By Vanessa Joy
The current state of punk rock is debatable. Are you from the camp that fully believes punk has positively passed away? A punk rock elitist who thinks just the good punk has? A punk pragmatist who knows that the genre will thrive as long as there is an establishment to oppose? Sidebar: This conversation is so not punk rock. No matter your thoughts on the current state of affairs, the Arizona scene is a honeypot of memorable punk rock acts and we caught up with of one the more sound-fluid bands of the genre. You’ve probably seen their sticker in an oddly conspicuous location around town. If bands were bars, these guys would be that rowdy dive where you can also go to “escape it all”. You know the one–it’s open on Christmas. Meet Burgandy Jurk.
The band, which is currently sans drummer, is comprised of lead singer, guitarist and founding member, Mike Kurtz, bassist Casey Kendel, and Ian Perry on rhythm guitar and backing vocals. “The original lineup, we were all just a bunch of dumb kids who had no idea what we were doing…” says Kurtz. “[Now we’re] dumb adults,” quips Kendel. Originally formed in ’94 by a then 17-year-old Kurtz, Burgandy Jurk has survived many manifestations since moving from Pennsylvania to the Valley. “I’ve been lucky that every incarnation it’s always been people with massive amounts of talent,” notes Kurtz. Since adding Perry and, most recently, Kendel, there’s been a newfound camaraderie amongst the guys that is quite apparent in their music and live performances. Kurtz’s vocals have been the constant element keeping this band on stages. He’s gathered influences from multiple rock sub-genres, and is able to effortlessly swing the pendulum between each. His voice possesses the quality of being both nostalgic, yet modern. Kurtz, essentially,has been in Burgandy Jurk for the better part of his existence. He’s deeply entrenched in his own brainchild, and it’s that kind of unwavering commitment to a band that enables the creation of music that’s worthwhile for listeners.
Perry aka Mr. Dr. Ian, the self-proclaimed “asshole” of the outfit, has proven to be quite the utility man for the band. As well as complementing both Kurtz and Kendel’s alternative and skate-punk sensibilities, respectively, with his inherent metal edge and being a talented singer/songwriter in his own right, he is also their de facto promotional/booking department. “Actually, we get put on a lot of metal shows. More so than pop-punk shows or punk shows in general. We get stuck with a lot of metal bands mostly because I like metal, and I just want to be there for the rest of the bands,” he divulges. Meanwhile, Kendel is your quintessential, Epitaph Records-lovin’ Southern California skate punk fan. Shaped by bands like Pennywise, the laid-back, savvy bassist is also adept on the bagpipes(yes, bagpipes!).
The guys of Burgandy Jurk are able to seamlessly walk the blurred lines between punk, alternative and metal. They refuse to be typecast as just a “punk band”, and rightfully so. “We’re more just any kind of music that’s angry and aggressive,” states Kurtz. While anger and aggression might be driving the band’s sound, their campy, facetious stage presence draws us in and it is that duality that’s intriguing. On stage, Burgandy Jurk casts polarizing figures in tattered bathrobes. Some might say it’s gimmicky, but the thing is–they’re in on the joke. We at Azmusic.org are ecstatic to see the boys of Burgandy Jurk bring rebellious, irreverent fun back into modern punk.