23 December 2011
Interview with Dan Barrett
Well, It's finally here. My interview with Dan Barrett, runner of Enemies List Home Recordings, and member of the bands Have A Nice Life and Giles Corey. Enjoy.
New Year's Resolution (Blog)
Enemies List Home Website
Me: How Many Bands Have You Been In?
Dan: How many bands have I been in... Uh.... Hmm... I don't know that's a good question. *Laughs*
I've been in bands... More or less consistently since I was in 6th grade, which was a while ago now.... Like a lot of people who played music, I was in bands in high school and sorta started doing music seriously when I got to college.. So since then, I've been in about 4 or 5 bands.
Me: So Which Bands Are You Currently In?
Dan: Uh, well I'm currently in the band Have A Nice Life, Which is myself and Tim Macuga, who's a really good friend of mine, And we started Have A Nice Life when we were in college. And then I'm currently doing a side project called Giles Corey, which I released a first record for just this year. And you know, the are always those.. Offsite projects that are, in my head and that I want to address but don't really exist, but those are the 2 that.. Take up my time.
Me: Tell Us A Little Bit About Enemies List Recordings.
Dan: Well, Enemies List Home Recordings is the record label that Tim and I actually started about 5 or 6 years ago now. And it basically started as a way to put out Have A Nice Life stuff. We were just kinda recording on our own and didn't really know anybody. We were very disconnected, and still are, from the regular music scene, because we don't really play concerts, we don't really.. You know where just not quite tapped into that regular scene. We were very skeptic. We didn't really know anyone that would want to put out our stuff, or even knew we where in a band, so we started Enemies List as a way to release our own music. And, ya know, its kinda grown from there. Essentially, it's a label that releases home recordings, so we really focus on people who are recording outside of the kind of studio system. And we really just try to put out music that is.. Interesting, or important, or shares our aesthetic sense, you know. It doesn't really matter what genre it is, it's really more of an issue of sharing a similar philosophy and sharing a feeling of what music and good music.. is. And its just grown steadily since then, still the same people, and we still use it to put out our records and records that we like.
Me: What other artists have you put out music from on Enemies List?
Dan: Um, well, theres a couple different.. Yeah, one of the first records we put out was an album recorded by my brother, my brother Will Barret, who records under the name AfterLives, And he's kind of the perfect example of what we put out. He had never recorded a record before, never even written music before, so it was really interesting to hear. You know, you could like go back in time and say "what was the first song I ever wrote?", It's just this thing that comes out of you, and that's kinda what we got out him. We put out our friend M. Kestigan, who has a band American Addio, and it's this really fanatic, almost like hyperactive synth, sorta pop project, but it's mainly stuff that is really fun to listen to. He has these really... Intellectual lyrics, and it's really incredible. We have this guys named Mamaleek, who are really bizarre, black metal brothers from San Francisco, who have, ya know middle eastern influences, world music influences, stuff like that. The next album we're releasing ia from a band named Dweller On The Threshold, an they are... Just, completely amazing. Just really amazing. They have all these members from other bands. They have a really.. Sprawling, epic kind of... It sounds like a western scene. Lots of Indie or post rock. It's just essentially people who send us stuff that we like.So it's a lot of different bands, but they're all pretty awesome I think.
Me: Could We Ever Expect A Have A Nice Life or Giles Corey Tour?
Dan: It's not really like we made a concept decision that we wer never going to play out, not play shows, i mean, I love playing live, It's one of my favorite things to do. The problem is really 2-fold for us, and It's a kind of problem that show us up for most of the music that Enemies List puts out, is that 1): these songs are part recorded, you know, It's not like we get together in a basement and we write songs and we play them, kinda like you would with a more traditional band. You know Giles Corey and Have A Nice Life are written as recordings! There's... a lot of instrumentation, there's parts for you know 7 or 8 people, but there is actually only 1 or 2 people there recording it. Like, for Have A Nice Life, It's really hard for us to re-create some of that stuff live, without having a lot of it pre-recorded. And were not really interested in becoming that kinda of band, or playing like that. And 2): The second part of it is that, you know it's really really hard to try and get prepared, get people together, make a practice schedule, and get stuff really ready to be played live. And it's really hard for us to get people together. I mean, Tim and I, we really don't see each other too often. We both work full time, he has a lot going on, and I'm running the label and doing all this other stuff too. So, when we do actually get together, we focus on recording music. We can't together 3 times a week to make music. You know, it's not something that I would say won't happen, I mean I'd love to play out with Have A Nice Life, or maybe even Giles Corey, but it's just a very difficult proposition. And if were doing that, were really not making new stuf or working on the label. So my typical answer is that I'm just waiting for the right thing. Alcest came from Europe and we played a couple shows with them, cause I love that band, and it was really cool. If we have a lot of pre warning, we'll try to do it. I mean, I'd love to play out all the time, It's kind of how I got into music, and did a lot when I was younger, but it's hard to fit that into a stable life. It's one thing when you're 21, and you're just kind of touring around all the time, but i'm getting older. I have a job, and it's really hard to manage that stuff. So, you gotta pick your time and place.
Me: So, who are some of your musical Influences?
Dan: Well.....It's kind of a funny thing. I kind of have a rack of inspirations it seems for every project. Like, for Have A Nice Life, our goal was kinda to hit Sisters Of Mercy, Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine. Those 3 bands are 3 HUGE bands to me, and they really changed the way I thought about music. The Smiths are my favorite band, and ironically i don't feel they influenced the way I play. I mean, I just love that band, but I don't really hear much of them in the music I write. In terms of Giles Corey, I was really thinking in terms of old country singers, like Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash. I really like that era, you know with people like Willie Nelson, And just kind of smashing that into stuff like Elliot Smith, you know kinda that brand of indie-folk.... I don't know, I mean I don't really see a lot of connections between the music i play and the music I like. *Laughs* And I think that that might be because I'm not too good at music *Laughs Again*. I can't play The Smiths on guitar, because I'm not very good at guitar, so I have to work around my limitations, and that has a really big impact on how what I play sounds. But those are my big influences. Those are the big guys. To me.
Me: So are your home recordings made straight to tape?
Dan: Uh, everything we do is digital, I mean when we started, I literally knew NOTHING about recording. And I still know very little *Laughs*. I'm really can't stress this enough. i really don't know much about recording. Our first album was recorded almost entirely on Garage Band. Because it's what we had. It was free on my computer, and for the longest time I couldn't figure out how to plug a guitar into a computer. So it took me a while to figure that stuff out, I mean I didn't have any of that knowledge. I was always the singer in all of my bands. So i didn't have the equipment, the guitars, i mean that's just how we did it. Know, we use a logical recording program, and its done with guitar space, and looping drums and stuff like that. I mean people go to school just to learn all this stuff, and we just kinda fell into what we used. Literally just, add a little piece here and there. I used to just record into the microphones that went into my computer, cause it was all I had! So i mean I think it says a lot about where we are in our music and recording music. But those songs, like when I find an older song from that.. Era, I mean it sounds bad, but it actually also sounds partly decent! Even the horrible recording, even with not knowing how to record music, can be good enough to put a musical idea on paper and send it to someone. You don't really know a whole lot about it to at least start making music on your own.
Me: This is on topic, believe it or not, but have you heard of a music website named The Needle Drop?
Dan: Yeah. Anthony Fantano, he's from Connecticut. Definitely.
Me: Did You Know he made a review of the Giles Corey LP?
Dan: Yes I did. I saw it.
Me: How did you feel about it? I mean, he gave it a good one so...
Dan: Yeah. He's awesome. And he's from Connecticut, which is where I'm from, and so our local NPR station plays his show, which is also called The Needle Drop, And it's great. The dude is really goods at what he does. He knows a lot about music, he plays really interesting music, I really like his style of review, yeah. So I felt pretty honored to be on there and felt really good that he liked it. And he's a really cool dude. Hope to meet him sometime.
Me: Just had to ask, because that was how i found out about you, through the Giles Corey review.
Me: What was the last concert that you went to?
Dan: The last concert that I went to.. I actually very rarely go to see live music. It's weird, I used to go all the time, but as I get older, it has to be something really special for me to go out, because I'm crazy busy all the time, and the way I listen to music now, like when I'm walking or in quiet space. But the last show I went to, was actually the band Bear Hands. It has 2 people from the band In Pieces, a band I used to be in, and they're really good friends of mine, and now they're in Bear Hands, which is a really poppy, dancy band, and they're doing super well. They write really cool music. So it was a good night, got to hear some good msuic and see my friends. So yeah.
Me: What was the last album that you listened to [prior to this interview]?
Dan: Let me think.. That would have been... yesterday. What did I listen to yesterday... I think the last album that I listened to was... Actually i just listened the other day to the new Roots album, which is called Undun.
I listened to that, and thought it was pretty interesting. I actually really like Hip-Hop, but very rarely listen to it anymore. I mean, every day I listen too, all the bands I mentioned earlier, and all the bands I'm used too, so it was kind of a nice, branch out moment. So yeah. It was cool. It was a good album.
Me: Well, that was my last question. Any random stuff you'd like to say?
Dan: Uh, nope. Thanks for the interview, and tell people if they want to know more, visit the Enemies List website or Twitter. And that would be awesome.