Saint Alvia / Burly Calling

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Saint Alvia and Burly Calling - Ben Rispin

  • December 3rd, 2012
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Ben Rispin is a busy man. When not touring with his band Saint Alvia, he’s carefully orchestrating a unique festival in his home town of Burlington, Ontario. The festival, dubbed Burly Calling, is entering its sixth year and sees a swarm of bands take over the samll town and playing venues all over the city. What started as a joke tour to raise funds for a full flegde tour as now progressed into something that the entire town eagerly awaits. This year’s edition is special as well as Saint Alvia are set to drop their new album, Static Psalms, in conjunction with the Festival.

We wanted to learn more about the festival and the album so Nicole Pollo had a little e-mail conversation with him to figure out exactly what’s happening this year in the world of Ben Rispin.


Nicole: Burly Calling started as a “joke/mock” tour created by Saint Alvia to gain money for future tour support, what where the deciding factors to keep this festival going every year? What was the motivation to carry on this originally “mock” tour?

Ben: Ha, to be quite honest, the mock tour idea stuck around because it was an effective way to raise tour support but as we took time away from the road and started working on what’s now called “Static Psalms” – it sorted of evolved. The urgency to constantly raise money wasn’t there so I sort of changed the format and ran with an idea of a DIY music pub crawl. People seemed to really enjoy it. Then I teamed up with my good friend and now business partner Brad Hails of The Killin’ Time Band, he had some great ideas on how to expand it and I thought why not? Brad coming on really elevated the organization and made fun things like throwing a showcase for all your buddies bands into a serious,serious good time.

Nicole: Going off the first question, how did this festival progress from the first set of shows, to what it is today?

Ben: re:above ( I didn’t read ahead. My college prof’s would kill me )

Saint Alvia and Burly CallingNicole: Besides working to raise tour money, how did the idea of Burly Calling come about?

Ben: Over beers really, we were thinking of something fun to do and that’s what we came up with. Rob Pasalic, who’s now studying law in England, came up with the name and we went to town with it. It was like one of those snowball jokes where we kept adding to it. “Let’s tour Burlington and make tour shirts” “ we’ll make laminates” “ We’ll list Pete’s Keg party on the t-shirt’s tour dates” etc.

Nicole:  What all went into starting up this music fest?

Not much at first, just a couple of phone calls, now its a few month of prep and 14/15 hours days. We don’t make much of anything doing it, a little to cover expenses and our time but I think the drive was, and still is promoting local music in our area. There is a ton of great acts from around here.

Nicole: How did the title for the “Burly Calling” festival come about?

Ben: The title came about as an homage to the Clash’s “London Calling”

Nicole: I love how the festival rocks its way through its own city. Can you tell us a little bit about the venues chosen for Burly Calling 6?

We are open to working with venues of all sorts, but we really like the pub vibe show. I like the cozy atmosphere. I like that it’s kind of a cool way for us to stay in touch with all our band families around the holidays. So. intimacy helps that. But to be honest, I also like the creative challenge of putting a show together that would work in various rooms. I suppose there really isn’t a certain formula.

Nicole: How are other bands chosen to be part of the fest?

Ben: Well, often it’s our buddies saying “ Hey we want to play Burly Calling this year” and we say “Ok rad!” . I love all kinds of music and again, the creative process of putting together a good party. So it often starts as hey, we already have these guys on the show, these guys would fit well with them, let’s see if they are around. It’s really relaxed. We also like finding new bands to get into too, so we do submissions via our website. That can be a good time too.

Nicole: What is the main goal presently for the Burly Calling music festival? What do you, as its founders, hope to accomplish?

Ben: We would really, really like to not be homeless after.

Saint Alvia and Burly CallingNicole: Though this three-day festival also includes a “party/pub crawl,” one of the event sponsors teamed up with the fest and began The Burlington Mazda/Burly Calling Drive Safe Program. Can you tell us exactly what that is?

Ben: Greg Fisher from Saint Alvia works in the shop at the Burlington Mazda dealership so I guess we’ve been on their radar for a bit with Greg taking time off work occasionally for the band. So last year the management, who are sweet guys came out and really enjoyed what we were doing and our promoting of culture in the community and asked how they could get involved? Together, we came up with this program and it’s designed to safely shuttle people from venue to venue. We’re really excited about it.

Nicole: Now moving on to Saint Alvia, can you tell us a little about where you’re at right now musically speaking?

Ben: As a band, its as eclectic as ever but we somehow managed to put a cohesive record together that we think really defines what we were going for with this band. It’s really turned into this mix of lo-fi punk with classic rock influences. But we’ve been told it still sounds like us. So that’s a positive….. you know if you’re into that sort of thing.

Nicole: What do we have to look forward to regarding your upcoming album, “Static Psalms?” What do you think makes this album stand out from previous releases?

Ben: We worked really hard on it, we poured all we have into it and I think we’re most excited to just get out and play it for people with hopes we can connect with them on a different level than we have before. The content is really honest and we hope that resonates.

Nicole: Do you plan to play a few new songs on your set for the Burly Calling festival?

Ben: We will be playing primarily new stuff with a only a few older songs. We are after all, releasing our new record at BC.

Nicole:  What is your favorite part of the upcoming Burly Calling fest? What do you most look forward to?

Saint Alvia and Burly CallingBen: Honestly, the whole thing. This is an event I’d line up for. I hope everyone else feels the same.

Nicole: What are some of your future plans/goals as a band, after the release of your new album?

Ben: Play the hell out of it, and like I said, hopefully make some new connections musically with people. There is nothing like singing a long with a room full of people and I hope we can sing these songs with as many people possible.

Nicole: Do you have anything else to add, regarding Burly Calling, Saint Alvia, or anything in general to comment on?

Ben: Support your local arts community. Contribute. Start a zine, label, band, gallery, venue and never give up.