Berwanger Cover A Broad Spectrum On ‘Exorcism Rock’

Berwanger Cover A Broad Spectrum On ‘Exorcism Rock’

Interview with Berwanger vocalist/guitarist Josh Berwanger | By Tim Anderl

When it came time to write and record Berwanger’s latest LP, Exorcism Rock—out now on Doghouse Records—vocalist and guitarist Josh Berwanger devised a straightforward approach to match the band’s big, straightforward arena rock sound. “My favorite records are the ones that have songs that cover many different topics lyrically: love, loss, heartbreak, sex, social commentary, politics, or even just being an underdog or feeling like you don’t fit in,” Berwanger says. “That was something I kept in mind while writing the lyrics to these songs.”

The songs on Exorcism Rock run the gamut of influences, including everyone from Randy Rhoads to Tom Petty. “[The songs were influenced by] Dizzy Reece, Randy Rhoads, Cesare Pavese, Tony McPhee, Apocalypse Now,” Berwanger notes. “There were a few songs that didn’t make the cut that were in the style of [Exorcism Rock track] ‘Spirit King,’ they were a bit heavier. I [also] love Tom Petty, I don’t trust a person who doesn’t love him. I especially love all the newer albums. Last DJ is my favorite. Mike Campbell’s name came up multiple times while recording the album; he is so great.”

“I think I had 20 tracks I felt really strong about, and then, it was a matter of narrowing it to the songs that made sense together,” he continues. “My favorite parts are hearing the talent of the band members: [guitarist] Ricky [Salthouse]’s solos on ‘Exorcism Rock’ and the outro of ‘Spirit King,’ Jonny [Phillip]’s drumming on ‘Spirit King,’ Brian [Klein]’s synth parts on ‘Space & Time,’ Scotty [Schenbeck]’s bass on ‘Rats & Cats,’ [producer] Doug [Boehm] doing the dillo on ‘I Want You Bad.’ Those are just a few that make me smile when I hear them.”

For the recording of the album, Berwanger enlisted Boehm, an old collaborator from his days in The Anniversary who he’d been chomping at the bit to work with. “Doug is a rocker: he’s an amazing engineer, mixer, producer, and person,” Berwanger asserts. “He is someone who can tell us, ‘That take sucks!’—and he did, and you still love him. I’ve wanted to make a record with Doug since [he mixed The Anniversary’s 2002 LP], Your Majesty. The timing finally worked out, and I’m very thankful for that.”

When asked specifically about what Boehm brought to the table, Berwanger first recalls what he didn’t bring. “Well, what he didn’t bring was the notes he had taken on the songs. He left them on the plane from L.A. to Kansas,” Berwanger admits. “But, he did bring a recipe for tequila and red wine which was very tasty, he brought the dillo, he brought stories of recording Steven Seagal—I mean, what more can you ask for?”

For now, the band are shoring up tour plans in support of Exorcism Rock. “We are touring the East, Midwest, [and] South in November and December,” Berwanger says. “Currently working on dates for next year.”

When asked which cities he’d like to visit again—and which he seeks to avoid—Berwanger’s approach is simple. “You get beaten up in one city, the club gives you an amazing meal in the next, you sell out a club the next night, play to three people the night after that, and get your van broken into the next night,” he says. “It doesn’t matter where you go, anything can happen anywhere. I’m excited to play to the people who dig the band and am always hoping to make new fans and meet new people. We are all looking forward to touring on Exorcism Rock and playing the new songs each night.”

Purchase Exorcism Rock here: Physical | iTunes

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