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Richard Barbieri: Work of value

A good example that Metal guys usually aren´t malicious people, but quite sympathetic contemporaries: Talking with Richard Barbieri, you can easily tell that he is indeed a genuine thoroughbred musician, dealing with me the matter and not just the big money to go...

Richard Barbieri started his musical career with the group Japan in 1976, who were to become one of the most successful chart bands in Europe and Asia in early 80s despite the increasingly experimental nature of their music. After the band´s split and short reunion (under the name Rain Tree Crow), Barbieri formed the Medium label in 1993 with Steve Jansen and Ex-Japan member Mick Karn and produced 13 diverse albums during a ten-year period. In 1993 Barbieri joined the rock band Porcupine Tree. 10 albums and many tours later, they are now enjoying chart success around Europe and America
Aside from recording and touring, Richard has written articles on analogue synthesis for various publications and sound designs for music software and synthesiser manufacturers.He regularly guests with The Bays, an electronic improvisational group. His first solo album "Things Buried" was recently followed by the acclaimed "Stranger Inside", and STALKER was lucky to catch the busy Richard to answer a few questions...

In the earlier years, we called it Metal, or Rock, but today, we got „Blackmetal“, „Speedmetal“,„Trashmetal“, „Progmetal“, „Mathmetal“ or however this stuff is called! What do you think about these categories?
First of all, with modern technology, there is more music available today and it´s possible for a lot of artists to get their music heard and I think it´s also people´s obsession with labeling and categorising things. The same happens in literature - you have cyber punk, science fiction, fantasy, dark fantasy, horror, gothic etc....
We could have called Genesis "classical: prog, Pink Floyd "Blues" prog, King Crimson "jazz " prog. Putting these musics into genres maybe helps people define them more easily.

What do you think about the modern days, the internet? Because for example, people will read this interview, will read the review from „Welcome to America“ and get the CD from the internet, for free!
It is incredible that this technology has developed so quickly. I can´t get excited though by downloading an album or making an online purchase. It´s a pretty soulless experience. I like to go out and buy stuff. it´s all part of the experience for me.
It´s great though that more alternative music has reviews and articles on the web - this rarely happened with the conventional press. There was always too little space.
As for people downloading the cd from the internet for free - illegally. I just don´t understand where they are coming from. I assume they feel that art, entertainment or whatever.. should be free and available to all, so they obviously don´t consider musician´s "work" to be of value, or indeed that a musician has a job and career too.
Try asking them to do even 3 or 4 hours at their job with no pay - and watch them scream like a baby.

If you could choose a „Dream-Band“ to perform your songs, which musician would you choose?
My solo material is instrumental, so not songs as such. I have co-written with many different vocalists with varying success.
My "dream" vocalists ? Jeff Buckley (RIP), Liz Fraser, Scott Walker, Kate Bush.

Which kind of music do you hear when you are home alone?
I don´t get much time these days to listen to enough music, but when I do it could be anything from Aphex Twin to ABBA

What are your plans for the future?
Porcupine Tree will be writing and recording a new album during the winter months and we hope to have it ready for a September or October 2009 release.
At the moment I am on the road with The Bays touring the UK. We are improvising live on stage with an orchestra and each night is a different experience.

Final Question – what do want to tell our readers?
Have a great Christmas and hope to see some of you at the new shows next October.


Author: Markus Seibel
Date: 2008-12-05

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