5j Barrow is a delicious combination of genres, not easily defined, richly textured instrumentation and honest lyrics woven together by a talented duet of voices. Fresh off a win at the Ultimate Battle of the Boroughs, this New York band is ready to take on the world.
They released their debut album From The Dim, Sweet Light at the end of June and this weekend are playing a double show at the Rockwood Music Hall– Friday is a pre-release show and Saturday is the album release show. They are dynamite live, so be sure to catch them if you can.
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Fr.U.N.T. Music had the opportunity to ask Jason Hite of 5j Barrow a few questions and he was gracious enough to take the time to chat with us.
Cardiac_in_Overdrive: 5j Barrow recently won the Ultimate Battle of the Boroughs. You competed against eleven other bands from Manhattan to come in first, then beat out four other borough champs to take the prize. Were you surprised that you won? How did that feel?
Jason Hite: You know, the bottom line of the competition was who was gonna be able to hustle, promote, and get their fans involved to vote. So us winning really meant a lot to us. We continue to be humbled by how supportive our fans are and how much of a personal stake they all have in our success and growth.
CiO: The band has talked about how important your live shows are, about the energy and the movement that you create with your audience. When working on your album, was it a struggle to figure out how to capture that in the studio? Or was it something that was just instinctive?
JH: We’re still very new to the recording world. We talked a lot with Steve Goldman (our co-producer) about how to capture that live energy, and I think what we ended up with is really great representation of who we are as as band. We tracked all of the instruments live, which inevitably means that there are little imperfections throughout the record, but we believe (as many of our heroes do) that that’s what makes it special. You hear 6 distinct voices speaking to each other and feeding off one another.
CiO: You have a pretty solid fanbase in NYC – is it a little scary to contemplate hitting the road and playing to audiences who don’t know the band, and having to win them over? Or do you see that as a challenge?
JH: Well we didn’t necessarily begin with all of the wonderful support that we have now. We’ve built it show by show, person by person. We pride ourselves on being able to draw people in no matter where we’re playing whether it’s in a club, cafe, or on the street. So I guess you can say that we’re hungry for fresh ears and the opportunity to play our music for whoever will listen.
CiO: It seems that more and more these days performers are really pushing the DIY ethos. Once upon a time that was almost an exclusively punk rock thing, but the current state of the music business seems to be making DIY the standard, and not the exception. Is that a good thing for your band? Or does having to deal with the business side of things take away from your time to be creative?
JH: I’m convinced that this is the age of DIY. It’s empowering to know that we can write our own songs, shoot our own videos, book our own shows, and produce our own records without ever needing to involve an outside party. Now it is a lot of added work and stress to take on all of that. Anyone who thinks being in a successful band is a slacker job, would be sadly mistaken. It’s an everyday, 24-7 job. BUT, if you have a drive and a group of artists like we do that believe in the music and see the worth in what we’re doing, the success is that much sweeter.
CiO: Everyone in the band seems to be very physical, dancing and moving to the music. I’ve seen and heard of bands hitting each other with instruments, tripping over cords, running into each other. Has that been an issue for you? I mean, six people crammed onto small stages seems like an accident waiting to happen.
JH: We’ve had a couple of close calls, but so far we’re pretty much accident free. Speaking for myself, I try my best to stay in my own “box” and be aware of everyone on stage. But I have come close a couple times taking someone out with the head of my guitar. The price of Rock n Roll.
5j Barrow hopes to hit the road and tour, so keep your eye out for them.
by Cardiac_in_Overdrive (@cardiac_ovrdrv)