INTERVIEW: Barns Courtney on new music, being back on the road, and much more
This weekend is one for the books in live music when it comes to Boston, and a perfect way to kick off your weekend is the man taking over Paradise Rock Club tomorrow with Barns Courtney. Courtney, with fellow UK act The Ramona Flowers in tow, is no stranger to the Paradise. His last time playing the iconic venue was just over a year ago, and his long-anticipated return to Boston is sure to be one for the books. His support act, The Ramona Flowers, will be playing their last show of their run with Courtney tomorrow, so make sure to get there in time for their slot as well. The band found themselves last here with Circa Waves in March, and the dancy tunes will surely be a treat. If you’re catching Courtney later on in his run, Yonaka will be on the rest of the shows, and all of those dates can be found following my interview with Courtney below!
I got the opportunity to chat with Courtney recently about his North American run, which has already brought him to several Canadian dates. He also spoke about some of his favorite artists to check out, his latest tunes, and his current focuses and goals. Courtney’s last album, “404,” hit in 2019, and his show tomorrow night should be a great look into the new music he has been working on as of late. Some that Courtney spoke about sitting on for a while now, but tunes like Golden, Supernatural, and Young in America are sure to be present tomorrow. Hope to see you then!
Doors at the Paradise will open at 7:00 p.m., with a local opener (James Bruner) starting it off at 8:00 p.m. Limited tickets can still be bought here, and hope to see you then!
To get started, Barns, I know this is the first show of your US shows of this run. Correct me if I’m wrong, with Minneapolis.
Barns Courtney: Uh, yeah! First US show of the run, correct!
And how have these shows been going? I chatted with The Ramona Flowers earlier this week, so I know they’ve been out with you for a few days. I know Saskatoon got canceled, and you did a last-minute acoustic thing, but how have these shows been going so far?
BC: It’s been great. It’s so good to get back on the road. I just feel happier out here with one of my best friends, Bruce. I wither away, stuck inside my house, so it’s not for me. I like being a gypsy, constantly on the move, traveling, sailing the concrete ways of oblivion, with my best girl by my side (Courtney, at this point, turning his phone to, assumedly, the Bruce mentioned above).
He’s so excited.
Then I know you took out The Hunna in the past, and you have two UK bands on the tour this year supporting this run. How important is it to you to have fellow UK bands out with you on tour?
BC: I just love to help out my friends. That’s really more what it is. I know a lot of bands in the UK scene, but yeah, I’m really excited to have Yonaka out. I’ve known them for ten years, and they’re amazing live. They’ll blow you away if you get a chance to see them.
Perfect! And then this is your second full US tour since the world returned? You played the Paradise in Boston last year around the same time (the venue Barns is playing on this Friday, 10/13).
BC: It might be, yeah! It’s so weird how we plunged into the darkness. I feel like I didn’t just lose a year. I feel like I lost five years. I was in my twenties when we went into that thing, and now I’m in my thirties. It’s like I fell into a time warp.
And that’s fair! To be honest, I interviewed you at that first tour run when you played like the Great Scott when there were like five people there. Very early in your career, obviously.
BC: I mean, we’ll see if I get more than five tonight. You know it might be the same.
I think it’s going to be more than five. Maybe jumping back into this, you are two albums deep. You have Supernatural, Golden, and Young in America. Maybe how have these songs been going over, this tour in particular? I know Supernatural came out last year, but perhaps these new songs.
BC: It’s great to see the fans know the words. And I was surprised that people already know Young in America. Because you never know. You know, how things will go over if people like them. As Andy Warhol says, make art. And whether people are excited or not, you make more art. So, just continuing, writing songs, making up melodies about glitter. In my room by myself.
Then, like I said before, your last album was in 2019, so I know it’s been a while for you. I know you just signed to a new imprint, I believe.
BC: Yeah! I mean, I’ve had an album for a couple of years now. It’s just waiting for different record labels to figure out who they sell themselves to. How often do they want to change out their A&R. How many radio pluggers do they want to fire, re-hire, and move to other labels? Eventually, they figure it all out, and then I figure out how to get out of my contracts.
So now I’m signed to my fourth record deal with Virgin. Who was my first record deal as Barns Courtney. So I’ve gone full circle now but to a different imprint with a different guy. So, we’ll see! We’ll see if I can actually stay on this label for over two years. Before it disintegrates into chaos and, I have to plan my master escape.
Then, these songs that you are releasing are songs that you’ve been sitting on for a while, or are they in these last few months?
BC: Oh yeah! I’ve had these songs for ages. I’m just kind of waiting for all the bigwigs to figure out what to do with them. That’s why I would not advise a young man to sign to a major record label. They’re fucked and are quickly becoming totally irrelevant. Make your own music in your bedroom and promote it on TikTok; that is all you need. These suits! These lumbering dinosaurs and their old world views manacled to their chairs whose hard bosoms have been no home for their heart at any point.
Then you’re so early in this tour. From covering you in the past, I know you obviously have a very dedicated fanbase that comes out, at least in Boston. I know it was one of the earliest cities you toured here in the US, but just thinking of your past shows, maybe for people who haven’t seen you. It may seem cheesy, but why come out to a Barns show? I know from seeing you in the past. You’re very energetic. You’re very engaging with the audience. You know what I mean. You’re very interactive with the crowd, but for people who haven’t seen you before, who haven’t come to see a Barns Courtney show.
BC: Come and see a man with incredibly active sweat glands strut about the stage. Like an 1800s peacock with his pits out. How’s that?
That’s a fair explanation.
BC: Does that work?
That works for me.
Then, like I keep saying, you’re very early into this tour. This is your second tour in all this craziness that we’ve experienced. You’re going to be at the Paradise again next week. So maybe hopes or focuses for you in these next few months? As you said, the record label journey has been a little interesting for you, but perhaps focuses or goals after this run.
BC: After the tour’s done? I just want to continue trying to make music that I’m really proud of—I’m just going to get straight back in it and write some more. Try and realize an album and a live show that I really think is on a certain level. It’s an ongoing journey—just an endless quest. So, as soon as the tour’s done, I’ll just be straight back in writing.
I’ve been really trying to replicate the live sound on an album. It’s very challenging. So I’ll probably go in and see if I can get something like that.
Then you’ve been touring the US since 2016, I believe, or so. Maybe for bands that are just coming out or bands that you like right now that you would recommend to people starting to go out to shows?
BC: Idles has an incredible live show. Undeniable. Cage the Elephant has one of the greatest frontmen that I’ve ever seen in my life (Matt Shultz). I just saw my friends play with Bruno Major recently. It’s not like an enormously sweaty show but an undeniably great one. I think it’s really worth going to check out. And who else? Regardless of whether you like their music or what they’re about, or if you’re a diehard techno fan or whatever, The Struts. They have an amazing live show. It’s undeniably good.
The first time I covered The Struts was around when you started touring, too. It was also a very small, intimate show that I’m sure you wish would have been a little bigger. Or like The 1975 played a free show because, legitimately, no one bought a ticket, and there were maybe ten people there. Like you, with that really small show at Great Scott for them. And just to see so many bands come so far out from that era like The Struts, you, 1975, of course.
BC: Was that that show when it was like raining outside?
I think so! There were, I think you’ve talked about it before, but there were literally five people and a dog. I remember your manager at the time was there. I remember meeting Leon.
BC: Aw, loved Leon, that’s terrific. I mean, I’ve crafted a very nice life for myself. Where I’m consistently paying dues. Forever, but back then, it used to be quite fun if you could accept it. Not fighting it and just going with the flow.
Barns Courtney Supernatural Tour 2023 Dates: