Photo Credit: Brandon Wong
Starting off your hump day featuring an interview with NYC based folkies 5j Barrow. These guys were first featured on the site a few years ago, and they have a strong indie minded sensibility that allows them to stay the course, and maintain their focus on their musical craft which has always been their strong suit. The group was nice enough to devote some time out of their schedule to talk about their beginnings, their musical influences that inspired them the most, their creative process, and their experiences recording their latest EP, "The Journey, Vol. 1". Without further delay, here is the transcript from our chat:
Give us your names and roles in the band?
Eryn Murman - lead vocals, mandolin
Jason Hite - lead vocals, guitar
Drew Jones - bass
Gerard Canonico - drums
Take us behind the formation of 5j Barrow and how you all met?
Jason and I met as actors performing out in San Jose, California. I was based in NYC at the time and Jason had planned to move to the city after that show. While in California we really connected in our music taste and we talked about collaborating. Within days of Jason arriving in NYC, we wrote our first song, "Talking My Soul" in my apartment, 5j. Soaking in the great energy of that space as we wrote a few more songs in the next month, we decided to name our band after the apartment. Gerard and I met as actors years prior and then upon Jason's move to NYC, Gerard and Jason worked together as well- from the very beginning we knew Gerard was our drummer, but it wasn't until a few years later that he officially joined the band. Drew came into the band initially as a sub for 5j, and helped us win the "Battle of the Boroughs 2014" with WNYC at the Greene Space. Shortly after that, he joined 5j for our first tour and within a couple months moved from Nashville to NYC to join the band full time.
Describe your musical influences that really made you want to get into music?
We were both grew up listening and loving the music of the 60s and 70s, so The Beatles, Zeppelin, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Kenny Loggins, Joni Mitchell (and the list goes on!). These artists have constantly fed us creatively and continue to inspire us.
What are some influential folk groups that have helped shape your sound?
Our favorite band is The Avett Brothers. We respect their song-writing, their showmanship in live performance, and how they've gracefully navigated the music business over their life span as a growing band. We're very much drawn to and influenced by dynamic bands that leave their heart and soul out on the stage every show and love breaking down the wall between stage and audience thus connecting with their listeners. Another favorite of ours is Brandi Carlile for the same reasons.
What is the creative process like for you guys, does it remain constant or does it change and evolve each time?
Our creative process is never quite the same. Our music constantly originates and develops in different ways. Even once a song is written, we've noticed that each individual tune evolves in its own mysterious way over time.
Let's go behind the recording of your new EP "The Journey: Vol. 1" and what the whole process was like for the each of you?
Recording "The Journey Vol. 1, 2 & 3" was a dream. We worked with producer and musician, David Mayfield, and we recorded the 3 EP's in Cleveland, Ohio which allowed all of us to get out of the city and wholly focus on recording for 5 days. Some songs were 1-take-only live recordings capturing our live show energy, while other songs were expanded upon - exploring additional instruments and sounds to flesh out the emotion of that song conceptually. In this department, Drew (our bass player) really rose to the occasion playing electric guitar, organ, marimba, and even a half full wine glass. Really all of us took advantage of the freedom to be creative and truly explore amongst other instruments beyond our core roles in the band.
Recording "The Journey" was a huge turning point for us. The year leading up to it we had gone through a big shift in line up with the band, and at times it felt like we had to take steps backwards to essentially keep moving forward. We never gave up, and those 5 days of recording were incredibly fulfilling to feel all of our hard work pay off ten fold.
What are some of your favorite venues to play in the NYC area?
We always answer this question the same way: Rockwood Music Hall. We love the 3 stages, we appreciate the community of music listeners and lovers it brings out, and we feel at home there. We also love playing Washington Square Park. We thrive in a busking scene - feeling the immediacy of connecting with locals and tourists of the city is so special.
When you guys aren't performing or recording, what can we find you doing in your spare time?
Currently, Jason and I are touring North America in our trusty van, Mavis. We love seeking out the natural landscapes and parks of places we're traveling through. We've had a blast taking advantage of hiking and exploring the culture of different towns and the communities within. I love trying out different yoga studios and or honing in on my own private practice as our environments constantly change. Gerard is currently performing on Broadway in "Groundhog Day" the musical and Drew teaches music full time.
What's next on the agenda for you guys, and could we expect any Boston shows in the not too distant future?
For this first time in our band's 6 year life, Jason and I are touring indefinitely and performing just about every day. Our goal is to cover as much ground as possible and see where it takes us. We just played in Boston actually! We loved the vibe over at the campfire festival at Club Passim. We'll definitely return as soon as we can.
Lastly, where do you see yourselves moving forward?
We hope to continue building our momentum of playing great venues, connecting with inspiring bands, and eventually playing festivals. As long as we're following our dream, we're content. :)
Thanks once again to Eryn, Jason, Drew, and Gerard for being so awesome in doing this interview! It's great to get a different flavor from these groups as they all have unique insight as to how the inner workings of their group form and create musical ideas that when combined, are truly special and original. Their spirit has taken them to places that they never dreamed possible, and are poised to make an impact on countless others moving forward. For more on 5j Barrow, please 'Like' them on Facebook over at this channel here, visit their official website at this spot here, and check out their music on Bandcamp over here and on select streaming providers as well.