Music has always been a part of Thom Barker’s life, but it hasn’t always been at the forefront. Now, with his album Twice the Usual, Barker is coming back to the music scene.
Saying that music is an extension of his writing, Barker says that his songs began as an effort to set his poetry to music. Even during the times when he wasn’t recording, he says he was still writing, and the songs on the latest album came from songs written over a long period of time.
“I want to get out there again and share the tunes, I’ve always loved being on stage,” Barker says.
The album itself took a while, something Barker says was due to a combination of high standards and little spare time, especially from his brother, who did the final mix.
“He’s a perfectionist, so he would finish a song and move on to the next one. By the time he finished with the next one, he wouldn’t be satisfied with the first one and go back... The good thing about taking that time is the final product turned out better,” Barker says.
The initial vocal and guitar tracks were recorded in 2002, but it took over five years to actually finish the album. Barker says that when the album was finally released, he wasn’t able to support it properly, and with a recent move to Yorkton he says he finally has the time to really push the album.
The album has a clear influence from many singer-songwriters, such as Jackson Browne and Bruce Cockburn, though the album has touches from other styles as well. Barker says that it’s a result of everyone involved having a different set of influences.
“It’s an organic outcome because both my brother and I have been influenced by a lot of different music over the years. I started out in a progressive rock band, my brother is a classical pianist,” Barker says.
Since it has been a long time between recording and release, Barker admits that he has had to relearn some of the tracks. He says that it has been a great experience to revisit the period of his life where he was writing the album.
“We had a party this summer, and my wife made me get out the guitar, and I could barely remember how to replay some of the songs on the record, since I’ve been getting into it I’ve been once again revisiting these tunes. It’s a real joy because it’s like taking a journey. Those songs were written over a decade of my life, and it comes together as I’m going back it’s kind of like going on that journey again,” Barker says.
He says some of that distance has also allowed him to take the songs in new directions and says he’s no longer “trapped by the original version.” Looking at he album from a distance, it’s a record that he is still proud of and doesn’t have traces of immaturity that marks some of the songs he wrote when he was younger.
While proud of Twice the Usual, Barker says he doesn’t think that he will record a traditional album again, because the way people listen to music has changed. He says he’ll always be writing, but for recording he says it makes more sense to release individual songs digitally, because that’s how people listen to music now. He says that with digital downloads the way they are, people have access to a wide variety of music which they might not otherwise have, and he has friends who have been able to cut CDs out of the equation entirely, otherwise staying digital.
Twice the Usual is available at Fuzztone Music, and people can keep up with Barker’s music through reverbnation.com/thombarker. Barker will be playing at the 5th Ave. Cup and Saucer on August 17.