with Doug Burr
Name: Doug Burr
Bands: Doug Burr
Website: dougburr.com, velvetbluemusic.com
QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a professional musician?
Doug – About 22 or so.
QRD – What are a few highlights of your musical career?
Doug – Getting to tour with Son Volt, opening for Alejandro Escovedo & AA Bondy. Every time somebody comes up & shares that one of my records is special to them or that they spent a road trip listening to it over & over in the car. Anytime someone believes in my music enough to ask me to autograph a record for them - those are all high points.
QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?
Doug – I’ve always wanted to be a father - as long as I can remember.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your career?
Doug – Positive aspects are that they provide balance & perspective to everything. They are an endless source of joy & keep you young at heart & provide a grounding for a type of career that caters to a potential for a severe narcissism. A negative aspect is that after having kids, it gets much harder to find time to write & be creative. By the time I get to any free time in the day, my energy is zapped because it’s late at night & I’m bushed from working all day, chasing kids all evening, & cleaning up or doing chores after they go to bed.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your career has had on your family?
Doug – Positive: I think it is inspiring for kids to see their parents doing something unique & building something of their own - that could take the shape of many things, but for Karen (my wife) & me, it’s a music career (that she very much is a partner in). I think it helps them dream bigger dreams & hopefully not easily settle for a formulaic, comfortable existence.
Negative: It further divides my time. I’ve got the day job, the night job, & then trying to spend lots of time with my kids & my wife & just be present to help out around the house, which seems like its own full-time job.
QRD – Have your children effected the music you make &/or listen to?
Doug – Certainly in the music I make, but not so much the kids as even just being married & in the stage of life where you are not seeking out everything. It’s an era of life when you are very much protecting & shepherding loved ones. I love to hear the “I am an anarchist” sorts... these are people who have never had much to lose. When you possess & are responsible for things that are precious, your mentality is very different.
QRD – Have you had problems with the lack of steady money from a musical career providing the security you feel necessary in your household?
Doug – Certainly - I think very few artists would ever be able to say “no” to that one. But we had our first baby before I started playing real shows in clubs, so it’s been a situation where I’ve always had to have a day job. Things have been growing for us, but ever so slowly, but it makes sense to me. I can’t get out there & tour, & so I have to work my business in different ways.
QRD – Given the limitations having a family has on being a touring musician, would you have toured more earlier in life if you’d known?
Doug – Before I was married, I was writing songs, but not at a level where I could do it professionally & so it was never even a possibility for me back then. It wasn’t till after we’d been married for probably five years that I began hitting my stride. & I’d been writing songs since I was sixteen. So you have some artists who know exactly how to say what they want to say & come out of the gate with both fists swingin’ at 18 years old & then you have others who take decades to figure out how to articulate this stuff inside.
QRD – Do you think being a father or a musician has a greater impact on your community?
Doug – I think they’re two very different things & very different kind of impacts if you will, so I wouldn’t want to try to compare those. Although I suppose there is some overlap in that they both allow you to build into the lives & inspire others. But all I can say is I hope my life as a father gives my kids a set of wings & I hope my music gives this whole other set of people I will never even meet a set of wings.
QRD – Would you rather see your children eventually become a musician or parent?
Doug – Ha-ha, NOT a musician... I think Willy Nelson has a song to that effect, “Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be...”. All kidding aside, I’d love nothing more than to see them just continue to be creative souls. For them as adults to take whatever’s inside of them & create - whether that’s a business, an invention, or some sort of art - I don’t care. It seems like pretty much everyone is born creative - so I want them to stay that way & not be talked out of it by the ways of this world.
QRD – Both family & music seem like things that will take up as much of your time as you’re willing to put in. How do you end up dividing your time?
Doug – Well, during these years while my kids are real young, the music gets the shorter end of that stick. But that’s as it should be. I had music before they came & I’ll have it around as long as I’m alive, but my kids are only this young & needy of me as a parent for a short while & there’s nothing you can trade for this time in their lives & for ranking as a good Dad. So I drink lots of coffee & stay up late as often as health will allow & pursue this thing in the wee-wee hours for the most part.
QRD – What do your kids think of your music?
Doug – They love it. They force me to listen to it in the CD player almost every time they ride in the car with me. “Let’s listen to daddy songs,” they say. & I’m always saying, “Hey, can we listen to something else?”
QRD – Do you think you could ever do a musical project with your children?
Doug – That would be a lot of fun I think. It’s certainly an idea I entertain from time to time, but anything like that would probably be way down the road & I’d want it to happen naturally. I don’t want my kids to feel pressured to do the same thing I do, but to follow their own muse.
QRD – Any words of advice to young people?
Doug – Get married, have kids! They keep you young & re-connect you to your own childhood. They extend your reach & multiply your joy. & I’d also say, get to what’s deep down inside of you & do something with that. I believe the good Lord put everyone here with a purpose to build some...thing, not just work & eat. What is that for you? Find it & build it.