An article about Bicycle, with a mention and a pic of Chris Ballew.
Bicycle's Traveling Road Show
By Don Kaye
A few years ago, living in New York, singer-songwriter Kurt Liebert informed his band
that he was leaving on a cross-country biking trip, with the intention of getting a gig in
every town he could. "I told them I was gonna do this bike trip, so I wouldn't be
available for the summer, and they were all going, 'oh, take us with you!' he says.
"It's hard enough to make sure everyone shows up for a local gig on a Thursday night,
let alone find guys who want to bike across the country!"
Thus Bicycle was born. Along with friend and sometime co-writer Forrest
Burtnette, Liebert logged some 8,600 miles through the U.S. over four years, while playing
almost every night. The trips were funded by everything from Liebert's severance pay --
from the pharmaceutical company he had worked at for four years -- to university grants to
bike company sponsorships. An environmental group even offered a songwriting grant.
"I knew there was a grant for arts organizations that dealt with environmental
issues," he recalls. "So we positioned Bicycle as a band that was all about
alternative sources of transportation -- which, in effect, we were."
loved the entire anti-folk scene. It was a very vibrant songwriting environment. Everyone
would just write songs and share them at the open mic."
Born in Spokane,
Wash., Liebert moved to New York City after college, participating in the East Village's
anti-folk scene with future talents such as Beck. "I loved the entire anti-folk
scene," he says. "It was a very vibrant songwriting environment. Everyone would
just write songs and share them at the open mic."
The eclectic combo of punk, folk, modern rock, and even hip-hop influences, which
permeated that scene, is found in abundance on Bicycle's self-titled debut album. Bicycle
is a quirky, kaleidoscopic collection of twisted pop gems mostly recorded in Liebert's
some production work by former President of the United States of Americas frontman Chris
getting a record deal ("I'd never known anyone who had one, so I figured they didn't
exist," deadpans Liebert) and getting a band together to tour in more conventional
fashion, the now Seattle-based musician would like to resume his bike tours at some point.
"I'll always do those," he says. "I started this thing in 1995, and it's
like I'm creating this myth of this guy who bikes across the country, at the turn of the
century, spreading music in this unusual way."