Exclusive Interview with Burn The Boats Axe-Grinder Charles Sepulveda!!
"Son, that's no way to treat an expensive musical instrument!!" - Charles Sepulveda's guitar stickers.
Charles Sepulveda, at work.
On a Tuesday evening not very long ago, Rivethead Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with two of our favorite guitar players working the local scene right now. I had gone down to cover the Anvil show at Fitzgerald’s, opened by The Mercury Cure, ASS, and Burn The Boats. On the back patio I was joined by Charles Sepulveda and Stevie Simms (Burn The Boats) along with Kelly FitzSimons, Darren Robertson, and Josh Killian (The Mercury Cure) and a good few of their friends for an outrageous 45-minute exclusive interview focusing on the guitarists and their bands. In an incredibly boneheaded display of editorial negligence, I had spaced out clearing the previous recordings off of my cell phone’s voice recorder, so I was able to capture only about two and a half minutes of this remarkable encounter. Heartbroken, I reached out separately to both Charles and Kelly after the fact, explaining the tragedy of the situation and asking if we could perhaps somehow try to recreate the interview so that this particular snapshot of Houston music history might not be forever lost, but could be pieced together and reconstructed into something that could reasonably appear on these pages. Fortunately for me, they both kindly agreed. I know for certain that REAL rock stars would not have been nearly so forgiving.
Rivethead Magazine Interviews:
Burn The Boats
by Andrew C. Schlett
Rivethead Magazine: Charles, what made you choose the guitar over any other instrument that you could’ve played?
Charles Sepulveda: Ace Frehley is the reason. My earliest memory is watching the Paul Lynde Halloween show in 1976 and KISS was on there, but I’m pretty sure I was already aware of KISS prior to seeing them on TV. I remember having the “Love Gun” vinyl that was red and came with a little paper gun insert. After KISS came Sabbath, and it was all downhill from there. Sabbath led to heavier things, and I discovered thrash in the summer of ’85. Ace made me pick up the guitar, but Iommi showed me the left-hand path.
RHM: What was the first guitar you ever owned, and how did you get it?
CS: It was a cheap nylon Yamaha classical that I bought at H&H Music in the Sharpstown Mall. I saved up my lunch money and I bought it. I still have that guitar, too. My high school was starting a guitar class in the spring of ’86 and I wanted to take it. I learned sight-reading (which I’ve subsequently forgotten) and some little classical pieces in that class. I also got to see first hand how someone from our school could be amazing on guitar. His name was Adam Flint and he was a senior. He was leaving for a scholarship at a music conservatory in Pennsylvania, but he could play Rising Force note for note, as well as Master of Puppets. That was amazing to me … but so far out of my reach as I am not gifted like that. It doesn’t come naturally to me, so I have to work at it.
RHM: At what point in your life did playing guitar shift from being something that you could do to being something that you are?
CS: As soon as I heard “Bass solo, take 1” in the summer of 1985. I became consumed with the new style of music and I searched out more bands of that ilk. My buddy Eric and I would jam on Metallica covers, and other metal tunes, and that’s how I built up my right hand. Eric taught me my first riff, too, Iron Maiden’s Number Of The Beast. I was never really good at figuring things out by ear like Eric was, so in the process of trying to figure out, for example, Fade to Black’s triplet riff, I would create a variation and jam on that. From there, I just started writing my own riffs and tried to piece them together into some semblance of a song.
RHM: Charles if you could have any guitar in the world for totally free, which one would you pick and why?
CS: The Washburn N4. Nuno (Bettencourt) has always been one of my favorite guitarists, and the N4 is just a guitar that I dreamt about. Dumb story, but when I was younger the DKG (Drum Keyboard Guitar) shop was going to allow me to buy one at cost since we hung out there all the time. All I had to do was apply for a credit card and it was mine. Well, I didn’t pass the credit check because I had neglected to pay some $20 Palais Royal credit card bill, so I was denied. Broke my heart… lol. So the N4 has always been my white whale, and thanks to Stevie (Simms) for that term!
RHM: If you didn’t play guitar, what would you be doing with your life right now?
CS: I’d go crazy. It’s my only outlet. I don’t drink or smoke. Playing guitar and writing my own little tunes are my tether to reality. Otherwise, who knows where I’d be?
RHM: Charles what is new with Burn The Boats? How famous has the band become as a result of all your Rivethead coverage?
CS: We have a new album coming out on Bill Fool’s label, Little T&A. As far as the fame resulting from your coverage, it’s immeasurable. We are recognized nearly nowhere these days, and people are lined up 1 or 2 deep when we play live! Or, that could just be the line for the bathroom, I don’t know. Seriously, though, all that being said, the coverage and support from Rivethead is very much appreciated. It’s always nice to have your music strike a chord with someone, and to have them encourage other people to check out your tunes as well… that means a lot to us as a band, and to me personally.
RHM: You mentioned something about the band finally releasing an album? Please tell us more about this.
CS: Yes, of course. It’s titled Under The Waves, has seven tunes, and we’re extremely proud of it. It was recorded at Digital Warehaus Productions with the mighty Stephen Finley at the helm. It will be a vinyl release, which excites us, and will be under the Little T&A label, as I just said. A release date has yet to be determined at this time.
RHM: What other shows does BTB have coming up that we can spotlight?
CS: Nothing is booked yet. Once we have a timetable for getting the vinyl copies, we will book a record release show at Fitzgerald’s.
RHM: What was it like sharing the stage with the legendary Anvil?
CS: It was amazing! They put on such a killer live show. I saw the documentary when it came out and it just makes you want to root for them. I have much respect for them, as they are true metal lifers. They’re in this with all they got, and it was evident by the energy that they put into the live show. It was incredible to watch!
RHM: Which band, local or national, would you most like to open for someday?
CS: The answer to this would vary depending which band member you ask, but for me personally I’m a huge Machine Head fan. Their guitar duo of Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel have always been huge influences of mine dating back to the Eternal Nightmare era of their old group, Vio-Lence. I would also love to share the stage with my brothers in Insecticide. I play music to have fun, and sharing the stage with people that I respect and love would be awesome. I first met Gimmi and Sherman (from Insecticide) back in 1988 at the Axiom, and we’ve kept in touch though the years. It just goes to show you the power of the connections that are made through music.