Friday, August 4, 2017

Logan Barker - Barlow Interview (2017)

Photo by Brandon Richter

We are to speaking to the Bassist, and vocalist of the heavy metal powerhouse that is Barlow. If you haven’t heard them, than you should, and if you haven’t heard FROM them, then you will! That is, if you chose to keep reading, which you should.

Thanks for the interview Olivia!

Barlow is a heavy metal band out of Salt Lake City, Utah. How is it to be a metal band around there? Is there much of a metal, or just music in general, scene going on there?

Being a band in Utah is rad because there is an endless supply of killer bands of every genre, including METAL! It seems like the scene picks up and slows down but there are always good shows going on.

Adam “Smelly” Kelly used to be in a band called Killbot that formed in 2005, or so i’ve read, from the same location. Had you guys all known each other when he was in that band, and were you doing anything band wise, at the time, or had you just played bass just to play bass?

When Smelly was in killbot early on Mark (our drummer) and I were still in high school. We didnt know Smelly at the time but we idolized killbot! When killbot broke up we had a band called Merlins Beard going and recruited him to play guitar, it was a wet dream come true. We eventually progressed the band into its current form Barlow.

That brings me to this next question, do you just play bass, or do you play other instruments as well?

I play guitar as well. In Merlins Beard I played guitar and handled vocals.

You also sing for the band, when was it you started singing, and what made you choose the style of vocals for the band, and had you tried several before that?

When we were starting up our band Merlins Beard we had a really hard time finding a singer. We had tried a few classifieds ads, but no dice. So I Just started yelling and screeching into the mic at band practice, and it sort of just fell into place as time went on. I am a bit reclusive so it was never anything i had planned on doing. In the early days I had a really shitty James hetfield vibe going on but its getting better!

Is it difficult to keep a full sound live while just being a three piece, or does everything flow well? Not saying that in the sense that a three piece is not good in any sense- Venom is one of my favorite bands, so that would make no sense. Just was wondering.

Everything flows pretty well usually. Ive got a pretty nasty bass sound which helps things blend better. Being a three piece is a gravy train with bisquit wheels.

Photo by Brandon Richter
Logan ripping it up

What kind of gear do you use, and was there a specific tone you were going for on bass for this band?

Ive got a Rickenbacker 4003W bass, 1968 Peavey Dynabass head , Ampeg 810 Cabinet, and a fuzzrocious demon pedal. I picked up the head at the swap meet for $30. I would say the bulk of my tone comes from the Ric and the Pedal. I was going for disgusting.

The forming of Barlow came to be in the futuristic year of 2016. Do you recall when you all decided to be a band, or had you all had it in mind for a while?
I was getting really burnt out on our old band and decided to try something a little heavier. We started as a four piece but lost our founding guitar player before we recorded the EP. Being a three piece was easier and really helped define our sound and direction, so we stuck with it.

Is it fairly easy to get gigs in Salt Lake City, and what is it like in general to live there, anything interesting?

Yeah I think its pretty easy once you've been playing for a bit. Smelly is the only one that lives in SLC and he loves it. Mark and I live about 45 minutes north in Syracuse, which is the burbs. SLC is a rad place with lots of rad people but I'm sure its a lot like any other city. People from out of state like to make fun of us for drinking shitty beer and being polygamists but we dig it.

Who was it that came up with the idea of the cover art for the EP, and who illustrated it? I really like the art, and it stuck in my mind and I remembered the music was awesome, so I kept on looking it up on youtube and have listened to it a lot.

Amy Nelson! She is a very talented artist and also happens to be Marks long time girlfriend. We couldn't come up with any good ideas so we just asked her to draw a picture of the band being creeps. It turned out super awesome, and she even drew up the entire alphabet in the font! The bat is my favorite.

Was the name “Barlow” the first choice for the band, and how did that come to be the one?

It was the only choice, and our first guitar player Mike Elliot came up with it. Mike is super badass and was way into Stephen King at the time. In the novel/flick Salems Lot, the ancient evil vampire is named Kurt Barlow. Were easy so we accepted.
Adam "Smelly" Kelly laying down some riffs
Photo by Brandon Richter

The songs you guys have as of now on the self titled EP are available on Cd. Do you guys just sell them at shows, and do you have any plans in the future to distribute them other ways? And do you all want to release it on any different formats?

We will put the album on some streaming sites soon, but will probably sell most of them at shows.

There is music video of sorts for the song “The Witch”. What made you guys choose that song to do a video for, and who filmed it?

We filmed that in Ogden at Brook Mckees Studio/Haunted House, SunnyBrook Studios. He is the mastermind that recorded our EP, and does tons of killer live Videos at his studio. Look them up on youtube! We chose that song because its pretty heavy and we usually don't screw it up too bad. All we had to do was jam the song a couple dozen times, drink too many beers, and let him do the real work.

Do you guys practice pretty often, and where do you guys practice?

We are Utahs laziest metal band, Sometimes we practice regularly, sometimes not. We play in our drummers basement in the burbs.

So what do you guys do on your off time, and what is band practice like? Does it go on all day, just one straight play-through, or do you guys take breaks?

Were all working stiffs who spend a lot of time with our special lady friends and our families. Band practice can get derailed pretty easily, but we usually just drink 6 or 9 beers, run through the set, work on some new tunes, and hang out. We're not too worried most of the time, this band is purely a love of music. Marks got a great dane named Odin who loves to party, so we usually end up wrestling around with him a bit, or playing some Super Ghouls and Ghosts.

What would you say your lyrics are about for those that have not heard any of Barlow, and what would you say you guys are going for sound-wise, or have achieved, rather? I feel you guys have forged your own sound.

I think lyrical content is a 50/50 split. The first half being personal reflection or opinions, the second half being horror themed gruesomeness. The EP has tracks based on movies like Reanimator and Silver Bullet, but also other self written horror tales. The track titled Decide is exactly how I was feeling when we broke up our previous band.

What are some of your main influences, not just musicians, but anyone that has had an impact on you?

Valient Thorr, and Three Inches of Blood. These two bands had the biggest effect on me musically growing up and will always play a big part in my life. Nowadays my biggest influence is my wife Shayla and my two year old son Levon. They both love music as much as I do and keep me on my feet!

Mark Grey delivering the percussional goods

Is most of the writing for the band done by the whole band, or is there one person that does most of the writing?

I write all the lyrics and a big portion of the music. That being said its definitely a creation by all of us. We all have our individual styles that shine when were arranging and writing music. We will start with a basic idea and turn into something gnarly together.

Have there been good turnouts at gigs, and how has the audience responded to you guys?

We've had some really awesome gigs where the crowd was pumped and really dug us, and we've had gigs where the crowd was non-existent! You just never know.

What do you all believe a good performance is both live, and as a presentation of yourselves in the studio? As in just the attitude in general of the band, and why you all feel like sticking to what you do in terms of playing music?

We just try to be ourselves and have a good time, I think that shows in our music. Honesty and not trying to stick to one particular sound is just natural for us. The less you think about it the better it seems to come out.

Had you had any other bands before this one, if so, what were they, and what came of them?

Mark, Smelly, and I all played in Merlins beard together. Smelly is a hardcore troubadour and has played in tons of band Such as Killbot, Merlins Beard, a Gwar cover band called Scumdogs, and more. He currently plays in the best thrash band around, DEATHBLOW!!! Check em out.

I noticed that on the band page on facebook for Barlow your listed as playing the “Dad guitar”, and Adam plays “Mom guitar”, which is a reference to the show flight of the conchords, if I’m not mistaken. Is that one of the shows you guys all like? And what other shows do you like?

Haha I'm glad you caught that. Yeah FOTC rules. There's so much good television out there its hard to narrow it down but I think Its Always Sunny is the best.

Where did you guys record the EP, and did it take long to get done, or was the overall process pretty smooth and enjoyable?

We recorded it in Ogden at SunnyBrook Studios. Brook Mckee is the wizard over there and we had a killer time. We recorded the basic tracks live and it went super smooth. Lots of drinking and shenanigans. It took us a little while because we only hit the studio once a week or so. But it was awesome and we cant wait to record with him again.

Will we see more Barlow material in the near future, and perhaps even maybe some gigs in a few states sometime in the future?

Were writing some more material now with plans to record ASAP! We will see what time brings.

Thanks for your time, Logan!

Thank you Olivia! This was my first interview and I enjoyed every question!

Photo by Brandon Richter