Thursday, 12 January 2012

Little Barrie Interview in The Daily Yomiuri on 9th December 2006

Little Barrie growing up fast
By Stephen Taylor / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

It's the day after August's Summer Sonic rock festival and the lobby of Tokyo's ANA Hotel is teeming with small groups of teenage girls. Presumably, they're on the lookout for some of the stars that have graced the stage in Chiba for the "Tokyo" leg of the festival over the weekend.

When Little Barrie turn up they choose the seclusion of the hotel lounge rather than risk the lobby. They're looking a little ragged after playing both days at Summer Sonic, not to mention celebrating drummer Billy Skinner's birthday the night before. The thought of screaming girls might still be wishful thinking, but it certainly wouldn't go well with these three sore heads.

On their third trip to Japan, the group are pleased with their rising profile. As bassist Lewis Wharton remarks, "This [time] was different, everyone was ready [for us]," a point echoed by their frontman: a singer and guitarist who is indeed called Barrie, although he's no longer as little as his childhood nickname suggests.

"I think people maybe know us more," Barrie Cadogan says.

If more people knew them then, even more know them now. Their latest album, Stand Your Ground, has been selling well since its subsequent release in October, and the promotional video--shot in Japan--for their song "Pay to Join," has been a regular item on music TV channels. When the band walk on stage in Tokyo on Monday they'll find that many more people have discovered their soul-based funk rock, a style that owes as much to 1960s bands like the Small Faces as classic Motown.

So what kind of music has influenced the band?

"Barrie's into a lot of Blues and stuff, but we started talking over things like Sly and the Family Stone and a mixture of things," Wharton reveals.

Cadogan continues: "There's so much. Gene Vincent, Link Wray...[and] the indie bands in the late '80s--Stone Roses, Spacemen 3, My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr.--those groups."

"I saw something on TV with B.B. King and Chuck Berry and I just thought, 'Wow, these old guys have really got something, they seem to make their guitars talk,'" Cadogan says. "Gene Vincent I didn't discover until the last two or three years...and I became a big fan of Cliff Gallup, the guitar player for the Blue Caps."

Cadogan goes on to explain that the group are no overnight success--they've done the rounds.
"I'd started writing and making some music on my own, got a demo recorded and a small label, Stark Reality, that we put our first three singles out on, started up.

"For the next few years, we put out a few more 45s and started touring a bit and then did our first album."

That release, We Are Little Barrie, was recorded at Edwyn Collins' studio in London, after a meeting with Collins through former Rockingbird Andy Hackett.

"We wouldn't be here now if it wasn't for him 'cause at the time we could have done more recording with what was available, but the [other studios and producers] were a bit more geared towards things in the bravado, old heavy funk sound from the late '60s and early '70s. We like that, but we weren't just into that and getting hooked up with Edwyn started to open things out," Cadogan explains.

Still the group's recording schedule was rather restricted.

"He used the studio on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, so Wednesday was his free day. We used to go in there on a Wednesday," he adds.

Not that it caused any disruption for the band, as the bassist points out.

"We were working at the time so we'd just get that day off work and we didn't know any different, which was fine. We just couldn't believe that, basically, Edwyn's offered to do this for us, on tick [credit] so to speak, until something happens, so you just think yourself lucky."

The recording of Stand Your Ground in New York, with Dan the Automator twiddling the knobs behind the producer's console, was an altogether more demanding process.

"It was a learning experience; some things didn't work out as easily as we'd hoped...We rehearsed and recorded about 16 tracks in 14 days," admits Cadogan.

"I think we overstretched it really," adds Wharton. "We tried to bite off more than we could chew going over there. Dan wanted to work over there but it was a lot more expensive...we just run out of money. Trying to do everything transatlantically, even though it's supposed to be easy with the Internet and everything now, [it] wasn't at all [easy].

"Getting hold of everyone, getting everyone's schedules to work and match up proved an absolute nightmare,"

Nevertheless, the trio were happy with the resulting album, with "Pretty Pictures" a particular favorite with Cadogan.

"We wrote that together. It's the first song we've all written together, which was really cool because, for various reasons, we hadn't really had that collaborative thing before," Cadogan recalls.

It seems then that Stand Your Ground resulted in quite a lot of growing up for the group in line with their growing reputation.

At this point, the birthday-boy of the previous day enters the fray, having let the other two do all the talking. Japan has certainly made an impression on Skinner during the band's short trip:

"This is the place where a teenager would dream of growing up," Skinner says with an excited look.

"I saw a radio-remote controlled plane for 10 pounds (19 dollars) and I remember really wanting one and I couldn't afford one and I'm like, well they're 10 quid over here."

But like the band, he too has moved on.

"Did I buy it? Naah."

Little Barrie will play Dec. 11, 7 p.m. at Club Quattro in Shibuya, Tokyo, (03) 5466-0777; Dec. 13, 7 p.m. at Club Quattro in Hiroshima, (082) 542-2280; Dec. 14, 7 p.m. at Club Quattro in Shinsaibashi, Osaka, (06) 6281-8181; Dec. 15, 7 p.m. at Club Quattro in Nagoya, (052) 264-8211; and Dec. 18, 7 p.m. at Unit in Daikanyama, Tokyo, (03) 5466-0777.

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