The David Barrett Trio Rocks Out, With a Little Help From Rush’s Alex Lifeson
Vlad Yukiceviic/RocketHub, September 27, 2011.
David Barrett is a stellar guitar player who in 2010 took the opportunity of a lifetime. Guitarist Alex Lifeson of Rush offered to produce the David Barrett Trio. They recorded three progressive rock instrumentals at his studio, Lerxst Sound, using Rush engineer Richard Chycki, and the results were spectacular!
Now David and his group, including bassist Jason Farrar and percussionist Sascha Tukatsch, are using the power of crowdfunding and RocketHub to make the next seven songs into a reality. I chatted with David about his plans and about working with the legendary Alex Lifeson.
DB: I did a lot of touring and recording with artists that were very good, but also vocal orientated and very commercial. After that work dried up in 2002, along with the record companies, I decided I was going to play only my instrumental guitar music, and go at it alone. I was very inspired by two of my favorite guitarists, Steve Howe and of course Alex Lifeson. Since 2004, I released a series of self produced guitar records, and would always give a copy to both Steve and Alex. They said some encouraging things that really helped me move forward, because I was doing everything by myself – writing, arranging, producing and engineering with little outside input. I’d spent time in Toronto, New York and Nashville with tons of great soloists – players like Tommy Emmanuel, Tony McManus, and Stephen Bennett, even Les Paul and John Williams!
So I was getting inspired and at the same time I was figuring out how to pull off an instrumental guitar thing that was both musical and entertaining. In Jan. 2010, Alex listened to my latest acoustic album The Dead Arm and had some constructive criticism, but also offered to produce with the idea that I’d benefit from such an experience. Alex really insisted I use a band because he felt the music would develop more fully that way. I’m truly inspired because I’m working with a great rhythm section as a power trio, and my favorite guitar player is producing. I have Alex to thank not only for the production team, but also for renewing my interest in loud electric guitar, which is what I do best.
RH: From Les Paul to Alex Lifeson – the guitar gods must be smiling down upon you. You have some big names associated with the project – how did that come about?
DB: I met Alex Lifeson’s son Justin back in the early 1990′s when I was recording with Mark Holmes at Jeff Healey’s studio in Toronto. Justin’s a great guy and an old Platinum Blonde fan, so he knew Mark from back in the day and dropped by the studio one evening to say hi. We became friends, and I got to know Alex sometime later. Over the years Alex has helped me out with gear, recording projects, and we’ve even jammed in his basement a couple times. The engineer on this project is Rich Chycki, and coincidentally, Rich was the house engineer at the Healey studio on all the sessions I did with Amanda Marshall and Mark Holmes. Rich also produced my first solo guitar record in 1995 called, Staring Into The Sun. I recommended Rich to Alex, ten years before he actually became Rush’s main recording and mixing engineer!
RH: That’s quite a natural path. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of music in Toronto – how are your supporters responding?
DB: It’s something very new to me. I became aware of RocketHub when a Rush fan emailed the website link. I researched crowdfunding and thought it was a great idea because RocketHub made it clear it wasn’t a charity and it took the investment part out of the equation. In my early years of playing music, some managers I’d worked with raised funds but there was always an unsound business model at work that seemed to offer unrealistic returns that would never be paid. RocketHub makes it clear that artists create something, then offer rewards to fans that contribute funds. You can get a lot of people to give any amount they choose, and you can customize the rewards that your fan base receives. So far we’re halfway through with 40 days left and we’re raised 20% [at 50% now with two weeks left]. We’ve also got some generous offers from studios willing to help. Will it cap off at a certain point, or will contributions increase as we get closer to the deadline? I don’t know, because we’ve never done anything like this before!
RH: You’ve built a lot of support and buzz. Any advice for creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project?
DB: Now more than ever the music business and digital technology is going through a huge change, and it’s of course not over. For any project to have any hope of gaining momentum it has to start with the intention behind the music. If the intention is for anything other than making great music, you won’t get too many people jumping on board to contribute. So it has to start with the music, if it’s good enough and honest enough you’ll find someone like Alex Lifeson will come along and donate his talent and time – and hopefully a huge crowd of Fuelers will follow!
RH: Awesome interview. Thank you David for your music and for your words – hopefully the RocketHub team can see you play in NYC soon.