Peace to the world

Burning Peace markets itself globally while performing locally

Burning Peace has an international fan base.

Burning Peace has an international fan base.

Burning Peace appears at Walden’s Coffeehouse’s Open Mic Night on Saturdays, as well as the monthly Friday Night Musician’s Showcase; check out www.burningpeace. com for details.

If you were to ask someone in the music industry for advice on promoting a band, he might offer you this bit of conventional wisdom: A band has to establish itself at home, with a local fan base, before it’s ready for international exposure.

But no one ever said Burning Peace listened to conventional wisdom.

In fact, historically, they’ve taken exactly the opposite path. For years, acoustic guitarist Todd South and electric guitarist Lenny Supera have been acting internationally, recording CDs and publishing their music on the Internet. Their Web sites have received thousands of hits, and they’ve built a fairly substantial base of fans across the globe.

“I’ve been really enjoying getting e-mail from people all over the world,” remarks South.

Now, with the addition of percussionist Cap Stapp, they’re ready to take on a new audience—music fans in their own hometown of Reno.

Burning Peace’s music is as unconventional as their history. The band tentatively describes it as “acoustic rock,” despite the presence of an electric guitar.

“I call it rock, but there’s so many sub-genres,” explains Supera.

“Some of my stuff sounds like college radio, some sounds like folk and some is straight rock,” South clarifies. “So it’s hard to pin that down.”

One source of the band’s unique sound is their instrumental arrangement; they have no bass player and prefer to employ hand drums and various percussive instruments rather than use a standard drum kit.

“I’ve had a few different setups, with bells or whatnot,” Stapp says. “The Stomp thing? I was doing that like 30 years ago.”

“If we had real drums, we’d definitely need a bass player, because we’d lose the bottom end,” Supera says.

If nothing else, their music is thoroughly infectious. At a recent show at Walden’s Coffeehouse, I noticed that most of their songs had a remarkably physical effect on the crowd. As I looked around, it was hard to find a toe that wasn’t tapping or a head that wasn’t nodding in time to the beat.

Stapp and Supera visibly immerse themselves in the music to create this feel. They play the majority of the show with their eyes closed. Supera seems to try to meld with his guitar physically—gesturing and swaying as though trying to pull the sweetest possible sound out of every note.

In contrast, South is more extroverted; he feeds on the audience’s reactions and jokes with fans between songs.

Not surprisingly, Burning Peace was born online. Stapp and Supera had been playing together for some time in a cover band called Cap and Soup when Supera stumbled across the Web site of South’s solo project, “Hippy Dye Cowboy.” After e-mailing one another for months, the three finally met and found instant chemistry.

After only a few months of practice, they decided they were ready to take their music to the public.

“We hit every open mic in town we could find,” South says. “We were killing Cap.”

“They figured if I didn’t die, I’d make a good addition to the band,” Stapp says, laughing.

South stresses that Burning Peace’s top priority is becoming better known on the Reno music scene.

“Right now, the current focus of the band is performing, building a local following,” he says.

To build a local fan base is always an ambitious goal; many bands don’t even make it that far. But to Burning Peace, who already has dozens of fans around the world, how hard can it be?