Josh Berwanger sprang to fame as the frontman for the nationally recognized Lawrence-based band Anniversary. Since releasing his last record with Only Children in 2007, he has ventured out on his own.
In June, he launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new album, “All You Can Eat.” In a month, he raised $4,110 — well above his goal of $3,500. He plays Friday at the Riot Room with the Babies. Tickets are $8.
What’s the first album you bought with your own money?
“When I was 7 years old I made my first Holy Communion. This was the same time Motley Crue’s ‘Theatre of Pain’ came out. As a gift, my parents bought me a boom box and gave me some cash to buy a cassette at the local Tape World. I went with two friends, and they happened to buy the last two copies of ‘Theatre.’ The only tape left was Crue’s ‘Shout at the Devil.’ So I bought that. When I came home my mom asked, ‘What did you buy?’ I told her ‘Shout at the Devil.’ She said, ‘I hope it’s shout bad things at the devil.’ I bought it because it wasn’t.”
What’s an album you’ve never gotten tired of listening to?
“T. Rex’s ‘Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow’ is easily my favorite T. Rex record, and I can put it on anytime and be in a great mood. It’s front-to-back solid.”
What’s the most recent album you’ve fallen in love with?
“The Mean Jeans’ ‘Life on Mars.’ I think they have made their way into my top five bands ever. I love them because they write amazing melodies and are a true rock ’n’ roll band. I sorta credit them with inspiring me to make music again. They don’t care about ‘making it,’ they care about making fast, fun, great music. I think that is sometimes easy to lose sight of as an artist.”
What kind of music did your parents listen to when you were growing up? Did that have a big effect on the kind of music you eventually began listening to?
“I truly feel pretty lucky in the fact that my parents had great taste in music. My mom listened to Neil Young, the Beatles, Who, Hendrix, Cat Stevens. But her favorite was Alice Cooper. My dad liked Canned Heat, Country Joe, Rolling Stones and was a huge Black Sabbath fan, as well as liking good blues music.
It had an enormous influence on me because it was constantly playing and it also meant they were very lenient about what I was listening to. I had a pretty good collection of LPs and tapes when I was in third grade, like Cooper, Diamond Rex, Black Sabbath, and I still love all that stuff. It still amazes me to think I was listening to that in third grade. My mom also bought me this Twisted Sister jacket in fourth grade that I still have. It’s pretty outrageous.”
What song helped you find your voice as a musician?
“I think I’m constantly being influenced by others. I think if I had to pick a song it might be ‘Rocks Off’ by the Stones. Just the attitude behind it and the lyrics ‘Plug in, flush out and fire the fuckin’ feed’ and ‘The sunshine bores the daylights out of me.’ The Stones got it.”
What’s the first song that you memorized?
“In all honestly it might have been ‘The Super Bowl Shuffle’ (which I still have memorized front to back). I grew up in the ’80s right outside Chicago so it was hard not to know that tune in 1985-86. But, not sure I would consider that a song. I guess after that it would have been ‘Mr. Brownstone’ by GNR, however, luckily, the lyrics never influenced me.”