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QRD #65 - Getting by with friends
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Jason Young
Jamie Barnes
Mike VanPortfleet
Scotty Irving
Shaun Sandor
Ben Vendetta
Ben Link Collins
Nick Marino
Joe Kendrick
Brian John Mitchell
Carl Kruger
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Interview with Bedroom Popist Jamie Barnes
September 2013

Jamie Barnes is the first member of the Silber family to come from a demo instead of being a long time friend first.  That was probably ten years ago.  I’m happy to think I had some sort of positive impact on him & his brand of bedroom pop over the years.

QRD – So the past several years you’ve been focusing your musical efforts as a music minister at your church.  How was that experience both different & the same as working in the indie music industry?

Jamie – Yes, I have been a worship pastor at a large church here in Louisville for the last 5 years or so, but that excursion has recently come to a temporary halt. The role of a spiritual shepherd is one not to be taken lightly & currently I’m taking time to iron out some of my own deficiencies before I think about returning to that heavy role of leadership. Making music in the church is very different from the indie scene because it’s all about service. When I write songs for that specific audience, a lot of the art gets sacrificed for the sake of it being comprehensible to a large group of people. The ideas have to be clear & understood. The music has to be congregationally singable. When I’m making art for large audience, i.e. not the church, I am free to be as vague or as cryptic as I want to be with language or as musically simple or complicated as the song requires. It’s not about good art versus bad art, but more like making art for a specific context versus having complete artistic freedom to say whatever you want to say. I like working in both realms because both have equal challenges & rewards. But, now I get to focus on one area that I haven’t in a while. They are only similar in the way that they are both fields that can be hard to make a living at. :)

QRD – So word on the street is you’re going to be coming back around to the Silber sphere.  How many songs do you have waiting to be recorded from the past few years?

Jamie – Yep. I love the Silber family & am glad it’s still a vehicle I can count on for my music. I have quite a bit of material that I have being doing live for a few years that still have never made it to tape. I’d say half an album’s worth. Plus I’m currently working on a few things like the unique 5 in 5 series for Silber Records & I am sitting on a bunch of unreleased recordings & live stuff that might be fun to release sporadically for a while to regenerate interest in my solo stuff. I’m also going to re-release The Paper Crane EP that came out in 2006 on the now defunct Belgian label Sundays in Spring. It’s been unavailable for a while & I’m excited to get that back out there to listeners. Hoping people stay tuned for all that.

QRD – I know years ago when it seemed like touring was the natural next step in your career, you decided not to because you didn’t like traveling in that way.  Now that you have a house & a son & touring seems less of a possibility, do you wish you had done more touring?

Jamie – Yeah. I think I mostly hated the uncertainty & difficult grind of touring. Actually, playing with Sojourn Music over the last few years afforded me the opportunity to travel more than ever & play music overseas. It was great because it was never on my own dime & it was generally for audiences that were guaranteed to be there. I got a chance to play a solo show in a bar/club in Wales last spring on one of those trips & it felt really good to have a generous audience of 300-400 Welsh folks. I doubt there are too many of those opportunities waiting ahead without those specific circumstances, so I’m not really planning on expansive touring in the future. I’m a homebody anyways. Having a wife & son that miss you when you’re gone is reason enough to stay close for me.

QRD – So I was lucky enough to see you playing in your worship band & was surprised that you were doing stuff with loops & distortion rather than it being acoustic guitar oriented.  Will those kinds of sounds be worked in to your future recordings?

Jamie – Thanks. Yeah, I think so. I’ve fallen in love with the electric guitar again & finally got my chops back up. I think it’s only natural a lot of what I’ve been doing lately will find it’s way into future recordings. My Martin acoustic is still my primary instrument that serves as the centerpiece of most of what I do. But I have a Grestch Country Gentleman Junior & an American Fender Strat that have been mighty good friends lately.

QRD – For your upcoming recordings, do you think it will be just you or you’ll incorporate a full band?

Jamie – For the last 5 years I’ve been mostly collaborating with others & working & arranging music for full bands. I’m actually looking forward to simplifying things & being alone with my work for a bit. I kind of like the idea of being solely accountable for whatever is put to tape. However, I know a lot of great musicians & if a song calls for a particular performance that I can’t pull off myself, I will more than likely ring up a favor. We’ll see. I had toyed around the last year with the idea of launching a full band that plays music under a different name than my own. That idea isn’t completely dead.

QRD – Are you going to rebuild your home studio or do you think you’ll end up recording elsewhere?

Jamie – I’m going to try to rebuild the old home studio, but it might be a while before I can fund everything I want for it. I’ve publicly bashed Kickstarter enough that I can’t go down that road... so I’m hoping that some of unreleased material & The Paper Crane EP re-release will help to that end. I have friends who have proper studios & folks that are generous to offer their time & resources to me. But I am looking forward to being alone with my songs & being able to be as patient & meticulous with them as I want.

QRD – Do you feel the future for you is writing singles, EPs, or albums?

Jamie – We’ll see what the songs demand. But honestly, I’ll release whatever people will buy. People still buy music, right?

QRD – Do you think suffering & depression are things that drive you to make music or debilitate your ability to create or both?

Jamie – I think both paths are just as easy to take. When I’m down, sometimes ideas & songs come super easy & it’s all I can do to get them all down. Suffering & sorrow have a way of welling up the need to emote & lament out loud, which is healthy. But, suffering also has a way of swallowing your motivation. You wake up emotionally exhausted & depressed. You don’t want to do anything so you watch 3 or 4 cycles of the day’s Sportscenter & before you know it your day is gone & you have nothing productive to show for it. Hard times can bring great poetry, but there is still work to do. That’s my fight every day right now.

QRD – Which weighs more, you or your guitar rig (guitar, pedal board, & amplifier combined)?

Jamie – Ha! Well, it’s no secret I’m a small guy. However, like I said, lately I’ve been eating my feelings. I’m about 5’6 & 135lbs these days. I finally have some gear I’m happy with & it’s hard not to add to it when companies like Strymon keep making awesome pedals. Not sure which is growing faster, my pedalboard or my gut.

QRD – Just in case some people reading this don’t know, how freaking awesome is Kelsey & where would you be without her?

Jamie – Well, my wife of 11 years is freaking awesome & it would be impossible to attempt to express that through words. But she’s everything to me. She is gracious, patient & sacrificially loving. A true gift from God that I could have never earned & will never stop being grateful for. Without hyperbole, I’d probably be dead without her.

QRD – Anything else?

Jamie – I have this utter fascination with the negro baseball leagues of the early - mid 20th century & I’ve always fantasized about writing an album based on the stories & legends of that era. That sounds like a horrible idea, right?

Other QRD interviews with Jamie Barnes:
Musician Dad interview with Jamie Barnes (May 2012)
Christian Musician interview with Jamie Barnes (March 2011)
Guitarist interview with Jamie Barnes (June 2010)
Interview with Jamie Barnes (February 2007)

Interview with Jamie Barnes (May 2006)
i heart fx - Jamie Barnes (May 2006)