jeanne crump gives a live review of the much-talked about revival tour and then caught up with the punk frontman backstage…
If The Revival Tour was a painting, it would be the Mona Lisa. Musicianship, camaraderie and dedication were at its best last Wednesday when I found myself among the likes of: Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music), Tom Gabel (Against Me!), Dave Hause (The Loved Ones), Tim Barry (Avail), Brian Fallon (Gaslight Anthem) and Dan Adriano (Alkaline Trio) at the Trocadero in Philadelphia. Before the music even started I was excited; it’s rare to see nine acoustic guitars lining the stage– no drums, no amps. What followed is a sin to attempt to convey in words.
Stripped down, raw tracks from some of our generation’s most talented songwriters awed the crowd, as the partly rehearsed, partly impromptu show kicked off with an exploding set.
One by one, each Revival Tour act performed their own set of hits, as others jumped on and off the stage to collaborate, drink beers or sing along. Hugs were exchanged, laughs were shared and thanks were given, repeatedly, to the Revival ring leader Chuck Ragan and his wife Jill, for making the tour a continuing success. It was a music fan’s fantasy land. A mind-blowing, glory-filled celebration honoring music’s not-so-distant folk past, led by punk troubadours who reminded us all that the most important element of music, the song, is still important.
I was lucky enough to get a few minutes with one of the original Revival Tour members before the show, Tim Barry. We talked about why it’s his favorite tour, his upcoming record release and his post-album detoxing.
Pop-Break: So you didn’t actually know you were going to be here playing in Philadelphia tonight, because it wasn’t announced and I found out about 10 minutes ago.
Tim Barry: No, I didn’t know I was going to be on the Revival Tour tonight playing with so many amazing people. I’m nearly mind-blown. So this is how the Revival Tour works, it’s such a free-for-all and it’s so fun. Some bands have a very orchestrated sort of system and the Revival Tour is just wide-open. So, this tour the core group is Dan [Adriano], Tom [Gabel] and Chuck [Ragan] and others and it seems like this time around they’re doing special guests with regional folks, so about a week and a half ago Chuck hollered at me and said they were playing at the Jewish Mother over in Virginia Beach which was close to me in Richmond, VA and he asked if I wanted to jump on it and I said “yea, why not.” I’m getting ready to start some tours so it would be great to get up on stage with some friends and get warmed back up.
That’s the coolest thing about this tour–getting the call, showing up, knowing some of the songs and some of them knowing some of my songs, and just going for it. And last night they said “just stay on” and I was in Baltimore with a ride home, ready to go and so I said, OK, why not. So, here I am. And today they said “just come to Providence.” It just never ends. But I’m leaving and heading back down to Richmond tonight to get ready for my own tour. But that’s the coolest thing about the tour, and when we get on stage we kinda have no idea what’s going to happen.
PB: Yeah, I was reading that it’s a very spontaneous show and I think that’s awesome.
TB: It makes it really special. Chuck Ragan and Jill Ragan put so much effort into these tours to make them a true collaborative experience for all of us and the people who come. The amount of work is truly incredible and the reward is so many nights and memories that are really irreplaceable. And tonight is going to be something else.
PB: Great, well I haven’t been this excited for a show in awhile and I’m a huge fan of Dave Hause who I haven’t seen live yet, and it’s great that now you’re performing. And you’re kicking off your own tour soon with a CD release party in my backyard at the Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, NJ right?
TB: Yeah, I’m going to be starting my own headlining tour and my record release party is on Friday, April 13th.
PB: What made you decide to do it at the Lanes?
TB: Well, it’s my home away from home in Asbury Park. Everybody that helps me with music, (I self-manage), but everyone that helps lives in Asbury Park. Kate with Chunksaah and Margie with Do It Booking and my publicist. I definitely wrote a song that has a few lines about the Asbury Lanes. I just thought it seemed like a proper place.
PB: So what are your plans for touring? Are you staying in the U.S.?
TB: No, well, there are a lot of shows. A lot that haven’t been announced. Whole U.S. tour, a couple festivals in Canada, some shows in Australia. It’s gonna be quick and compact. I’m going to tour non-stop until September and then I disappear, like I normally do that time of year. And that’s sort of my natural cycle. I go back and hide in the shed. But, this tour [Revival] is so epic, I just can’t stress it enough.
PB: Are you playing any large festivals in Australia?
TB: No, I’m not doing any festivals there. But there are usually two ways I do shows. A folk show which is usually just songs that go well with just a guitar and then I have another system, I have an incredible harmonica player named Andrew Lee and my other close friend who plays electric guitar with me and then another writer and guitar player Julie Carr jumping on a bunch of shows, so they’ll be really mixed up. When I go to Australia I financially break-even, but finally there are enough people coming to my shows where I can bring my back-up, my friends, and I’m so excited for that. It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime experience sharing that. Australia is such a beautiful place with so many amazing people. It’s such a rare opportunity, especially where we live there isn’t that much money where we usually can’t afford a $2,000 plane ticket. So it’s really exciting to be able to share that with them.
PB: So you’re releasing a new album.
TB: Yeah, so my new album will be out April 10th on Chunksaah Records called “40 Miler”. I actually just saw the records for the first time and they’re looking really good. Ryan Paterson who does the design just killed it.
PB: What can we expect from this? Anything out of the ordinary?
TB: Oh hell no. Just my old ass writing shitty music, haha. It was a challenging record to write in a lot of ways, but also very easy. Anything artistic you do, whether it’s painting or writing, you find a rhythm to it and it’s almost more interesting to try and switch it up. This record does not, not sound like me but it’s definitely got some heavier stuff. We tracked live a lot to a click track. You know how modern bands record on a computer in a cut and paste kind of way, we tried to get rid of that process and tried to have the same impact we have live on our recordings. We did pretty good because we were having fun, just trying to avoid the stress of it.
PB: Where did you record the album?
TB: The same place I always record in Richmond, VA called Minimum Wage Recordings with my buddy Lance who records me. It’s a hell of a recording session. When I finish a record I have a new record detox. The second I hear the mastered version of it I delete and throw away every single CD or any song I have that has to do with the writing process. I don’t want to listen to it or have anything to do with it. I just want to completely get it out of my head. So, like the CDs I got today, it’ll sound like a fresh, brand new record. But yea, that ‘s my weird life. In a nutshell.
PB: Haha, it’s not too weird. Going back to the Revival Tour, you’ve been on it since the beginning. Do you see it getting bigger and moving into larger venues or going underground to smaller clubs?
TB: I think the cool thing about the tour is it is organized chaos, and being an active participant in it since the very first one, we just let it go where it goes. If a lot of people are interested the rooms will get bigger and if a lot aren’t, well back to the dive bars. It always changes with city to city. It’s not as big as the Trocadero every night. But all of us will be playing acoustic guitars whether there are 500 people watching or 5. And that’s just how it is and that’s just what the Revival Tour is. We mean what we do.
PB: And you do it because you love it….
TB: Yes, exactly. The only thing I can say is this: I’ve been touring for over 20 years. The Revival Tour is the most fun tours I’ve ever been on. They are truly special. Truly incredible. The camaraderie is impossible to explain. That should sum it up.