Interview With Charlie Barnes

Charlie Barnes

Talented singer & multi-instrumentalist Charlie Barnes he is pleased to announce a brand new single as well as solo UK tour dates for this October. We caught up with him to ask him about the single as well as tour life. Check it out below!

What prompted the decision to rework both the More Stately Mansions single and its b-side Easy (Listening) Kid rather than just release them in their original form?
When I was first talking to the guys at Superball about releasing the album, they all pointed how big a hook they thought the main vocal line of More Stately… was, and gave me the idea of coming up with a shuffled around radio version to put more focus on it. A lot of my songs are quite bizarre structurally…whenever I write I tend to end up somewhere reasonably far removed from where I began. I’ve always been a fan of that sort of thing. It was a fun challenge to try and work out how to reimagine this song in a much more streamlined way, I’m pleased with how it turned out. It didn’t half take a bit of digital audio voodoo to make it happen though…

With Easy Kid, a long, long time before it was recorded, I actually played a live session at a German festival with my friends Aidan and Fabrice improvising woodwind parts over the top. Although most of what they came up with wouldn’t really have fit into the sound of the version on the record, I loved their ideas way too much not to try and do something with them. Across a few days I borrowed my friend Jack’s drumkit and my friend Anja’s double bass and stumbled my way through a new arrangement that put the focus way more strongly onto the ‘jazzy’ elements Aidan and Fabrice had introduced.

What made you choose those tracks to rework over others from the album?
Essentially, we needed a single that would follow Macbeth… well, and More Stately… was the only song left on the album with that sort of wall of sound alt-rock thing going on. The album’s such a weird mish-mash of styles, it’s actually made it quite difficult to come up with a sensible plan for which songs to release and which to leave as album tracks. We sort of always knew that if I could come up with the right edit though that More Stately… could work well. With Easy, Kid I had the most amazing stimulus from Aidan & Fabrice that it wasn’t any trouble to come up with a reimagining of it.

What’s the story behind More Stately Mansions?
The song is essentially about materialism. To be honest it’s your average response to the first few years outside of the bubble of education and having to look after yourself. Keeping your head above water and the wolf from the door, and trying to convince yourself that you’ve chosen the right path. I like to think that eschewing too many creature comforts and throwing every penny I’ve had into making music has done me reasonably well over the last few years…I hope…!

You’re also going to be heading out on tour in October. What can fans expect from the shows?
Back to the olden days…it’s all going to be solo shows, so I’ll be getting the old loopstation out. For the most part the songs will sound quite different to how they do on the record, it’ll be much more stripped back and about the songs themselves rather than the big walls of sound. The venues are all tiny, so it should be a really special atmosphere. I had some amazing times doing tours like that in the few years before I made More Stately Mansions, so it’ll be fun to try and capture a bit of that again, albeit maybe a little more grown up.

Is there anywhere you’re looking forward to playing most?
All of it really, you never know which ones are going to go well. I’m quite excited for the Cambridge show – I’ve never even been to Cambridge before, let alone played there. It’s at a coffee roastery with a piano in it, I think the plan is that I do two 45 minute sets so things might get interesting there…!

What’s your favourite thing about touring?
The best part is definitely meeting people. Promoters, bartenders, audience members, anybody. I do a hell of a lot of my touring entirely on my own, so the company I find from venue to venue is what keeps it worthwhile my doing. I’ve come to learn over the years that saying YES is a very good habit to get into when you’re out and about. You end up seeing amazing things, and getting onto some of the world’s best rollercoasters for free. It’s great.

Is there anything you dislike?
Although I do feel extremely comfortable on tour, I always miss home. When I lived alone it wasn’t so bad…in fact it hardly mattered that I was away from the place. Nowadays I live with my girlfriend and my spaniel though, so that makes it an awful lot harder to be away. Maybe I’ll train them up as tour management and security…that could work…?

Do you have any interesting anecdotes or stories from previous tours?
One of the greatest moments I’ve ever had out and about playing was at a small art-house cinema in Konstanz, Germany. My friend Christian was working there, so one night he arranged for us to hire the place out and use it for a show. Loads of his friends from the local university came along, it was a great night. But the best part came after the show, after everybody had left…we’d been to the local rental shop earlier and picked up a copy of Rocky, so I got to watch one of the greatest movies ever made, in a proper cinema, as a private showing. That was a pretty huge life highlight.

 

Charlie will be heading out on tour next month. The dates run as follows:

7th Oct – Firebug, Leicester
11th Oct – Old Blue Last, London
14th Oct – Maguire’s Pizza Bar, Liverpool
18th Oct – A Carefully Planned Festival, Manchester
19th Oct – Flying Duck, Glasgow
23rd Oct – Hot Numbers Coffee, Cambridge

About Natalie Humphries 1780 Articles
Soundscape's editor, who is particularly fond of doom, black metal and folk (but will give anything a chance). Likes to travel to see bands abroad when she can. Contact: nathumphries@soundscapemagazine.com or @acidnat on twitter.

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