Reel World focuses on tape culture in an attempt to better understand the growing comeback of analog hiss.
Today we talk to Burke Sullivan about his shrouded pop project New Terrors. The debut New Terrors release Mother is a mysterious collection of factory glitches, rolling bass grooves, and airy vocal hooks. The entire release feels like a series of mechanical cranks and switches, ratcheting little gems through the suited cogs of a glowing pop machine. From the silken swathe of “Feather Fingers” to the robust industrial pop hooks of “Night Of The Creeps,” the Mother EP is certain to have you hooked.
Hi Burke! I’m a huge fan of the New Terrors sound. Would you mind providing a little bit of background on the project? How did New Terrors begin?
Thanks. I started this project when my old band was coming to an end. I was getting frustrated trying to write songs a certain way, and things weren’t turning out quite how I wanted. I felt like I was trying too hard. So I started goofing around with a rhythm/instrument programming machine and a couple pieces of processing gear and sort of lost myself in a different world for a while.
Musically, what would you say influenced the vibe of New Terrors?
Certainly my love for darker rock and electronic/industrial music played a big part: Aphex Twin, Nine Inch Nails, My Bloody Valentine, Tool. I also really loved a band called V.A.S.T. growing up. So that’s one side of it. I think the other side is the 80s pop and rock I have always loved, like Phil Collins, Tears for Fears, and Peter Gabriel. I guess in my mind it’s a synthesis of all those things.
The Mother EP was released earlier this year, but I still find myself hitting repeat over and over again. How did you create such a great release?
Well, I basically made a list of all the greatest things I could do. Then I just looked at the top three or four things, and chose my favorite of those few, which happened to be making this record.
It’s impossible to know what people are going to like, but I think as an artist the most important thing is to do what feels right and natural to you. I think if you’ve done that, it’s a lot more rewarding when people respond positively to what you’ve done.
Tape culture has had a recent boost in popularity over the past few years. Why was it important to you to put Mother on magnetic stripping?
Even though this EP is a totally digital recording, I think because of the sort of “lo-fi” sound I ended up with, a cassette release just felt appropriate. Tapes don’t sound ‘good,’ and yet I love how they sound—there’s a whole world of amazing music mushed into this tiny thing and it’s all trying to burst out at once but there’s barely room for it.
Also because I used to listen to a lot of tapes growing up (and still do), I thought it would be fun to have a tape of my own in my collection.
There are some fantastic interludes on Mother, and they work perfectly on tape. Why were they included?
I’m glad you like them! I guess I thought it would be nice to add some moments of rest to the sequence. Or maybe they’re moments of anticipation, which works too.
What was the process like of putting together Mother as a tape release?
It was pretty painless on my end, but only because I had some friends helping me with the hard parts. I did a shoot with a great photographer named Cherilyn Kurtz, and we took the artwork from that. We were in this woods with the bird mask you see on the front cover, and we took a lot of weird pictures—it was great fun.
Elizabeth Kjeldsen did the text and formatting, and Jared (from Flannelgraph Records) took care of the rest. It’s really just as simple as ordering copies in any other format. Maybe easier?
When can we expect more New Terrors jams?
I have a few ideas on what to do next, but nothing is definite. Hopefully I’ll get it together soon enough. One thing I can say is it won’t sound the same!
Thanks for your time! Any other words?
Thanks for the interest! I hope the whole world finds out about this record.
The New Terrors’ Mother EP is available now via Flannelgraph Records for the crazy awesome price of $5! Each order comes with a totally legit tape package that includes stickers, WWF trading cards, homemade fridge magnets, and a slew of other goodies. Don’t sleep on this release!