An Interview With Bobbo Byrnes
A new release from Bobbo Byrnes gives off a classic and rustic-edged style of folk and storytelling that come through with descriptive and vivid pictures all the while its lush acoustic backbone helps the artist shed light on pain and love.
The October album has a vastness to it that's bred from layers that can be peeled back by listening to the album as a whole.
I think that's the key to music like this. Records that tell stories and unravel before your ears should be listened to from beginning to end as opposed to a few singles at a time.
There are certainly songs that stand on their own two legs and are outstanding as singles however going all in with this album is the best way to soak it in so that you can get a full feel for everything.
Songs feel like they interconnect in certain ways to almost like this could be a concept record of sorts.
I could be wrong by assuming that of course but just the way that they intertwine gives this wondrous and almost fantastical feel like you're watching a movie and when you come out of it you have to acclimate yourself back to reality again.
This is part of the beauty of albums like this one. They're a form of escapism and I think certain kinds of music are built and created to do such things.
You're able to step away from your life and go into his for a little while and these are tails that are told, and it's all done with this whimsical at-sea tonality and feel.
It's like these are songs that you can hear groups of men sing with their beers raised.
At the pub, late at night they just have that certain darkness to them and that's why folk records like this are like the blues records of the genre.
They talk of travels and pain, love and loss, and so much more in between that by the time it's done you feel like you've lived a whole other life.
So, this does have the storyteller approach and it's done so well and it's such a charming form that you can't help but get pulled right in and engulfed by this record.
This record has a wonderful combination of warm acoustic guitar and an almost twangy and plucky mandolin that come together with the vocals that spin a wonderful set of melodies around the music so that you can swim through everything and be washed away with the soundscape in the end.
You get that true sensation of being lost with this album and that's part of its purpose with certain tracks anyway.
To feel the sensation and intensity of things being out of place and how you put yourself there.
This was really an astounding record and with its release, we wanted to have a sit down with Bobbo Byrnes to find out what this is actually all about and what might be coming up next for the artist.
Here's what happened.
Buzz Slayers: Okay, let's start with the October album! This record was quite a fantastical and lush set of journeys that all had beautiful guitar work! How did this album come about?
I thought I was just doing some recording that might turn into an album, but I didn’t realize I was recording an album at the moment. I had a great opportunity to record in two amazing studios in Europe and when I got home I didn’t want to embellish what I had done there, I wanted it to be its own thing. A moment in time. October 6 in Berlin and October 21 in Dublin. I really should've called the album "Two Days in October" Buzz Slayers: How did this all start for you as an artist? When did you really fall in love with music?
I don’t remember NOT being in love with music. Fisher Price record player, my parent’s stereo, headphones, a Walkman, a Discman, an iPod, earbuds - music has always been where I escape to and choose to live. But if I was to explain a single moment when it clicked for me it’s on the album “The First of the Irish Rovers”. My mom had this album and I heard it when I was barely 5 years old and there's a moment in Rattlin' Bog where he gets the whole room stomping their feet and clapping their hands - it is in that moment it sounded like the best place to be, in that middle of that sound and I’ve been chasing it ever since. Buzz Slayers: What kind of things really inspire songs for you? Connection. A need to feel like you’re not alone in the world. Someone else has felt this thing before you, what you write might help someone else understand something about themselves. Something like Neal Casal’s “too much to ask” or Charlie Collins “unwell”. I go all in on a beautiful lyric and an artist being vulnerable. Or when you're writing a song and it says what you're really feeling even if you aren't aware of that feeling yet. Buzz Slayers: This album has some great styles combinations on it! Can you give us some of your biggest influences musically?
Weirdly, this album, to me, sounds like I ditched a lot of my obvious influences of Springsteen or Paul Westerberg. I embraced some of the more esoteric sides, Brian Eno, Kate Bush, Einstürzende Neubauten, Green Magnet School and Scud Mountain Boys. Something noisy, something quiet, embrace the space. I ditched the Hammond organ, drums, electric guitar. I wanted things that were a lot more sparse in the recording and using the actual space I was in. At Hansa they have this big reverb plate that they sent my vocal through and I heard the sound of the album in there. I wanted to bring in the space of the studios I was working in as their own instrument, their own personality and have that be part of the sound. Buzz Slayers: Did you record yourself or hit a big studio for this?
Typically I record in my own studio but this time I had the opportunity to record at Hansa Studios in Berlin, Germany and Windmill Lane in Dublin, Ireland. I got to go in and just be the “artist” and let someone else turn the knobs and worry about distortion and mic placement. Which was fantastic for me as I got to learn a bunch of new techniques to take home with me. Buzz Slayers: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?
Playing with my cat, hanging out with my wife, tuning pianos and recording other folks in my studio. I’m also becoming a published poet in a literary magazine next month and some of my paintings have been featured in other magazines and I’m working on a book that ties it all together. Buzz Slayers: Who's in your headphones right now?
Aoife O’Donaldson, Liz Stringer, Charlie Collins, Mary Gauthier, Anthony D'Amato, Laurie Geltman, Nick Drake, Michael Hedges, Whitehorse are all at the top of my playlist right now. Buzz Slayers: Are you doing any live performances right now?
Always. I just got back from 3 shows at SXSW, this weekend I head to Arizona for some shows including the Tucson Folk Festival, I have a west coast tour in April, east coast tour in June and back to Europe August through October. I will sleep in December. Buzz Slayers: What can your fans expect from you in the near future? Branching out and trying to find new ways to meet my audience. I’ve burned myself out on most of the late night rock clubs and have been playing libraries, house concerts, garden parties, coffee shops, and the afternoon slot at the festival. That and my motto of keep singing, keep strumming, leave a wake of happiness behind me. Buzz Slayers: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
Just that I will see them out there somewhere on the road. I’ll be the dude with a toaster.