James Barker Band – Game On
By: Jamie Steinberg
Q) How would you describe your sound?
A) I think a good way to describe our music would be progressively produced, but written with a blend of traditional and new country influences. We try to keep our stuff pretty fresh, but I’m a classic country guy at heart.
Q) Who are some of your musical influences?
A) We have a long list of influences – everything from George Strait, Keith Urban and Eric Church, to The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Led Zeppelin and Kendrick Lamar.
Q) Talk about the story behind your new song “It’s Working.”
A) It’s funny, “It’s Working” was the first tune that was written when we started trying to figure out what our first release to radio would be. It kind of sat on the back burner for a while, about a year and a half actually. We would occasionally play it at shows and fans always seem to go crazy for it. It’s crazy how sometimes you get bored of a song because it’s not new anymore, but then you go listen to it six months later and think, “Damn, that song actually isn’t half bad!”
Q) What do you think it is about the song that fans connect to?
A) I think it’s a really relatable song. It speaks to anyone who’s ready for the weekend, ready to blow off steam and maybe even ready to meet that special someone. The song has a cool kind of potential feeling about it that it makes you feel like something cool is about to happen.
Q) How does the video for the track play into the message behind it?
A) The video for this track is different than our past videos because it’s a recap of our tour with Dean Brody in the Spring, shot by our good friend Pedro Rosa. I don’t think any of us could have imagined that the video was going to turn out as cool as it did. It takes the spot for my favorite one of our videos to date because it shows a lot more our personalities.
Q) How did your album Game On get its name?
A) Album titles are one of those things that you could literally fight about for months and still never be sure if it sounds cool or dumb. We tossed around ideas for a month before we found a title that we liked. We went with Game On because it felt like a kind of metaphor for our life at the time. We’d been playing bars and writing and working on music for so long and it felt like we’d finally made it to the big leagues. GAME ON.
Q) What is your song writing process? Do you need music before you can create lyrics?
A) I’ve heard of a lot of people who either always start with a musical idea or always start with a lyrical idea, but I’ve never really liked the idea of only commenting myself to one style of writing. I’m really privileged to write with a group of people that I consider to be among the best writers in the world (Todd Clark, Donovan Woods, Travis “T-Buck” Wood and Gavin Slate) and we usually toss around both musical and lyrical ideas in the room until we find one that fits the day.
Q) How much of hand do you have in the production of your music?
A) We’re very involved with the production of our music. It’s really my favorite part of the creative process. Our producer, Todd Clark, is unbelievably creative and fresh with his proactive style and being able to work with someone like that makes the process all the more exciting!
Q) What can fans expect from a live James Barker Band performance?
A) We always try to put on a high energy show. We’re young guys who like to goof around and have fun and we make that pretty obvious in our show. I think one of our main focusses has always been to not fake it live, be honest with the crowd and they’ll reward you for it.
Q) What songs off your album do you most enjoy performing live?
A) Across the board, our favorite song to play live is “Chills.” All of our songs have cool moments, but we really rock it up in “Chills.” It’s like our band-jam moment and it also gives us a few minutes to act like rock stars.
Q) You toured with Thomas Rhett and Keith Urban. What did you take away from your experiences on tour with these major artists?
A) Opening for Keith was a big one for us. We had all seen him many times before so we knew how good of a performer he was, but to then see it backed with the knowledge of touring and the music business it was even more amazing. This is a guy who is literally on top, he’s a super star and not only is he still a super nice guy, he still just laughs and talks to the crowd like he’s one of them.
Q) What do you hope listeners take away from listening to the album as a whole?
A) We really want listeners to take away an experience with every song. We worked really hard to have every song on the album sound different, but also to work well with one another. Each song should take you to a different place or experience in your life, whether it be the first time you met you partner or the last time you had a beer.
Q) Where are some of your favorite places to perform and what makes those locations so significant to you?
A) We love playing anywhere with a rowdy crowd. We cut our teeth playing bars and barn dances and we feel most at home when we’re in front of a fun loving, down home country crowd.
Q) What album/band are you currently listening to and why do you dig them?
A) An album that I can’t stop listening too is Maren Morris’ latest. It’s such a good sounding album. The songs are all amazing and the production is so freaking cool.
Q) You are a part of social media. Why is that such an important way for you to connect with your fans?
A) We’re all about social media. It’s cool to live in an age where you can literally reach out to almost anyone and ask them a question. We make it a point to engage with our fans as much as we possibly can. We also take advantage of the fact that we can promote our shameless stupidity via Instagram stories now.
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you and your work?
A) We would just like to say THANK YOU! We love what we do and we really believe in this music and these shows. The thought of having really fans never seizes to amaze me. Without the intense support of our fans we’d still be picking rocks and digging graves. You’re all amazing!!!