Make sure to catch The Josh Berwanger Band playing at The Hotel Utah in SF this Wednesday, and is listed as one of our live concert picks for the week! #Go2ShowSF

We got to shoot Josh over some interview questions while he’s on the road. A conversation about music, Space Jam, break-ups & Jar Jar Binks. ~Enjoy.

“Josh Berwanger could easily be considered a veteran of the rock and roll wars. He first made a name for himself as a member of The Anniversary, a seminal Kansas band that released two glorious albums (2000’s Designing a Nervous Breakdown and 2002’s Your Majesty) and selling over 100,000 records before imploding in a breakup of Fleetwood Mac-style proportions while attempting to tour Japan. Undeterred, Berwanger put together a new band—a country-rock outfit called The Only Children–and would go on to release two criminally underrated records (2004’s Change of Living and 2007’s Keeper of Youth) before pulling the plug on that project and taking a job doing the next most logical thing possible– coaching high school basketball in Lawrence, Kansas.”
CATCH THEM LIVE ON 11/20 at Hotel Utah Saloon, San Francisco, CA

Two questions on the new album, Strange Stains, on Good Land Records: on the biz side of things where was it produced, how long did it take to record?

We recorded it all over. I recorded two songs in 2011 with Marc Benning at Hideaway Studio, Colorado. Michael and I recorded seven between Boston and Kansas about a year ago and the last two of them were recorded at Element in KC, with David Gaume, four months before the album came out.

on the artistic side, what’s the inspiration for this record?

Death and rebirth. The tortoise.

How’s the tour coming along?

Our bass player Brian has only gotten two drunken Jar Jar Binks tattoos, so I would say things have been relatively positive.

Josh Berwanger “Time Traveler”

Is there a tour date where you haven’t been before, or like to check out? Anything new?

I’ve been to many of these cities but haven’t played a lot of these clubs, so I’m very excited to see some of them. I’m always excited to go to places I haven’t been in a long time, see old friends and play new music. We love unique new and vintage music equipment and we hope to visit a few cool places along the way, Walrus Audio in Norman, Big City Music in Los Angeles, Mr. Black in Portland, Mike & Mike’s Guitar Bar in Seattle.

How’d you connect back with your bandmate, percussionist, Michael Hutcherson?

Michael was the original Anniversary drummer, after he moved to Boston we rarely kept in touch. About a year ago he emailed me out of the blue and asked if I was writing music. I had just started working on these songs. I sent them to him, he put some drum tracks on it and it sounded great! We then started talking about goals we had musically and how there was much we still wanted to accomplish. Plus we both share a love for obese pugs, pigs, pizza, and pygmy hedgehogs.

Also, who’s on the road with you, who’s in your touring band?

Zach Shoffner on backing vocals and lead guitar, Brian Klein on bass guitar and Jar Jar Binks imitations.

Do you try and write on the road? How does it affect a your songwriting?

I love to write on the road. It’s difficult to play guitar by myself in the van, but all the hours traveling allow me to drift into space and focus on song ideas in my head.

What could people expect from your live show, that might be different from listening to your records?

We speed everything up a bit, so it’s usually a quick set. We might do a cover or two this trip coming up. Jar Jar Binks mask, Chimp, Zima shots (no more than three, we want to be able to play). There are no laptops on stage or anyone but the drummer playing a floor tom.

Josh Berwanger – I Can Feel the Moon – Audiotree Live

Also, how has your live show has affected your songs from the new album?

We do a few things differently–electric guitars are used in place of acoustic guitars, everything is more up-tempo and direct.

I’d like to talk about the start, stop and reboot of your music career. The Anniversary, to previous projects and where you’re at right now.

Can you talk about how The Anniversary started up?

Justin, Michael and I played in different pop-punk bands when we were kids. Justin and I started writing together with Michael. Adrianne, a classmate of Michael’s, came in to play keys and sing, and Jim soon followed. Michael moved away for school in August of ‘97 then Janko took over on drums.

On your bio, it says “The Anniversary was selling over 100,000 records before imploding in a breakup of Fleetwood Mac-style proportions while attempting to tour Japan.” … With statement like that, I have to ask, what the hell happened?

I can’t remember, but I think it was more like a Space Jam the movie style break-up.

And looking back on it, what’s your takeaway from that time?

Don’t ever cast Bill Murray and Taz in the same movie.

Get the new album by Josh Berwanger Band, “Strange Stains” on iTunes:

Can you talk about deciding to take a break in music and how’d you wind up coaching high school basketball?

After seeing Space Jam over and over on the flight home from Japan I was brainwashed! Also, after the second Only Children record I got to a point where I wasn’t happy playing music, so I needed to step away and focus on something else. Basketball is a sport I really enjoy, know a good amount about and the opportunity to coach arose. It was great getting to teach it and be a positive role model for kids.

How’s your jump shot? Talk about your love of basketball? Or coaching?

My shot is pretty good, but getting older my jump shot is more of a set-shot. I play up the street from my house with a bunch of ex-college players so I get my reps in still. I love the game, the teamwork, the strategy. I love seeing set plays and re-designing them to coordinate with the players you have on your team. I travel with a basketball so if anyone knows a close by court, let’s ball!

Your favorite NBA player growing up?

Charles Barkley and, of course, Michael Jordan. Steve Alford was my fav college player as a kid. Pete Maravich is my favorite player of all time.

During that time, do you remember when you picked up a guitar and started writing again? When did it click for you to get back at being a touring musician?

I was in school, in a bad relationship and started writing again. I was very focused. Once it was recorded and mixed Good Land Records offered to put the album out. Michael and I made goals and are seeing them through.

Where in Kansas is home for you?

I live between Lawrence and Kansas City in a little town called Nilbog, Michael lives in Maine, Zach lives in Wichita and Brian lives in KC.

Talk about the Kansas music scene for you? What local bands got you going when you were growing up?

The KC and Lawrence scenes are cool. There isn’t as much camaraderie now as I think there should be, as far as bands supporting other local bands, but I’m sure that happens in every city. There are a lot of good things going on though. Local bands I really looked up to in the ’90s were Vitreous Humor, The Breakups, Crackbabies, Butterglory, Boys Life.

What’s next for you? This tour? The remainder of 2013 and what’s the plan for 2014?

We return from tour on Thanksgiving. I imagine we will take the rest of the year off. I will demo the new songs I’ve been writing. As of now we are working on a tour around SXSW. Brian will probably get another Jar Jar tattoo.


Get the new album by Josh Berwanger Band, “Strange Stains” on iTunes:

CATCH THEM LIVE ON 11/20 at Hotel Utah Saloon, San Francisco, CA

2013 Fall tour

11/8 at Mills Records, KCMO
11/12 at Nice Tuesday, Norman, OK
11/13 at 1919 Hemphill, Fort Worth, TX
11/14 at Holy Mountain, Austin, TX
11/15 at Padre’s, Marfa, TX
11/16 at Sky Bar, Tucson, AZ
11/17 at Soda Bar, San Diego, CA
11/18 at Detroit Bar, Costa Mesa, CA
11/19 at The Hotel Cafe, Los Angeles, CA
11/20 at Hotel Utah Saloon, San Francisco, CA
11/21 at White Eagle Saloon, Portland, OR
11/22 at Victory Lounge, Seattle, WA
11/23 at Mootsy’s, Spokane, WA
11/25 at Kilby Court, Salt Lake City, UT
11/26 at Hi Dive, Denver, CO
11/27 at Ivywild, Colorado Springs, CO