By Mike Shomaker, DC Music Live
Building a fan base is no easy task. Getting people to come out to shows, to buy records, to tell their friends—it’s an uphill battle. And that’s just at home. Trying to do the same thing on the road is especially complicated, especially when that road is on another continent. For London-based rockers, Little Barrie, much of their success in the last 12 years has subsisted in the UK. Now on their third stateside tour this year, the affable rock trio are making splashes with their latest release, King of the Waves and maybe a little hard work. DC Music Live had a chance to sit down with the group at the DC9 last week before their show.
“We’ve had bigger audiences. You know, two nights ago in Philly we didn’t have the greatest turnout but it was an amazing gig,” said lead singer/guitarist, Barrie Cadogan.
Doing a breakneck tour in a foreign country means playing shows on off nights.
“The show [in Philly] was on a Sunday. Because we have to fill in all the dates, [we] play some Sunday, Monday shows while on tour. Monday isn’t really a “going out” day, especially for an up and coming band like we are,” said drummer, Virgil Howe.
It’s a bit of a grind at times, according to Cadogan. Based on pure size alone, touring the US is much harder.
“We’re not a band with a huge marking or endorsement campaign. We know [the US is] such a vast place and to make your way you have to realize that it’s going to take years and a lot of work. A lot of the bands that we know end up just playing around the UK, so it’s good to be able to come out here,” Cadogan said.
Self described as indie, alt, funk and jam rock, Little Barrie draw from a number of influences to build their unique sound.
“We talked a lot in the beginning about what we like to play and listen to,” said Howe. “We all like Sly and the Family Stone, for example. We play what we like to listen to. You can hear our influences in the music.”
And developing a groove comes through a lot of trial and error, according to bassist Lewis Wharton.
“I’ll be knocking around with a sound for years and it’ll be nothing. Then one day, it just works and we’ll turn it into a song or a part of a song,” said Wharton.
Their latest album, King of the Waves, is a culmination of sounds from indie to surf rock to rockabilly. Honing melodies and progressions from earlier generations, the albumrides on punchier tones mixed with shots of Brit-pop as well as a healthy dose of aggression that gets listeners up from their chair and on to the dance floor. Released last year, King and has been well received amongst new and old fans alike.
“This album has been pushed the least [by a label], which gives us more control over what we can do with it. We’ve been able to get a few songs on television and various outlets,” said Wharton. “In general, the reaction has been positive.”
Despite the record’s relative newness to US fans, Little Barrie fully intends on releasing new music in the near future.
“We’re trying to get as much out to our fans as possible,” said Howe. “You have to feed them small pieces on a regular basis. Bands will put out something big and then you don’t hear from them for a year or two. Nowadays, you can’t really do that.”
The band is humbled by their ability to reach new fans, even if that is simply a handful of people per night.
“We really appreciate fans coming out and supporting us over here,” Howe said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
Check out UK’s Little Barrie. You can find their album, King of the Waves on Amazon.