Interview: Francijn Suermondt
Photos: Adrian Hextall \ Mindhex Media
Kris Barras is the U.K’s most exciting Blues-Rock Guitarist. The band’s unique mix of foot-stomping riffs and catchy tunes have made them the ‘must-see’ Blues/Rock band of 2018.
Kris was voted in the Top 15 Blues Guitarists in the world by the reader’s of Music Radar/Total Guitar Magazine.
In April 2018, it was announced that Kris would become the new frontman for USA super-group, Supersonic Blues Machine. The band feature’s legendary artists such as ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Steve Lukather (Toto), Eric Gales, Warren Haynes (Gov’t Mule) and Walter Trout.
Latest album, The Divine and Dirty sits in hallowed territory surrounded by Eric Clapton, John Mayall and The Rolling Stone. As of 11/7/2018 Kris sits at #5 in the CD & Vinyl charts on Amazon:
Myglobalmind.com caught up with Kris for a chat at Ramblin Man Fair…..
FS – Hello Kris, you are playing at the Ramblin Man Fair on the Blues Stage this year. However last year you were on the Rising Star Stage weren’t you? So how did that all come about and how did it go for you?
KB – Yeah, The Rising Stage last year was sort of the catalyst for all the success we have had really over the last 12 months. It was the first time I met up with my record label ‘Mascot’ and it led on to a lot of other really good things and just spiralled from there really.
FS – And what do you think will come from playing today?
KB – I mean, it’s just great to be here, it is a fantastic festival, it was one of the highlights for me last year and to come back and play one of the main stages is just fantastic.
FS – So what exactly happened with ‘Mascot’ they saw you play last year and rang you? What happened?
KB – Yes, but it is not quite as simple as that, it was the first time I met up with the guys and had kind of an informal chat, it wasn’t with a view to signing me or anything like that, it was just the first time we met and then as things transpired and then the year went on, it kind of went up the chain to the big boss and then big conversations starting happening later on in the year.
FS – Brilliant! So your newest offering ‘The Divine And Dirty’ was released on the 23rd March of this year and went straight in at number 1 on the Amazon and itunes blues charts, you have worked very hard touring. Did you do anything different with the production of this album compared to your last one ‘Lucky 13’?
KB – Well, ‘Lucky 13’ was recorded in my own studio at home and I engineered it all myself and then the keyboard player in the band at the time, he produced it alongside myself. So it was kind of like a self-produced thing. This time I wanted to head into the studio with a producer who came highly recommended and just be told what to do really! I just wanted to go in with my songs and just concentrate on the playing and have a proper producer tell me what to do. As it has transpired, the producer, Josiah, has now ended up becoming our keyboard player!
FS- Oh Really!
KB – Yes the previous keyboard player left as the band started getting busier, to continue teaching in schools and then we managed to get Josiah in full time as the keyboard player.
FS – Oh that is excellent! So let me ask you, how does it start with the writing process do you start with a riff or lyrics or music? Is it you that starts the ball rolling each time?
KB – Yes I have written all the songs so far, for the next album I have been collaborating a bit with Josiah, but up till now all the songs have been written by myself. And yes, it various for different songs, some of the songs I wrote the lyrics first and then some it was the music, sometimes I come up with a riff, sometimes I come up with chords. It is different every time and I think that can help to try and make it varied.
FS – And do you make it very personal, where do you creative influences come from for a song?
KB – Some of the songs are personal about things that have happened in my life, other songs are more there to tell a story, maybe something I know that has happened to someone else or things in the news, something like that. So it is not always about me and my own experiences, probably half and half I would say.
FS – You started playing in 2005, in the last four years however your musical career has climbed very quickly and very steeply. What do you attribute that to? Is it your hard work with touring and really getting yourself out there? And how about your fan base?
KB – Yeah, my fan base are great, really supportive, I have a hard core group of militant fans who follow us all around. And yeah I have worked really hard, I didn’t really set out with any goals with the band, I just wanted to write some songs and play them to people who wanted to listen to them. It’s just kind of taken on its own life really …
FS – It’s own momentum …
KB – I do work hard, I’m always touring, always playing, because it is what I love to do
FS – In April 2018, it was announced that you would be the front man for the super-group ‘Supersonic Blues Machine’ with Billy Gibbons, what’s the update on that? I just saw that you are actually going to be touring aren’t you?
KB – Yeah, so straight after this festival, I have one day off in London, then all the guys are flying in from the states to rehearse on Tuesday. Then the tour starts on Wednesday, so it is all happening pretty quickly!
FS – So whereabouts are you going to be playing?
KB – On Wednesday we are at the Shepherds Bush Empire. Then we are mainly headlining festivals, we have a few of our own shows, but mainly festivals around Europe, so Switzerland, Poland, Germany, Holland, Spain, Italy ……
FS – WOW! We are both from Torquay and I wonder has it been detrimental to your career being based in deepest darkest Devon? I guess years ago it may have been harder, but today with the internet and social media has become easier for you?
KB – Yeah, the worse thing about living down there is that everything is at least two hours drive away, so you know if we come and do a show in London, we have to leave at like 9 in the morning to make sure that we get there on time you know, with the traffic and stuff like that. In fact yesterday, to get here on Friday night, we left Torquay at 9 in the morning and didn’t get up here until 5pm, we were an hour late…
FS – Yeah, we left at 10am and got here at 8pm. And that is why I missed the chance to see you play last night at the Leisure Centre, I was gutted! So you have determination, we know that, but a lot of that must be down maybe to your other work in the mixed martial arts & Muay Thai industry. I have had some experience of that when I trained a couple of times at Vos Gym in Amsterdam, I know how tough it is. Are you into the UFC at all ?
KB – Yeah, you know it was what I was doing for ten years …
FS – My favourite fighter was Ramon Dekkers, I thought he was awesome, but now it is Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, who do you rate as a great fighter?
KB – Wow, there are loads of guys that I rate. My all-time favourite fighter was Anderson Silva, Randy Couture as well, I trained at his gym in Las Vegas and yeah he is a great guy!
FS – And so how is this all working, are you still have to teach for your bread and butter or …
KB – No…
FS – Ok, so that’s all done now is it?
KB – Yeah, now I am a professional musician…
FS – Are you missing it at all?
KB – You know I don’t think I really have time to miss it. I’m always either playing or touring or doing interviews or videos or something you know….I just don’t have time to miss it!
FS – Do you still train even?
KB – No .. I don’t have time for that either!! (both laugh)
FS – Well you look like you still do, I wish I had muscles like that! [Steady Fran !!! – MGM HR Dept on standby] (both laugh) OK, do you have anymore ‘Hot Off the Press’ news that you could tell our readers?
KB – We have a headline tour coming up in September, about 17 dates throughout the UK. We are then supporting Joanne Shaw Taylor on her tour when we will be doing an acoustic opening set. And there is a bunch of other stuff coming up before Christmas that hasn’t been announced yet so I don’t think I am allowed to say!
FS – Surely as a fellow Torquanian you are allowed to tell me?
KB – I wish, do you know what, I don’t even know half the stuff, I just saw a thing online yesterday saying that we will be supporting ‘Gun’, no one told me that! Yeah, we are supporting ‘Gun’ on November 3rd I think it is!
FS – Excellent!! So my last question is one I always ask those I interview for the first time. If you were to hold a dinner party and could invite 6 guests dead or alive, who would they be and why?
KB – Bloody hell, that’s a lot of guests!
FS – OK, you can have 4 if you want!
KB – I would have my dad as he has passed and it would be good to have him there, I would have Jimi Hendrix, Gary Moore …it’s all going to be guitar players! It’s going to be one big guitar player fest!
FS – That’s alright, you can have who you want!
KB – Ummmmm one more …
FS – Nobody from mixed martial arts maybe?
KB – It would make the conversation a bit weird?
FS – Yeah but isn’t that good?
KB – Ah (he laughs) I will have Conor McGregor, he will be a good laugh!
FS – Yep, he isn’t going to be boring is he! (both laugh) Bless him!!
The full set of pictures from the band’s Friday night set in Maidstone as a warm up to the 2018 Ramblin’ Man Fair is here: