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John Barrell / Blog

Studio Update

The vibe recording EVOLUTION certainly feels different- it has had a raw, almost live feeling to it, which is ironic considering this 3rd album was supposed to be a LIVE album! During the sessions for "REFLECTIONS" we used a small army of musicians for the rhythm sections of each song, utilizing 4 drummers and 3 bassists (including myself). Often it was a toss up of who would be playing what on which track. Halfway into the sessions for "EVOLUTION" and we've kept the same rhythm crew on all the tracks so far, and even though the songs once again vary in style from track to track, there's been a cohesiveness in using the same rhythm section. There may come a point where other musicians are called upon to play bass or drums, but as of now, this project is steamrolling forward full steam ahead! Climb Aboard.... and as always, STAY TUNED!!!


At an early age I began singing and in 1979 I picked up my first guitar. By 1980 I'd started writing music and along with my brother had started our first band. Myriad bands and countless musicians passed through my life; SIERRA, HIGH VOLTAGE, WARRIORZ, OFF LYMITZ, PSYKOSIS and RELIX to name a few. In 2009 my first "solo" album - "TRANSITIONS" - came out. It was transition from who I was up to that point in my life, heralding songs from my past and present. It was basic, it was raw, but it rocked. In 2013 came "REFLECTIONS", and moment to pause and look at where I was and who I was musically. I'd grown artistically since the last album and this albums goal was to reflect some of that change and maturity. 2015 will see the release of "EVOLUTION", and it's title pretty much sums up the idea behind the album - new growth and change and further development in my musical journey. Hope you stick around for the ride and give me some of your thoughts on TRANSITIONS and REFLECTIONS and what you might be hoping to hear on EVOLUTION!

Who's in "The Band"?

Reverbnation said someone had asked this question and now I see it wants me to list members of the band. The thing is, since this is a solo studio project that stands alone from my gigging with RELIX, there are no full time band members, but instead a conglomeration of brothers willing to help out at any given time, both in the studio and for the live shows coming up to promote the CD. So, with that in mind, I'll list the "Live" band first and then the extra studio musicians. LIVE; along with myself it is... Joey Wilson: Lead Guitar (also studio) Tracy Farrington: Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals Johnny Allen: Drums & Backing Vocals (also studio) Kevin Burns: Bass Guitar (also studio) Chad Montgomery: Bass Guitar Russell Stover: Harmonica & Backing Vocals (also studio) Danny Smith: Backing Vocals & "Stuff" (also studio) STUDIO MUSICIANS; JT Sober: Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals Ryan Sober: Lead Guitar Scott Hooter: Drums Aaron Links: Drums Steve Gallagher: Drums & Percussion Dweighn Secrist: Backing Vocals & Supplemental Bass, Clock Bill Conerly: Upright Bass & Trombone Ray Bloch: Clarinet & Saxophone Christy Barrell: Vocals, Handclaps & Fingersnaps GYPSY BLUE: Gang Vocals Ke Poloka: Additional Percussion & Waves

They say "it takes a village".... no kidding!!!

More More More!

A lot has happened recently in this house. My wife's Father lost a short battle with cancer (more the treatment than the disease) and it's just been hectic. As I tried to comfort her one night, she said that "she hurts" and wished I could come up with a song to either express for her that feeling or help soothe some of that hurt. At first I thought, maybe she should put down in words what she was feeling - but no, that wouldn't work. Instead, it hit me one night while she was gone helping sit by his side what needed to be done, and that turned into the song "She Hurts". It's a song from my perspective of trying to comfort her and she accepting my attempts to make her feel better, but deep down inside no matter what, that hurt is still there. It's a deeply personal and emotional song (made moreso by my first attempt at incorporating an ebow into my music) that when I first let her hear it - she cried. It will be on the new album. I hope you all like it for whatever reasons as much as she seems to.


"TRANSITIONS" yielded a variety of songs from a long period of years. Some I liked more than others, but the listeners opinion matters most, so out of curiosity I ask 2 questions; 1) there seems to be several people who've singled out "Plastic Foxes" as a favorite track - why? what is it about that song specifically that y'all seem to like? and 2) if not that song, what is your favorite track and why? which song (or songs) speak most to you the listeners? I need to know!!!

Where's the Beef?

Not literal "beef", but I've been asked more than a few times where are previews of the new songs from "REFLECTIONS". Well, to hopefully build some anticipation (and not spoil the finished product) I've chosen NOT to post any of the new material until it's ready to release. Kind of like Ernest & Julio Gallo; "I'll post no rhymes until it's time!"


Recently secured the assistance of a music teacher/string conductor to work on scoring the songs I was working up with strings. Possibility now exists that instead of just 2 people tracked multiple times he may pick some of his best students (along with my honorary "niece" who's mom I work with and brought this man on board) to record the orchestral parts. I might just have to hurry up and concoct one more song with some strings for them! Kind of excited! One song left to do basic tracks on and then get parts done... then the mixing process begins!!!!


As I keep closer and closer to seeing some light at the end of the tunnel on this project, I felt it was time to give credit where credit is due. The "Drum Corps" has been Johnny Allen, Steve Gallagher, Scott Hooter and Aaron Links... so far! The "Guitar Army" has been myself, Joey Wilson, JT Sober and Ryan Sober... again, so far! The "Bass Masters" have been (again) myself, Kevin Burns, Bill Conerly and Dweighn Secrist... need I say again, so far? Besides myself on vocals, I've had some help from Danny Smith (in too many ways to mention - like string arrangements, harmonies, engineering and co-producing), JT Sober and Dweighn Secrist... y'know the routine! Ukulele? Me! Guilty! And Strings? That announcement coming soon! A bit more eclectic, but made possible by all the above mentioned people!


Still out gigging with a slightly updated lineup of the band RELIX while also working hard on my follow-up CD which I hope to have released by May or June. Lot's of great guests contributing from all across the country - gonna be fun when we're all done! Stay tuned, Keep Rockin' and Spread the Word! ~ JB


Have played some festivals and other big dates along with smaller ones with RELIX since last we spoke (big or small we play the all!) and have sat in when invited with some friends. Currently hard at work on the follow up to my last CD and have had many very talented friends volunteer their time to come in and be a part of the project. We're taking a slightly different approach sonically this time and not concerning ourselves with "how will these songs translate to a live setting?" and simply going all out creatively. If and when any of the songs are performed live there will be ways to make them sound just as good live. SO STAY TUNED and I'll try getting on here a bit more frequently!