Each week, Bro Radio showcases a different artist from South Wales by placing them on the station’s main playlist. This week’s pick is Llantwit Major’s own, Barney Barnett.
Barney’s track, “No Favours” is a strutting Britpop throwback with all the swagger of the nineties’ finest and a sprinkling of saxophone for good measure.
With a relatively sparse instrumental soundscape, featuring a crunchy guitar riff, crisp drums and a very understated bass line, the focus is clearly on Barnett’s lyrics and vocal, which is delivered with some force in a melody you might catch yourself whistling repeatedly over the next few days.
The single is Barney’s debut solo effort and was released on the 15th January after a recording process that took place through lockdown.
Multi-instrumentalist, Barnett, cut his teeth in a number of South Wales bands, such as Denim Snakes, Detached and John Q Public, but felt that now was a good time to go it alone. Bro Radio asked Barney about his decision to become a solo artist:
“I’d had these songs for a while now but didn’t feel that they were the right fit for bands I was playing in at the time so I just shelved them.
“However, I kept writing new songs and one day, as I was going back over some ideas I thought that some of them might be something that other people might listen to and felt that it would be a shame if I didn’t do something with them.
“I decided that the best way to get them out there was to go solo. That way I could control the pace and direction myself and not have to worry about other people’s availability as I could play most of the instruments.
“Suddenly within a month of booking the studio time I had recorded my first two tracks. The process was a lot quicker.”
Like the majority of those in the music industry, Barney found himself with a lot of time on his hands during 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but saw the temporary pause as an opportunity to record his own stuff. Bro asked Barnett how lockdown and the restrictions affected the recording process:
“I was demoing ideas on my phone at home but knew I needed to record these properly.
“I had been in talks with Todd, the producer, for most of last year but due to Covid, we had to make sure we were working safely and to the guidelines set by the government. Once a window in the restrictions was open I grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
“I decided to ask two good friends of mine (Dan Gribble & Huw Marc Bennett) to play guitar and Bass. We all wore masks and as there were only 3 of us recording it was quite easy to keep our distance – it was all recorded separately too.
“I played the drums and once Huw had laid down the bass tracks he no longer needed to be there, so we moved on to Dan and the guitars before I recorded the saxophone and vocals in a separate booth.”
The aforementioned saxophone section is a welcome and somewhat surprising addition to the record, which, up until that point, had focused heavily on the meat and potatoes of rock and roll; guitar, bass and drums. Bro Radio asked Barney how the instrument fitted into his musical journey:
“I started playing when I was 9 years old. However, I had a bit of a break from playing after I had finished my grades at 18. I started playing Drums at 16 and that took over.
“It was 7 years before I picked up the Sax again when I was asked to play on a European tour with a band called Detached. I enjoyed it so much that I decided I wouldn’t let it slip like that again.”
The talented musician hails from the Vale, calling Llantwit Major home. Bro Radio asked Barnett about what the local music scene was like back when he was emerging:
“There wasn’t a great deal of opportunity to play in all honesty – that was until Major Music came along.
“I was amongst the first load of young people to be involved in the project. It was brilliant. It gave us a place to practice, advice from older musicians and they also put on gigs, giving us an opportunity to showcase our music to a crowd.
“That wasn’t just in Llantwit either, they would get us all in a mini bus and take us to other destinations even as far as Builth Wells! I met a lot of good friends there (including Dan who played guitar on the record for me) and later on a volunteered there as a mentor, working with the younger bands and passing on knowledge I had learnt.
“After I became old enough to play in clubs I was mostly playing in Cardiff, Bridgend and further afield. In any band I could. Anywhere I could.”
“No Favours” a track about “someone who’s been there, done that and doesn’t want anyone’s help because they feel they are above that” was released on all major platforms on the 15th January and Barney Barnett is Bro Radio’s Local Artist of the Week.