In Concert
Friday, 10 February 2012 22:54

Glen Burtnik; Multi-instrumentalist Featured

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“Anytime someone chooses to record a song you've written it is a thrill and an honor,” Glen Burtnik.

So many people go to their local music shop to buy an instrument and within a year or so they are frustrated and try to sell it. They wind up in pawn shops, on e-bay, craigslist, or stuffed away in a corner of an attic or crawlspace left to be forgotten. Thank the lord almighty that the multi-instrumentalist Glen Burtnik didn’t give up. His talented creativity could’ve been stifled along the way. 

His old instruments didn’t wind up going to a pawn shop either. “No way. I used to smash up my old guitars. I smashed up my first drum kit too. What an idiot!” Glen has learned not to smash up instruments and regrets doing it now, but he never stopped playing. He was asked what instruments he plays and he responded in a very humble way, “Guitar, bass, piano, some banjo. Drums a little, not so much anymore. I’m not really great at any of them, but I can get around on them all.” From his fans and musicians point of view he is very modest. The creative talent that lies within this man is incredible. He may not be on the cover of a virtuoso magazine anytime soon, but this guy can write great songs and has proven so to the masses.

When he was about ten years old Glen began taking drum lesson. A few years later he started goofing around on guitar and this stone started to roll. As he started to gather skill some early performances came his way, “with the school band at assemblies and stuff. Then a couple of little dances with some bands. My first singing guitarist gig? Wow. Maybe 1971 in Rutherford, NJ.”

Glen Burtnik is a musical workhorse. He has been a working musician with earliest releases going back to 1978. Glen wrote songs that appeared in movies like; “Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure,” “Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead,” “Son In Law,” and “Armageddon.” He had experienced success within the 80’s and ended up joining Styx. They both appeared on A&M Records at the same time. In 1990, he started his first stint with Styx with writing and co-writing on some great songs for the album Edge of the Century. Styx toured for the album and went back on hiatus.

In 1992, Patty Smyth and Don Henley performed the song “Sometimes Love Just ain't Enough” that was co written by Smyth and Burtnik. The song reached gold status by RIAA standards and hit the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Obviously this kind of success was a great feeling for Glen. He continued with his skillful musical pen and co wrote on the Randy Travis hit “Spirit of a Boy, Wisdom of a Man.” Some people think he is lucky, but truly this man makes his own luck.

Glen’s success continued when he got the chance to tour with Styx again in 1999 with a completely different lineup. Doing a guitar and bass switch off he filled the shoes of Chuck Panozzo who will come out only for a few songs at shows. Burtnik revisited old songs from the first album they worked on and continued onward up until recording the album Cyclorama and the tours that followed. There has been a common misconception about a song on the album. “Kiss Your Ass Goodbye” at first listens could be misconstrued as a slam at the most recent departure of previous member, Dennis DeYoung. This is not true.

Glen responds, “As for “Kiss your ass goodbye”, the persistence of this rumor that the song was written about Dennis is an indication of; One, an inability to comprehend lyrics; Two an obsession with a certain Midwest rock band; Three, low intelligence.” He apologized for his response and continued with, “I think it’s very obvious what the song is really about,” and he is right. He did endless live shows and soon after decided to depart Styx to be closer to home.

Glen parted ways and continued to write and release his own music. He has appeared on several albums and no doubt will ever stop working. “I guess, at this point I don’t have a main instrument. I hover somewhere between the guitar, the piano, the bass and songwriting. I sing a little as well. I am okay at each and suck equally at each as well.” He has a way of putting things into perspective that is just not true. “I usually like to start on guitar and then go back and forth to the piano and guitar.” For guitar gear his equipment of choice or by chance is, “Probably an inexpensive Epiphone which somebody gave me is my most ‘friendly’ guitar. It doesn’t sound as good as my Martin, but it sure feels fun to play. My fave guitar amp is a tiny little Fender Pro Junior, 15 watts through a little 10" speaker!”

One of the biggest influences for a lot of bands and musicians still to date is the Beatles. What better band to influence any musician then the one that did it all. Glen is an artist. Give him a tuba and he will get you something out of it. “Well, my heroes aren’t always my influences. I adore Jimi Hendrix, but that isn’t my style of playing guitar. Influences? Everyone from Stevie Wonder to Regina Spektor.”

Glen was asked questions like; ‘who is your favorite Beatle?’ and ‘what’s your favorite Beatle song?’ “I love all four. Those cultural icons, when they worked together with George Martin, became like extended family to me. Older cousins or uncles I will always look up to. Naming a favorite Beatle song is difficult, as there are so many classics. I adore “She’s Leaving Home” and “Eleanor Rigby” for their lyrics. I love “Within You Without You” and “I Am The Walrus” as recordings, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and “Helter Skelter” rock so mightily. Just too many killer tracks.”  

“I enjoyed meeting Paul McCartney and I loved being introduced to Ringo. I’ve had amazing fun and the list of working with musicians I admire is endless. Like producing a Brian Wilson vocal, for instance and working with Jan Hammer, Neal Schon, John Waite, Kenny Aronoff, Marshall Crenshaw, Sam Moore, Edgar Winter, Phoebe Snow. The list goes on.”

Glen plays in a Beatles cover band that is just phenomenal that appears annually in Chicago and New York. He appears at, “Beatles conventions, as a hired member of a band called Liverpool.” They have been known to make it out to Geneva, Ill. as well. He played for a little while in a Police cover band called Synchronicity II that unfortunately doesn’t exist anymore. “I am currently involved in a number of projects. Among other things, I write, record and release my own songs on iTunes, produce large revues; The British Invasion, The Summer Of Love. I perform with The Orchestra, a band featuring former members of ELO.” He just doesn’t stop!  

Some great solo albums that show off his writing talents are Retrospectacle, Slaves of New Brunswick, and Solo (You Can Hardly Hear). His writing talents have a modern feel to it and show off a lot of good vocal harmonies and pure refined talent. He does work for charity at Christmas and shows his humanitarian side. Not a lot of musicians give back to the public, but this man sure does. He has gone to play some huge shows and never has forgotten where he came from. He is a truly a class act.

Glen Burtnik is a multi-instrumentalist that has played with great musicians. He had success within movies, songs, and has been able to stay in music for a number of years. As the man continues within music, he will continue to write and release songs. Musicians are a dime a dozen, but good ones are hard to find. This man from New Jersey is a great musician. Thankfully he didn’t give up music and his first guitars didn’t go to a pawn shop. It really would have been a waste of talent if he had chosen any other profession.





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