by Jasper Intern Jasmine Ranjit
Hailing from Columbia, SC, Barnwell is an alt-rock band with a dash of country crooning. Barnwell’s lead singer, Tyler Gordon, answered a few questions about the development of the band, their first two albums and the future.
Q: How was the band formed?
TG: Barnwell started in 2014 when I had a set of songs I'd written and wanted to record. I hadn't really done much in the way of writing or playing live in a few years and I was very eager to get back at it. I recorded them with the help of a couple friends, and it became The First Ghost. From there we started playing live with some rotating people and now it's a set lineup with Ross Swinson, Nick Fogle, and Nate Puza.
In Motel Art, your voice seems to take on different personas, from protective in “Some One” to vulnerable in “Talk Me Down.” Were your inspirations for these tracks different?
Yes, they're about two totally different things. “Talk Me Down” has a lot more uncertainty to it, so much so that there's multiple people talking in that song. It's pretty common for a song I write to end up being about a feeling, or a broader concept rather than an event, or a specific person, or something like that. But both types of songs do happen.
In an interview with the Free Times, you said that “faith in God” was a major theme of The First Ghost. Do you see that influence in your present work as well?
Not nearly as much. The First Ghost was, unbeknownst to me at the time, my processing religion through songs. Motel Art has some of that in there, but not a ton. My feelings about religion shifted drastically about 5 years ago, and The First Ghost was a reflection of that. It's still something that ends up in the writing sometimes, but I've never really sat down and intended on a theme for a record, or anything like that.
Is Barnwell working on new music?
Yes, we're writing a new record right now. It's much more collaborative as far as the actual songwriting process this time around, and it's really fun. It also makes for better songs than were on The First Ghost or Motel Art because Ross, Nate, and Nick are great musicians, and humans, and we all work well together. I like to think I know when to get out of their way at this point and let them take the song sketches I show up to practice with to a way better place.
Should listeners expect a departure from The First Ghost and Motel Art?
--There's definitely a different feel to the new material we're writing now. I'd say the new record will still sound like a Barnwell record, but so far it's got a lot of elements to the songs that we didn't really use much on Motel Art, which is exciting for us.
Barnwell has a concert this Thursday at NBT, what should listeners expect from the set?
We're going to be playing some new songs (3 of them, I think) that we expect will be on the new record, whenever we end up recording. So we hope people will come out to have a listen to where the new material is going. But of course we're also still going to be playing a lot of the songs from Motel Art, and probably a couple off The First Ghost as well. Listeners should also expect to be super disappointed if they don't get there early enough to see the whole bill, because Mel Washington, Danny Black, and The Gardener and the Willow are all really great. We're excited to be on the bill with all those guys.
This Thursday, June 1st, Barnwell is performing at New Brooklyn Tavern alongside acts Mel Washington, Danny Black and The Gardener & The Willow. The concert will begin at 7:30.