Interview w/ Noah Wall of The Barefoot Movement
Presenting to you today an interview with Noah Wall, frontwoman for the Nashville based bluegrass group The Barefoot Movement. The group create a harmonic and syncopated blend of tightly would country styled tunes that have a strong emotional connection attached to it that any listener will fall head over heels for, and the type of music that makes you want to take your shoes off (literally) and relax with a beverage to take in the entire musical atmosphere. Noah gave us some insight as to how the group was formed, their creative process, and the idea of them being barefoot which has become the band's trademark. Below is the transcript from our chat:
Give us your names and your roles in the band?
Noah Wall - fiddle, lead & harmony vocals,
Tommy Norris - mandolin,
Alex Conerly - acoustic guitar, lead & harmony vocals, and we're currently touring with upright bassist Kaite Blomarz.
How did you guys meet and when did the group form?
Noah: I met Tommy in high school in Granville County, NC. We started the band in 2006 and we kept it growing through our college years. In 2013, we met Alex through a friend in Nashville TN. He filled in at a showcase for us one night and he had so much fun, he kept coming back!
What are some of your earliest memories you can recall listening to music at a young age?
The first song I ever sang was Tom Petty's "Free Fallin." I remember listening to that with my Mom and she would say, "She's a good girl.." And then I would sing the next line, "loves her mama..." I was literally a year old, so I can thank my Mom for my good taste.
What inspired you to come up with the name The Barefoot Movement and to perform and record barefoot?
I can honestly say the name just popped into my head one night. But I remember the moment. I was looking down at my feet, trying not to trip, and I noticed I had put on two different shoes. I was at my house, so it wasn't a big deal, but the silliness of it, I guess it triggered something. I immediately felt like the name was perfect because it captured our entire message, which is that we want to give people a break from the world when they come to our shows. We don't have any agenda other than to make people happy. Sure, we have some sad songs, but we hope that they are healing songs. Being barefoot is synonymous with comfort in the south. I've heard it all my life. "Take your shoes off" means to stay a while and relax. That said, we don't make it a point to record barefoot. If it happens, great, but it's not a requirement!
How would you describe your sound to those who aren't familiar with your music?
It's hard to say. We definitely have bluegrass and old time string band elements in our instrumentation, but the songs I write don't necessarily fit that mold. There are traces of rock and roll, blues, jazz, Celtic, singer-songwriter and contemporary folk scattered through the music. But usually I say, acoustic music with lots of vocal harmony. That pretty much sums it up!
Describe the evolution of Americana music over the years and how you guys have learned to adapt to its changes?
I don't think we've really felt the need to adapt, we just do it naturally. I think there is a place for pure, traditional bluegrass, but I was never going to be able to stick to that specifically because I'm a songwriter and I have too many influences in all kinds of genres. I think a lot of bands realize that they have to adapt for their own survival and maybe for some it's more of conscious choice. For us, we're just trying to keep writing songs, hopefully good songs!
What have been some of your most memorable moments together as a band, either while performing, recording, or relaxing?
We had a pretty amazing time when we got to visit Burkina Faso, Africa. It's a very poor country and the people there were so grateful to have us there. They were so kind. They wanted to share their culture, so if we performed for them, they had to perform for us also. It was really special. It's also kind of hard to beat sitting on a crocodile. That's not something most people experience, not to mention a whole band at once! Check out the sacred crocodiles of Bazoule to learn more...
Besides music, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time for fun and leisure?
Tommy and I are huge movie and TV buffs. Tommy also really likes sports, particularly the Tarheels of UNC Chapel Hill and the Carolina Panthers. (It's been a heartbreaking year.) Alex is the scientist of the group and you can find him reading his college chemistry book from time to time. He also is a newlywed so he's spending lots of time enjoying that phase of life! And I think we all love eating. Food. Yes. Sweet food.
What's coming up next for you guys this year, can we expect a performance around Boston sometime in the not too distant future?
We are coming to New Hampshire in October and we're definitely trying to make it to Boston. Stay tuned!
Lastly, what is your favorite thing about being in this band together?
The thing I love the most is working up new songs. If I bring a song to the band, it's amazing to see what happens when the guys put their creative spin on it. The whole process from starting a new song to when it's finally ready to perform, that's the most rewarding moment. And I'm lucky to have two very talented musical partners in Alex and Tommy.
Thanks once again to Noah for taking some time out of her schedule to do this interview! It's intriguing to see how these upstart bands use the environment around them to create a culture that is truly unique, and is representative of who they are as people and musicians front and center. For more on The Barefoot Movement, 'Like' them on Facebook over here, follow them on Twitter at this perch here, and find out more info about the band over on their official homepage right here.