Barcelona Talk "Not Quite Yours" and Debut "Watching Me" Live Video on ARTISTdirect.com
Tue, 08 May 2012 07:17:25
"On Not Quite Yours, there's not much between the listener and me," smiles Barcelona frontman Brian Fennell of his group's latest album.
In fact, Fennell pulls his audience tightly into a warm embrace punctuated by vulnerable production, lush guitars, and pensive, poetic lyrics. There's not much space at all, and that's the most profound aspect of the album. It's impossible not to feel Fennell's unbridled emotion on songs like "Slipping Away", "Less Than Two", and "Watching Me". As a result, this one of the best indie releases of 2012 and a major milestone for Barcelona.
ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino sat down with Barcelona mainman Brian Fennell for an exclusive interview about Not Quite Yours, movies, and so much more.
In addition, Barcelona teamed up with ARTISTdirect.com to debut this exclusive video of the band performing "Watching Me" live from B50 in Seattle!
Watch the Video Below!
Get Not Quite Yours on iTunes!
Read Brian's Q&A Below!
What's your take on Not Quite Yours as a whole? Did you approach it with one specific vision in mind?
It's funny. When the songs were being written, it felt disjointed. I think that's why we were really looking forward to working with a producer outside of the band. I would do these demos, and they were all over the map. As a funny side note, we gave away the demos as part of one of the Kickstarter packages we did raising money for this release. In demo form, "Slipping Away" almost sounds like a shitty dubstep remix [Laughs]. It's hilarious. When we first met with Kevin Augunas, we expected to play him our versions of the songs as they felt comfortable for us. He totally deconstructed all of that by making me play the songs naked on just piano or guitar and singing them. From that point forward, the cohesiveness started to form. There was no forced shape, form, or mold that it was being crammed into anymore. The genre isn't really obvious, and I like that about the record. The instrumentation is really simple. The whole thing is pretty easy to swallow. It's not super polished. I'm glad it took on a cohesive form after being really disjointed when we started working on it.
You arrived at the sound very naturally at the end of the day.
Definitely! There's been enough space. When we first finished the record, we were all really excited. Then, I went through a phase wondering if anyone would like it. Finally, it came back around it. It has a flow to it, and there's not much standing in the way of the songs. I think the listener will be able to get what I'm talking about here a little easier than on the first album. I'm excited about that.
What's the story behind "Less Than Two"?
I think that's my favorite. "Less Than Two" is definitely special to me. I had these two close friends who were basically married without being married. As long as I'd known them, they'd been together. They were this established figure in my everyday life. They were a solid unit. Gradually, it became really obvious to them that things were starting to fall apart in their relationship. It wasn't projected outwardly at all. After talking to one of the people as it was ending, she summed it up really well saying, "The feeling I have is I'm less than what I started with in this relationship. I've given up a lot for this person. In that, I've sacrificed some of myself, my character, and identity. Now, I feel less than a whole person." I thought that was super eloquent. When you're in a relationship, you give so much of yourself. That looks different for so many people. In this case, it was less than two people. That's where "Less Than Two" comes from. They'd grown to be less than their full identity and character should be as two wonderful people, trying to force something which wasn't working. It's not a happy song, but it's not the most depressing song ever. It tries to be honest about having that moment of clarity in a relationship you know is ending. It worked well at the end. Being able to have a singer-songwriter-style song or two in our repertoire is a part of Barcelona I really cherish.
Where did "Evermore" come from?
It's a catchy, fun song about the quintessential thing I love to write about which is fighting for something that might not be worth fighting for [Laughs]. We're all okay at the end of the day because that's what we all do.
If you were to compare Not Quite Yours to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
That's a really good question. I'm trying to think of a movie or specific type of movie. Because we didn't really pull too many punches in the production—we didn't take a lot of shortcuts or make things too obvious in terms of what we were trying to convey musically or lyrically—I don't think it's a big blockbuster type of movie. It is cinematic in its movement. It's easy to watch these emotions go by you as you're listening to the songs. It takes you through a feeling. It's not super thrilling or overly emotive. It's not like a chick flick or action movie. If you stick with it through the whole thing, you'll get the whole story and see how it connects back to that theme overall of that time in my life as the writer. I like movies like that. Maybe I'm projecting what I like as far as stories go on my music [Laughs]. We'll just call it, "Independent film about a relationship that isn't too happy or too sad." You know those films that try to be transparent about relationships that have sad moments and reconciled moments as well? I was going to say Blue Valentine, but that's really upsetting. It was a good movie, but it was so visceral. You felt it. One of my favorite movies is Love Liza with Philip Seymour Hoffman. It's another sad one. There's a sadistic bright side to things in dark comedy. I don't know if my music reflects that, but I connect to it in film. I like movies like Drive too. Ryan Gosling is a good guy in it. He wanted to do things right within this moral compass in the world. He wasn't the bad guy, but he wasn't the good guy by any means. He meant well, but that meant he brutally killed people and was involved in some of the worst things you could be involved in. A lot of times in my life, I've had good intentions but totally screwed things up. Those movies take you out of something normal, but they're extremely relatable.
What artists shaped you?
Coming out of making the record, we were listening to a lot Black Keys. I was also connecting to Dan Auerbach's solo material like crazy too especially the minimalist production and emphasis on melody. On the first record we did, I was way into the UK rock sound that was coming out at the same time. I've definitely moved on to less programmed music in terms of making it poppy, with the exception. I love Elbow because of the risks they take in writing songs. I'm in this weird hip hop phase now. I'm giving Childish Gambino a shot. I'm really like The Weekend. I'm also finally getting into M83.
Do you dig Barcelona?
Catch them on tour!
Confirmed Tour Dates:
5/17 Spokane, WA A Club
May 18# Seattle, WA Columbia City Theater (SOLD OUT)
May 19#Seattle, WA Columbia City Theater
May 22^ Portland, OR Backspace Café
May 23^ Oakland, CA The New Parish
May 26^ Santa Barbara, CA Muddy Waters
May 27 ^ Anaheim, CA Chain Reaction
May 29* San Diego, CA The Griffin
May 30^* Los Angeles, CA The Satellite
June 1* Tempe, AZ Red Owl June 13* Denver, CO Marquis Theatre
June 14* Salt Lake City, UT Kilby Court
^ with Terraplane Sun
# with Motopony, Lucas Field
* with Churchill