Interview by Peter Coates – www.facebook.com/InsideEdgePhotography
British blues rock guitarist Kris Barras is just winding up a UK club tour, promoting his second album The Divine And Dirty, playing to a run of sold out venues around the country, including The Garage in North London, and The Haunt in Brighton, where we caught up with him for a quick chat before the show there.
Kris has developed a solo career through first album Lucky 13, and now with the strong touring band being firmly cemented in place he is looking to push this as the Kris Barras Band. In 2018 Kris was opening for Billy Gibbon’s (ZZ Top) side project, Supersonic Blues Machine in London, and Billy asked if Kris would like to pick up the role of vocalist / guitarist for the next little while!
Kris started playing guitar aged about 6 years old, due to his Dad who played in a blues rock cover band down in the West Country, and he played his first gig with the band 3 years later. He went through the usual secondary school bands, with his major influences from Dad being Richie Blackmore and Gary Moore, and the likes of Luke Morley (Thunder) from his own experience. KB – “I really enjoyed the instrumental stuff from the likes of Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen, and this led to some jazz rock influences as well.”
I have observed the apparent increase in popularity of the classic rock genre in the UK, but Kris is cautious. KB – “It probably looks better online – but there are lots of festivals now drawing blues rock fans, and opportunities for quality support slots like the recent shows with Beth Hart.”
One of the things to note about the Kris Barras sound is the astonishing melodies and harmonies in a few of the tracks on The Divine and Dirty – Kick Me Down and Hail Mary in particular feature an almost gospel sound. KB – “I have always been a fan of traditional southern rock and those gospel riffs.”
I was going to ask Kris about any preference he has for Fender or Gibson, but having seen him a few nights before, there was no clear choice. KB – “I have no real preference. I love my Telecaster, but also love the Gibson 383, and also play a few other guitars.”
The new band featured in part on the album, and is the current touring band. KB – “the band has been together for around 16 months in this form and is working well live. We couldn’t afford to do the record in one session, so had to record in two separate sessions with different musicians – although Josiah (Keyboards) did produce the whole thing as well.”
I commented how much I liked the two new tracks played, Light It Up and Vegas Son, which were grittier and heavier than the rest of the set, and Kris agreed that the next record would probably be a bit closer to the classic rock roots he loves, and a progression from the D & D album.
Kris’ second job in the Supersonic Blues Machine line-up must be a dream come true in some ways? KB – “it was pretty special being asked to join SBM, and working with Billy is a blast. He is 70 years old, and handles touring, which is hard work, like a teenager. The other ZZ Top guys are less keen about leaving the USA, or even Texas, but Billy really enjoys life on the road”.
KB – “there is a new SBM album in the pipeline, and the band will be doing a bunch of the summer festival dates in Europe”. I hope we get the chance to see KBB and SBM down in Australia for Bluesfest 2020 – which would be a cracking opportunity for both bands. KB – “Australia would be fantastic, and if we can make it happen, then that would be great.”
This photographer does not find it as easy to talk to musicians as to photograph them, so it was so good to have as easy-going a chat with Kris Barras as we had – thanks to Kris and his management team for the opportunity.
The album The Divine and Dirty is out now on Provogue Records/ Mascot Label Group and available on iTunes etc.
Facebook : www.facebook.com/pg/krisbarrasband
YouTube : www.youtube.com/channel/UCx6hSbEY0Xw0_45i0ybcvNw
HAIL MARY – Studio version