Friendship defines Abraham Backfur

A group of four scruffy, unkempt college-aged students emerged from Slade Hall last Monday.En route to UVM’s greenhouse, someone walking by might think that they’re planning on gardening that afternoon.Rather, they are a collection of four UVM juniors, playing and writing music together under the pseudonym Abraham Backfur, who enjoy the spacious green enclave as a hangout.People tend to question the band’s name, though its source is fairly simple, vocalist Ish McDonald said.”I thought it would be cool if the band name sounded like a person’s name,” he said.Backfur is a genuine, old school rock ‘n’ roll band. The band’s list of influences runs the gamut. Bassist Felipe Gallego said that Flea and Jaco Pastorius inspired him, while guitarist Gerard Williams mentioned the guitar player from math-rock band Hella as his main influence.All of the sounds that individual members bring to the table show through in their music, which teeters on the edge of punk and melodic rock. Their official bio, however, dubs the sound as sophisticated punk, an accurate portrayal of their music.McDonald said that the music is moving, in that it constantly pushes forward. Gero joked that they play drunk rock and the band laughed it off, but their manager, Jim Bowen, said it might be an appropriate description.McDonald said the band started as a collection of songs he had written and wanted to play in his freshman year.Then he met Gero. They played songs together for a while before they came across the other members through what they describe as luck.”We heard about a great guitar player and soon [Williams] was in the band,” McDonald said.Since then, the music has become much more collaborative. The band jams together and builds songs atop the individual ideas that each member contributes.”Half of the time [the music] is accidental,” Gero said.Even with all of the input, the output maintains consistent and well defined.McDonald writes their lyrics, but they are a joint effort.While the band sits around writing music, a band member will suggest a theme or just yell out words, he said.Gero said he once yelled “Good friends!” and that became the basis for their song “My Back.” “It’s about friendship and brotherhood,” McDonald said.The band has played most of their shows at Burlington-area clubs in the past.At one point, they played a large venue in Montpelier when a Canadian band heard them on Facebook and invited them to play.”Technology helps a lot with meeting fans and bands, as well as getting gigs,” Williams said.The band’s last show was at the Metronome on Sept. 29, but they plan to play smaller gigs during the school year. “Abraham Backfur is going underground,” McDonald said.     He spoke for the band when he said that it’s about the music, not fame or fortune. “We want loyal listeners,” he said. “It isn’t about money, it’s about people liking what we do.”With that outlook, the band is comfortable playing house parties  for the next few months.However, the band will be planning a large Northeastern tour.They hope to travel down the East Coast from Maine to North Carolina. Listeners can find their music at those small parties until then, or online atwww.reverbnation.com/abrahambackfur.