Barnicle to bring Friends to Olivers
BMS sits down with Karen and Luke from Barnicle
I have to admit, I love Barnicle. And not just because they invited me into their home and offered me a High Life either (Although I have to admit, I love High Life’s too…). If all Barnicle ever did for me was put out the six song pop-rock head rush that is Take Me to Your Room that would have been enough, but when you add in their follow-up Friends of B and top all of that off with the champagne of beer, I’m sold.
Let’s go back, shall we? Barnicle drummer Luke Garro, formerly of Piebald, introduced me to his sweetheart Karen Barnicle’s project right around the time of Take Me to Your Room, after which I promptly put the EP on repeat, the joy of the songs working especially well in the car on sunny days with the windows down and the volume up. Others quickly began to notice as well, and Barnicle built up their name on the local stage.
Since that time the band has solidified their lineup, making permanent Lindsey Star on bass and Kevin Rheult on lead guitar. "I feel like we can take on any show, and Lindsey and Kevin are always ready to rock," says Karen of the other half of the lineup. While couples in bands can notoriously complicate inter-band relations, that hasn’t been a problem in Barnicle. "I can think of a bunch of shows where a ton of people show up and we know a bunch of people there and the four of us just hang out," says Luke of the newfound chemistry.
The four fast friends have garnered much praise for their new album Friends of B, including nominations for "Best Rock Song", for single "Texas Mike", and "Best Female Vocalist", for Karen, at the Boston Music Awards. "It was very unexpected," says Luke. Karen agrees, recounting the confusion that came along with the awkward BMA nominees announcement this year. "I got a mass email [from a friend's band] that said ‘Vote for my band’ and I went in there and said, ‘Holy shit!’ because I didn’t know we were on there."
The album that got them noticed, Friends of B, picks up where Take Me to Your Room left off, that is with unavoidable hooks and unstoppable glee. Karen wrote most of the songs as love songs, but not in typical love song fashion. Instead of writing for a boy, each song is for a friend. "It definitely wasn’t contrived," says Luke. "It’s actually something Karen has always done. She’s been able to write these songs more quickly because everything is there about the person, and I think the nature of that sort of adds to the authenticity of it."
"I write the words for them to get a kick out of, to laugh at, to feel special about," explains Karen. "But the music comes from me. I want to try to inspire them when they hear it, and it’s almost like a gift, like a free gift. I love stuff like that. I could have bought Audrena a sweater for Christmas or her birthday, but instead I wrote her a song."
The variety of subjects on the album allows the band to write different types of songs and more easily touch on different themes than if they had a more singular focus. "A lot of times a love song is like, ‘We’re in a relationship’," says Luke. "When you’re writing something that’s for a friend you can be more, not open with it, but less can go wrong with it because you can be more playful with it."
"Baby" is the best example of the band stretching out, slowing their typical tempo down a bit for the sweet, and definitely playful, ballad. "That one was a lot of fun," admits Karen, "it was especially fun for me at the end to get the boys to sing at the end. It was so cute in the studio." Luke agrees, saying, "It was so much fun, and we really pushed it too. I think we did, like, three different ranges. We all really had to yell to hit this high thing, and I never really had to sing like that before because I didn’t have the balls, so it was really fun to be there and to be like, ‘I’m hitting it! I’m hitting it!’."
"Texas Mike", "Lovin You", and "Kristy" show more of Barnicle’s traditional side, straight ahead rock with Karen’s girlish vocals recalling other famous Boston frontwomen like Kay Hanley and Juliana Hatfield. The songs have impressed lots of people in town, including WBCN’s Adam 12, who is saying on his online show listings, "I Love Barnicle. Karen Barnicle, specifically. See her & her fantastic band at Olivers tonight [Friday]."
That live show, the inaugural BMS Local Spotlight Live Series, has plenty of promise, and Barnicle is ready to deliver. "Rock. We just wanna rock. It’s all about just having fun, being loud," says Karen of the band’s live goal. Luke adds, "Karen gets ‘rock neck’ after every show. We know every show is going to be unique and we just go out and try to have fun."
"I think our live show, for the most part, sounds pretty much like the record," says Karen. "We’re pretty raw," says Luke.& "We’re not overthinking it. We’re not trying to go too far what we are." Back to Karen – "We’re not going to be dangling from the pipes, we’re not trying to be too cool for school." And Luke – "None of us went to Berklee. It’s the music we like, we like pop music, we like music that’s catchy and has personality. And in terms of live shows, we like to rock."
If you like to rock then you will not want to miss Friday’s show, and I’m not just saying that because I write for BMS or because Barnicle once gave me a High Life. It will be fun, it will be loud, and it will be well worth the ten bucks to get in. Who knows, you might just fall in love with Barnicle too.