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Home is where your heart is dancing to rock & roll - an interview with Barns Courtney

I want to congratulate you on your performance at Reading Festival. I think you are the first one who has got his own stage.

Barns: Oh yeah. I forgot about that. My agent said we won’t play that year. I was just fuck that I just wanna play at the festival so I did kind of a headline at stage at Reading. So that was cardboard box. But I feel like, you know, still worth it, relevant for the festival.

You are after USA and UK tours. How was that?

B: That was great. I love playing in the UK and we did a month long tour with The Wombats in the United States. I love concerts, being on the road, playing gigs. Yeah, I don't mind being on the road constantly, I quite like it but my body is not so.. I am tired.

2 million global single sales and 400 million global streams, how do you feel about that? It is huge.

B:I can’t. I thought when I got this big plucks and all of those big numbers that I can feel like I have a ride somewhere, like something had happened but it make me feel kind of strange because I thought like a little bit.. I just thought nothing. I think for me the longer I do this I realise more it’s just kind, it is just a life style, you know. Like laughing and rest stuff on the back of a van with best friends, then connecting with fans on stage and playing music and driving few random little towns and then meeting random people. That is really fun, and that is like the dream. You know the numbers are just numbers.

What was the craziest situation which has happened during the tour?

B:Oh man, I am sure there were some ridiculous… But I think I am too tired and I can’t remember any of them.

As I heard you had insects in your hotel room. B:Yeah, I forgot about that. I was in one hotel, and there were bunch of them … roaches, and there was the weirdest thing because you go for with a feeling like „I am the biggest band in the World”, seating in the amazing hotels in the world paid by a record label and the next day you open a drawer and be like a Bible and four coachers on it.

You just shared your new song „99”; which is completely different than „Glitter and Gold”, „Hands”, and „Kicks” so how did the idea for this song come?

B:I guess, for the first record, I have been struggling for three years and I was really depressed because I had no success and you know my whole life at that point... I had kind of like been nothing but the band since I was 14 and than I signed my first actual record when I was in the high school. So when I got dropped It was like massive shock and I guess blues naturally lends itself to the depression so what I was doing on purpose , It was just like I felt on the inside. And now you know, I live this wonderful life and I get to travel around with my best friends, I am making music like every day and I am happy and I guess the songs reflect that. I was worried at first. I was worried that I would not have anything to write about when I was really depressed. But I just kind of shift it, writing about the childhood and growing up.

So, Do you have something that you miss the most from 90’s?

B:Oh, what do I miss the most.... I think I just miss, like, as we get older we formalise fun for no apparent reason. You know, people are not hanging out or shoot the shit anymore. If you ride, go ride a bike for an instant. Nobody just rides around the neighbourhood, there is nobody. You have to put on a lycra costume and put on the watch to see how far you are gonna go. It is kind of dull. So I just miss that sense of freedom and openness but I guess that is why I make music and travel around with band because it is the closest thing you can get to really just being free and exploring. Making, like, relationships and it is less about the adoration for me but more about connection with people. Just playing that bizarre gig live to my fellow humans - if it makes any sense

While you are performing live you have a lot of energy and passion, your songs are full of strong bit. So how do you feel about performing live?

B:I love performing live, it is my favourite part of the whole thing. I just love getting really sweaty (laughs) like running around. Because for that moment when you are at stage, you and people out there... you are not strangers anymore, you can ride down, you can rub your sweaty hand of somebody’s and it is totally cool. I love my fans coming after the show to say like “I have made so many friends tonight. I came here alone and now I know all of those people”. Like there is something wonderfully unifying about music and gigs that I really enjoy.

So, what is your favourite part of touring?

B:So I love being on the road, being with my friends. I love traveling and seeing new places and meeting new people, connecting with new people. It is really liberating. I feel like living my life properly, going and exploring foreign lands like characters in my story books. I really can’t stand being in the office and in one place. But for some people it is totally fine and you know, I am not saying it is a boring job but for me personally I want to be out there, seeing all new sight which are there to see.

Do you have the best place to relax after the tour? Just to turn off yourself?

B:You know I have been pretty solid on the road for last three years. I don’t even rent a place anymore because I am so busy all the time. Yeah so I don’t know.. I find a hotel room quite relaxing right now.

Without insects of course.

B:Without, yes, only without. I guess If I wasn’t busy I would go home and see my family, my mom. You know my mum is very similar to me, she has got like really weird sense of humour, she likes to put on funny voices and sings stupid songs. We like singing to 80’s music together in the kitchen and you know doing stupid dance moves and all that stuff. That is where I will be over Christmas and I think I will get three days off after this European mini tour so go over there and see mom Barnsey for something like three days.

You co-work with Prodigy, legendary music group, and how was that? You made the “Give me a signal” record with them. So how was that, to work with them?

B:It was so unreal, I couldn’t believe that I ended up on the record. When I went to the record shop , I looked at my name on the actual thing... it is bizarre. They are such a massive, influential, legendary band... I was working on the song for the first album, one of my friends plays the guitar for the Priodigy. He was like Liam’s right hand man, and Liam overheard a couple of my tracks and heard this one and said “Would you mind If I will use that for prodigy’s record?”. So of course I immediately was like “wow, yeah”. It was totally fine. So I was expecting that they will just take the hook and get somebody else to sing it and than they asked me to use my vocal. Although interesting, he pitched it to 8 octave, he asked me to sing like 8 octaves higher or maybe it was 4 because he said that the sense of using it, is that it resonates better at some frequencies. So I sang very low, originally. I was like “Give me signal, can you hear me?”, like in my usual 3 tone and he want really get me right there.

Do you have any guilty pleasure song?

B:Oh man, I just really like all kinds of music, I don’t feel guilty about it. I love Britney Spears. But what am I listening right now? Oh, I know it is pretty lame. (Laughs) It is really lame song. I saw it at Facebook today, about the guy who is a friend with Jesus. And it goes like “Jesus is my friend, I have a friend with Jesus”. It is so bad but it is in some kind good. I should show you this. It is terrible, I am not even sure If it is recorded on LP. It is just a performance.

How does your writing process look like? Do you need special place to write, coffee or anything like that or is it just a moment?

B:I guess for me, things are just bumping into my head, like in pieces and I am recording them down on my phone and... I don’t know. Usually I get whole vibe all at once and I just, it comes from out there and I use my shitty human hands and brain, I try to piece it together and fill the rest of it in. Yeah I think It is just tends to come up like. But probably I should probably seat down and try to do my job more often.

If you could choose anybody with who you would like to share a tea?

B:Tea? We are sharing a tea right now. It is great (laughs). I don’t know..... they are so many. Obviously Freddy, Robert Plant, Axl Rose but I am trying to think about somebody really interesting..... maybe Albert Einstein will be interesting.

With that messy hair

Yeah, I would be there only for this messy hair, I wouldn’t even talk about his ideas, I will be there only for his messy hair.

Oh and as I remember you were in Nikola Tesla’s room?

B:I am a huge fan of Nikola Tesla. He was so intelligent and such a driving force in scientific community. He wasn’t very good at socialising and at promoting himself. He was a genius. Edison stole the idea from him. Edison used to go around and he liked electrocuting an elephant in front of the big audience and “Looks what Tesla’s electricity does with this elephants it is really dangerous right?” and than he turned lights on and “ Look at my electricity, it is super safe”. People didn’t know what he was talking about so they totally bought it. We are using Tesla’s alternating current right now but we didn’t before for years and years because of the smear campaign which Edison lounge. So yeah, answer to your question.That was great, I love that dude, it was really exciting. Yeah, New York is a magical place for many wonders

Do you have any plans for the future?

B:This is it. It is my last…(laugh) No…I do have a plans. I am going to Amsterdam tomorrow and than I will go to LA and work on the album a little bit. And after working in LA probably I will be in London. Later I am doing a tour with The Kooks in the United States. I am big fan of them

Interview and photos : Zuzanna Majewska, aka Suz Maj

Editor: Grzegorz Biały

#barnscourtney #music #gig #concert #interview #photography #musicphotography #suzmaj

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