Barry Myers – Catching Dreams!
By Terry Walsh
Singer / guitarist Barry Myers may not be a household name at the moment, but that could change as the momentum from his first two albums-7th Avenue and the recently released Starseeds And Dreamcatchers continues to build.
Drawing favorable comparisons to Pink Floyd for his atmospheric sound, Myers also knows how to deliver a musical hook and harmonies with his distinctive voice.
Rounding out his sound is guitar legend Pat Travers adding some phenomenal, understated riffs and tones with drummer / producer Sean “The Cannon” Shannon pulling things together.
Barry Myers is an artist worth discovering and listening to.
CRR: The new album has some of the same feel as 7th Avenue, but it’s also a bit heavier.
BM: I’d say maybe edgier.
CRR: What is your musical background?
BM: I used to make home demos. A buddy of mine and I called ourselves The Pathetix and he would play guitar and I would play most of the instruments. Then I met drummer Sean Shannon (Molly Hatchet, Pat Travers Band.) We were gonna go into business together to buy a studio here in the Orlando area that was up for sale where some big names used to record. It didn’t come together which turned out to be a blessing because people aren’t using these big rooms as much anymore because the technology has made it possible to make albums at home now!
I played Sean some of the demos and he said, “You ought to do something with these!” Then, my better half, Ivy Gilbert, who is an author, was writing a book called “Feeling Funkabulous” (www.funkabulous.com), and I said, ‘“Why don’t we put one of these songs in your book?”’ It was gonna be South Side of the Moon, and we’d put a CD in the book. Then it became an idea of doing a whole album. So the 7th Avenue album was basically a soundtrack to her book Feeling Funkabulous, which was about a woman turning 40 and the the mental things they go through in a story line. For instance, the song “House of Mirrors” is about her going into a mirror store and seeing herself in the mirror everywhere and the things it got her thinking about. “Ancient Ways” is about me meeting Ivy in real life. So that was the whole idea behind the 7th Avenue album.
CRR: What is like going from being a fan of Pat Travers to having him play on your albums?
BM: He’s been great! There was a period after 7th Avenue was finished when I didn’t even wanna touch my friggin’ guitar (laughs) or do anything. Sean would say, ’Let’s get together any jam or whatever’” and I just… I don’t know! Sean must have said something to Pat because I got an email from him and he said, “‘I go through it all the time. Then all of a sudden it’s gonna come roaring back.’“ Right after that, the songs for Starseeds and Dreamcatchers just flew out.
CRR: What was the idea behind Starseeds and Dreamcatchers?
BM: Originally I was trying to get it done by the end of 2012 when all the doomsday stuff was going on. My wife Ivy and I went to Maine where she’s from and visited Bar Harbor, which is this cool little hippie and tourist town right on the ocean. I said to Ivy, “I think God hangs out there during the summer!’” We went into this bookstore that sold hippie clothes and real spacey spiritual books and there’s this guy in there talking about the end of the world in 2012 and he’s saying he thinks we’re all gonna be ok because he’s been reading “The Starseeds Transmissions.” I said, “What the heck are The Starseeds Transmissions?” I had no clue! (laughing.) So I put it on my iPad and read it. It’s essentially something about somebody channeling someone… I thought it was a good idea for a song. I had the lyrics for an opening track down, but I didn’t have a chorus. Then I thought: Starseeds and Dreamcatchers. I had no idea what a Dreamcatcher was.
CRR: Aren’t they the things you see hanging from people’s rear view mirrors?
BM: Exactly! I had no clue that they were from Native American culture. After that, I got the idea for the second song, “Dreamcatchers”, which is about my dad passing away.
At the end is a lyric, “Inbound. Eden Rising.” Eden Rising was the name of the store we were at and I thought, “That’s a cool lyric!” We were also watching shows like Ancient Aliens, and one episode was about these aliens that came zillions of years ago and basically seeded the earth. So the whole album is kind of a story about that. My account, basically.
CRR: So a lot of the inspiration for the album came from your trip and hearing about these things?
BM: Yeah! I started trying to figure out what Starseeds were. So I looked them up online and they’re supposedly people that the aliens left here and their offspring are called Indigo Childs. That’s where the song Indigo Child came from. I don’t believe any of this stuff, but I thought it was interesting! They had something on CNN with Indigo Childs where they don’t do well in school but can see the future and all that. I don’t remember all the details of it, but thought it was a great idea for a song!
CRR: Some of this is kind of risky songwriting territory isn’t it?
BM: It is, but I thought it was really interesting. What if that is true? What if God were an alien? It’s not like I totally believe that, but you never know. So I don’t want to say I absolutely don’t believe it, but I wasn’t preaching either.
CRR: That really puts your creative direction into perspective- weaving a story from an experience you had.
BM: Right. Like I said, we were watching a lot of shows like the Mayan calendar. That’s what the song “Days and Numbers” is about. “The Arrival” came from one of the theories that Man was still like Cro Magnon Man and these aliens came and enlightened us. “Home Again” is about one of these aliens grabbing someone and taking them back to wherever it is they came from.
CRR: Wow! I thought it was about dying and the journey to Heaven.
BM: I was a big Rush fan growing up. So “Days and Numbers”, “The Arrival” and “Home Again” are basically a little trilogy like something from 2112. They all go together. The only one that didn’t fit was “Angels and Elvis”. I’ve had that one sitting around for 10 years or so.
CRR: How did you end up working with Pat Travers?
BM: Through Sean. While we were working on 7th Avenue I told him I played rhythm and some keys, but didn’t have a lead player. So he says, “‘Don’t worry. I’ll get Pat to play on it.’” “REALLY? Pat TRAVERS?!?” was all I could say! (laughing.) Sean sent him a couple of demos and Pat said, “‘Sure I’ll play on it! But tell him NO Chocolate M&M’s!” I didn’t know what he meant or how to take that until Sean told me about the Van Halen concert rider story about M&M’s!
CRR: That’s a Rock n’ Roll dream come true isn’t it?
BM: I know! To go from riding around in the car with friends and hearing the Makin’ Magic album for the first time and then having all this happen…
CRR: Is the lead guitar on the albums you or Pat?
BM: That is all Pat. I play some rhythm and acoustic in the background and some keyboards. The Hammond B3 and some of the real intricate parts are all done by Michael Stewart. He also played the cool string sounding part on “Angels and Elvis”.
CRR: Is music your full time gig or do you have the proverbial “real job”?
BM: Music is my alter ego. I’m actually the Director of Tennis, I’m a tennis professional at a country club here in the Orlando area and I’ve been there since 1986. Most people don’t know I’m a tennis director. They think, ‘He must be a musician. He hangs with Pat Travers. Blah blah blah!”
CRR: That’s what I thought!
BM: You’re never too old to start. That’s how I’ve always felt.
CRR: How old were you when all this started happening?
BM: I met Sean in 2006, and we started talking about doing a proper album in 2008. I have Pro Tools at my house, but I didn’t have anyone to play drums or mix the album. You can buy drum sample plug-ins for Pro Tools, but they’re not the same as a real drummer. Then I thought, ‘I should call Sean.’” He came over and listened to some of the tunes where I was basically playing all the instruments and suggested some re-arrangements, putting live drums on there and brought in some different guys to fill it out.”
CRR: So it wasn’t the traditional ‘get a record deal’ route, but more organic…
BM: Yeah! Sean always says, “‘You don’t know how lucky you are being a solo guy! You don’t have to deal with anybody else. You do what you wanna do. If somebody doesn’t like the song, it doesn’t matter.” What’s been great is that the guys who played on the albums have said, “‘Barry- anytime you wanna play, I would love to play these songs live.”’ So that’s how the whole thing about putting a live band together came about.
CRR: Have you done any live gigs?
BM: Not yet, but we are putting a band together to do some live shows here in the Orlando area. One of the guys who played keyboards on the album, Michael Stewart used to play in a band around here called Diablo Canyon. Their singer was a local DJ and he unfortunately passed away. So Michael is talking about having the players from Diablo Canyon join up with me and call it Barry Myers and the 7th Avenue Band. We’re gonna get together and try to flesh these songs out and see how they sound live.
CRR: If playing live works, would you tour behind the two albums?
BM: I keep getting asked, so I thought, “‘Let’s get together and see what they sound like.’” I’ve talked to Pat about it in the past and he always says, “Don’t try to make it sound like the record. Just play em’ straight through. Obviously you want to sound sort of like the record, but don’t feel like you have to duplicate every note.” At first that didn’t make sense, but then I got what he was saying: just play it.
CRR: Like the title of his song “Play It Like You See it” then?
BM: Yeah! Especially with Starseeds and Dreamcatchers. There’s a lot of keyboards, Hammond B3 and stuff. Of course with Michael, he plays the B3 and two keyboards at once sometimes, so that will help doing it live.
CRR: That reminds me of the Eagles. They’re a great live band, but they were often criticized for essentially replicating their albums live.
BM: I was just gonna mention them! I saw them when the Orlando Arena opened awhile back and they sounded fantastic! But I thought, ‘They sound exactly like the CD.’”
CRR: So that’s what Pat was referring to?
BM: Exactly. “Don’t think you have to play it note for note exactly like the record. Just play it.” Like I said, I struggled to get my mind around that. But it turned out to be really good advice.
CRR: Who will be in the live band?
BM: Barry Stone is on lead guitar and vocals, Michael Stewart is on Hammond B3, keyboards and vocals, Glen Davis on Drums, Bobby Granato on Bass and vocals and myself on guitars and lead vocals.
CRR: It’s a great story how all of this came about.
BM: After 7th Avenue I thought, ‘“That was a fluke. I’m not gonna be able to do that again.”’ I was proud of the record. I Thought, ‘“Those songs are pretty good!’” But when I tried to write something new, nothing would come out. One day Pat came by to borrow my classical guitar and we started talking about the struggle I was having. I think there must be magic in that guitar because he wrote a lot of “Can Do” on it and I ended up writing a lot of Starseeds on it.
CRR: Starseeds And Dreamcatchers is still new. Are you working on new ideas already?
BM: After I finished this album, I went through the SAME thing I did after 7th Avenue. I thought, ‘“These songs are pretty good. I CAN’T do that again!’” I don’t even know where the songs came from. They came from the Ether or something! But I’m starting to think, “Where am I gonna go now?’” I did the same thing with Starseeds, ‘“Maybe I’ll just do a single or maybe an EP.’” Then again, Ivy has just put out a book called “The Keeper of Clarity” which went to number 1 on Amazon. It kind of correlates to Starseeds and Dreamcatchers because she got a lot of the inspiration when we were in Maine. I was thinking that if her book became a movie, I could write the soundtrack and I’ve put some ideas down as a soundtrack, but more acoustic based.
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