Chris Barickman has released a new album called Wayward Moon and you can buy it here. I caught up with Chris to get some background on him and to promote his new album. He is a super busy guy but is a down to earth happy musician.
I was born with music. My father sang to me every night. I am sure this habit started while I was still inside my mother, as I sang to my daughter for the nine months she was inside my wife (she is one month old today!)
My mother taught me guitar when I was 6.
I discovered the Beatles when I was around 7. I listened to them every night before I fell asleep and practiced all the harmony parts in my head. I sang in all choral productions at school until I left high school. This includes chorus, gospel choir, madrigal choir and musical theater.
I wrote my first song when I was 8. These are the lyrics:
when the morning meets the sky
and the sugar meets your eye
it was a dream
In high school I wanted to be a lawyer and make money and have respect but after a week in college I realized that this would never happen, so I took fiction writing courses. From the age of 18 to 26 I wrote a novel, short stories, poetry and I made bad student films. I also painted. I tried to write songs but they were terrible. I wanted to be an artist because I am absolutely useless at everything else. I can’t concentrate very well and I was a terrible waiter, bartender, bookstore salesman, receptionist, office assistant and every one of the 30 or so jobs I did to make money so I could do art.
I wrote my first “good” song when I was 26 and I knew I would continue. Now I am 46 and I have been doing it ever since.
Do you write all your music yourself, what is you usual process?
I write all the music myself. I start with chords. Very simple chords. I like pop chords with folk or rock feeling. I have been influenced by first and foremost, the Beatles, but also Elvis Costello, Nirvana, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Towns Van Zandt, and Lightnin’ Hopkins.
Then the word just come. Lyrics are very important to me. I usually start with an image and then the story just comes. Like many artists feel it is clear to me that I do not actually write the songs. It seems they exist by themselves before I write them and my job is just to know the good stuff from the junk. The more I “try” to write a song, the worse it is. Now I am able to get into that space any time I want, but in the beginning it seemed only to happen at random “inspired” times. It’s not a talent. It’s just years of experimenting and screwing up. I got my ability with words and music from my parents, not because I am especially talented. I was a terrible songwriter when I was 16. I’ve gotten better because I have worked really really hard.
You have toured Czech, Europe and Ireland, any funny or strange things happen to you while touring there?
Many funny things. Lots of adventures sleeping outside. The best one though was while in Cork, Ireland I was invited by two Swedish Naval officers to play in the officers’ lounge of their ship which was docked in the harbor. They said they had to drink up all the alcohol before they left for sea the next day so it was quite a party. Then they told me that the Prince of Sweden was a cadet down below and he wanted to hear the music but wasn’t allowed in the officers’ lounge so I went down to the cadets’ room and played for the guys. I didn’t ask which one was the prince though…
Do you do much street Busking? I saw on facebook that you have.
I played on the street because I wanted to play every day and there was no way to get that many gigs. Grafton Street in Dublin is the Mecca of street musicians. And playing original songs on guitar is the hardest act in the world. If you want to make money, juggle knives or something. Or at least sing the Beatles with another person in harmony. But I played my songs because those are the ones I feel. It makes your voice stronger because you have to sing loud and most of all it steels your confidence because you are the victim of anybody who wants to ridicule you or harass you or steal from you. I have done it for years and years and after that, no proper gig can make you nervous. I also busked in my current “hometown” Brno for years. When I started there were only a few people doing it and the money was quite good. It was new for Brno people to see an American jumping and singing on the street. It’s a show, after all. I don’t busk anymore because people are used to it and I am busy with my rock band and teaching and other projects.
Can you tell us what you were thinking when you wrote “War of the Worlds’? That song is very catchy!
Well, like most songs I write, it simply started with an image. In this case, a man pulling out of a driveway in some artificially “picturesque” town and getting on the highway. He is running from something and not sure what it is, always being pulled back to something he both desires and fears. And then I just followed him on his journey. It’s actually a funny thing, because as I was writing it, my friend in the next room said “War of The Worlds, that’s great” but she had misheard me, I had been singing some totally different chorus! But War of The Worlds sounded great and of course is the title of the HG Wells novel and later Orson Wells’ 1938 radio drama about an invasion from Mars. It made sense to me, so I kept it.
What is next for you?
Well, I have a lot of projects. Aside from music I design games…not video games, but board, card and dice games. As well as psychological role-playing games.
But I think Wayward Moon is a good album and I am really serious about it. I am working with radio promoter Peter Hay of Twin Vision in Brooklyn, NY and we are going to do a radio campaign starting April 20th. If Wayward Moon is received I suppose I would fly to the States and tour. We will see!
I have also written a 30 minute children’s opera called Banana Town. It is the story of a duck who leaves his pond for adventure and especially, a new flavor! He is tired of eating grass and bugs. There are three characters and each “sings” his or her song, interspersed between a narrator reading the story. As far as I know it has never been done before. It will be released in April of this year.
Thanks for your time Chris, I wish you well with you music and all your other projects! Keep busy!