In The Middle’s Hidden Gems- The Barmines @ MEATliquor, 23/09/16

Before local outfit The Barmines took to the MEATliquor stage for an intimate night of musical adventure, the Gryphon caught up with front man Rob Burton to talk about the struggles of being an up and coming band in Leeds, their special partnership with Jack Daniel’s and This Feeling, as well as the music to help you survive a zombie apocalypse.

Instantly when speaking to Rob, who was stood on some forgotten side street just waiting for a lift, you get the sense that the Barmines are a band who are extremely down to Earth. Describing his band’s sound as “euphoric rock and roll with balls”, Rob radiated confidence without sacrificing modesty, and realism without losing any ambition.

The MEATliquor setup provided a perfect place for the four piece to advertise their sound, a chance that Rob revelled in. “The smaller ones can be good, but everyone works up to playing a big festival. But then you can’t beat the smaller ones just for the intimacy of everyone getting right close and sweaty.” Asking whether it’s a difficult task getting crowds at bigger venues to dance along to songs they’ve never heard before, Rob appeared extremely confident- “I always make sure that I hype people up anyway, that’s just my thing I try to do, whether they’re quite or not just try and buzz them up a bit.”

About four weeks ago, the Barmines teamed up with This Feeling pioneer Mikey Jonns and are already reaping the benefits. The relationship that This Feeling have built up with the Jack Rocks campaign has made them a real tour de force in the underground music scene, and Rob was quick to sing both Jack Daniel’s and Mikey Jonn’s praises. “It’s good when something like this comes up in your own town because obviously he likes what we do, so he puts us forward. Like tonight it’s a Jack Friday party, so they asked for a Leeds band and he put us forward.”

If that wasn’t enough, their new found relationship also saw them playing at the packed Jack Rocks This Feeling tent at this year’s Leeds Festival. The experience was clearly an inspirational one. “He gave us the closing slot, as he called it, because the headliners didn’t want to headline.” Considering the headliners would be competing with the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, you can understand why. “He asked us to do it, and we’re still not a massive band in Leeds, we’re not like proper well known, we are still making our way, so when he asked us to close we were a bit like… we’ll do it, obviously!”

“The crowd were good that we had in there but it wasn’t massive, but then again it was good for us because people saw us as kind of headliners in a way. And if we go on to do bigger things, it’s one of those things where people who were there could be like ‘I saw them first at the Jack Daniel’s tent at Leeds Fest’. And even for us it’s a matter of the experience.”

So is Mick Feeling unique in what he offers? Apart from worshiping their own management team, the Barmines certainly seem to think so. “It is mainly Mikey Jonns, he’s the biggest one at the minute in the UK for bands like us. He’s in association with Radio X as well so we’ve had our single played on Radio X, so he’s definitely someone to be in with, the only one at the minute.” It’s rare in the music industry’s current situation for someone to take a chance on less well known bands, something that Rob would be keen to change. “That annoys me does that, when you’ve got bands like us who’ve got our hands up like: ‘Hello, we’re actually here’. It’s a bit frustrating.”

But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Rob, Liam, Leam and James. Speaking about the challenges of breaking out in Leeds, there was some criticism that “there’s a lot of cliques with bands in Leeds at the minute. Like if you’re not friends with certain people, you know what I mean. For us we’ve kind of kept ourselves to ourselves and done our own thing, we’re not in any cliques. All I’d say in Leeds you need to work your arse off, getting your mates down, just do your own thing, don’t pretend. We just need to socialise a bit better, we tend not to go to too many gigs because we all do work full time. Like I’ve literally just finished work, and then we’re going to do this gig, and then I’m working tomorrow morning and then we’re playing at the O2 Academy in Birmingham. So we don’t really have time to go to other bands, and I hope they don’t take that personally, because we do get asked to go but we never get chance to.”

After speaking to Rob however, these issues look like they will be easily overcome. The band are currently in a transition phase. Whereas before “we did gigs which were just friends and family, now we’re doing gigs to just fans, but we’re still just building. The plan now is to finish our tour, then release a new single, then repeat the pattern, do some more festivals and then head on from there, we’ve not really got any top secret plans unfortunately.”

As Rob’s lift finally arrived, we parted with the knowledge that Oasis’ What’s The Story Morning Glory would be the album to help him through the apocalypse, and that if he was a professor at Leeds, he would teach “common sense, because a lot of people in this world do not have common sense.”

Let’s hope the Barmines enchantingly realistic outlook on life doesn’t change, because it will see them go far if they keep their feet on the ground.

Robert Cairns

Image: [The Barmines]

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