wicked Ways. Looking back on it now, what excites you about the music you made here? What continues to stand out to you?

Marc Burford: I listen back to it now and it takes me back to the feelings I had whilst making it. Trying to find the sounds and lyrics for it. I always find it hard listening back as I always hear parts that could change and little notes slightly out of tune! But I guess that’s what makes it what it is. We recorded it all ourselves and produced it ourselves, which was always going to be a challenge.

I also really love 2017’s This Could Be Anything EP – especially “Forget It”. How did these 4 songs come together?
 

Marc Burford: I remember the conversation about releasing more music, we were touring a lot and didn’t have any budget to record with which made another album out the question. We decided to do an EP. I think “Forget it” was the first track we wrote for it, then tried to keep the other songs in the same style, never felt we really nailed that. We recorded “out of love” with producer James Lewis. He really smashed the mix, the last track on that was a stripped-down version which was a demo we added.

I must say, I also really loved your 2019 singles “I Said It” and “Little Romance.” These songs have a more mature sound and feel to them, like you as a band are starting to grow up – you certainly sound tighter, as a band, than ever before. What do you feel when listening back to these tracks now?

Marc Burford: This was the first song I completely mixed and produced myself. It gave me the confidence to continue to do so. Took me a couple of weeks to nail the sound and was the first time the band had tried using samples. Happy with how it came out.

I was so sorry to hear about your hearing condition. If you don’t mind sharing, could you talk a little more about it, and how you’re working to live with it and overcome it?

Marc Burford: It’s called hyperacusis, an extreme sensitivity to noise. It slowly developed after mixing the single “Little Romance” Stopped me playing music completely. Couldn’t even have my phone near my ear on a call. Can honestly say I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Its slowly gone now, but I still have the odd flare up after a long mixing session or if I have a cold or flu. They think it was caused by excessive volumes of music over a long period of time. One of those things i’ll have for life now.

I can only imagine the stress of seeing the thing you love, music, put on the back-burner while you figure this out. Did this inspire you to work harder and double-down on Echotape?

Marc Burford: I think it gave me a new-found love for music. I had to really feel it. The music was played at a low level for a long time and couldn’t have it on for long, so I really savored it.

Backstreets of America - Echotape

Backstreets of America – Echotape



This brings us to your new single “Backstreets of America,” released this month. Where does this song fit into the Echotape catalog?

Marc Burford: It’s being released on the 22nd of May. It’s the latest single from the band. We didn’t plan to release anything but due to the COVID-19 outbreak thought it might be a good time, as lots of people are online.

I know you’ve toured around so many parts of the world; was this song inspired specifically by moments of time in the US? If so what were they, and if not what inspired that backdrop then?

Marc Burford: The song is an observation of a news report from crime and life in America. A lot of shootings are being covered on the news. It’s stories that popped up on my screen over here. I just write stuff down.

This is the kind of song that immediately starts with intensity – rather than building to get there, you immediately push us into this sense of urgency. Why did you start the song that way?

Marc Burford: It just came together over a few sessions in the studio. Was written live in the band room. The song came from a jam, then I added samples and refined the lyrics. Feel it has its own sound though. The intensity comes from the toms on the drums mixed with the sample sound. Little bit Springsteen. I know what you mean.

On the backstreets of America, dreams are fired away,” you sing in the chorus. Can you talk about this symbolism, and why this was a compelling subject for you to write about?

Marc Burford: “Dreams are fired away” literally meaning lives are lost at the end of a gun. The chorus starts with “another white gun and another sad song” all references to guns and people getting shot. Trying to survive on the streets.

This, to me, is an anthem that seems to search for hope in a hopeless place, and that hope is in ourselves (that we need to be the change we want to see in the world). Do you feel like there’s an inkling of hope in there? What do you hope listeners take away from this song?

Marc Burford: I remember trying to make the lyrics more positive. The song is quite sad in its content. I think observing and documenting moments that are happening and writing about them gives a platform for people to see. Most people are aware of what’s happening, good to just to remind them. I agree with your comment about “changing what we see in the world” There always must be hope for people, a view for a better place.

Echotape remains a bright light on the British horizon, and of course “Backstreets of America” is the dawn of a new day. Can fans expect a new album or EP out this year? What’s in the works for you?

Marc Burford: I’m hoping to get an album out soon, a little bit tricky with the current situation. I can only say stay tuned…

If someone is just discovering Echotape for the first time, what song do you recommend they listen to? What would you ideally have as their introduction to your music?“]

Marc Burford: Listen to “I Said it” and “We’ve Been Dreaming” – you’ll get both ends of the spectrum.



Obviously quarantine and COVID-19 has drastically changed everyone’s plans for the year; how are you and the band getting on? Are you finding yourselves able to continue creatively for the time, or is that unrealistic for a time like this?“]

Marc Burford: We are still writing a little bit. It has stopped any shows we had booked in. I’m still able to record here and there but I’m limited to what I can do. I think we are all just trying to stay positive and be as productive as possible

Lastly, what other artists are you listening to today, that you would recommend to our readers?“]

Marc Burford: Check out our good friends “Owen Hackett” “The dead Freights” “Jack Francis” “BOVHER” and “Graham Candy” We do have a playlist on Spotify, too!

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Stream: “Backstreets of America” – Echotape


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Backstreets of America - Echotape

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Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com