Chris Barron has won legions of fans as the lead singer of Spin Doctors, but next month he's bringing audiences a new solo effort. Angels and One-Armed Jugglers is coming on Oct. 20, and AXS conducted an email interview with Barron to learn about the upcoming record and how he's been able to put great music together for a long and successful career.
AXS: How would you describe Angels and One-Armed Jugglers? What gets you excited about it?
Chris Barron (CB): I feel great about the songs on this record. If you look, they're actually in alphabetical order. I just listened to them in Dropbox, which arranges them in alphabetical order automatically. I told Roman [Klun], who produced the record with me to listen that way and he was like, "That's the order. Hands down." But, you know, it says something kind of cool about a record when you can just put the songs in alphabetical order and they sound good.
Also, the musicianship on this record is something I feel really good about. Shawn Pelton from "Saturday Night Live", with his drumming, gives the tracks this iconic feeling. Jesse Murphy's bass playing is so melodic, Andrew Carillo did such cool stuff with the electric guitars, Steven Bernstein's slide trumpet on [the song] "Till The Cows Come Home" - I could go on and on about those guys. Apart from my friends the Spin Doctors, these guys are the best players in the world. Oh, and Roman's production is so gorgeous. He had so many amazing ideas and we work so well together. The orchestrations by Henry Hey were his idea.
Lastly, I feel really proud of how varied the songs are on this record. There's tons of different tempos and feels but it all hangs together and tells a story.
AXS: Is there a particular story that you're trying to tell with the record?
CB: I guess I want to take a listener out to the ragged edge of this disheveled, busted, unfair world and show them the beautiful and Motley tatters fluttering in the hurricane of oblivion and then bring them back and make them tea. Metaphorically, of course.
AXS: You've been a part of rock music for decades. What would you say is the secret to your success?
CB: I'm a big believer in perspiration over inspiration. I write a lot just as an exercise rather than sitting down to write the greatest thing ever. I also practice guitar a lot and a lot of my songs come out of variations of things I'm just practicing. In the studio, I like to keep things loose and I find the only way to do that is to be super prepared. I work on stuff a lot outside of the studio so when I get into the studio I'm ready and loose. I think I'm a pretty good studio singer. When I first started making records I was a little bit horrified at what I heard in the playback, just pitch stuff and certain kinds of sloppiness. I've worked like crazy to be really good in the booth. I take voice lessons and guitar lessons and I stay in good physical condition. I like to think of music and performing as a profession and constantly try to keep growing.
AXS: You've toured a lot recently, both as a solo artist and with Spin Doctors. Do you have further tour plans in support of Angels and One-Armed Jugglers yet?
CB: I'm just going to do the old thing where you go and play your [behind] off, do a bunch of interviews, tweet lots of cats. I'm going to play solo acoustic [concerts]. That's something I started out doing and I really like.
AXS: You're a unique artist in the sense that not only do you take inspiration from music, but you've got influences in other forms of art as well. Can you explain?
CB: I like literature. When I'm dry for ideas I read Shakespeare; I know it's kind of pretentious but it works. I like art too; I really like oil painting and sculpture. I like to try to get ideas from outside of rock 'n' roll. I love rock 'n' roll, it's my idiom, but I like to take kooky stuff and try to cram it back into that rock 'n' roll corral.
Angels and One-Armed Jugglers will be available on Oct. 20. For more information on the album and announcements of future tour dates, you can visit Chris Barron's website.
For more on Chris Barron, visit his artist page at AXS.