BBMAK – Christian Burns, Stephen McNally and Mark Barry – made their debut on the charts in 1999 with the huge smash Back Here.
The song entered the Top 5 in the UK and was a Top 15 hit in the US. The trio’s debut album Sooner or Later established them as one of the UK’s most promising acts.
BBMAK disbanded in 2003 following the release of their second album and 16 years on the band is back together recording new music with a new album on the horizon.
I had a chat with Christian to talk about BBMAK’s reunion, discuss the upcoming new music and to find out how things have changed since the first time around.
What’s it like to be part of BBMAK again?
You know it’s great. It’s been a minute since we performed and did anything together. It was 2003 when we split up back in the day. I’m back out on the road with the boys and we’re out there performing, writing songs and recording it’s fantastic. We’re having a blast.
You’ve released your new single Bullet Train. It’s distinctively BBMAK but I detect a little influence from The Police in there. Tell me a little bit about that track and where it came from…
It was one of the first songs we wrote when we wrote together for the first time in a long time. We got about four rough ideas together and this was one of them. We just thought it’s a perfect song to reintroduce us to the world. It’s still our sound, it’s changed a little bit, but of course it’s got the three-part harmony – the BBMAK signature sound. We just thought it was the right single. We did it over in Yorkshire with a guy called Steve Chrisanthou, a good friend of ours. He produced the track and co-wrote it with us. We’re really excited to share it with the world.
It’s the first track from your new album. What can fans expect from the new record?
We’re just putting the finishing touches to the album right now. It’s a mixture. It’s obviously a long time since we recorded a full studio album, 2003 was the last time. Naturally we’ve been exposed to other influences musically in the past 15 years so there’s a few different sounds on there. On the whole it sounds like BBMAK but the thing is we can experiment with whatever really because the three-part harmony is the glue that holds all these songs together. We’re excited share it and we’re excited to see what people think of it.
Why did now feel the right time to get back together to make new music and reform as BBMAK?
It’s something that happened naturally. We’ve had offers in the past from agencies and TV shows to get back together but we just didn’t feel it was right. If we were going to do it, we wanted to do it on our terms. We still kept in touch all these years. The boys were round at mine, we got the guitars out and we were just having a jam. I videoed it on my iPhone and we had millions of hits in a couple of days. We really enjoyed it as well and we really enjoyed singing together. We realised we missed it as well so we decided it was the time to start writing some songs together and see where it goes. Now here we are with a new album, putting the finishing touches to and we’re just about to go out on tour. It’s crazy to think that we’re going to do this. It’s great!
You’ll be out on tour this month in the US on the Back Here tour. Are you going to be coming over to the UK?
We’re actually trying to make it over there. We want to go and see everybody. We’re trying to sort something out at the moment. I can’t announce anything but it’s definitely on our list of places that we want to get to in the near future so watch this space.
It’ll be a nice way to ease your way back into the routine by heading out on tour. How are you feeling about it?
You know what? I can’t wait. I’m always the same; when I’m cooped up in the studio for months on end I’m dying to get out on the road (laughs). It’s gonna be a lot of fun and we have a great time when we’re out on tour. We’re excited to play some new songs. I’s going to be great. Can’t wait!
I’ve always felt that live BBMAK were at their best. You were quite rare in the pop world the first time round because you played instruments and wrote your own material…
I think at the time there was a lot of manufactured bands and we were something a bit different. It’s like the tour we’re doing now, we’re really stripping it back and it’s just the three of us guys, our voices and two guitars really, that’s it. That’s the way we wanted it to be.
Have you found that the dynamic between the three of you has changed at all or have you slipped back to the way you used to be?
We all wondered what it was going to be like and how it was going to work so many years after. To be honest with you, once we got into the room after an awkward five minutes we were off and we were writing. We came up with four songs in the first day. It came together quite quickly. It’s like riding a bike I suppose.
That’s great to hear because sometimes bands get back together and it’s all a bit of a nightmare…
Obviously things have changed. The lads have got kids and we’ve got families. As far as the writing, it’s still catchy songs that are very melodic. Lyrically we’ve inspired by other things in life as well. Things have evolved over the years but the dynamic between us three is still exactly the same. We totally get on and we love what we do so hopefully that comes across when we’re out on the road.
I know that you stayed in music once the band disbanded. Did the other guys continue with music in any way too?
Mark got into fitness and well-being so he took a step out of the music industry and Stephen carried on with his band 10 Reasons to Live. Me and Stephen carried on doing music. Mark’s ready for this tour and excited but he was the only one who took a break from the music industry.
The way music is consumed has completely changed since the first time around for you guys. What’s your perspective on that and the way streaming now dominates?
I think it’s actually amazing. It’s an amazing time for music and for artists to be able to have that direct contact with your core fans. As much as people complain about Spotify and streaming revenues, it is an amazing time. Technology is really helping get the right music to the right people. I think you’ve got to go with the times and embrace this new wave of technology. I think it’s a great time. It’s exciting!
Who would have thought in 2019 you’d be considering releasing an album on vinyl and cassette? It’s crazy!
I know! I love vinyl. People still like have a product they can feel in their hands and there’s definitely something to be said about that for physical products. Vinyl is great and it’s huge at the moment.
What else are you going to squeeze in this year?
Keep an eye out there’s going to be a lot of music in the coming months from us guys. That’s all I’m saying at the moment otherwise I’ll get told off (laughs). We’re doing the tour. There’s lots going on. People can go to BBMAK.com and follow us on socials for all the announcements.
BBMAK’s new single Bullet Train is available to stream and download now. Watch the lyric video for the song below:
The band is currently on tour in the US. The remaining dates are:
Thu May 9th – Wilmington, DE (Philly market) | The Queen
Sat May 11th – Vienna, VA | Jammin’ Java
Sun May 12th – Cleveland, OH | Cambridge Room @ HOB
Tue May 14th – Detroit, MI | Shelter
Wed May 15th – Chicago, IL | Back Porch w. VIP
Fri May 17th – Nashville, TN | City Winery
Sat May 18th – Atlanta, GA | The Loft
Mon May 20th – Dallas, TX | Cambridge Room
Tue May 21st – Austin, TX | Stubb’s Indoor
Wed May 22nd – Houston, TX | Bronze Peacock