Get To Know Your New Favourite Alt-Indie Group 'National Barks'
As we eagerly anticipate their new EP ‘Something I Can’t Shake Off’ coming our way
2nd October 2020, I uncover the distinctly dark yet groovy sounds of National Barks
as they share their favourite experiences so far as a band, some insights into the
new EP as well as their plans moving forward.
Someone recently described your collective sound as ‘Radiohead meets Blur’.
Who/what would you say are your biggest influences, both in the early stages of
playing together as well as your band now?
The foundations of our songs draw from classic surf and psychedelic rock bands like
the Beach Boys, the Kinks, and the Zombies. We also pull from more recent indie
rock bands like the Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, Cage the Elephant, Tijuana Panthers,
Oh Sees, REM, Broken Bells, Mystic Braves, Shannon and the Clams, & Spoon. We
also like to inject our sense of humour into our songs, channelling bands like They
Might Be Giants and Barenaked Ladies.
What are your musical backgrounds?
Adam played trumpet up until marching band in High School…which has not
benefited National Barks at all. He eventually picked up the guitar and taught himself to
play when he was 20.
Jeff began playing drums at age 10. He played in school sponsored orchestras, jazz
bands, and marching bands for the next 8 years. Those formative years provided a
solid education in music theory which serves as the foundation for his creative songwriting. Jeff draws much of his inspiration from his love of pop-punk, 90s pop/rock,
writing. Jeff draws much of his inspiration from his love of pop-punk, 90s pop/rock,
Joe began studying bass in elementary school and played in various orchestras,
jazz ensembles, and bands through college. Over the years he's become well-versed
in several styles of music including classical, jazz, Latin jazz, soul, folk, bluegrass,
Motown, and show-tunes. He also has experience composing, arranging and
scoring, and is a below-average jazz guitarist.
From sharing margaritas together to playing together, what do you find sparks
your creativity when making music?
Lyrically, we pull a lot of ideas from authors like Edgar Allen Poe and Chuck
Palahniuk, Quentin Tarantino films, Spaghetti Westerns, and Scooby-Doo. We also appreciate puns, dog jokes, and dank memes. A lot of our process involves spending
quality time together, having drinks, sharing life experiences, and goofing around.
Several of our songs draw inspiration from the crushing pressure of human existence
and the tumultuous social climate of the world today. :)
What is the funniest/most memorable thing you’ve had happen to you during a
performance, either collectively or individually?
One goofy moment happened last year. The band opening for us began their set and
sounded great. Everything was mixed well in the on-stage monitors and the band
was full of energy, but the lead singer’s microphone was not coming through the
house speakers. After the first song, the band looked off stage and asked us if it
sounded alright. Adam said, “its sounds good…buuuuuut nobody can hear you
singing. We would have said something but you guys were jamming out and we
didn’t want to interrupt…SORRY!” :)
How would you say your sound differs from your previous band you had during
your university days, ‘The Helionauts’?
Our current sound is more refined. We were loose cannons back in the day. A lot of
our songs were all over the place with no clear theme or direction – ranging from
funk, rock, progressive, to punk. Now we have a much clearer, developed voice.
With your newest addition to the band, bassist Joe Memory, how much has your
sound evolved from your initial duo and various roster changes over the years?
Joe has brought a lot to the table since joining the band. As a bassist, he is a lot
more engaging with the rhythm section creating a more cohesive low end. As a song
writer, he offers unique ideas backed by an extensive knowledge of a music theory to
elevate our concept. Outside of music, Joe’s sense of humor blends well with ours.
Which tracks did you enjoy recording the most from your upcoming EP
‘Something I Can’t Shake Off’?
“Japanese Car in the Desert” was the most fun for everyone because:
1) There is a section where the whole band is yelling at the top of their lungs like a
drunken sea shanty
2) A lot of auxiliary percussion was added to the song, which was fun to record
3) Jeff thinks the chorus guitar riff is the highlight of the EP.
“Creeps” was the most fun for Jeff because he recorded his entire drum track on the
first take. A feat that has never happened before in the history of music probably.
How has the pandemic altered (if at all) the conception of the EP?
The pandemic completely changed the overall direction and themes of the EP.
It even inspired the EP title. The world began shutting down as we were getting
ready to go into the studio, delaying our start time. All of the newfound time on our
hands gave us the opportunity to refocus and think more critically about the project.
As a result, we changed the list of songs we wanted to record. It was then that we
wrote “Beverly Chills” and finished writing just a few days prior to recording.
Having this project to focus on also helped each of us cope with (or take our minds
off) the changing structure of life as we knew it. It became incredibly therapeutic for
us to come together and build this project while it felt like the world was crumbling all
around us outside
Playing in local live shows and festivals has clearly been a huge factor in your
evolution as a band. Have virtual performances and other means of playing inspired you to take the band in other creative directions to get your music out there?
We have pivoted from playing regular live shows to creating more online content.
Recently we’ve experimented with playing cover songs and filming short,
experimental videos to accompany them.
What’s next for National Barks?
Right now, we’re drafting our Grammy acceptance speeches and getting fitted for
tuxedos. We’re also planning music videos for the new songs on the EP, writing new
music, and brainstorming how to navigate the live music industry in this ever-
changing world climate.
Check Out 'Something I Can't Shake Off' on Spotify HERE
Keep Up To Date With National Barks on Facebook HERE