Barnburner | Interview with Kevin Keaglesmith

Far from your ordinary stoner-rock act, Montreal’s Barnburner combines the raw vigour of 70’s rock ‘n’ roll with the warm melodies of the NWOBHM and a sludgy/groovy twist, making their sound distinctively their own. The band was recently snapped up by the powerful Metal Blade Records, who is giving a worldwide release to their debut full-length record ‘Bangers’, originally released on the small Canadian label New Romance for Kids.
David Alexandre traded e-mails with vocalist and guitarist Kevin Keaglesmith to find out more about this young and surprising Canadian band.


Well first, I’d like to thank you for taking this time to answer our questions. I bet that there’s a lot going on with Barnburner at the moment. You’ve just released your first record ‘Bangers’ on independent Canadian label New Romance for Kids, and since then have signed a record deal with the powerful and well-known Metal Blade Records, who is going give a worldwide release to the album on 2010. What have you guys been up to lately, thrilled with the opportunities that lie ahead?

“We have actually just been doing a lot of writing lately, trying to finish the songs for the next record before we start touring lots for ‘Bangers’. Hopefully by the time we finish some touring we will be ready to jump in the studio and keep the momentum up.”

Barnburner are still largely unheard outside their native Canada, so give us some background on the band. Were you all friends before the start of the band?

“We actually met through mutual friends when I first moved to Montreal from Vancouver and was looking for dudes to start a band with. Some of us had met prior to playing together but for the most part it was just through music connections.”

What were your first reactions when Metal Blade approached the band with the offer for a worldwide record deal?

“Really excited. I have been playing in bands for years and Metal Blade as always been one of the major goals for me as far as a label goes. We were really surprised when they initially approached us, I sort of figured we weren't heavy enough to be on such a label so I would have never predicted them being interested. As a metal fan though, it is a dream come true.”

What’s been like since you signed up with Metal Blade, have you noticed a surge in interest in the band since that?

“There was a surge right away for sure, we still have heaps of work to do though, and we aren't at a point where we can just sit back and let things roll on their own. Metal Blade is a big step but we still have a long way to go before we can hopefully do this full time.”

The band’s debut generally received great reviews in the press, have you been surprised at the hugely positive reactions to ‘Bangers’?

“I am really happy with the response for sure. It has been surprising to hear what people have to say about our sound and what not, comparisons that I would never have made myself but nevertheless accurate and flattering."

Sonically, the record is rich and infectious in the best way, merging some retro influences from 70’s rock and 80’s heavy-metal with a more modern, groovy and sludgy edge. How would you describe the overall mood of the album?

“I think the way you just described it is one of the best I've heard. We often just get the proto-metal comparisons like Sabbath, Maiden, Thin Lizzy, which are accurate in their own right, unavoidable influences. I try to correct people though because we have tons of contemporary influences and strive for something beyond just replication. The early influences obviously did it best and we can't help but make nods at them, however we want to try to carve something original at the same time.”

The band’s website cites Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden and Fu Manchu as some of the strongest influences for Barnerbumer. So, these were three of the most important names for shaping the band’s sound? Which other names could be called influential and noteworthy?

“The dudes at Metal Blade put that together for us, which I would agree with for the most part. I would say there is a lot of newer comparisons you could make, I would like to think that bands like Mastodon and High on Fire make their mark. The greatest influences for us would most likely be our friends bands, Priestess, Children, Bison B.C.. Having more exposure to those bands that you play with have the strongest impression.”

There is a particular song that grabbed my attention for its title alone and that is ‘Beer Today, Bong Tomorrow’. So, are you guys doing any of that lately?

“Haha, yeah the imagery that one evokes definitely gives the impression that we like to indulge, which I will not deny. It's funny because I wrote that song as a sort of story about a dude who is hitchhiking and gets picked up by the devil. The riffs have a serious stoner quality so the implication of Beer today, Bong tomorrow sort of implies the party element of the tune combined with a hint at the actual lyrical content. We also just like goofy song titles.”

Finally, what’s next for Barnburner once the album is out on Metal Blade, What touring plans are on the horizon for you guys?

“The album comes out in February and will include 2 new songs, so those who have the original can be enticed to check out the new version, which is also remixed and remastered. As for tours we are still piecing things together for the spring, hopefully we'll be on the road consistently for the next year.”

David Alexandre

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