During a tour of Europe last year, The Burning Hell almost broke a world record — accidentally.
In a few weeks, they may actually break it, this time with a lot of planning and a super tight schedule.
The St. John’s-based indie-folk band — Mathias Kom, along with musicians Jake Nicoll, Ariel Sharratt, Nick Ferrio and Darren Browne — will attempt to play 10 concerts in 10 countries in just 24 hours.
“Last year, we played four shows in four countries in 24 hours and we just realized it afterwards,” Kom explained.
“We were joking about how maybe it’s a world record for the most shows. We looked into it and of course it was much higher than that, so we figured we’d try to break it.”
The current Guinness World Record for most shows in the most countries in one day is held by German guitarist Vicente Patiz, with eight. American guitarist Jeff Aug holds the unofficial record with nine.
The Burning Hell applied to break the official record, but found the rules a little too strict, since they involve taking at least two commercial flights and playing in venues with a minimum capacity of 300 people. A band whose members describe themselves as having “big hearts but small wallets,” they’ll attempt to break the unofficial record, starting 7 p.m. on July 6 in Aachen, Germany.
They’ll do gigs in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Austria and Italy before a final show in Smartno, Slovenia at 6:30 p.m. the next night. The gigs will include festival shows, gigs in record stores, bars and cafés and house concerts.
In Switzerland, they’ll go on stage at 7 a.m.
“It’s a small venue that we’ve played before, in a tiny little village in the mountains, and it’s run by this collective of students. When we asked them, they said, ‘Yeah! What time?’ and I said seven in the morning, and they said ‘Oh ... OK,’” Kom said, laughing.
“They’ve decided to organize an all-night party so we’ll be coming there as the party is winding down. I think just the novelty of the whole thing is nice for people.
“The schedule is so tight — it’s technically possible, but if there’s any major traffic or if we have a flat tire or anything like that, we’re done. There’s no room for mistakes.”
The band members have enlisted the help of a filmmaker friend from Paris and will make a documentary of their record-breaking attempt.
Head over heels in love
The Burning Hell, formerly an Ontario-based band, moved to St. John’s about two years ago, after Kom fell in love with the place during a tour.
He spent two years telling people he was eventually going to move here before someone called him on it, asking him when he was going to put his money where his mouth was.
He’s just as in love with the city as ever, he said.
“Usually, with the places you fall head over heels in love with, you gradually start realizing things you don’t really like about it or the romance dies off or something,” he explained.
“We’ve met so many wonderful people here, we’ve got a really lovely group of friends and it’s such a nice, supportive community.”
The Burning Hell is actually Kom’s alter-ego, and band members have changed from the beginning, from tour to tour and album to album.
Despite the changing lineup of members living all around the world, Kom and the band have a unique sound and style, thanks to Kom’s baritone voice and frank wit and a range of instruments that includes clarinet, glockenspiel, French horn, cello and lap steel.
The Burning Hell plays regularly around town, but is in Berlin at the moment, preparing to record its sixth album. Kom completed a record for February’s RPM Challenge, called “Songs for the People,” and some of the songs on the upcoming record will be fleshed-out versions of those tunes.
“Songs for the People” is a concept inspired by Gabe Foreman, poet, artist and friend of The Burning Hell, who has done the artwork for all the band’s albums. Two years ago, Foreman published a collection of poetry called “A Complete Encyclopedia of Different Types of People.”
“I thought maybe I could do the same sort of thing, but with song,” Kom said.
“There are songs about different kinds of people — we’ve got ‘Song for Realists,’ ‘Song for Wallflowers,’ ‘Song for Barbarians,’ ‘Song for Sentimentalists.’ When we put the final package together, I think there will probably be some kind of combination of (Foreman’s) poetry and the recorded music.”
The Burning Hell’s next booked gig in
St. John’s is at The Ship in October.
The band’s website is at www.wearetheburninghell.com.