We’ve been monitoring the ever-erratic movements of Barry Dobbin ever since catching an early Clor gig at The Windmill back in Joyzine’s formative years, and a wild, wondrous and meandering path he has led us on along the way. This Friday sees the release of his current band Barringtone‘s debut album Bonanza Plan, via the ever dependable Onomatopoeia Records, and it’s every bit the bamboozling labyrinth of jerky post-punk and avant-pop that we’d hoped it would be. As much fun as it has been getting lost down its disco cul-de-sacs and synthy side streets, we thought we’d enlist the band’s help to navigate our way through the record, and they kindly obliged.
1. Foxes and Brimstone.
I was thinking about the re-wilding of urban and sub-urban spaces, the fox, or foxes, that intermittently appear to take up residence in the dense ivy at the back of my garden in Brixton. They often stick their head out in the early evening and peer about checking, I imagine, if it is sufficiently late, a time to emerge and they stalk off along the high back wall. Again in the very early morning they do long stretching routines on the back lawn – bold as brass they never seem fazed by my appearance at the window – lolling around lazily before slinking back into the foliage – dignified and stately. Musically I wanted something tropical, slightly exotic but as ever the music span out of control in the playing and rehearsing, which is just how we like it. So, a kind of musical homage to the exoticness of the urban fox – sounds a bit like ‘Cats’ the musical from this description – yikes!
2. Gold Medal Vision.
First half is a simple riff that had been going around in my head for literally years, it took ages to get the arrangement how we wanted it. Aiming for something that sounded simple and complex at the same time. The second half of the song, which is much more complex, was much easier to write/arrange and it just sort of emerged fully formed over the course of an hour of playing an acoustic guitar while Aaron played keyboard/bass very quietly at his house, am still finding it strange how that happened.
Connan Cooledge supplying sublime bass notes to some chords I was messing about with at the start of writing this one – what makes it work for me is the careful, economic use of bass notes against the somewhat messier ‘throw it all in and see what sticks’ guitar approach – rare moments of discipline emerging in the Barringtone writing process.
4. Into the Woods.
Really enjoyed writing this one together in the rehearsal room – all the parts just fell into place. Playing this one live is particularly good fun as we get to fully indulge our inner rocker with plenty of power chords and driving drums!
5. The New New.
A kind of rock opera feel is what we went for with this one – a deliberate exercise in increasing the melodrama at every opportunity, this could be Barringtone at its most self-indulgent and unwieldy. A genuine attempt to articulate a kind of ‘more is more’ aesthetic and in that sense it’s the quintessential Barringtone song!
6. Emily Smallhands.
Really stuck with this for years, it was the name Clor used to put on guest lists incase there was someone at the last minute who wanted to get into a gig. I just used that as a jumping off point for some absurdist lyrics and musical phrasing. I like the way it retains a nice tight little groove but is actually pretty complex timing-wise – feels intuitively right though which is how we generally arrive at things.
Motorik, driving synth-pop – the sound of naked ambition and a genuine attempt to write something accessible and poppy – it’s got a chorus and everything – felt sure this was going to be ‘top of the pops’ when I wrote it lol. Got nothing but admiration for people who knock out actual pop bangers, it’s harder than it sounds! Live we have arranged it slightly differently – we slow down and speed up and it seems to drive people wild – remains one of my favourites to play.
Appropriate music for a chase sequence in a feature film?
9. Pet Gazelles.
You can’t domesticate a Gazelle. It would be pointless even trying. You just have to let them run free prancing and pronking around like the crazy free-spirited quadrupeds they are. Got to be wary of lions etc but nevertheless I can imagine it must be pretty joyous being a Gazelle and that’s what the song is about.
Bonanza Plan is released on 21st August via Onomatopoeia Records on vinyl, CD and digital download. Pre-order your copy here.
Introduction by Paul Maps