Barricades Rise: on bandwagons, new found-fatherhood and future plans
Last month, Rekwired did a feature on acoustic folk-rock duo, Barricades Rise, so I recently caught up with the guys, vocalist Jonathan Coates and guitarist Michael McEntee, for an exclusive one-to-one interview about their upcoming music, what it’s like being in a Midlands-based band from the UK, and how they are both finding new-found fatherhood!
Let’s start off with the music, some of the subject matters that you cover in your tracks are quite deep. Do they draw on personal experiences, or do you just write music that you think people can relate to?
Jonathan: All of the songs have some kind of meaning to us. We are firm believers in not giving away the meaning of our songs, and letting the listener make up their own mind about what they could mean, or what the listener would like them to mean. I think that this allows our fans to become closer to the songs.
Michael: Every song is very personal to the individual who wrote the lyrics; sometimes we don’t even tell each other what they are about! But obviously, on the songs that we work on together lyrically, we discuss in detail what they are about.
That’s interesting; so every fan get their own meaning out of your songs…
So tell me, how do the two of you get together to write music, and how do you construct your music from the initial idea to the finished track?
Jonathan: We tend to write apart and then bring a song into the studio for the both of us to work on. Sometimes it’s a 95% finished song and other times it’s just the ‘bare bones’ of a song. For the past two albums, we wrote and recorded the record before we took the songs out onto the road. However, we want to change this for the next album and actually gig the songs first! The reason for this is that many of our songs have evolved and changed from the original album recording and we want to capture these progressed and developed versions of our original songs.
Michael: Even though a song could be 95% done by Jonathan or me, we still need the other input from each other to make it a Barricades Rise tune. It’s the small stuff that nobody else probably hears that helps mould the song into what it becomes.
Sounds like a great way to work! Good team effort, guys!
Just wondering, where do you think you fit into the current music scene, and do you care? There are so many people trying to do the same thing as Barricades Rise, how do you think you stand out from the crowd?
Jonathan: We class ourselves as being an ‘Acoustic Folk Rock Band’ and with artists like Mumford & Sons, Noah & The Whale and new band, Dry The River, currently enjoying success, I guess we would fit in nicely with acts like this. That said, we don’t try to follow a trend; we just write what we enjoy, and if people like it then that’s great! We pride ourselves on catchy melodies and a very energetic live show. When we get on stage we really get in to the songs and hit the guitars hard, stamp our feet, and get the heads banging. It is this that sets us apart from most other acoustic acts. Also, our interaction with our fans through social media and at gigs actually helps us to be a little different.
Michael: It’s kind of a coincidence that this ‘Folk Scene’ has appeared, as we started Barricades Rise in early 2007, and the scene kind of appeared around us rather than us thinking ‘Hey, here’s a bandwagon, let’s jump onto it!’ Once it all dies down we’ll still be writing acoustic folk-rock music, and rocking on stage, just as much as we are now!
Well that’s good to hear! And Dry the River are doing so well at the moment, hopefully Barricades Rise will follow in their footsteps!
Michael, your first child, Oscar, was born in January of this year, and Jonathan, your son Alex was born only two weeks ago in April 2012! Congratulations to you both!
Having recently become fathers as musicians, how do you balance your life outside of the band and still find the time to make an impact with your music?
Jonathan: Well, for me, I think it’s a little too early to answer that, however, since the birth of Michael’s son Oscar in January, we have still managed to keep Barricades Rise very much alive. We have released a ‘Covers, Demo & Live Album’ which is available to download, we have managed to fit in a few interviews, we have gained some reviews, and we have been featured on a few compilation albums, including Independent Music New’s Live Lounge Compilation. Obviously we have put gigging on hold for a while, which has been hard for us, but dates are now booked for this year from June onwards. So I guess we have juggled things OK so far!
Michael: It was hard to know where Barricades Rise stood up until the time my son was born. “Would it take a month to get back gigging? 3 months?” It’s been a complete life changer, but like Jonathan says, we’re still very much alive online, plus we’re back on the road in June!
Sounds like you are both adjusting to fatherhood pretty well, then!
You are both from a small town called Nuneaton in Warwickshire, and the Midlands is a really interesting place for music at the moment; bands like Peace and Troumaca have been snapped up by the major record labels – what do you think it is about the area which helps you to create great music?
Michael: With the internet everything is now local. We have recently been on 4 compilations with artists from around the world. The Midlands is an easy place to play gigs around as it’s on our doorstep, and it helps that our local fan base can spread the word about us!
Also, as a kind of folk-rock act, do you think that Barricades Rise goes against the grain of the area, as there seems to be a lot of electro-inspired indie music in the region at the moment?
Jonathan: It’s hard to tell. I think the ‘acoustic scene’ and the ‘full band scene’ are two different things, and they very rarely mix. It’s like two separate bubbles, and we don’t really feel a part of the ‘full band’ world as we don’t really know what’s going on trendwise. We tend to play different venues and I think that we attract different crowds. The acoustic scene in the area is very strong and there are some great performers and promoters that are doing amazing work around here.
Michael: I think that here is a great acoustic scene out there at the moment, but we don’t really hear the electric bands, due to not being on the same bill as them.
So Barricades Rise are definitely sticking to the acoustic folk-rock style, and not jumping on any electro bandwagon!
You say that you have some gig dates set from June onwards, can you tell us what events, gigs and tours that you have lined up?
Jonathan: Yes, we are easing back in to gigging again around June time, and have a few dates dotted about! We are playing a few festivals, some great acoustic nights and some house shows.
Michael: Last year we played loads of shows, but with us both becoming dads recently, we are picking and choosing the gigs that we play. Saying that, though, we already have 12 gigs lined up for June and July!
And finally, what can we expect from Barricades Rise in the near future?
Jonathan: I think we will start thinking about album number 3 towards the end of the year and then gig like crazy!
WEB: You can visit the duo’s official website for their constantly updated blog and all things Barricades Rise at: barricadesrise.co.uk
FACEBOOK: Like Barricades Rise on Facebook for FREE music, giveaways, band info and witty banter: facebook.com/barricadesrise
TWITTER – MICHAEL: Follow the BR Revolution with Michael: twitter.com/barricadesrise
TWITTER – JONATHAN: More from the BR Revolution with Jonathan: twitter.com/jc_barricades