Riding the wave: Longreef to rock ToledoWritten by Mike Bauman | | email@example.com
Much like one of his other favorite pastimes in surfing, the musical journey for Australian singer/songwriter Josh Barker and his band Longreef has involved lots of courage, patience, determination and risk.
“You just don’t know where it’s going to take you, and it’s always a surprise,” Barker said of the comparison between riding the waves and life. “But it’s such a good feeling out there having this energy push you from behind and take you where you don’t know where you’re going, so I definitely think that that has a huge influence on my perspective of being a songwriter, also.
“It’s where I find a lot of clarity and a lot of good ideas.”
Composed of Barker (vocals/guitar), Nick Miller (guitar), Aaron Carruthers (drums) and Jim Wark (bass), Longreef will perform at Bar 145 on June 16 as part of its summer tour in support of the band’s second EP, “Dirty Motel,” which is scheduled for release on June 12. The show is the first of three at Bar 145 and one of 12 Ohio dates Longreef has slated in the coming months.
“It’s an exciting time for us,” Barker said. “We think the music’s definitely progressed even just in the one year that it’s been since [2011’s self-titled EP]. I think that doing 180 shows last year — you know, grueling touring — actually a lot of that travel, the hard times and the energy really came out on the new EP.
“So I think you’ll definitely hear a difference from the poppier EP of last year’s ‘Longreef’ to the new, rockier, dirtier sound in ‘Dirty Motel.’ ”
The excitement Longreef is experiencing now is much different compared to where things stood four years ago for Barker, Miller and Carruthers. Prior to Longreef, the trio spent approximately six years in the band Inakin, based in its native Australia, and dissipated in 2008.
“As some bands do, we had a falling out with our bass player and it kind of all went to crap,” Barker said. “So it was time to reassess.”
For Barker, that reassessing meant heading to Los Angeles, having never been to the U.S. before.
“I was completely alone,” Barker recalled. “I got off the plane, had never driven on the other side of the road. I didn’t know where I was going and rented myself a car and nearly got killed on the freeway going into Hollywood. It was quite an experience.”
The experience improved as Barker began co-writing with the likes of Matt Scannell (Vertical Horizon) and Carmen Rizzo (Alanis Morissette, Seal, Coldplay). He eventually relocated to Nashville, where he recorded an album’s worth of material with the help of Longreef manager Steve Forde, 3 Doors Down guitarist Chris Henderson and Alissa Moreno (Rascal Flatts).
“The moment we finished recording, I was just like, ‘Wow. We really need to get out and start playing this stuff live,’ ” Barker said.
After the rest of the band was able to make it over to the States about two-and-half-years ago, Longreef has been able to share the stage with the likes of Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, 30 Seconds to Mars and Seether, among others.
On its journey, Longreef’s music has also caught the attention of some major labels and players in the music industry. The single “Lonely” off last year’s self-titled EP went to No. 33 on the Billboard R&R Indicator chart as the band continued to gain more fans, including Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger.
“He actually invited us out to Atlanta,” Barker said of Kroeger. “I think that was just after we recorded the record. He and my manager were talking quite a lot, and he was a huge fan — still is a huge fan — of the music. We’re just trying to work out when we could get together and actually do something together.”
While Barker said Longreef has had conversations with major labels, he added that right now there is a great team of people around the band, which will put out “Dirty Motel” on its own like the self-titled EP as it continues to build a name in the U.S.
“I think the people here, they’re just so into having a good time,” Barker said of touring the states. “I think the whole Australian thing must change up the perception of us a little bit because, like I said, everywhere we seem to go they seem to love us.
“Maybe it’s the music. Maybe it’s the accents. Or maybe it’s a combination of the both, I’m hoping.”
- On June 16 Longreef will perform at Bar 145, located at 5305 Monroe St. The band is expected to go on between 10 and 10:30 p.m. and there will be a $5 cover charge at the door. For more information, visit bar-145.com or call (419) 593-0073.