By Stephanie Nazywalskyj
VANCOUVER – When BeatRoute catches up with the Barr Brothers they are cruising through Switzerland, touring in support of their third studio album, Queens of the Breakers. Opening for the War On Drugs throughout the UK and Europe, the band are not only crossing borders, but showing the world how they’ve pushed boundaries with their latest release. Following the massive success of their first two albums, The Barr Brothers (2011) and Sleeping Operator (2014), the trio’s lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Brad Barr discusses their newfound creative process.
“Sonically, we decided the next round of music we played should be born out of playing together, out of a collective search for a sound,” he says. “The idea was for everyone to play their instrument the way they wanted and it turned out to be something joyful and expressive for the group. We also took it into a trippier, more psychedelic place than we had allowed ourselves to do in the past.”
Lyrically, the band’s new collective, creative approach caused a bit of a struggle, which Barr chalks up to being a first time father: “Suddenly the writing schedule wasn’t fluid, I had to find different times to write and new ways to maintain interest in what I had to say. With a one-year-old around, watching the little guy grow up made me less interested in what I had to say and more interested in how he was seeing the world and what he had to say.”
The title, Queen of the Breakers, stems from the brother’s collective adolescence. Brad and brother Andrew went to visit the Breakers Mansion, which was built in the 1800s by the Vanderbuilts, dressed up in their mother’s clothing and dropped acid while taking a tour of the museum. While the title is a reflection of year’s gone and the dad of today might advise his younger self “not to smoke so much as it would mess with his voice,” Barr says he’s not so different from the guy of 10 years ago.
The Barr Brothers have built a substantial following grace to their beautiful bluesy-folk sound, multi-layered vocals and meaningful lyrics, but they sustain their popularity with their unique inclusion of the harp and tenacious desire to connect with their audiences, both on record and during live performances. “While sharing the experience with Andrew and Sarah (Pagé, harpist) is great, I like to think that with each record we get a little closer to allowing our family to come with us on the road, particularly as I don’t think I’ll ever stop wanting to be on the road or stop performing music. Maybe when I’m in my 60s, but right now it’s one of the biggest joys I get out of life.”
With German rest stops being the high and French rest stops the low, it’s safe to say the Barr Brother’s will continue to move full speed ahead producing albums that are sure to keep their audience coming back over and over again.
The Barr Brothers perform December 17 at the Imperial (Vancouver)