Hailing from the midlands, Charlie Barnes is a musician who wears many varied hats. Since 2010, he has released five albums (four under his own name, one as the lead singer and songwriter of alt-country duo The Society Pages) and was the arranger and musical director behind Bastille’s MTV Unplugged live album. As well as making music of his own, Charlie has spent the last eight and a half years as Bastille’s touring member, playing guitar, keys, bass, percussion and backing vocals, performing all over the world on some of its most celebrated stages. He was also the opening act for the band’s 2018 ‘ReOrchestrated’ tour, performing acoustic renditions of songs from his ‘Oceanography’ album, and was at the production and mixing helm for two songs from the band’s most recent studio album release, ‘Give Me The Future & Dreams of the Past’. Two of Charlie’s solo albums, 2015’s ‘More Stately Mansions’ and 2018’s ‘Oceanography’ were released by German label ‘Superball Music’, the home of such alternative rock legends as Oceansize, Amplifier, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, and 65daysofstatic. The albums were produced by Oceansize and Amplifier guitar player Steve Durose, the first of which was recorded between stints on the road with Amplifier where Charlie was appearing as the band’s keyboard player and third guitarist. The albums fused the wall of sound alternative rock magic of Charlie’s label mates and collaborators Oceansize and Amplifier, with infectious pop melodies, and the swirling, ghostly piano moments of Radiohead, all topped with a voice that drew comparisons to the likes of Jeff Buckley and Freddie Mercury.For the last few years, between rigorous touring commitments with Bastille and becoming a father, Charlie has slowly been working on an album of new material, self-produced in his home studio and featuring drums by John Simm (of ArcTanGent Festival heroes Cleft and touring percussionist for Blossoms), brass and woodwinds by J.F. Abraham, Barnaby Philpott and Rittipo (known for their work with Public Service Broadcasting), haunting backing vocals by Australian gothic pop artist The Dawn of May, and numerous appearances from Society Pages bandmate Ben Wall. The album is of a somewhat more delicate demeanour than Charlie’s previous work, made up of sombre piano, swirling guitars and the hiss and warble of old cassette tapes. Taking in themes of fatherhood, married life, growing up, and the decision to stop drinking, the album is likely to be finished by the end of the year, with a release tentatively planned for 2024. Having spent much of his late teens and early twenties travelling all around the UK and Europe performing a solo set incorporating beatboxing, loops and a battered old vocoder, Charlie’s live performances have taken on many different forms over the years. While most of the touring around his ‘Oceanography’ album incorporated a full live band, for his new material, Charlie plans not only to return to, but to expand upon his roots with a live show that will make use of live looping, and beautiful ambient drones from an old dictaphone and vintage sampler, as well as heart-wrenching acoustic renditions of new gems and old favourites.
IMAGE CREDIT - Joe Horridge