26 March 2008

Band of the Week: We Barbarians

Band: We Barbarians
From: Long Beach, CA
Sound: sinewy blasts of reverb-soaked melancholic anthems, impassioned vocals and taut, fuzzed-out bass
Similar Artists: The Constantines, The Walkmen, U2, Calla
Listen Now: "Yesmen and Bumsuckers"

The blogosphere (and beyond) has been utterly clogged with SXSW-laden fare of late - and we are certainly as guilty as anyone on that front - but so far no estimation of the annual gala has even approached We Barbarians' level of incisiveness.

"SXSW is kinda like going to a restaurant, getting food poisoning, swearing to never go back, and then somehow ending up there again and again," drummer Nathan Warkentin recently told EF.

Taken out of context, this remark could be construed as your standard "negative for the sake of being negative" denouncement for which all those old timers seem to loathe our generation. More accurately though, Warkentin's keen observation is simply an extension of the same penchant for deconstruction and careful consideration allotted to We Barbarians' music, a pensive cloud of looming tension brimming with evocative song titles such as "Yesmen and Bumsuckers" and "Black & Crooked". And besides, according to the Music Slut, the band's SXSW performance was among the best of the entire week (food-poisoning similes notwithstanding).

To say the last seven months have been eventful for We Barbarians would be a wee bit of an understatement; here I'm using the time period of seven months not arbitrarily but marking the actual date from when they formed, way way way way back in August of 2007....Formerly all members of the band the Colour, the trio began practicing as We Barbarians in earnest late in the summer and marked frontman David Quon's first foray as lead vocalist, fairly remarkable given the lived-in expressiveness and effortless warmth of his voice.

Warkentin was good enough to correspond with EAR FARM via email on behalf of the band (which also includes vocalist, guitarist, and organist David Quon and bassist Derek Van Heule) as the trio finished their first show opening for Tokyo Police Club on their current tour stop in San Francisco.

"The evolution of We Barbarians has been very accelerated," Warkentin said. "We began writing songs in August, played our first string of shows with our friends Delta Spirit in September, recorded our EP in October, and toured with Cold War Kids in November and December. Since then we have done two residencies, in L.A. and Orange County, and now this Tokyo Police Club tour. It has all been quite a blur...But a good blur."

This "good blur" has also included "Yesmen and Bumsuckers" being featured as KEXP's Song of the Day as well as a recent Daytrotter session, where the band showcased four of the wonderfully melancholic tracks culled from their In The Doldrums EP. And it's within the crevices of these songs that haunting lyrics such as "they peeled back my skull to see an empty hollow hole" (from "Black & Crooked") creepily emerge and seem to belie the sunny environs of the band's native Long Beach.

Wait, melancholy in Long Beach? "But isn't it all about party fun-time music like Sublime out there?" says the beleaguered and sheltered New Englander (me). "That's really funny," said Warkentin. "There's actually a small community of great bands and artists in Long Beach. Bands like Cold War Kids, Sparrow Love Crew, Matt Death & The New Intellectuals are all good friends of ours creating great music."

And to ensure the positive momentum and great music continues, We Barbarians have made tentative plans to start recording their full-length album in April. According to Warkentin, there's a palpable level of excitement surrounding the new material, and recent shows have given them a chance to showcase many of the new songs. In the meantime, a 12" version of In The Doldrums is about to come out and will be available both at live shows (see below for dates) and on their MySpace page. So far so good; the next step then would logically be a record deal, right?

"This time is exciting, but mostly for the fact that at this point we are playing by our own rules," Warkentin asserted. "We are experiencing a great freedom artistically and choosing very carefully the things we accept to do. As far as labels go, aren't they extinct?"

Hmm, another incisive point taken.

Listen:
"Yesmen and Bumsuckers"
"Spun Out"

See We Barbarians Live:
26 Mar - Los Angeles, CA @ The Troubador w/Tokyo Police Club
28 Mar - San Diego, CA @ Soma w/Tokyo Police Club
29 Mar - Tempe, AZ @ Clubhouse w/Tokyo Police Club
19 Apr - Costa Mesa, CA @ Detroit Bar
12 May - Los Angeles, CA @ Spaceland w/Mezzanine Owls
18 May - Seattle, WA @ Neumos w/Tokyo Police Club
19 May - Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater w/Tokyo Police Club

Visit We Barbarians on MySpace
--
In the recent past, the following bands have been featured as EAR FARM's Band of the Week:
The Dodos
Hey Hey My My
Amy LaVere
Beach House
Computer Perfection
Goes Cube
Magic Arm
Drink Up Buttercup

See the entire list of bands featured as EAR FARM's Band of the Week HERE.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

loving this band

Horace said...

This counts as an LA band.

byrece said...

^ debatable

kim said...

i love the two songs you post here. thanks for the introduction!

corp clegg said...

LOVE WE BARBARIANS BEST BAND IN LA

hor said...

well. corp clegg happens to agree with me.

Mike said...

...saw them in Portland last night, awesome band.

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