INTERVIEW: Barry, guitar player for The Jimmies
By: Alex Steininger
Alex: What are some of your musicial influences?
Barry: Well, obviously The Ramones. That would be the first one. The Misfits, those are the obvious ones. I'm drawing a blank on influences. You do these interviews and forget everything. Older Rock N' Roll like Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, Elvis, and so on. I grew up listening to my mom's albums.
Alex: What are some of your favorite Portland bands?
Barry: The Weaklings, Blackjack, Sissyface, New Wave Hookers...
Alex: New Wave Hookers?
Barry: Their a new band. I also like Nervous Christians, but they don't play that much anymore. There are so many! Harlets, they are a good bad.
Alex: What do you think of the Portland scene?
Barry: It is very good. I think they don't realize what a good thing they have, entertainment wise. There are a bunch of great bands, lots of venues and bars to play. There are plenty of clubs to play all age shows, and then there are plenty of bars to play.
Alex: What are your band goals for 1997?
Barry: We would like to tour more, definitely. We would also like to put out a live album. We are doing a song for a GG Island tribute album. We would also like to work in the Northwest as much as possible. We have built up a good following in Portland, and now we would like to play Seattle and build a following there.
Alex: On the road, what do you do for fun?
Barry: Sex shops (laughter), actually the road isn't a lot of fun. We go around and look at record stores. Eating is a big priority, and sleeping in a bed is definitely nice! We have a lot of time to do things, but we don't know anyone. We really don't have time to do any tour things. But when we were in San Antonio we did get to see the Alamo.
Alex: What is your favorite city to play and why?
Barry: I would have to say our hometown of Longview, Washington, where we grew up. Each time we have a show there they are packed. Portland is great too. We have friends, and it's a lot of fun. It's also a short drive, we don't have to drive for hours. We know people so we can find things to do. But when we play Longview we make more money.
Alex: What goes into good music making for you?
Barry: You can't force it. You have to know when you have a good song. Just let it come naturally, no forcing. If it makes my foot tape, if it makes me feel good, and feels like it has energy, it is good. There is no high tech formula, if it feels good, it's good. And you hope people will like it.
Alex: What do you enjoy and hate about the music industry?
Barry: I hate the contracts, lawyers, and being ripped off. People don't give a damn and try and take advantage of bands. That's what I hate. I hate all the set backs and disspointments. I think making a little more money would be nice. One day you'll hate it, but next weeks show will get you high and feeling good, and you will realize it is all worth it. Also, when you write a new song you get a great feeling, and it gives you a feeling of being successful, and hopefully people will like the song and feel the same way about it that you do. I love playing music. Money can't be your biggest priority, because there is non of it anyways. Music helps with not making your daily job a bummer, it keeps you sane.
Alex: If you could change anything in your musical career, what would you change and why?
Barry: I would take back all my wasted years of partying and drinking. I am 32 now, and it would of been a lot easier to tour and get out there, but I can't now. I have been sober for three years now, and if I went back and changed the wasted years, I think we could have been a lot farther then we are now. Partying is fun, but we could have got a lot more done!
Alex: What are the highest and lowest points the band has experienced so far?
Barry: The high and lows are in touring, and being outside of your hometown. You play a lot of shows for two people, it seems like a waste of time and effort. It is great to play New York, because everyone there is into it. The new record is really a high point. I feel really good about the new record. Some bad low points are when you are expecting something for the band to be right around the corner, and nothing ever happens.
Alex: Do you have a favorite song you have written?
Barry: Oh boy...probably the newer one on the new record, I can't think of it right now..."Live Without It." It is about the alcohol problems I used to have. I also like "65 Miles," it was the first punk song I wrote for the Jimmies.
Alex: Yeah, "Live Without It" off the new album, and "Cheap" are my favorite songs by you guys.
Barry: I didn't write "Cheap." I like it a lot too. It came out really good when we recorded it. I wanted to use it for the new album, but we couldn't.
Alex: Why couldn't you?
Barry: The label that released the compilation had the rights to it. It's own of those things you don't think about until later. They will lose the rights soon. You just don't think that you would like to use this song later for an album when you record it. They paid for the recording, so that was nice. But the compilation was a great way to bring new people in, who normally wouldn't go out and buy a Jimmies album. More mainstream people might buy it because of someone like Everclear. They would then hear our song and pick up our new album.
Alex: If you could tour with anyone, who would it be and why?
Barry: Touring with the Ramones, that would be fun. There are a lot of others, but you always draw a blank in interviews. A tour of the states with The Queers would be nice.
Alex: Is there any road experiene that stands out in your mind?
Barry: On our way to a show in New York, our van broke down in Pennsylvania, in the middle of nowhere. We called AAA and then Hank Williams Jr., I swear the truck driver was the biggest hick, picked us up. Triple AAA fixed the fan, and ten miles later it broke down again. Wolves were howling, and it was pitch black. We were in the middle of the highway and semi's were coming down. It was scary. So we had to walk to town to call Triple AAA to come fix it again. They didn't show up, so we had to call them three hours later going, "Where are you?" Three hours later they finall show up. We needed a new alternator. So finally around 7am they finally get our truck working. Thirty miles later it breaks down again, right before a tunnel with no shoulder. And all this time we are trying to get to New York for a show. We finally made it, and Joey Ramone was there.
Alex: Is that when the picture inside of the album with you guys and Joey Ramone was taken?
Barry: Yeah it is.
Alex: What made you want to create music?
Barry: I have always been a huge music fan. My mom loved it. I listened to her stuff a lot. I have been a music fan from the get go. I started out playing the claranet, then the saxaphone, and eventually the guitar. I grew up on music, it was just my thing.
Alex: What inspires you to write your songs? Life?
Barry: I write about the things I know, things that happened to me, and I don't always try to be deep. No political stuff like that or anything. Some days you just wake up with a good song in your head, or a good phrase in your head that would make a great chorus. It inspires you, so you go pick up the guitar, and try and find something that fits. It isn't brain surgery. Don't read into it, I mean it has meaning, but no meaning. I don't sit there and try to make a song with meaning, it just comes to you. Keep the Brats of the Street, it seemed like a good line, so I went and built a song around it. A lot of times you try to look deep into a song, and they just woke up with that line in their head.
Alex: What do you want the listener to get out of your music?
Barry: A good time. Hopefully they will get a smile, and leave feeling good. I know that's not very punk rock, but I just want to put them in a good mood. I want it to be something you can put on during a party. Whatever. I hope that it is uplifting, and they feel like they got their moneys worth.
Alex: You did a good job of that on the new album.
Barry: Thank you very much.
Alex: If you could alter anything in your past, would you?
Barry: Yeah, like I said, I would take back some of my drunken nowhere years. But other than that, no. I would have liked to tour more in the past, but you sit there and expect others to do it for you, when you just have to get up and do it for yourself. You have to have your head screwed on, because 99 percent of the time nobody is going to be doing it for you. We started doing everything our selves, but I wish we could have done it earlier. There is nobody waiting out there to receive your demo tape and sign you (laughs), you have to do that yourself.
Alex: How do you feel about the new album? Excited?
Barry: Yeah, we are totally happy. I have no complaints. Its not on vinyl, and I wish it could have been on vinyl.
Alex: Why isn't it on vinyl?
Barry: Our record label wouldn't do it, and we knew that ahead of time. It all came down to the money. We would have done it ourselves, but with the new album out for now for a while, there wasn't any money to do it and it wouldn't have been feesable. We are getting ready to tour, and money was the situation. It all came down to that. We were thinking maybe a European label would pick it up and release it on vinyl, but that is yet to happen. But content wise, I am perfectly happy with it.
Alex: Anything I left out that you would like covered?
Barry: Oh...I don't know. We covered everything pretty well. In interviews your mind always draws a blank, I'll probably think of something tommorrow. I enjoy playing music, and would eventually like to do it for a living. It took us seven years to get a full length out. Did you know that three of us are brothers?
Alex: Yes, I did.
Barry: That has helped us keep it together.
Alex: Have you shopped your new CD around to any majors?
Barry: Yeah, we shopped it around to some majors. But we haven't shopped it around a lot. We just say fuck 'em. I know that's a bad attitude. But we don't expect anyone to pick on it. We shopped it around to some labels like Epitaph, but unless you have a buddy there, they don't listen to it. I'm sure Mike, the guy that runs the label we are on, shopped it around. It would mean money for him. If you get something, great! If not, we just play for fun and don't expect anything.
Alex: Mike seems like a great guy.
Barry: Yeah, he's very fair. Shizophonic isn't a punk label, but Mike has a good head on his shoulders.
Alex: Earlier you mentioned a live album?
Barry: Yeah, we are going to record a live album in our hometown. Our hometowm shows are crazy. We pack it in with like four hundred people and it is a lot of fun. The live album will probably only be available on vinyl. A 12" LP only deal.
Alex: Thanks for your time!