They are fresh off a win as the 2015 Boots and Hearts Emerging Artist and 2016 has only brought bigger & better things for the James Barker Band. Their current single “Lawn Chair Lazy” is the fastest rising country song in Canada (currently in the Top 5 at Canadian Country Radio) and once you have a listen, you’ll know why! This laid-back, fun tune is the ultimate summertime soundtrack – take a listen for yourself.
Band members James Barker (lead vocal and guitar), Taylor Abram (backup vocals and guitar), Bobby Martin (bass), and Connor Stephen (drums) joined forces in 2013. Since winning the Emerging Artist Grand Prize last year, they have been busy writing in Nashville for their upcoming EP, sharing the stage with Dierks Bentley at a surprise pop-up show at Boots & Bourbon in Toronto and coming full circle at Boots & Hearts. The group played the main stage on August 7, 2016, returning to the very festival that set things in motion for them. Showing no signs of slowing down, the guys will also be playing the Canadian Country Music Associations’ Jack Daniels Kick-Off Party for Country Music Week in London, Ontario.
While you can learn more about the James Barker Band on their website, we also caught up with the guys to bring you a little more about them, in their own words.
First & foremost, we loved “Lawn Chair Lazy” from the first listen! How are your audiences reacting to that song?
James: The audience reaction has been phenomenal, especially as it’s been climbing the charts. We play it at shows now, and we usually close with it. As soon as we start playing it, as soon as the first note of that riff comes in, people just blow up, it’s absolutely insane. It’s great to see it, and everybody seems to know the words, and they’re jamming along with it, it’s been awesome!
For our readers who may not be familiar with you or your music, what is it that you most want them to know?
James: That we’re young. We’re not a traditional country band. We appreciate traditional country and we work it in to our music and shows but we’re modern and we like to have fun. We’re also diverse musically and influenced by different genres.
Taylor: We’re also honest and we’re not trying to be something we’re not.
James: In regards to our live shows, we make sure it’s fun and everyone is having a good time. We play music that we like to play and it shows on stage, we’re having a good time and we want to make sure everyone in the crowd is.
How have things changed since winning the Boots and Hearts Emerging Artist in 2015?
James: EVERYTHING. It literally has, I don’t know if we can describe what hasn’t changed. There hasn’t been a single aspect that hasn’t completely exploded. It’s been a snowball effect. The amount of shows we book and play has increased, the amount of people who come to shows has increased, our online social media presence has gone over the top, it’s crazy!
Which songs are your favorites to perform live & why?
James: I like Lawn Chair Lazy, because people know it and it’s fun to play. It’s such a chill song.
Taylor: I like Just Saying, it’s has a very cool vibe.
Connor: I personally like playing Baywatch, because of the musicality, it’s just a fun one.
Bobby: I still like playing Living the Dream. It’s an older song that we wrote but it just resonates with our fan base and our lifestyle.
Which artists, of any genre, would you most like to collaborate with?
James: Well, up until like 2 weeks ago it was Dierks Bentley, but somehow that managed to happen. I also really like Keith Urban.
Taylor: I’d say Eric Church, just cause he just does his own thing.
Connor: I like Thomas Rhett, just because that kind of leans in our direction, music wise.
Bobby: I think when most people collaborate it’s like an artist and artist. I think it would be cool if two bands collaborated. Like Zac Brown Band meets James Barker Band or Old Dominion. Or High Valley meets James Barker Band. Two bands would be a cool idea.
With several guys on the road, pranks are a part of life – any funny stories you can share with us?
James: Well, there’s lots of funny stories, I don’t know how many we can share. We actually have this game that has escalated very quickly and gotten kind of dangerous called “Odds”. Here’s an example of ‘Odds’ – “James- what are the odds you drink a rotten cup of milk? 1 in 20!” And then we throw out random numbers like 1, 2, 3, 17… if we both say the same number at the same time then I have to do it, or I have to pay him the amount that I lost, and that leads to very bad things. As you can imagine… on a daily basis, all the time!
What is the rest of 2016 looking like for the James Barker Band?
James: Exciting! I can also say really busy. Shows- we’ve got a whole bunch coming up, we are kind of into the fair season now. Lots of fairs, all over Ontario really, and then obviously, getting that second single out. The Canadian Country Music Association Awards and Country Music Week is coming up and both are going to be great. We are really excited about that! That’s going to be good times! There is also finishing up our EP, we are going to have our first release with Universal Music Canada.
It’s 10 minutes until you hit the stage – tell us what you’re sippin’ on!
James: Before the show, we all try to say pretty hydrated. After the show, it’s a little different. I know at Boots and Hearts, and everyone is going to be making fun of me for this, but I was a Somersby guy. I just kept it nice and chill.
Taylor: At Boots and Hearts I was drinking a concoction of everything…
Connor: Whatever was given to me, really!
James: Nobody else is going to fess up to the Somersby?!
Poor James, they just left him hanging! These guys are obviously a lot of fun and we hope this leaves you eager for more from the James Barker Band! (And who else is ready to try a round or two of “Odds” with their friends?!) In the meantime, give them a follow and show some love on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Grab your copy of “Lawn Chair Lazy” right here on iTunes!