The Elusive Album ~ An Interview with The Slip's Andrew Barr
Mountain Jam, June 2006
By Lara Purvis
It was with absolute joy that I greeted the trio, The Slip at the Mountain Jam Music Festival. They were playing sidestage at the bottom of the misty Hunter Mountain . Despite the fact that they had played a festival in Rhode Island the night before and arrived in the pouring rain only an hour before their Mountain Jam set - despite all that, they played a tight set to a large and welcoming audience. Responding to the dismal weather, guitarist and singer, Brad Barr addressed the dark clouds with, “This is nothing!” With that attitude in mind, The Slip proceeded to demonstrate how effortlessly they could create the most beautiful music. In true Slip style they painted glorious soundscapes, spun stories through their lyrics and captured the imaginations and hearts of the near drenched folks that danced before them.
After their set I had the opportunity to sit down with The Slip's drummer, Andrew Barr, for an interview in which we discussed the upcoming album and their plans for the next year. The band seems particularly excited about their new material. They describe it as their “most cohesive and evocative work” thus far. What I learned is that, for The Slip this is not just an album, this is The Album.
The Slip had only decided on the name of the new album the day before, and Andrew was bubbling with energy over it. When I asked for the name he grinned and shook his head. Asking for a hint brought all kinds of hmms and ahhhs… but his final response was, “I can't tell you anything about it.” The suspense was built up beautifully and as usual with The Slip, expectations are high.
This is only the fourth studio album produced exclusively by The Slip in their nine years. It has been five years since the last. It's not that they've been slacking, not even close. They've kept themselves very busy over the past few years, putting out two much loved live albums Alivelectric and Aliveacoustic as well as their last full album with friend and artist, Nathan Moore, called Surprise Me Mr. Davis . In 2005, the alter-ego foursome released an EP, entitled Only in Montreal . At the same time, The Slip has maintained a heavy touring schedule by themselves, much to the delight of their fans. Following what was self-described as “their heaviest state of growth and development” The Slip finally entered Q-Division Studios in March, 2005 with co-producer, Mathew Ellard.
Only twelve tracks were recorded over the course of a year. The band intends to include all twelve. “We're in love with all of them. They fit well together,” says Andrew, “There are certain themes…” When I asked if he was saying this was a concept album, he replied, “No, they just go well together… they're like a family.” The Slip has released one single from the album, “Even Rats” which has already seen much success, having been featured on the Playstation2 game Guitar Hero and chosen to be one of only ten songs preloaded on the new SanDisk mp3 player. Also on the album is the beloved “Children of December.” The rest of the album is a delicious mystery.
Another intriguing aspect of this album is that there is only one guest artist on a single track. This is Ua, a Japanese musician whom The Slip met while overseas. The Slip has enjoyed playing and collaborating with Ua in the past. The band plans to fly to Japan and record this final track with her.
The Slip does not have a cd release date yet but it's in the works. The band plans to tour the new album extensively. They have an agent who, according to Andrew, really likes Toronto . “We plan to play a lot more of Canada next year. We have a pretty dedicated fan base in Toronto .” Feeling put out, I informed him that he had an equally dedicated fan base in Ottawa , but had to explain Ottawa 's location shortly thereafter. I suppose I can forgive Andrew for not knowing where Ottawa is. He is, after all, originally from Rhode Island . I find that we as Canadians often think of The Slip as one of our own. These days we have an excuse because they do spend much of their time in Montreal . However, the feeling predates their Montreal visits. It's got something to do with The Slip's generosity with their music and energy. The music calls for that beautiful feeling of universal connection. The band members are engaging and down to earth. It is hard not to want to get to know them. And so we do. And then we wonder why they don't know where Ottawa is.
The good news is that Andrew Barr will soon have his memories of Ottawa refreshed, as he and bassist, Marc Friedman will be backing the ballsy singer-songwriter Dan Bern, during the city's Bluesfest. Aside from that, and the Sunseeker Ball in New Brunswick , Canadians will be waiting with bated breath for The Slip's cd release and the subsequent tour dates.
To say that Andrew is excited about the upcoming album is an understatement. After nine years of The Slip's existence and their ever evolving sound, it the excitement over the fact that The Slip believe they have now fully found their voice. With humility, Andrew does not take the creativity of their craft for granted. “I am still amazed every time we write a new song,” he says, “It seems like there is endless potential.”