Gabe Burdulis performing live at the 2014 MAMA awards in Madison at the Overture Center
photo by Hedi Lamarr Photography
Some recent messages via both Facebook and email with Gabe Burdulis are still making me laugh. There’s one in particular, where Burdulis says, “Ahhh. Just answering this now, at 5 am. It’s been a busy, but great weekend,” and is a pretty good indication of the life this young Madison musician is living.
Burdulis plays alone, or with any number of groups, because he just wants to make music. He describes his sound as “kinda indie, acoustic-y, poppy, rocky, alt. with a lot of mixed elements. And some blues thrown in for good measure.” His on-stage presence has been called amazing, commanding; a true show-man.
And did I mention, he is still a high school student? I grabbed this opportunity to ask Burdulis some questions about his music, the recognition, and his goals. It’s a chance to get to know him, before the rest of the world catches on to this break-out talent.
Maximum Ink: Where are you getting your influence, especially at such a young age?
Gabe Burdulis: The people I get to play with are a constant influence on me. Also relationships, nature, and of course people like John Mayer and Jack White.
MI: And you’ve been playing successfully for quite a few years?
GB: Yeah, I took a couple guitar lessons around the age of 12, and kinda took off on my own from there. Once I had what I needed, I was able to let my creativity take off.
MI: So, what kind of goals or dreams do you have right now?
GB: I have a lot of dreams! But my short term goal? Keep doing what I’m doing, just 10x’s everything. I’m putting all I’ve got into making this work. And the “this” I speak of, doesn’t necessarily mean fame or money, but I want to call it success for myself. It means speaking to people through my music, making people smile, or feeling something from it. I want people to relate.
MI: Relating means putting your creativity out there..
GB: I think its such a cool thing how people can connect through music. And I love-love-love to collaborate with people for it, too. Having another ear or two on what you’re doing. The CD I just finished, “The Little Things,” is a mixture of 5 pretty different tunes I brought to record with Shawn Tallard, and we were able to work together to make it the best of both of us. I am always open to creative input! My girlfriend Sydney Prall and I also just finished a small EP called “Building Bridges EP” under the name Gabriel & Syd. It’s just 2 songs, the only 2 we’ve written, but we both had a strong connection to what we’d done together.
MI: And what about shows, how often and who do you usually play with, live?
GB: I play out solo or with Sydney, sometimes multiple times in one day, and sometimes multiple cities in one day. It gets to be a bit crazy, but it’s truly all worth it to me!
I’m also playing in a few different configurations now, including “The Gabe Burdulis Band.” We won the Launchpad Competition this year, so we try to get together every now and then to do a show, but it can be pretty darn hard to get 9 people from between the ages of 13 to 18 together! I’m also part of a group with Julia McConahay and Anthony Lamarr backing me, so it’s a fiddle and beat-box, which is a little different from the horn section, but its pretty sweet. And I do play out of the Madison area a lot. In just this past year, I’ve been in Tennessee, New York, Chicago, and California for gigs! This past month, Sydney and I went on a mini-tour that I arranged, and we had a lot of fun going around to different cities and states, playing and meeting people.
MI: You mentioned Launchpad. How did it feel to be the top high school band? And then you also won a Madison Area Music Association Award?
GB: Ha! I really wasn’t expecting that award for new artist! It was a humbling thing for me to accept, and a huge honor! And it was the first time I got something that wasn’t in one of the youth categories.
We played Summerfest as part of winning Launchpad, and it was a blast! Cowboy Mouth and Cheap Trick headlined the same stage so that was pretty cool. The recognition also gave us the chance to play Freakfest, Bratfest, at the Orpheum, and the Overture; and the Grateful Garcia-fest is coming up.
MI: It would be hard to believe someone hasn’t seen one of your shows! But if not, what could they expect?
GB: Energy and lots of fun. If it’s a solo show, you might hear some spurts of an Eminem-like rap, a little harmonica, some looping. If it’s with Sydney, some solid harmonies with her amazing voice. And with the band, our horns are just too much fun, and a big band feel. Then with beatbox and fiddle, something you’re totally not gonna to be used to hearing. My sound has been described in a lot of different ways, I get John Mayer a lot! I also get Justin Bieber here and there, but I try to disregard that!
MI: You’ve already done so much, where will the future take you?
GB: Ideally, I would like to be able to support myself off of music, as a performer. Thankfully, I’ve already had so much support from people who are helping me make this possible. I’m trying not to hype things up too much, but do try to think big.
MI: Anything left that may be a bit of a surprise about you?
GB: Hmm. I haven’t really kept this a secret, but I’m a huge Alice Cooper fan!?
August 2nd, Greatful Garcia-fest, Black River Falls
August 6th, Willy Street Pub / Wisco, Madison
August 9th, True Coffee, Madison
August 16th, HEADLINING Meadowood Park Festival, Madison (6 pm)
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