Published Mar 20, 2009If you're looking for the next great feel-good record, well, the Burning Hell's new one, Baby, is just the ticket, though you might not think so judging by its themes. Seeing as front-man Mathias Kom wrote the band's follow-up to last year's Happy Birthday about Bretton Woods (the post-WWII meeting of international financiers and governments that established the World Bank) and the Berlin Conference (when the European nations of the late 19th century carved up their African colonies), it seems a little heavy-handed, thematically, but the Peterborough native's new album (recently released on weewerk) is surprisingly chipper for such straight, weighty subjects.
Speaking to Exclaim!'s Michael Barclay recently, Kom explained that his interest in these specific historical events stems from his studies at Trent University in his hometown, and that his interests lie beyond just music. "My secret ultimate ambition is to produce a coffee table book about important conferences throughout the ages, with an accompanying soundtrack," he said. "The challenge I've found so far is that there are all these conferences I want to write about but historians have not paid enough attention to the mechanics of the conferences, the people who were there and how they interacted. No one was at these things as a social anthropologist, and that's what interests me. Not so much what came out of the conference but imagining these people as real people and what their personal politics were like.
"The challenge is finding that material, because I don't want to make it up. My friend Brian has been trying to get me to write about a little-known conference on Jekyll Island off the coast of Georgia. He heard my song 'Bretton Woods' and said that's all well and good because that conference got a lot of press. But Bretton Woods was preceded by this island conference, which was a totally secret meeting of all the top heads of finance in the U.S., where they set the gold standard and paved the way for decisions at Bretton Woods. But it's impossible to find information about the conference itself, other than biographies of who was there. I also want to imagine conferences that maybe never happened, about things that are very real. I imagine a conference about Hammurabi's Code in Mesopotamia, where they wrote the first example of a written law."
The Burning Hell's music isn't all about conferencing though. A recently released B-side called "Tired of Playing Music" moans about the tediousness of being in a band while name-checking Exclaim! of all things. Of course, we're mentioned in the context of being a good substitute for toilet paper in a dirty bar's restroom, but still, we're flattered. You can hear that track by clicking here.