MM Recommends | Charlie Barnes UK/EU Tour 2014 – Q&A
I’m not going to lie, there may be some conflict of interest here. Yes, I went to primary school with Charlie Barnes, and secondary school, and… college, a’hem. But! That doesn’t change the fact that he makes some bloody awesome music…
We caught up with Charlie before he shot off to Frankfurt to talk about his upcoming tour…
Firstly… Can you tell us a bit about the tour?
CB – This will be the biggest set of dates I’ve done in quite a while. Actually my biggest tour to date was last year with Amplifier around Europe. It was four solid weeks and I was opening for the band with my solo set, but also playing as part of Amplifier on guitar, keys and backing vocals. Needless to say, it was unbelievably tiring. I was actually found in a Swiss dressing room one night spilling a half eaten bowl of cereal over myself because I’d fallen asleep before I could finish it. Heavy.
This time round I’m supporting a band called ‘Funeral Suits’ from Ireland, but I’ll be traveling around between the shows on the train on my own. So that’ll probably be pretty tiring in an entirely different way. I did a tour with a rail pass around Germany last year and it was amazing. It’s nice to have so much time to yourself to just think and write and listen to new music.
How did the full band come about? Is it something you’ve done a lot in the past, or is it something that has just come about?
CB – We actually started playing as band a long time ago…knocking on four years now. We played sporadically including a couple of festival slots back then, and we were mostly playing material from an album called ‘Geekk.’ It was all very stop/start for a while; such is life and trying to keep your head above water in your early twenties…and to add to all that we just weren’t that comfortable trying to play material from essentially an orchestral pop record as a four piece alternative-rock band. So eventually we started crafting material together from the new things I’d been writing, turning ‘Charlie Barnes’ into essentially a four-piece band with a lead songwriter.
Is it something you’d like to continue in the future, or is it just a one time thing?
CB – This is where I feel the most true to myself musically. I sort of see a lot of the more electronic/soloist side of what I’ve been doing for the last few years as a bit of an excursion or adventure away from what is actually my true compositional voice. Between myself, my drummer Steven Anderson, guitarist Josh Hughes and newly enlisted bass player Sean Balcombe we’ve just got a system together that’s starting to really find its feet. I’m determined that ‘Charlie Barnes’ is going to continue as a rock band. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, it just so happens that I had to take a bit of a curious route getting there.
Is there an album in the works? If so could you tell us a little bit about it?
CB – We’ve got an album recorded and roughly mixed. Even though ‘Charlie Barnes’ has already released an album called ‘Geekk.’, this next album is sort of like the debut of a band called ‘Charlie Barnes’, if you catch my drift. It’s been produced by Steve Durose from Oceansize and we recorded the bulk of it at an amazing studio in Lincolnshire called The Chapel. Loads of amazing bands have recorded there, and I got to know of it when I joined Amplifier there for a week while they were tracking some of the parts for ‘The Octopus’. To sum up the record itself, it’s much more melodically driven than anything I’ve done before. Although it could be assumed that enlisting a band to work with would take the focus away from the voice, in a way this new method of writing has actually made me feel much more comfortable with what my voice can do. The band lineup has let me get my back to my original musical passions and inspirations of bands like Oceansize, Biffy Clyro and Yourcodenameis:Milo, but I’m still retaining that emotionally drenched vocal style that tends to draw comparisons with people like Jeff Buckley and Thom Yorke, both of whom are also enormous influences on the way I write and perform.
And finally, what are your plans for 2014? Is it going to be a big year for you?
CB – After the two tours we’ve got a really special show lined up in April supporting an amazing band called REVERE in London for their album launch, and I’m working on arranging more live dates for the band to follow this too. I guess other than trying to get onstage as much as we possibly can this year, the main thing will be getting the record out. We’ll get there, by hook or by crook. We’ve invested so much of ourselves into it, we just want to make sure it gets done right. Hell, we’ve made a record with one of our absolute heroes – it’s already been a pretty f***ing big year or so!
I don’t think you can really predict how it’s going to go. I’m not sure I’ve always done the DIY thing quite right…not managed my online presence quite right, I dunno, it’s a difficult one. I think fundamentally this year I want us as a band to focus on living the moments themselves rather than concerning ourselves with other people’s perceptions of what we’re doing. When I’ve been going around doing a lot of solo touring, although I’m aware that the music I make isn’t for everyone, there always seems to be at least one new person at every show who completely gets it. I had a guy at a show in Stuttgart recently come over after I finished playing an encore and say ‘You really touched my soul’ – I hope that this year we manage to make those sorts of connections with people with our new material as a band, because that’s what all of my favourite bands did for me when I used to follow them around the country as an eager teenage fankid.