Local Artist Spotlight: Barbacoa

As part of an ongoing effort to highlight local music, we here at TVD Cleveland have decided to highlight a series of bands at different stages in their careers to show you how the music scene is shaping up around here.

We start with a band, Barbacoa, that has only been together for about a year. Though young as a band and not even currently living in the same state together—Joel Grant lives in Elyria, while Kyle Evanchuck is from the area, but is serving in the Navy’s Submarine Service and residing in Groton, CT—they (Grant takes care of the music with Evanchuck handling vocals) create a surprisingly polished and expansive sound that gives them hope for a very bright future. I chatted with Evanchuck for a bit on music, how they got their start, and what the future holds for them.

How did you get your start?

Joel and I have been friends for a couple years now. When we first met, we didn’t actually get along that well. We had a mutual friend and that kind of caused us to hang out more and more. Eventually we both realized how musically awesome the other one was, and we kind of started throwing some ideas together. At this point, though I had already joined the Navy, so we started a band while we were 600 miles away from each other. Not the easiest thing to do, but he started sending me mixes of songs over the internet, and I would save them to my iPod, then write the lyrics and melodies to them while I was on the submarine.

Once a song was “completed” on both ends, we would wait until I got some leave time on the books, then head home to Ohio for a few days (or on a few occasions Joel drove all the way to Connecticut) and we would record as much as we could as quickly as we could (usually only having a few hours over the span of two days to record 6-8 tracks). I have always wished I could spend more time recording the vocals so I could get it just right, but we don’t have that luxury, so I have make sure I do a damn good job with the limited time we have to record. Once we got our method down we just kind of got used to it. And it doesnt hold us back (except in recording). We write at a very constant pace. It scares me to think how much we could accomplish if we lived in the same state.

Barbacoa – Karalynn

How would you describe your music?

I would describe our music as…. Damn man… I don’t know. You describe it for me. Hard to do, right? It’s rock and roll. I come from a very pop rock oriented background, and Joel comes from a very heavy, more metal(ish) background. Combine the two and you have Barbacoa. I would call us a badass, catchy, pop-infused rock band. If all of Joel and I’s favorite bands had a baby, it would be Barbacoa, which is how it should be. You’re a product of what you like to hear and what you want to hear. A band should have the goal of writing the songs they want to hear, but nobody else has written yet. People say, if you want something done right, you do it yourself. I say, if you want something sung right, you sing it yourself.

Why should people listen to you?

Beacuse we write good songs. Because good music is out there waiting to be discovered. We’re not going to be everyone’s favorite band, but we will be someone’s, and people owe it to themselves to go out there and give music a chance. Barbacoa is a band that takes great pride in writing songs that people are going to love. We don’t have a formula. Well, maybe we do. We write songs that make us both step back and go, “Wow! That’s awesome!” because you are always going to be your own biggest critic. So if we blow ourselves away, we know other people are going to be blown away as well.

Tell me about your new album.

This is technically our second album (or EP I guess). Some of these songs were built out of sketches of songs we had from a little while back. It consists of eight tracks. The cover art was done by the same woman who did our first album. Bears are going to always be a common theme for album covers. This cover has me knocking a bear out in a boxing ring while Joel cheers me on. I have always had a fascination with boxing. Joel does all the mixing and mastering. We are kind of DYI band for the time being.

Breaking down the tracks a bit: “My Corner” is the opener, and a damn good one at that. It’s fun and sets the pace. We agreed “Karalynn” is kind of the “single” of the album.  “It Can Change” drops the mood down a little, but has a very unique feel to it. I love it. Another single, “Bad Blood” was fun as hell to write and record and we both knew it was gonna be great.  “Lights & Fame” is kind of a different song. Moody but striking. The namesake of the album, “Occupational Hazard,” is without question some of the most truthful, heartfelt lyrics I have ever written, and I am very proud of that one. “Outside This Hull” is actually quite short, but Joel deserved a song where he got to go a little wild, so it became the long song haha. But this was it. He kills it and proves why he is so valuable as a musician.

Barbacoa – Tuesday Out West

Last but not least is “Tuesday Out West.” This one is a prized gem in the crown of Barbacoa. We love it. It started so simple, and it grew into this amazing song you hear now. We thank so many people who helped with the backing vocals, especially Liz who was the female part of “Tuesday Out West.” It was meant to be a his/her take on the same situation, and I think we nailed it, and once again Joel drove the music to a whole new level. We released it November 1st, 2011, and you can download it right off our Facebook page. We encourage it. Get our name out there.

What are your future music aspirations?

Our situation is a tough one, with myself being in the Navy and all, but we make it work. Joel is very supportive of what I do, and he knows how proud I am to serve my country. So even though we may have to face a few extra hurdles and challenges that most bands don’t, we have a few benefits that we embrace. We have time to plan. We have time to write. We have to look at our future and make it roll the way we want it to.

Our band is going to make itself known, and we’re going to take the time to do it right. Joel is very patient and easy going, and I am quite the opposite. So it may work out for us that Uncle Sam has a choke hold on us for right now. But we’re not sitting around. We have album three already in the works. We have about ten songs written, and we are looking to write about three times that. We’ll scratch that down to the top 10-12 songs, and boom! New album time. So our goal is simple: Keep writing great songs and recording what we can until the time comes for us to get out there and show the world everything we have.

Occupational Hazard was released on November 17th. Head over to their Facebook page to hear the album in its entirety and download a free copy of their single “Karalynn.”

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