2009.07.07 - Ted Barnes exclusive Q&A session!


beth-orton.net was lucky enough to be able to have a Q&A session with the legendary guitarist Ted Barnes. Members of the Beth Orton forum, Precious Maybe, posed the questions:

BETH-ORTON.NET: Apart from the Kings Place Festival and Festinho are you planning on playing any other dates this year?

TED BARNES: Nothing in the diary as yet. Most of my projects seem to be studio based now days. I am thinking of pairing down the solo band to a quartet and so I might do some gigs in the autumn with that.

BON: A member of the forum lives near Whitstable (your hometown?) and wonders if you have any plans to play there in the near future?

TB: I would love to. I have talked about it for so long but making it happen seems to be a struggle. In particular I would love to play the “Playhouse” theatre down there. I took Beth down there years ago and we played on a boat in the harbour which was really special. I have a dream of touring seaside towns and Whitstable wouldn’t definitely become part of that.

BON: Any amusing tour bus stories?

TB: There are so many but I guess the one that springs to mind is when Clayhill were supporting Beth in America. We were all crammed on to the same bus and had just played Nashville. Gav, Ali and I were sitting outside when this group of ‘dudes’ turned up with plastic air guitars and all. They were beside themselves with excitement and started to talk to us about how the gig had gone and what we meant to them etc.. After about fifteen minutes of this it dawned on us that they had a bad case of mistaken identity and in actual fact thought we were Foreigner”!! By this time it was too late as they had called their mates and more arrived to take photos, pose with us, and talk about “our” albums, there just didn’t seem to come the right time to set the records straight and so the only way out was to leg it on the bus. I do apologise to them for the misunderstanding but I would like an apology back as I have since discovered what Foreigner look like and I am not at all pleased !

BON: Best venue to play?

TB: Venues vary so much, some are great for vibe, some for history, some for the way you get treated, and some are just crap. In recent years I ve liked the Luminaire in London.

BON: Favourite song to play?

TB: There are certain songs you just never get bored of playing, solo wise its probably ‘Sting in the tale’, with Clayhill it was ‘Mystery Train’ and with Beth ‘Mount Washington

BON: Better touring with Beth or supporting her?

TB: Just different! Supporting her was great as we were so well received by her crowd but sometimes nothing beats being the headline act playing to a sell out crowd in a beautiful venue!

BON:  Do you prefer playing you and Beth (a la slaughtered lamb) or with a full band (a la RAH).

TB: Both have had their virtues. I have probably an equal amount of good memories for both scenarios.

BON: (An American is curious) what do you enjoy most about touring in the U.S.? What do you enjoy least?

TB: The size and scale of scenery and cities is amazing that you travel through and the people, which seem very open to meeting you. However the length of time we tended to tour the states made you quite homesick. Some of those mid state cities were tricky!!

BON: Do you ever record gigs for your own archive and what do you think about the distribution of live material amongst fans for no-profit enjoyment?

TB: Tend not to! I try and let that gig be statement of time that I don’t really want to go back to. In the early days of Beth she would record all the shows and we would listen to them on the tourbus…it became a bit too much!!! I have no worries about the live shows being circulated for free; it’s the albums that worry me!!

BON: What guitarists (living or dead) do you think have had the most influence on you, as inspirations and/or models for your own playing/songwriting?

TB: Rickie Lee Jones, Donal Lunny (bouzouki) and David Rawlings are just the first three that spring to mind.

BON: In a past interview you mentioned that before taking up the guitar you played the bouzouki. What made you choose the bouzouki?

TB: Donal Lunny was a hero of mine in my youth. He played bouzouki in Planxty, The Bothy Band and Moving Hearts, which were all bands I adored.

BON: You have also mentioned that you previously worked as an instrument-maker. Do you still make instruments, either as a hobby or part-time vocation?

TB: I have not made since “Trailer Park” was released. I studied it for 4 years and then set up business for about 2 years before Beths career took off. When I retire and I have that shed I dream of I will make myself a new mandolin!

BON: If a genie granted you a wish that you could pick any artist(s) to appear on the next Ted Barnes album, who would you pick?

TB: I was wondering about Nic Cave or Guy Garvey !!!!!????? Other than that I would love my usual band members !!!!

BON: I know you have been working on the Mimbre Theatre Music but when can we expect the next Ted Barnes album to come out?

TB: Im not sure when that will be

BON:  I have always been curious how artists pick name for instrumental tracks – is it just something associated with the recording / writing of the track or just totally random / from a list of interesting names?

TB: With me it tends to be a connection with the words and music, be that the mood of the piece or the images it conjours, an event that was happening at the time or rarely something that was used to make the tune. I do like this part of the process, as a frustrated songwriter it’s the moment I get to string some words together.

BON: And finally….TJ asks, assuming that was you on the cover of Short Scenes, was it the last time you were photographed smiling?!!!

TB: That’s actually my daughter on that photo!! Glad there is a family resemblance. And yes I seem to struggle smiling on photos (and I have been told live !)

BON: Thanks for taking the time for our little Q&A session perhaps after  the completion of the Mimbre Theatre Music CD and i have listened to a copy we could do article on the new music?

TB: No problem – it would be a pleasure!





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