Steamrolling into the end of 2021, British Heavyweight rockers the Kris Barras Band have announced their brand-new album, Death Valley Paradise, along with their most anthemic, call-to-arms song to date, with its riotous Purge-esque video in “My Parade.” The new album will be released on March 4, 2022 via Mascot Records/Mascot Label Group.
Produced by Dan Weller (Enter Shikari, Bury Tomorrow, Monster Truck) they return heavier, darker, more introspective but enormous at the same time. Barras decided to remove all shackles and began collaborating with songwriters, such as the heavyweights; Jonny Andrews (Three Days Grace, Fozzy), Bob Marlette (Alice Cooper, Airbourne, Rob Zombie), Blair Daly (Halestorm, Black Stone Cherry) and Zac Maloy (Shinedown, Tyler Bryant).
Death Valley Paradise started life as a song before it was dissected and spread across the album. Death Valley is a place of extremes, where living things are said to not be able to survive. “To survive and thrive in those circumstances and find your paradise in it. For me, it sums up the journey I’ve been through. As a musician, you were put into a place where it was hard to survive, and you had to do different things to keep it moving.”
Early 2020 was uncharted waters for all of us. “At first we thought, three weeks and it’s over,” he says. “I went through a cycle. At first, I tried to take it positively, and kept myself busy. Then reality set in. I’ve been fortunate in my life in that I’ve never really suffered from depression. I’ve been sad, but never suffered from anything that I would count as depression until last year.”
When what you do is who you are, what do you do when that is dragged out into a wilderness of doubt?
“I’ve thrown everything at this. It was tough not knowing if I’d ever be able to do this again. What am I going to do with my life? I’ve gone all-in. I’ve left my previous career and everything else behind. I’m 36 years old, I’ve got no qualifications, what am I going to do for work. I’ve got no skills other than what I’m doing now.” He was deep into a self-identity crisis – If I’m not this, who am I?
For the ex-MMA/Cage Fighter, there was only one way out, to re-focus. “Once Covid hit, it was a case of ‘anything goes’, and I don’t give a fuck anymore,” he says with no preconceived plan for the album. “This is an album of no limitations; I felt that nothing was off the table for it.”
One of the shining lights of the period was co-writing. “It was a bit of a game-changer”, he enthuses. “I never felt it was like, ‘here’s a song, there you go’. They would get into what I’m into. Then seeing what I’ve got, they’d say, that’s really cool, what if you did it like this. That was just brilliant because it gave me some different outlooks and just sent me off on a different path,” he says, completely joyous about the experience. “I wrote more than half the album with Blair Daly,” he says. “We’ve become good friends now.”
“More than ever, this album is me on an LP. If I wanna write a song about depression, I’m gonna write it. If I wanna do some sweet picking on a guitar solo, I’m gonna do it. It’s quite an emotional album for me. I do think I’ve gone a little bit darker and deeper on this album. Writing songs about topics I haven’t done before.”
The album’s high voltage calling card is “My Parade” – the bands’ protest song. “It says this my parade, but it’s collective, it’s our parade,” Barras says. “This is my life, and this is how I’m gonna live it and if you don’t like it. Fuck off.” Album opener and first single, “Dead Horses,” shakes the foundations delving into broken relationships, which steamrolls into the crunching “Long Gone,” a tale of letting go.
They take an introspective look on “These Voices.” “It’s that inner voice that is always telling you that you can’t do things and dragging you down,” he says. “For me, it’s been quite prevalent in my life over the past year.” They submerge themselves in the melancholic and haunting “Wake Me When It’s Over” whilst venturing into the chaotic darkness documenting his mental health struggles on the thundering finale, “Chaos.”
The band features a rhythm section of Billy Hammett (Drums) and Kelpie Mackenzie (Bass) along with Kris Barras (Lead Vocals/Guitar) and Josiah J. Manning (Rhythm Guitars/ Vocals). “The band on this album are a big part of how it sounds. When we get in a room and jam, everything just comes out heavier and more angsty,” he says.
Kris Barras’ journey to this moment in time is one less travelled; the former Mixed Martial Artist and Cage Fighter gave up fighting in the ring and picked up the guitar. The decade long career of blood, sweat and broken bones saw him take part in fights in front of 8000 people in Singapore to the cities of the Thailand and the UK and all the way to Las Vegas, where he trained and would hang out with the likes of Rampage Jackson and some of the biggest UFC stars, Vitor Belfort, Wanderlei Silva, Johny Hendricks and Randy Couture was left behind for the freedom of life on the road.
With the albums The Divine And Dirty (2018) and Light It Up (2019) the band has had a meteoric rise in the UK. From small hometown bars to 13,000 tickets on sale for their upcoming UK headline tour, the band have risen up the ranks to become one of the spearheads of the heavy rock revival. Their breakout album, Light It Up, smashed into the UK Top 50 Album Charts, they won the ‘Best New Band Award’ at Planet Rock Radio – the UK’s No1 Rock Station, had radio smash hits, multiple sold-out tours, performed live on daytime BBC Radio 2 twice, supported the likes of Black Stone Cherry and Rich Robinson (The Black Crowes), not to mention showstopping festival performances and the army of fervent fans they are sweeping up along the way.
The ride isn’t slowing down yet. They are set for an incredible 12 months ahead; They’ve just finished a sold-out UK tour with Black Stone Cherry, culminating with a show at the world-famous Royal Albert Hall. Their biggest headline tour to date begins in March 2022, followed by playing the iconic Wembley Arena in support of Thunder.
1. Dead Horses
2. Long Gone
3. My Parade
4. These Voices
5. Who Needs Enemies
6. Devil You Know
7. Wake Me When It’s Over
9. Cigarettes and Gasoline
10. Bury Me