Kris Barras – A Player And A Fighter 

The Kris Barras Band are back with a brand new studio album entitled ‘The Divine And Dirty’ on the Provogue/Mascot Label Group’s imprint and a lot of live gigs ahead that will keep them busy in 2018. To coincide with the release, we sat down with Kris for an exclusive customised chat. Enjoy…

John Bull/Rockrpix

So your new album is entitled ‘The Divine And Dirty’. How did that title come about?

The title came after the album was recorded. It’s meant to represent the good and bad that’s in us all whilst also referring to the sound of the album. We’ve got the heavier, ‘dirty’ slide guitar tracks, mixed with the more ‘Divine’ gospel style backing vocals.

Do you have any favoured stage guitars?

My main guitar is my Fender Telecaster. It’s a custom shop relic from 2006. I also use a 1984 Fender Strat, I’ve had that one since I was around 17 years old.

Could you please tell me about the song ‘Propane’?

‘Propane’ was an interesting one for my as it is the first song where wrote the lyrics, before any of the music. It’s got more of a chilled vibe, whilst still remaining upbeat. The song is about using people’s negativity towards you as fuel to succeed.

Although you are now retired, you did have a decade-long career as a Mixed Martial Artist (MMA). What did you learn about yourself during that important part of your life and did you have a walk-on song before fights? If so, what was it and why?

The nerves and adrenaline that you experience before a fight is like nothing else. It’s hard to deal with and took me a fair few fights before I started to feel comfortable in there. I had several different tracks over the years. The walkout track that I used for my first few fights was ‘Down with the Sickness’ by Disturbed. It’s a heavy track that got me pumped up and I used to like walk out when he screams ‘oo wah ah ah ah’ ! Later in my career I switched over to Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’. A mega chilled track. I think that represented how much I had improved with dealing with the nerves; I no longer needed a heavy tune to get pumped up. A chilled song to help me stay calm and collected.

Could you please tell me your favourite song by a) Gary Clark Jr and b) Gary Moore? Please feel free to say something about each artist.

For Gary Clark Jr I would say ‘Bright Lights’, I just love the groove. For Gary Moore, I would say ‘Empty Rooms’. It was always my favourite when I was a kid, so it always holds that nostalgia for me. I love the way the song builds up to the power solo.

What was your first gig (who was it, where was it and how old were you)?

My first gig was with my Dad’s band, I was around 8 or 9 years old. I got up and did a few number’s at a pub gig. It was Christmas Eve and the place was heaving.

I really love the album cover artwork for your new record. What was your thought process behind it and who designed it?

I wanted to have something that represented the good/bad in us all and started researching some different ideas. I came across a few ideas similar to what we did, half person/half skeleton or a robot kind of thing. We had a tattoo artist draw up the skeleton so that it matched up with my body frame perfectly then another graphic designer that pieced everything all together.

Could you please tell me about the song ‘Watching Over Me’?

‘Watching Over Me’ is a song that I wrote in tribute to my late-father. He was always a massive influence on me and hugely supportive of my music.

Could you describe your hometown in five words (and where is your hometown please) I live in Torquay. Best way to sum it up in 5 words : Nice. When. The. Sun. Shines!

At age 19 you owned your own guitar shop – did you ever do any live sessions/shows in the shop? Also, what was the most played guitar riff that you heard from customers e.g. Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’?

We had Phil Hilbourne down to do the opening day. He writes for loads of Guitar mags and was the guitarist for the Queen ‘We Will Rock You’ Musical in London. Yeah we definitely heard Smoke on the Water a lot of times! It is a great riff though.

The album is produced by Josiah J Manning who is also the keyboard player in the band. How did the two of your approach the album’s recording?

Well he wasn’t actually the keyboard player to begin with. When I started recording the album, I was still unsigned and therefore self-financed. I could only afford a few days in the studio so we only did 4 tracks to start us off, with the intention of finishing the album later in the year. Things progressed massively over the course of 2017 and due to the added Band work-load our Bass player Ricky Mitchell and Keys player Huw Weston decided that they could no longer continue due to family and work commitments. That’s where Josiah stepped in on Keys and Elliott Blackler came in on Bass. We really wanted to capture the live vibe of the band, so we tracked the rhythm section live in the room together. Some tracks we didn’t even use a click. Overdubs for Vocals, Solo’s etc were added later.

Where are you planning to tour next?

We are currently on our headline UK tour, which is 14 dates. Then we jump on tour with Beth Hart, doing an acoustic support slot for 11 dates.

What is the Kris Barras Band tour diet?

Whatever they have in service stations usually! I try to eat fairly clean on tour to stay healthy but it can be tough when you are on the road.

To what extent does the news / current events affect or trigger your songwriting?

Yeah sometimes. I don’t ever look to get too political or anything like that but a song on the new album ‘Blood on your Hands’ was inspired but a story that I heard on the news. It’s about needing to understand that actions, no matter how small, always have consequences.

Who would be your ideal female duet partner?

I’d have to say Beth Hart! Not just because I’m touring with her but she just has so much passion when she sings, it’s awesome.

How do you approach a festival set?

In our headline shows, we like to build the set up gradually. For festivals, often you’ll be playing to people that haven’t seen you before so you need to grab their attention early on. So we always start with something upbeat, hit them hard early on!

Do you/have you ever played acoustic or solo shows?

Yeah I’ve done loads over the years. Acoustic and Cigar Box sets. The Beth Hart tour will be all acoustic.

Who is in your band and how did you all meet?

I’ve got Will Beavis on Drums, we’ve been playing together for 15 years in various different bands. On Bass Guitar I have Elliott Blackler. We’ve known each other since we were around 16, just from being around the local music scene. Josiah J Manning is on Keys, we met after I started recording my album with him. He came highly recommended from several different musician friends of mine.

Could you tell me what happened when you first went to your record label’s London office?

That was a bit scary! We had just finished our meeting and headed to a pub on Carnaby St for a celebratory beer or two. I popped to the loo and when I emerged the pub was on lock down, there were people running and screaming outside and armed police clearing the streets and telling everyone to stay inside. The news channels were reporting all kind of crazy things like ‘gunman on the lose’ ‘Terror attack in London’ . It turned out that two guys had a scuffle in Oxford Circus tube station and somehow caused a Mexican wave of terror throughout the city!

Name a song that makes you laugh (intentionally or otherwise!)

When I was younger, I used to love the Weird Al Yankovic parody cover versions. These days, anything by Kevin ‘Bloody’ Wilson will do.

Which of your own songs so far would be most suitable for the opening of a film?

I think ‘Lovers or Losers’ would be a good one. The way it starts off with just guitar and vocals then kicks in to a big riff. It would suit a Sons of Anarchy spin-off if they did one!

Glenn Sargeant

Kris Barras Band


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Kris Barras Band
Kris Barras Band
Kris Barras
Kris Barras Band
Kris Barras Band
Kris Barras Band

(Thanks to Kris, The Mascot crew, Laurence Harvey and John Bull/Rockrpix)

Feature Image Photo Credit: John Bull/Rockrpix

All Other Photos except Beth Hart Poster and Motorbike Shot credited to Laurence Harvey

You can watch the new video for ‘Lovers and Losers’ in this article (Click on the Motorbike Photo)

The Kris Barras Band’s new album ‘The Divine And Dirty’ is out now on Provogue/Mascot Label Group. You can read our full album review here: http://bit.ly/2puDkeZ

In addition, the band will be touring throughout 2018. For more information visit Kris Barras’s official website here: http://bit.ly/2D1EiHk

Kris Barras Band