Features, Print December 1, 2017

The Burroughs Got To Feel

by Jed Murphy

“I’m so proud of this, from top to bottom,” says Johnny Burroughs, vocalist and band leader of the Greeley soul band The Burroughs about their latest album, Got to Feel.

He has good reason to be proud. Got to Feel is a sonic exploration unlike anything seen from the band before. These nine songs are more than just a breath of fresh air, they are the thunderstorm the people have been waiting for. Fresh, unapologetic, and a journey into the heart of what they’ve been doing all along, this album breaks them free from any particular labels.

One thing that has always set The Burroughs apart from so many other “local” bands are the chops of the musicians. The majority of the band comes from some form of professional music background, mainly from the University of Northern Colorado, which has an internationally recognized jazz program.

Everyone that is, except for Johnny. Johnny learned music growing up playing in his father’s church band where he picked up the skills that have made him the ideal frontman. Being the only one without a formal music education, Johnny confesses to sometimes feeling left behind by the technical knowledge of the other members, but over time has found a balance that has made the band thrive.  

“The musical knowledge in this band is ridiculous. Especially when Brian entered, and Tom entered, and Bre entered; Brian has his doctorate in jazz drumming, Tom got his masters in like five years, he’s just incredible, Bre has her masters. When they first joined I wouldn’t say the correct chordal term or I’d try to interpret something from a song and I would interpret it wrong and I would be like, man I suck. Now I don’t even care, I’ll just throw things out there (laughs),” says Burroughs.

Got to Feel is a rock album at its core but comes with the trappings of a world-class soul band. Undeniably sharp, this album moves out of the ‘60s era that soul fans are used to and into the more heavy sounds of the ‘70s, where Burroughs finds his inspiration. “We walked into it and we were like, if we’re going to do an album, it’s going to be a great album. We’re not in it just to do nine songs because we need an album,” says Burroughs.

Recorded at Mighty Fine Studios with Colin Bricker, Got to Feel was a full ten-month process. They knew the band had the vision so they used that time to flesh out the songs to what they needed them to be. “We wanted to give our producer [Bricker] credit because of the soundscapes we created. The album was really about each song having it’s own unique sound. We did so many different ways of recording… Each song that we had, he created a special soundscape for it to be in, so we wanted to give him credit,” says Burroughs.

For Burroughs, the album is told in two halves. The first half are love songs written for his wife, while the second half shifts to a darker gear taking a look at the idea that within chaos, you can find clarity. “For me, the message of the album is that no matter what circumstances surround you; you get to choose who you are,” says Burroughs. “I think people are going to be surprised with some of the darker places we go on the second half of this album.”

Songs like “Losin My” and “Oh My (What Will Be)” are the prime example of this as both tracks are sultry departures from the traditional soul sound long-time fans have known. Gone is the studio rigidness we’ve seen on some of their past work and in it’s place is a smooth sensuality that permeates off the tracks, particularly in the second half of the album.

Moving forward, The Burroughs plan on kicking off 2018 with a bang. First, with a New Years Eve and album Got to Feel release show at the Moxi Theater, then followed by the official worldwide release of the album on January 9th. After that, the strength of this album is going to launch them to a level of success they had not previously explored. If it doesn’t, then people don’t know a good thing when they hear it. As a musician and a songwriter who has found his voice, Johnny Burroughs has a lot of advice he can give new bands. But at the end of the day, he boils it down to keeping it simple and not beating yourself up too much when it doesn’t come out the way you want. “You can’t rewrite the book on music but you can rewrite the book on yourself.”