The rise of the Kris Barras Band continues with the announcement of their brand new album Light It Up, which is to be released on the 13th of September via Provogue, a month before their biggest UK headline tour to date.
It follows a whirlwind 18 months since the release of The Divine and Dirty in March 2018, where he sold 75 tickets for the London album launch at Thousand Island, and only 11 months later returned to play to 500 people at the main room of the Garage, London with an incredible ride to get there.
This journey saw the band not take a breath as they criss-crossed the country on 4 UK headline tours – each time the venues increased in size, and every time with sold out shows. He joined Beth Hart for a 10 date UK run as well as shows overseas, then 9 dates on tour with Joanne Shaw Taylor, not to mention shows with GUN, King King, The Magpie Salute, Therapy?, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, an unprecedented one-in, one out performance at Planet Rockstock and a full European tour with Jonny Lang and Walter Trout. He played to 3 million people on BBC Radio 2 – which caused host Richard Madeley to exclaim, “that’s the reason I love doing this show!” They have also had numerous A-Iist singles at Planet Rock Radio, won the stations prestigious 2019 ‘Best New Band’ award which led to him being asked to guest present two shows on the station. He even found time to join Supersonic Blues Machine as the new singer-guitarist with the legendary Billy F. Gibbons, joining for their debut European tour, playing Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London and a host of sold out shows and festivals across the continent. If that wasn’t enough to keep him busy he will be joining Kentucky arena rockers Black Stone Cherry on their July UK tour and then making history as the first band ever to play Ramblin’ Man Fair, three years running on a bigger stage each year; from the Rising Stage to the Main Stage, which perfectly encapsulates this bands journey. Faraway from when Barras played the grassroots circuit with a mixture of originals in amongst covers to 20-30 people – from covering ZZ Top in pubs to playing with Billy F. Gibbons in the same band, in 2 years.
Light It Up sees him at his most expressive yet, forcing himself out of his comfort zone. “I kinda forced myself to write songs a different way. The biggest difference for this album was that I didn’t pigeonhole myself in any way, I didn’t feel like I had to conform. I just sat down and wrote songs I wanted to write, with a sound I wanted to produce, not thinking about genre whatsoever.”
Produced by Josiah J Manning at Momentum Studios in Plymouth, UK, it whips you into action from the opening heart of sleeve song ‘What You Get’ which cries, “You want the best of me, but can’t take the rest of me, well my mama packaged me whole, if you can’t take one little mistake, I think I’d rather be alone.” Right from the beginning it delivers no holds barred emotion and exposes itself as raw, resilient, fragile and protective. The high octane and euphoric ‘Broken Teeth’ is about not being afraid of getting your hands dirty and get a little bit hurt, keeping the pace with an infectious groove is the living on the edge, risk taking ode ‘Vegas Son’ whilst ‘Ignite (Light It Up)’ has already became an insatiable live favourite and ‘6am’ offers a beacon for hope.
Most of the songs on the album were written during the night between 11PM and 6AM. “I write most of my songs best through the night” he says. “I think it’s the de-clutter aspect, I’m quite a hyperactive person. During the day I find myself thinking of a million different things and at night I find that my mind doesn’t wander as much and I can just access the more creative part of me.”
One example is the love song, ‘Rain.’ “I was on the way back from a gig, about 1AM” he remembers. “I came up with the line, “I’ll be your roof in the rain.” I pulled over into a layby and wrote it down and then got home to bed. I woke at 6AM with the lyrics and melody going around in my head. I made myself get out of bed, picked up an acoustic guitar and wrote the chords. The song was done in about 15-20 mins. Rain is a metaphor for anything a loved one might be going through and you’ll do your best to protect them and help them through it.”
Ripping rockers follow with ‘Bullet,’ ‘Wound Up,’ ‘Counterfeit People’ whilst ‘Let The River Run’ deals with anxiety, depression and not letting it drown you with the album ending on his old fighting mantra, ‘Pride is Forever’. “It’s a trigger phrase, pain is temporary, pride is forever,” he says. “I’ve transferred it to my music. Not everyone knows how hard it can be. Some things hurt, some things are tough, but if you push through that, it is only temporary and the glory of that will last with you forever.”
He’s played with some giants in music from John Mayall to Beth Hart and Rich Robinson, but it’s been the time with Billy F. Gibbons that really hit home the journey so far. “To be stood on stage with Billy Gibbons every night playing ‘Sharp Dressed Man’, that was just absolutely crazy, I never thought that would happen in my wildest dreams. Just being around Billy Gibbons is hugely inspiring. He had a phrase he used to say; “we don’t have to do it, we get to do it” and that phrase really struck a chord with me, we’re very fucking lucky to be able to go on this stage and play.”
Maybe it’s the songs, the performance and maybe it’s his personal connection to his fans that he meets every night. Because he’s been that fan. A young Kris Barras saw one of his favourite upcoming bands, Black Stone Cherry at the 200 capacity Exeter Cavern in June 2009 and now he stands on the eve, just over 10 years later about to go on tour with them, beginning with a sold out show at Caerphilly Castle. It may be a rocket of a ride so far, but it’s only just begun.
1. What You Get
2. Broken Teeth
3. Vegas Son
4. Ignite (Light It Up)
7. Counterfeit People
8. Let The River Run
10. Wound Up
11. What A Way To Go
12. Not Fading
13. Pride Is Forever