Interview – Barney Barnett

Barney Barnett recently released a new album titled Small Stones, which I really enjoyed. I decided to have a chat with him to find out more about his music – see how we got on below!

By Jane Howkins

You recently released an album titled Small Stones, which we reviewed. What can you tell us about the album?

The title track, Small Stones is a very personal song. I’m not a very heart on sleeve person and I have been guilty of keeping a lot of things bottled up. The song is ultimately about going through tough times with someone else rather than alone. It’s about longing for the light at the end of the tunnel and feeling that all your problems would go away if you could run away from it all.

What is the writing and recording process like for you?

90% of the album I wrote alone. The way I write is that I pick up the guitar and start working on riffs or structures that come to me. Once I have a structure, I record it on my phone and add vocal melodies as a guide for lyrics. Once the lyrics have been written I’ll record vocals and harmonies on top of that guitar. I don’t really do anything drum wise until much later. This is usually in the form of a jam with my guitarist, Dan. He will learn the songs I send him and we will then have a session where I sit on drums and play along to him before hitting the studio. I know how the beat will go in my head so usually it’s a case of ironing out the creases. It sounds a bit close to the wire I know, but as a drummer I’m always writing music with the beat in my head. On the other songs that I have co-written, it’s been either me bringing an idea to those jams looking for a collaboration to finish the song off, or someone playing a riff and me picking up on that and asking if they would like to make a song out of it and write with me. Generally though, it’s mostly me that writes it all.

Then we hit the studio. Dan will play the riffs to click track as a guide for me and then I’ll record all the drum and percussion parts. Gethin Lock, who played bass on the album, was then sent those drum parts with guitar guides so that he could learn the songs and play what I wanted him to play. We had a couple of video calls to go through it then he showed up and nailed the whole album in one day!

After that was done, Dan had a couple of days to do guitars (with me there to guide him through what I wanted) and I also recorded acoustic parts. After that we had a day for me to record all the saxophone parts before finishing up with a few days for vocals.

Do you plan to release any singles in the near future?

There will be something later in the year to look out for.

Have you started writing for another EP or an album, or is it too early at the moment?

I have actually. I stopped myself from writing when we were recording the album as I didn’t want to write something that I wished I had gotten onto Small Stones. However, I started writing again at the end of last year and currently have 4 songs I’m happy with for album number 2. I won’t be recording that for a while though.

Has the pandemic hindered your work much?

The pandemic actually gave me an opportunity to slow down and focus on my solo work. If it wasn’t for the pandemic then I’m not sure this album would have happened. It took longer than I wanted to complete due to the lockdowns that were put in place but if I’m honest, without the lockdowns I wouldn’t have got this out. I just need to get gigging it now. I have a band in place learning the songs and the gigs are starting to come in towards the end of the year. I’d like to get out by July though so watch this space.

What/who influences you most as an artist? What have you been listening to recently?

I’m a huge Ozzy fan. He’s my favourite artist of all time. I’m not sure you can hear it too much in my music but he is definitely one. Other favourite bands that have influenced me hugely are Foo Fighters, The Cult and The Rolling Stones. You can probably pick out those three. However, overall I listen to everything from Diana Ross to Slipknot so I guess a lot of different genres have influenced me. I have quite a vast taste in music. Last night I put my liked songs on Spotify on shuffle and Slayer followed Harry Styles. I love it all.

Where are you based? What is the music scene like in your part of the world?

I live in a small town just outside of Cardiff called Llantwit Major. The music scene there is pretty non existent for original artists but down the road in one direction is Cardiff which has a great scene that I’ve spent a lot of time around, and in the other direction is Bridgend and Swansea which also have good scenes. South Wales is known for its music I guess. It’s a great vibe with a lot of talented musicians.

Do you have any tour dates lined up?

No tour dates booked, no. At the end of the year I have something I can’t announce yet but I’m hoping to get the band out there this summer. We are more or less ready but our drummer and his wife have just had a baby so they need some time to settle in.

What can people expect from one of your shows and why should people come and see you perform live?

High energy, fun and good times. I will always give 110% and I think I put on a pretty good live show. The only way to find out is to come along and see I guess, so keep an eye out for dates.

Any last words for the fans?

Just to thank everyone who has supported me so far. It means the world. Thank you.