Band Interview: Burning Image - (Re-published)

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

As promised we are republishing all intreviews due to’s social network shut down. This was done June, 5th 2018. Interview by Morticia

Burning image has been a band for about 36 years and has been a heavy influence in the goth scene. Moe Adame took the time to answer these questions

Burning image started in 1982, when did you actually form? Like is there a time you formed before there was instruments involved, a name for the band? What is the meaning of the bands name?

Burning Image originally started as The Pictures in 1981. We were playing covers by X, Wall of Voodoo, Fear, as well as original songs, when we thought that the name The Pictures no longer fit the type of music that we were playing. Our original guitar player and singer, Joe Sparks came up with the name Burning Image. There is no meaning to the name. We just like the way it sounded.

Morticia: I always am intrigued how a band forms and really starts before they become a band. Thank you for answering this!

What type of music genre is Burning Image?

Burning Image have usually been considered death rock, but I have also seen the band described as Post-Punk and Punk.

How many band members have there been through all the years? Collaborations? Current members?

Incredibly, we have had only nine members in the 36 year

history of Burning Image. There are four members in the band, three of which are original.

Morticia: Wow that's amazing

What has been your biggest challenge as a band through the years?

The usual hurdles (paying for recording, band gear..), shady clubs, shady promoters, trying to keep the band motivated and on the same musical path. No different than any other band.

What has been your favorite place to play? If you could play at any venue anywhere, where would it be?

I like venues that have their act together and that are run professionally. The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco is a favorite of mine. Great staff, great sound. The now defunct Safari Sam’s in Hollywood was fun. Heresy Club in Bakersfield was another great place to play.

But I would go back to The Great American Music Hall any day.

Moe Adame what is your writing process like? Can you tell us about that?

The way I write songs has not changed since I began writing music. I compose the music first. The music then dictates the subject matter of the lyrics. This process works for me. I have a studio at home, so my ideas quickly come to fruition.

Moe- What music genres do you like? Also, you told me that "Cheap Trick" is a huge influence, can you elaborate on this?

I listen to many different genres. I don’t like listening to just one style of music. My Pandora playlist is vast.

I have often been asked “What bands have most influenced you?” Of course Christian Death, Killing Joke, Bauhaus and Wall Of Voodoo come up, but surprisingly, Cheap Trick was the band that convinced me that you could write great tunes without conforming to the usual rock trappings. Their debut album is an amazing example of quirky, clever, bombastic and sinister. I remember the album being described as “Too rock for punk and too punk for rock”. Great music coupled with lurid lyrics about serial killers, stalkers, heroin addiction and suicide. There is more to this band than just The Flame and I Want You To Want Me. Do yourself a favor, listen to the first album.

Moe- You mentioned "Christian Death" and "The killing joke" about how you discovered those bands and that it was a life changing experience. Can you tell us about this?

Christian Death - Only Theatre Of Pain and The Cure - Pornography and the first Killing Joke were the albums where I truly saw the beauty in dark subject matter. Rozz’s haunting and pained vocals and Rikk’s recognizable guitar still resonate with me to this day. Robert Smith took depressing to a different level. Pornography is a masterpiece. The first Killing Joke is the apocalypse set to abrasive dance music. How could you not like impending doom set to music? Jaz’s singing style was a big influence on me. The Chosen Ones on the Fantasma album best demonstrates my obsession with Killing Joke. I don’t write happy songs, thanks to Jaz, Rozz, Rikk and Robert.

Morticia: I love all of them too. And Rikk Agnew is an amazing musician and writer he's like family. The biggest heart and kindest person around. That's really beautiful to see who has influenced you. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Through the years who has done your bands album art?

The artwork for our first 45 release was drawn by Art Morales, who did the cover of Mommy’s Little Monster by Social Distortion. It appeared again on our first release on Alternative Tentacles records. I usually come up with the ideas for the album covers and I hand it over to those more qualified than I to make it come to life. Nina Leyva was the graphic artist for our albums Fantasma, Oleander and The Grand Guignol. My wife did the covers for the recent 5 song ep and the remastered Burning Image album.

The 5 songs ep came from songs that I had laying around in demo form that I had intended on putting on our next full length album. The remastered album of the older Burning Image songs was something I have been wanting to do for quite some time. Sonically superior to the 1983-1987 album.

Do you have any advice for bands that are just starting out and forming?

My advise to new bands: 1. stay true to your sound and don't follow current music trends to try to fit in. 2. Be cool to your fans, they take time out of their lives and spend their money to watch you play. Be gracious and accomodating. 3. Have fun. Nothing worse than a bunch of egos ruining the band experience.

Burning Image has a new release coming out? And you just released a 5 song EP? Can you share some info with us?

The 5 song ep harkens back to the post-punk style of early Burning Image. I was listening to a lot early Killing Joke, Gang of Four and Bauhaus. It inspired me to look back at our earlier catalog and explore the sounds and vibe of those songs. It put me in a nostalgic mood. the remastered album of the early Burning Image songs was a result of going back and realizing that the songs lacked power and depth. You can hear the difference at the beginning of The Final Conflict. The drums are stronger and the guitars and bass are more pronounced. A sonic improvement. I am also finishing up a full length album of new material. I am looking at a July release.

You're atheist, can you tell us how this affects your writing?

Because I am atheist, I tend to have a dim view on organized religion and it has provided me with an abundance of ideas to write songs. I find organized religion to be hypocritical and judgmental. I have nothing against people who want that in their lives. It’s not for me.

Fan question: Do you have a favorite book? And what was the last book you read?

I like reference books. I also like books about architecture, photography and music. I love the Edward Colver book : Blight At The End Of The Funnel. Not much of a fan of fiction except maybe Bradbury and Asimov. My favorite go to books: The Anton LaVey biography: My Secret Life Of A Satanist by Blanche Barton and Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin.

Good reads.

Fan question: Do you plan a tour possibly?

No Plans to tour. Maybe some occasional shows in LA and SF.

Fan question: What was your song "Burning image burning" about?

Joe Sparks wrote the lyrics to Burning Image, Burning. It is about the Spanish Inquisition and everyday persecution. I love playing that song live.

Morticia: here is the song "Burning image burning".

Any last words? Or quotes you'd like to leave us with?

Thank you for wanting to do this interview and for the time and effort it takes to organize and promote bands on Vampire Freaks LA. Much appreciated.

A big thank you to Burning Image fans. We do what we do because of you.

You can find Burning Image here



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