Barns has such a distinctive voice and his songs will get trapped in your mind. We were so excited to catch up with the up-and-coming rock babe at Hangout Fest this year, especially since he had quite the interesting show. He ended up stripping down to his boxers during his set.
“The people were asking for it…I don’t know why they just started chanting for me to take my clothes off,” Barns says as he’s showing us photos on his phone from the performance. He jokes, “I am a man with feelings and emotions not some sexual object.” He made it into a ceremony, inviting people on stage to dance with him.
All stripping aside, his set was amazing. You can just tell he has that spark, he’s absolutely captivating on stage. Barns has always just been a performer. He grew up imitating accents from movies. He did about three different ones during the course of our chat. He says that’s just part of who he is.
He adds, “I’m a performer, and both my grandparents were singers in Big Bands during the war. It’s very much a part of my history. I didn’t know if I wanted to go into music or acting but when I left Seattle, the first guys I met were in a band and from there we played shows and got signed and then got dropped.”
However, what Barns could’ve taken as a definitive end to his music career, he took as a motivator. While all of his friends were graduating from school and having kids, he felt a little lost. He was handing out flyers and selling cigarettes at clubs. His girlfriend was nagging him about when he was going to give up on the whole music thing.
He says, “It was this burning hunger in my gut to be in the industry again and to make music for a living. I felt all the resolve and the passion I had from my youth draining out of me and I couldn’t believe my life degraded to this point where I was handing out flyers and cigarettes. I thought, ‘No fuck this I’ve got to do something with my life,’ and that’s the basis for this EP.”
That sound that he has that’s so distinctive and different, it’s harder and bluesier, and that comes from that depression and that hunger to get back to where he was but better. In the end it was good because it got him to where he is now.
He says, “It was good because the music it facilitated was very truthful and I think that’s why I’m attracted to blues. It’s music that facilitates sadness and depression.”
Barns also adds that the rest of the record might surprise his listeners. He’s been listening to a lot of different influences and there’s a lot more he has to offer. He says there’s a lot of influence from everyone from The Beatles, Prince, and even Franz Liszt. I joke, “I hear he was a babe,” and he adds, “Good ol’ Franz he’s a saucy motherfucker.” I can’t wait to hear how that plays a role.
Barns says that having a plan B is never a good option when it comes to music. He gives this example, “If you’re studying to be a doctor you don’t also study to be a lawyer in case the medical degree doesn’t work out.”
Sometimes it’s easier to go the safe route, and you feel better knowing you have a fall back. People do this with all sorts of career paths but when it’s so easy to fall back on something it makes it easier to give up. Talent isn’t everything, work ethic and personal drive mean so much more.
He adds, “In an industry as competitive as this one you need to put all your eggs into one basket and work as hard as you can. Talent is bullshit. That’s not a thing. Some people are born with a head start in life. Some people are born with a good voice, but anything in life you want you can get. You can learn. I worked my little tits off until I could sing and play. All you need is passion and drive and ludicrous self belief. You can do it, and the sad thing is not everyone realizes that.”