Tim Barry

You gotta have flash there buddy.

Tim Barry doesn’t drink like he used to, doesn’t fight like he used to and certainly doesn’t play music like he used to.  The age old story of a mountain punk becoming a mountain man, of trading fist-fighting for composting and drugs for an acoustic guitar, Barry has succeeded in maintaining the same energy that made Avail a punk staple and in leading faithful fans down whatever musical path he chooses.  In the delightfully weird ass town of Asbury Park, New Jersey, we met in a lovely, disheveled “band” house (where the Bouncing Souls apparently live) to roll cigarettes and talk change and tears.

Tim Barry: [To interviewer] You can move that cat thing if you want.

FUN Artists: I live with like 8 cats so I’m over it. Can you say who you are?

Tim Barry: My name is Tim Barry and I’m from Richmond, Virginia.  What’s up?

FUN Artists: What is your favorite classical instrument?

Tim Barry: Piano. It’s the only instrument that, literally, when I hear  [it], if it’s played properly I will burst into tears. I don’t know why, it’s always been that way. I’m dying to learn how to play it so I think I may start taking lessons, but I’m also conflicted about that because I’m afraid if I take lessons and learn more about it, I wont burst into tears when I hear it. The guy who plays piano on… I hang around with, When I work at home I work for the Richmond Ballet so I’m surrounded by classical music all the time. My brother is a classical music avant-garde composer and my sister is a classically trained violinist so I get to hear beautiful music all the time, including at work. There’s just something about that damn instrument. Like this guy Daniel Clark who plays on all my records, he’s actually famous now, not because of me, but because he plays with Ryan Adams, Mandy Moore, and K.D. Lang… But he’ll come in the studio when I write a song on the guitar and I’ll be like “Daniel, how would this feel on piano?” and he’ll just start playing and I’ll just melt, fucks my world over man. That’s my favorite classical instrument.

FUN Artists: What is the main difference in your most recent album compared to the previous installments?

Tim Barry: I don’t know if there’s a differences between each of my records; I would like to think there are. But I’m not great at talking about music I make that much, like comparing… All of those records are just notes on a time period. The new record I have out is called 28th & Stonewall and it’s a lot more light hearted than the one before it which was called Manchester which I wrote and recorded in an incredibly trying period in my life where I lost two of my friends and I had almost died. And so with time recovery comes, the memories are retained but pain is still there, but the grief slowly exits your life. So new the record is as introverted as I am, but it’s definitely got some uppity things and sarcasm on it too.

FUN Artists: That’s a good lead.  Have you ever gone, or are you going through an existential crisis?

Tim Barry: No, I’m not going through an existential crisis, never will, never have, cause I’m thug.

FUN Artists: Whom would you bring back from the dead?

Tim Barry: Howard Zinn. Because he passed away a few months ago and I really wish I had met the man. Howard Zinn, for those of you who don’t know, is an activist and historian. There were a couple mentors that I’ve had, and have, in my life, and one of them is a writer, an investigative journalist named Adam Thompson, his writer name is A.C. Thompson. And when I was much younger and didn’t read, and just did drugs and fist fight he really encouraged me to start reading.  I’ve always been fascinated with history, and early on A.C. Thompson turned me on to reading Howard Zinn. Zinn completely flipped my entire perspective on life history: where we come from, where we are going. And again he passed away a couple months ago and I think it’s tragic that it didn’t get as much press as it should have. That man changed my life, and even though he died recently I would like to shake his hand and give him a fucking hug.

FUN Artists: What’s right with America?

Tim Barry: Some of the people. What’s right with America is some of the people, what’s wrong with America is an endless list, but we all know that.

FUN Artists: What is your greatest fear?

Tim Barry: What’s my greatest fear? I guess my greatest fear is not living, not literally “not living”, but feeling lethargic and stagnant. The fact that, simple and cliché, your life is what you do between your birth and your death, and if you don’t do a whole lot then that’s a terrible way to go. I was talking to someone the other day, talking about, cause I’m 39 now, like looking at myself in the mirror and I’m going holy crap I look totally… I’m getting older, wow. And a person said, “How do you feel about that?” I said, “I don’t give a flying shit. Cause I’m looking in the mirror at a person who’s constantly tried to achieve living in the moment and in the day, so I feel an overwhelming contentment. If I was looking in the mirror at 39 years old at an aging body and face and I realized I had done anything I’d feel awful. So I’m good to go. I’m not afraid of too much.

FUN Artists: So do you feel the older you get the wiser as well, or jaded, or is that the same thing?

Tim Barry: I don’t know what I feel about getting older, in my head. I don’t think much about anything but the future. There’s different kind of people, and I’ll just use music as an example because it’s common and easy to relate to, is like; the amount of people we all know that roll up to you, not me just cause I still play music, but are like “Oh remember when we played in our high school band?” or “we went on that one tour” and that’s all they talk about… Actually it’s like “What the fuck are you going to do tomorrow? What do you have planned the next day? What’s on the agenda for having a family, or going camping, or doing something different, or future, future, future…?” Instead everything is retrospective. Actually the best years of your life are in front of you if you stop going “it was so much better when I was in high school… it was so much better when I had this job…” Well, fuckin’ change it, go back to high school, mentally and emotionally, and raise some fuckin’ hell.

FUN Artists: Do you have a family?

Tim Barry: I have no children. Yes I have my mother, father, brother and sister. No I have no family right now.

FUN Artists: Do you want to have kids?

Tim Barry: I will have kids, yeah even as old as I am, I will have kids. It’s different when you start thinking about having kids at 39, there’s a reality if I started having kids at 45… you don’t have too much life left in you. But I’ll tell you what, going back to that losing two friends in a three week period, two of my closest friends I’ve ever had, and then shortly after that my sister having her family first, I have a niece now Grace Ann, and loving my sister, touring with her, she used to tour with me for years playing violin, and it’s just this whole amazing experience… Our family is so much closer now, we have our first uncle… Wow, what a head-trip, now I understand the interest that so many people have in having children: it just changes everything. Again the way it brought my family together is epic. And to watch my sister and her husband’s love for Grace Ann is mind-blowing.

FUN Artists: What musical tradition do you feel most part of?

Tim Barry: Well I’m connected with the punk movement because I grew up in it. My music certainly isn’t even close to punk rock, although the presentation and my attitude is still punk. I abhor the term “folk-punk”. Somebody called my music “campfire-punk”… What the fuck is that? I figure it’s just music; I mean it’s just rock & roll music with an acoustic guitar. Yeah it’s funny and embarrassing, there’s so many if us old punks who use to be in punk bands now playing acoustic guitars. The only reason I do it is because I have so much fun, I’ve never been happier making music in my entire life, so I’m gonna just keep rolling with it. When it gets too easy and I’m not happy I’ll just start writing books.

FUN Artists: On?

Tim Barry: Whatever the fuck I want.

FUN Artists: Are you still “Poor, Ugly, and Happy”?

Tim Barry: Definitely ugly, definitely stoked, definitely live in a shed-with no running water, 30 amps of fuse, compost toilet, kerosene heater for $150 a month. I have a big garden, a cat, and a dog. I certainly almost made some money on this tour and then the transmission dropped out of the van, then the brakes went out, and then engine took a crap… So, I was formerly ahead and now I’m apparently not. I guess I am poor, but it’s all good.

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