It’s time to get back to a band with a more folksy/bluesy/bluegrass-y sound, and the one I am about to introduce has absolutely incredible musicianship, vocal talent and lyricism. This band is the total package. Barnaby Saints is fairly new to the LA scene and is an epic find for those of you who have yet to experience them. I would call Barnaby Saints’ sound the lovechild of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and The Devil Makes Three.
I first heard of Barnaby Saints because of a sound engineer/producer that I happen to be a fan of. He consistently produces amazing bands and this one is no exception to that. He introduced Barnaby Saints via various social media sites and I rushed to the band’s website to go take a listen. The first song I listened to was ‘Bones’ . Within seconds I was tapping my feet and bouncing around listening to the lead singer’s silvery voice, the killer hooks, and rapid, bluesy rhythms. After listening a second time, much more closely to the actual lyrics, for example this excerpt- ‘Take my breath, take my breath, the river is gonna come and take my breath, beat me till there is nothing left, oh the river is gonna take my breath…Pull me out, pull me out, leave me on my back and the lighting sounds, pennies on my eyes until the sun comes out, come mornin’ gonna pull me out…bury me deep where the frost won’t bite me, bury me deep where the sun can’t wake me… ’ I was won over with not only the tune, but the imagery that was expertly crafted into the song. After buying the whole album and listening to all six songs on Barnaby Saints’ self titled EP, I knew this was going to be one band I was not going to be tired of easily. Each song boasts a beautifully crafted set of lyrics, that mimic poetry more closely than just about any band I have heard. The lyrics are not only beautiful sounding , they are insightful and get stuck in your head easily. I dig all of the songs for different reasons, but favorites other than ‘Bones’ include ‘Half the Time’, plus the slower melodies ‘Washing Me Down’ and ‘Blue Winter’.
Barnaby Saints has one static member, which is Erich, who is lead vocals, guitar, etc. He plays with a variety of other talented musicians aka the Blue and Grey. I have seen Barnaby Saints a few times live and each time is generally with a new set of musicians, however the music always sounds consistently excellent. Each time I have seen Barnaby Saints live, it has been infinitely better than the last time. What I really like is that the songs also tend to evolve from one show to the next, little tweaks to the melody here, new additions there, always for the better. I have yet to share Barnaby Saints’ music with someone who didn’t like it.
Erich was kind enough to take time from his own creative processes to answer some questions for BBB. Read on to find out what the ‘musician’s high that no drug can touch’ is, what Erich’s prized possession is, and what Barnaby Saints has coming up this year!
To start, you are pretty brand spanking new on the scene, so is Barnaby Saints just Erich, or are the musicians that play with you in LA a permanent part of Barnaby Saints?
That’s a good question. The full title for the project is Barnaby Saints and the Blue and Grey. I’m Barnaby Saints and the band is the Blue and Grey. It’s about a year old, and the EP was recorded in the summer, but we didn’t really start playing out until November.
Why the name Barnaby Saints?
I think I’ll leave it up to interpretation, someone might think of something more exciting than I did.
When and why you start playing?
I grew up playing music, but didn’t start playing guitar until I was 11. When I did, it opened an entire world of music. I feel my life has a before and after that moment, it changed everything.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up? How does that differ from what you listen to now?
I listened to classical music, opera and popular music from the early 1900’s and 1920’s. My father had a hand cranked phonograph that we would listen to 78rpm records on. I didn’t really discover modern music until 7th grade. After I did, I’ve had a voracious appetite for new music, I can never get enough.
Which musicians do you admire? Why?
These days, I admire musicians with the passion for what they do. For every successful artist you see, there are many thousands of other excellent players who struggle to make ends meet and do what they love. That unyielding desire to play and perform in the face of constant financial struggle is the true definition of love. I admire the artists who forgo safety and security to make their art.
Do you get nervous before a show?
I get excited for the performance, but as soon as I start playing any nervousness goes away, and gets replaced with a euphoria that I can’t duplicate anywhere else.
Any rituals before a show?
I try to make sure everyone is feeling good, so the energy for the show is positive. When everyone’s having fun and just enjoying playing their instrument, there’s a magic that can happen.
Describe what it’s like to perform for a crowd.
It can really vary. It’s always fun to perform in front of a crowd, be they friendly, or hostile. The times when people are skeptical at first are fun, because you play with everything you’ve got, and win them over. Occasionally you have a show where the energy is all around you and you feel you’ve tapped into something we can’t see hear or touch, but we can feel. That’s the high musicians have always talked about. There’s no drug that can touch it.
How does your creative process typically work? What inspires you?
It really depends. I can hear a melody in my head, and I’ll hum it into my phone, and a whole song will grow from it later. I might hear a phrase or see something that inspires me. But it almost always starts with my acoustic guitar.
What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you in the coming year?
The EP came out on itunes March 14, and we’re almost done with a new song that we’re going to release on its own. There are a couple live acoustic versions that are being mixed also. I’ve been writing a lot, and putting tracks together for a full length.
Any touring plans for this year?
We might go out this summer or fall, that’s kind of in the works right now.
Why should people listen to your band? What makes you unique? If your band had a slogan, what would it be?
I would hope people listen to the band because they like the songs. I’ve tried to let the lyrics and the music paint different emotions. This last year was a challenging one emotionally, and I let that fill up the songs. Overall, I would hope they make you feel something. As far as what makes it unique, that’s a tough question to answer. I just make the music I want to make, and if it’s different, then that’s great. Slogan would be “Leave your worries outside, let’s have a great show”
How did you meet and team up with Scott Coslett & Todd Bergman (both of Repro-Ductions LLC) and Ben Johnson (100 Monkeys, The Stevedores, Mechanical People) to produce your album?
I was doing some work over at a studio on the west side, where I met Todd Bergman, who’s a great engineer. We became friends, and I played him some new songs I was working on and he dug on them. He played them for Scott, who was into it, who played them for Ben. It happened really naturally, which had a great influence on the vibe for the EP sessions.
If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?
Tthere’s a lot I would change, but I don’t profess to know whether my efforts would make things better or worse.
One song you never get tired of.
One of the many great versions of “I’ll Fly Away”
What is the best live show you have ever gone to?
The Wall at the Staples Center. I’ve been to a lot of concerts, but that was absolutely mind blowing.
Favorite things to do NOT musically related.
Learning about random subjects that interest me. I research things constantly.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?
Sonic the Hedgehog
This is a great question. Probably my laptop, because my whole life is on it. But really, it’s less about the laptop and more about the photos, songs and letters it holds. Kind of a vessel for the bits and pieces of your life you choose to carry with you. At times I’ve been a very stuff oriented guy, but I’ve worked on letting go of that. I love the things I have and my instruments, but even if everything is gone one day, you can continue on. Sometimes a tornado swings through your life, and you lose all those things.
What kind of jobs did you have before you were in the music industry?
Lots of random jobs. I’ve been a lifeguard, pizza deliveryman, lighting electrician.
If you ran Badass Bands Blog, who would be the first band you would feature? (exempting yourself of course)
That’s a really tough question. I can’t play favorites and pick just one…
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