PRAISE FOR GARBAGE ISLAND
"...funny, sardonic, and literate. Add in a new-wavey, Loaded-era VU sensibility, and it's impossible not to be swayed by these acerbically funny story songs."
- MOJO MAGAZINE
"...super literate and fantastically droll, over backings that range from bubbling synth pop and acoustic folk to rattly punk and even a spot of semi-calypso. Silver Jews and Jeffrey Lewis spring to mind on the terrific "Birdwatching"; "Bird Queen of Garbage Island" sounds like a glorious revival of Tom Tom Club."
- UNCUT MAGAZINE
9/10 "Maybe The Burning Hell won’t be for everyone – I don’t think they’d even want to be for everyone – but if you like brilliant, thought-provoking lyrics, superb musicianship and killer tunes, you know what… you might just love this too."
Artwork bY EMMIE TSUMURA
PHOTOS bY GRAEME PATTERSON and Pam MacKenzie
FULL ALBUM STREAM
ABOUT GARBAGE ISLAND
The Burning Hell is the ongoing musical project of songwriter Mathias Kom and multi-instrumentalists Ariel Sharratt and Jake Nicoll, often including additional comrades and collaborators. Their densely populated genre-shifting songs are packed with an abundance of literary, historical, cultural, and pop-cultural forebears, heroes and villains, subjects and objects, stories and hooks. They move with heavy rhyme and a light step, incorporating a frequent fixation on apocalypse and ruin into work that celebrates participation in a mutually created, ever surprising, delightful, and even occasionally beautiful world. Which is to say they’re good dance partners and they want to dance with you.
The Burning Hell are DIY in the best possible sense—underlining the “Do”—their albums and singles manifesting from the edges of the music industry as collaborations with independent labels and publishers, and their years of touring forming connections person by person, show by show, in town after town. They’ve famously ventured to every out-of-the-way island and inland neglected by the less adventurous, emphasizing presence and connection across latitudes, longitudes, and time, affirming a commitment to the political power of sharing music. It is a profoundly optimistic gesture delivered by way of killer tunes, exuberant hooks, and joyful live performances.
'Garbage Island,' The Burning Hell's newest album, was released on June 24 2022 on You've Changed Records in North America and BB*Island everywhere else.
The album was recorded and produced by the band, and mixed by band member Jake Nicoll in a solar powered 1970s camper turned recording studio that he built over the pandemic.
During that first pandemic summer, I walked down to the shore every morning and watched the seabirds shriek and dive. Despite their constant scavenging and my own beachcombing, the ocean was always redecorating the rocks with more old lobster traps, buoys, plastic water bottles, bits of rope, and other ambiguous treasures, like a broken claw machine spitting out knick-knacks at a child who had already claimed her coveted stuffed dinosaur and didn’t want to play anymore. I was reminded of Garbage Island, imagining a volcanic mountain of trash rising from the ocean, perhaps playing host to colonies of screeching gulls or harbouring post-apocalyptic pirates. Also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex, Garbage Island is, in reality, an enormous mass of floating marine debris, mostly microplastics, trapped in an endless gyre by ocean currents. There are no pirates living there.
The image of Garbage Island wouldn’t leave me alone, and somewhere in the dark, soupy brain-place that songs come from, a world began to emerge. A world made from the flotsam of our lives, the ultimate repository for the human race’s epic collective moulting season. A world where birds reasserted their prehistoric dominance, a world where new forms of plant life sprung up, leaves veined with translucent plastic. There were humans in this world, too, but not many. Those that survived relied on endless improvisation, the ingenious repurposing of whatever physical scraps of the old world they uncovered in the elastic soil of their island refuge. Their main pastime: birdwatching.
Garbage Island is an album about what we lose when things fall apart, and what we can gain from collaborative regeneration. It takes place in this crumbling near-future world that bears a distinct resemblance to our own, beginning with the violence of collapse, loosely chronicling the escape of the album’s unnamed protagonists on a pedal-boat swan, as they trade doom for danger on their way to a future home built from the detritus of the past.
Along the way, the album narrates both the need for action and the joys of refusing the hustle, imagines a futuristic nostalgia for the days of post-apocalyptic touring life, celebrates escape and solitude, and concludes with the hesitant suggestion that the end of the world can’t last forever. The songs feature the omnivorous genre-bending and rapid-fire surrealist lyricism the band has been known for in the past, but while there is humour and playfulness in abundance, there are few jokes. It’s either the darkest record The Burning Hell has made, the most reassuring, or the most fun. It might be all three.
Making a record about a future world of disintegration and renewal while the real world seemed to be collapsing around us felt right. Ariel Sharratt and I were locked-down on our farm on PEI, forced to embrace the slowness, patiently collecting sounds and ideas, orienting ourselves toward process. With tours perpetually cancelled, rescheduled, and cancelled again, we reconnected with the primal urge to simply make music, rather than perform or manage it. Our collaborator Jake Nicoll was stuck in Ontario, where he had been visiting his dad’s farm when the pandemic was declared, but he was able to cobble together some forgotten recording gear in an abandoned sheep pen, and we started sending tracks back and forth.
This is the first record the band (Mathias Kom, Ariel Sharratt, and Jake Nicoll) has engineered, produced, and mixed entirely by ourselves, and time and distance allowed us to revel in the slow joy of collaboration and discovery, a joy that leached out onto the tapes and circuit boards. Our comrades in St. John’s (Darren Browne, Jud Haynes, Kelly McMichael, Krista Power, and Mara Pellerin) contributed musical brilliance, and cameos from Ariel’s brother Jesse and her dad Steve enrich the album. We painted over our usual canvas of bass, drums, and guitar with a homemade dulcimer and glass harmonica, ASMR-inspired breakdowns made from the sounds of actual garbage, watery synthesisers, harmoniums, woodwinds, and field recordings of oceans and bird sounds contributed by supporters all over the globe, which stitch the songs together as the album transitions from the end of the world to “The End of the End of the World.” As the first snowdrops emerged in the spring of 2021, what was becoming Garbage Island was mixed in a 1970s camper trailer Jake had spent the winter converting into a mobile, solar-powered recording studio.
RELEASE TOUR 2022/23
July 8-10 - Vancouver Island Music Festival
July 12 - Vancouver, BC - Red Gate
July 16 - Dawson City, YT - Dawson City Music Fest
July 28 - Halifax NS - Bus Stop Theatre
July 29-31 - Sackville, NB - Sappyfest
Sept 17 - St. John's NL - The Rock House
Sept 21 - Charlottetown PE - Trailside Music Hall
Sept 22 - Peterborough ON - Theatre on King
Sept 23 - Montreal QC - Ursa
Sept 24 - Toronto ON - The Baby G
Sept 28 - Nürtingen DE - Provisorium
Sept 29 - Prague CZ - Kampus Hybernská
Sept 30 - Vienna AT - Replugged
Oct 1 - Fürth DE - Badstr. 8
Oct 2 - Dresden DE - Ostpol
Oct 3 - Berlin DE - Kantine am Berghain
Oct 5 - Hamburg DE - Molotow
Oct 6 - Hanover DE - Feinkost Lampe
Oct 7 & 8 - Bremen DE - Schule 21
Oct. 11 - Rotterdam NL - Koffie & Ambach
Oct 11 - Nottingham UK - The Old Cold Store
Oct 13 & 14 - Glasgow UK - The Glad Cafe
Oct 15 - Newcastle UK - The Cluny
Oct 16 - Halifax UK - Town Festival
Oct 17 - Manchester UK - The Deaf Institute
Oct 18 - Bristol UK - Strange Brew
Oct 19 - Lewes UK - Lewes Con Club
Oct 21 - London UK - Bush Hall
March 10-12 - Port Fairy, Australia - Port Fairy Folk Festival
March 15 - Melbourne, Australia - Open Studios
March 17-19 - Katoomba, Australia - Blue Mountains Music Festival
March 23 - Sydney, Australia - Petersham Bowling Club
March 24-26 - Yackandandah, Australia - Yackandandah Folk Festival
May 7 - Bielefeld DE - Johanniskirche
May 8 - Utrecht NL - Studio Patrick
May 9 - Köln DE - Gebäude 9
May 10 - Altheim DE - Arthaus
May 11 - Munich DE - Milla
May 12 - Schornforf DE - Manufaktur
May 13 - Base CH - Humbug
May 14 - Schaffhausen CH - TapTab
May 15 - Zurich CH - Kir Royal
May 16 - Bern CH - Rössli
May 17 - Freiburg DE - Slow Club
May 18 - Frankfurt DE - No. 2 Records
May 19 - Gouda NL - So What!
May 21 - London UK - Victoria
May 23 - Brighton UK - Prince Albert
May 25 - Ramsgate UK - Ramsgate Music Hall
May 26 - Cardiff UK - Buffalo
May 27 - Frome UK - Tree House
May 29 - New Mills UK - Strines Nightingale
May 30 - Liverpool UK - Jimmy’s
May 31 - Sheffield UK - Dorothy Pax
June 1 - Sheffield UK - Dorothy Pax
June 2 - Hebden Bridge UK - The Trades Club
USA w/ Jeffrey Lewis
September 28 - New York NY - Baker Falls
November 2 - Troy NY - No Fun
November 3 - Burlington VT - Radio Bean
November 4 - Portland ME - Sun Tiki
November 5 - Epsom NH - Blasty Bough
November 6 - Orono ME - Wilson Centre
November 7 - Worcester MA - Hotel Vernon
November 8 - Holyoke MA - Divine Theater
November 9 - Boston MA - Faces
November 10 - Providence RI - AS220
November 11 - New Haven CT - Cafe Nine