‘Bullet Train’: Christian Burns Discusses A Reunited BBMAK And Infectious New Single
Although BBMAK hadn’t released anything collectively since 2002’s Into Your Head, the members of the multi-platinum English-pop group known for hits like “Back Here,” “Still On Your Side,” and “Out Of My Heart,” have remained friends and occasionally found themselves meeting up at various social events.
It was during one of these soirees that an impromptu jam session occurred. A resulting video clip of the performance was posted on social media and instantly went viral, sparking talks of a full-on reunion.
Now, after a fifteen-year hiatus, the reunited members of BBMAK — Mark Barry, Christian Burns and Stephen McNally, are back with an infectious new single, “Bullet Train.” Releasing on Friday, May 3, the track is a small taste of what to expect from the group’s highly-anticipated new album due later this summer.
“Bullet Train” is the logical next step in the band’s evolution. A groove-ridden locomotive of musical maturity, guitar-driven hooks and, of course, the ubiquitous BBMAK signature three-part harmony.
To coincide with the release of the new single, BBMAK will embark on the first leg of the group’s North American “Back Here Tour” which begins May 6 in Boston, MA. Other dates include stops in cities like New York, Detroit, Nashville, Dallas and Chicago.
I recently spoke with BBMak’s Christian Burns about the reunion, “Bullet Train” and more in this exclusive new interview.
How did the BBMAK reunion come about?
Even though we hadn’t done a show or anything together since 2003 we’ve stayed in touch and remained friends and gotten together at various events. We had an event a few years ago where we got out the guitars and had a jam. I posted a video of us singing “Back Here” on Facebook and it went crazy. It had about two million views. We really enjoyed singing together again and it morphed into where we’re at now — our first new album in fifteen years and about to hit the road and go back on tour. It naturally felt like the right time to do it.
What was it like getting back in the recording studio again as BBMAK?
It was like riding a bike. You never forget. We hadn’t written in the same room for many years so we just got the guitars out and had a jam. I remember the first day we came out with four really strong ideas. Two of which are on the new album.
Let’s discuss the new single, “Bullet Train.”
That was one of the ones we wrote on the first day we got together. We liked the feel and drive of it. It’s the glue and transition from the last album to where we are now. We’re excited to get it out there.
What’s your songwriting process like?
Everyone has a different approach and there’s no right or wrong way. For me, most of the time it starts with a melody. Sometimes I’ll have a little hook or will pick up the guitar and just start playing over a few chords. I rarely start with lyrics. It’s mostly melody-driven.
How do you determine who sings which part?
Arm wrestling [laughs]. The reason it works so well is because we have three completely different tones. Mark’s is a deeper tone; mine is in the middle and Steve can get really high up. We play to our strengths, so whatever fits.
What else can fans expect from the new album?
The main thing for BBMAK is our sound. It’s very much guitar led but the main glue is the three-part harmony where we all take lead. Our tastes have changed over the years and in some ways we’re able to feature more electronic elements and sounds. On the whole the old BBMAK fans from back in the day will not be disappointed and we’re looking forward to picking up some new ones along the way as well.
What can you tell me about the upcoming BBMAK tour?
We’ve got twelve dates coming up and cannot wait to get back out on the road. We did three shows last November as a warm up and to dust the cobwebs off. We’re ready now and couldn’t be more excited.
Can you tell me the origin of the song “Back Here” and more importantly, did you know at the time how special it was going to be?
We were writing a lot of songs at the time and had no idea how big it was going to become. We wrote it with Phil Thornalley who’s amazing songwriter and good friend of ours who produced The Cure and wrote the song, “Torn” (Natalie Imbruglia). I remmeber we wrote that song in literally about three hours. It was one of those ones that just flowed out. We knew it was a great song but it wasn’t until Oliver Leiber and John Shanks got ahold of it in the studio to produce it up that it became a big radio track.
Of all the highlights of your career is there one thing that stands out to you as most memorable?
There’s been so many great memories throughout our career. It’s hard to choose. One big moment was back in 2001 when “Back Here” went crazy on the radio. I still remember going to a performance at a mall in Los Angeles and it was absolutely incredible. People were literally spilling out of the mall in layers. That’s when we knew something big was happening. It was a pinch me moment.
What excites you the most about this next phase of BBMAK’s career?
One big thing that’s changed from the last time we were out is the way the music industry is run. There’s such a direct link to the fans now and I love that we can interact with them through social media. It’s a very exciting time for music. This is our first album in a long time and we’re looking forward to putting out music and making people smile.
BBMAK Tour Dates:
May 7th — Boston, MA: City Winery
May 8th — New York, NY: Gramercy Theatre
May 9th — Wilmington, DE: The Queen
May 11th — Vienna, VA: Jammin’ Java
May 12th — Cleveland, OH: Cambridge Room @ HOB
May 14th — Detroit, MI: Shelter
May 15th — Chicago, IL: Back Porch w. VIP
May 17th — Nashville, TN: City Winery
May 18th — Atlanta, GA: The Loft
May 20th — Dallas, TX: Cambridge Room
May 21st — Austin, TX: Stubb’s Indoor
May 22nd — Houston, TX: Bronze Peacock