Thanks so much again to Jon Clay for another interview!
++ Hi Jon! Tell me how after The Ferrymen you decide to start Barny? And was there more people in the band or was it just you?
Barny started pretty much straightaway after The Ferrymen ended. The band consisted of all The Ferrymen except for Chris (The Ferrymen keyboard player), and the only change in line-up was Nathan (The Ferrymen’s trumpet player) took over playing keyboards. Most of the songs were written quite quickly, so we had a full set ready to be played at gigs within a month or so.
++ Why did you call the band Barny?
Barny was the only semi-respectable name that we could think of that hadn’t already been used! Another favourite was Boyracer, but there have been at least two other bands called that, and at the time one of them was a band who lived in a town nearby, so we couldn’t call ourselves that! We played our first “Barny” gig as ‘Starboard’ but when someone announced us on stage we all cringed at the name, so it got scrapped in favour of Barny!
++ During the time you were in Barny you were living in small Paddock Wood, right? Why did you move from Doncaster and how did you find this new town? Did you like it? Where are you living now?
Yes, shortly after The Ferrymen ended I decided to move down to live in Kent with my girlfriend at the time. Doncaster is a very big industrial town with lots of people and lots of pubs and clubs, whereas as Paddock Wood was very small. At first I wasn’t sure that I’d like living there but I soon settled in and I got used to the quieter way of life! I did commute by train to work in London every day, so I did have the busy side of life too I suppose! The only problem was that the rest of the band still lived in and around Doncaster, so I had to travel up there every fortnight to rehearse with them. Nowadays I am living in a suburb of North London called Highgate, which is most famous for the Highgate Vampire and Karl Marx’s grave which is in the local cemetery.
++ How many songs did Barny record? And how many did you actually had?
Barny only ever recorded three songs – Take Me Away, Undisputed Beauty Queen and Liquid Satisfaction, although a live recording from a gig in London does exist. Altogether we had about 10 songs, so just enough to play a decent length live set!
++ Undisputed Beauty Queen is the only song I’ve heard by your band and I find it fantastic! Is this a real story? The sound has changed too from the “Northern Pop” of The Ferrymen to something more “mod-ish” I’d say. What were you listening at this time?
Thank you! Yes, it is quite likely that Undisputed Beauty Queen is a true story although I’ve never actually asked Wayne! The line “Around the town Saturday afternoon, the girls are hard and the boys think they’re cool” is definitely true of Doncaster… ha ha!! Yes, the sound did change quite a lot from the Northern Pop sound as Wayne has been listening to a lot of the current English indie bands of the time such as Oasis, and he wanted the band to sound a bit more like those sort of people. At the time I was listening to lots of Northern Soul and Britpop, pretty much the same stuff I listen to now.
++ Barny was showcased in two compilations “25 A Silver Jubilee” and “Breeze C”. Care to tell me a bit about the compilations and how you ended up on them?
To be perfectly honest I can’t really remember exactly how we ended up appearing on those compilations. However, The Ferrymen also appeared on them, so it’s quite likely that someone wrote to me asking about The Ferrymen and I sent them tracks back from both bands.
++ Did you play gigs as Barny? If so, which ones do you remember the best? If not, why not?!
In total we played around 10 gigs as Barny – 1 in Brighton, 2 in Leeds and the rest in London. The best gigs were probably the ones in Leeds, as Nathan (the keyboard player) was at University there at the time and he managed to bring along lots of people. All the London gigs were organised by me, and because I’d only been living and working down there for a month I didn’t really know many people, so most of the gigs were quite badly attended. The last gig that we played was the one that I have a live recording of – Water Rats in Kings Cross, London. I worked there at the time so it was quite easy for me to get a gig there!
++ Highlights for Barny?
Well, the band was so short-lived that I don’t really think we had any highlights. However, I’m glad to say that we played at a couple of semi-legendary venues which have now closed down – The Laurel Tree in Camden Town (very small but quite famous during the Britpop era of the 1990’s) and the original Mean Fiddler in Harlesden, North West London.
++ When and why did you call it a day? Did you continue making music with another band?
The band ended at some point during 1998 although I can’t remember the exact date. At the time it just seemed pointless to me to keep playing in London to almost no-one and having to bring the rest of the band down from Doncaster (4 hours by car). So, after the Water Rats gig everyone went back to Doncaster and I didn’t call them and they didn’t call me! Yes, that’s what happened!!! We’re all friends again now though, so it’s OK!!! After Barny ended I played in a few bands with friends although we only ever played 1 gig (the band was a punk band called Blacklist Brigade). Nowadays I’m in a band called The Platers with a friend of mine called Chris. Currently it’s Chris, me and a drum machine! We’ve only recorded 2 songs so far but are hoping to record some more soon. It seems that whenever Chris is free I am not and whenever I am free Chris is not!
++ I heard your favourite city is Berlin! I really liked it there as well! I bet the Firestation Records guys would be proud that you like it there! Why is Berlin your favourite city? Tell me what are your favourite spots there?
Yes, without a doubt my favourite city is Berlin – I just love it there, especially the district of Kreuzberg. The last ever Ferrymen gig took place at Trash in Berlin in 1997, and I’ve loved the place ever since. I’ve been back there on short weekend breaks 3 times since then, and I’ve also been there lots of times with other bands as a sound engineer. I really keep trying to meet up with Uwe from Firestation Records when I’m over there but we haven’t managed to meet up yet for various reasons! I’m going back there later in 2009, so I will hopefully meet up with him then! My favourite things in the city are the entire district of Kreuzberg (!), White Trash Fast Food, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Herberge, Mr Dead & Mrs Free Record Shop and the Brandenburg Gate!
++ So… fish and chips or wienerschnitzel? What are your favourite 5 dishes? What about favourite beer?
Oh, most definitely fish and chips…. and I can definitely recommend Fishbone in Fitzrovia, London and Bipsham Kitchen in Blackpool as the two best fish and chip shops in England! As for my favourite 5 dishes…. oh, this is difficult…. 1. any kind of risotto 2. vegetable vindaloo curry 3. salmon pasta 4. fish and chips 5. salad cream and black pepper sandwiches…. ha ha! Wow, that was quite difficult! I’m not really much of a beer drinker to be honest…. my favourite tipple is Whiskey or Sailor Jerry Rum!
++ On myspace you say you like zombie movies and blaxploitation movies, I have to say that I do not know much about these. So give me some tips!
Well, as for Blaxploitation movies anything which contains Pam Grier is good for me! Also stuff like “Across 110th Street” and even more well known films such as “Superfly” are great. I just love seeing the urban sprawls of (usually) 1970’s New York, LA and Detroit in those kind of movies… As for Zombie movies, well the older the better, and the more low-budget the better!
++ Was does Jon Clay dedicates his time nowadays? Any other hobbies you are passionate aside from music?
Nowadays I work as a live sound engineer for bands. I work at a venue in Central London but I’m also the sound engineer for various bands including Palm Springs (www.myspace.com/songspalmsprings), Songdog (www.myspace.com/songdog1) and The Subterraneans (www.myspace.com/subterraneanswasere), so I go wherever they go. The last time I was in Berlin was when Palm Springs played at The Privat Club in Kreuzberg…
++ Thanks again Jon, anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to say thank you to Roque for offering the interview and for taking an interest in the band. I’d also like to say that I’d be happy to send a CD of the Barny studio recordings and live gig recording to anyone that wants a copy – just email me at fuzzyjonclay (a) gmail.com