Ola mi amigos! Lulu here, reporting absent. I may have been kidnapped by pirates and as we speak I may be consuming vast amounts of rum whilst pondering which sun soaked island to visit next. Or I may be hidden away covered in mud at a UK festival fighting pigeons for an overpriced chippy tea while tribute bands murder something vaguely similar to an AC/DC track. It could be either situation, or all three. No ransom is required, and I am sure I will head back home after the summer, maybe a bit emotionally and and mentally broken but full of banter and stories. Meanwhile, while I flit off into the sunset, a Beestonite by the name of Pete steps in (ta!) and gets up close and personal with a big name from these parts. Enjoy!
Striking a Chord with Little Barrie
If you’ve ever watched Better Call Saul or been to a Liam Gallagher gig recently you would have likely heard Barrie Cadogan’s incredible guitar playing. That’s right folks Beeston has spawned a legit guitar hero. I met the blues and R&B virtuoso in the Crown to talk about growing up in Beeston in the 90s, his band Little Barrie and his prolific musical career as a session guitarist.
“Hey Barrie, so glad you came to meet us today.”
“I’m honoured to be here I really am, it’s nice to be back, my time in Beeston was very important to me, the people that I knew played a big part in me being involved in music.”
“What was it about Beeston that was so special?”
“Maybe just that time really, I was 14 in 1989 and my sister was already at college going out to gigs seeing lots of bands. There was a cool little counterculture in Beeston where anyone into music tended to just hang out. I feel quite fortunate a lot of us were on a similar wavelength and were generous with music, lending records, doing mixtapes and playing instruments. That was a really positive time. I’ve still got tonnes of stuff like band rehearsals with Pish and Adam (former Polska Band members) jamming from 30 years ago.“
“So after this were you were gigging with Polska in the mid-90s?”
“More like 97 yeah, I think, we were playing a lot but nothing was really happening more than writing music and just playing funky instrumentals. Dorian from Polska rented a house on Gregory Blvd, it was quite basic but we could just play with no complaints. I remember Dorian made a hole in the wall to fit recording cables in from one room to another and Adam pulled the chain off the bath plug to put on his cymbal to make the rivet effect like the jazz drummers had.”
“After Polska, when was it you moved London and released your first single as Little Barrie (Shrug Off Love)?”
“I moved to London in 2000, I’d started singing just because I couldn’t find anyone to do it and just thought being a bit self-sufficient might not be a bad idea. Originally, I just wanted to be guitar player like John Squire, Johnny Marr or Pete Townshend.”
“Do you still feel like that, are you comfortable with your voice?”
“No never, but I like singing. You get imposter syndrome but it doesn’t stop you wanting to do it. I felt like I could say more with my guitar when I was singing, it’s how they work with each other, it feels quite vulnerable still but I need to do it.
I guess London is more like home now as I’ve been there for over 20 years. Coming from Nottingham gave me a different slant on music than the people I was mixing with in London, but then I got inspired by a lot of people down there. My friend Bill Denton ran a record shop, he was an amazing harmonica and bass player, that’s when I got more seriously into Blues and things I hadn’t heard before, he got me into Lee Dorsey and Chicago and New Orleans R&B. I met Lewis our bass player in London and we’ve being playing together since the end of 2000 so 23 years this year, he’s a very talented fella who doesn’t know how talented he is. I had feeling he was gonna be a good guy to play with, a really good rhythm section is hard to find.”
“Do you see your Band as ‘Little Barrie’ or do you see yourself as ‘Little Barrie’?”
“It’s got confusing coz people call me that, when I formed the idea it was just going to be a solo project but it quickly became a band and then the name never got changed so yeah it’s a bit murky but I’m sure it’s done more good than harm.”
“You bought out your first album We are Little Barrie in 2005.”
“Yeah, that started out as recording a single because we met Edwyn Collins through a friend who owned a guitar shop and was playing in Edwyn’s band. We loved Edwyn and his studio, he suggested we carry on and do an album. We probably finished it by early 2004. The first album was a bit more funk and R&B soul influenced.”
“But then your music gradually got darker over the years.”
“I found a lot of beauty in darker melodies. I guess I was sometimes trying to break out of basic sort of R&B melodic structures, I felt like I’d done a lot of it, so I was looking for other things that make me feel something different.”
“It’s no exaggeration you’re highly respected in the live music scene as being the go-to guitarist for hire playing with Primal Scream, Liam Gallagher, Paul Weller, The The, Morrissey for example. I know you’re pretty laidback but when industry people refer to you as ‘the greatest guitarist of his generation’ does that make you feel uncomfortable?”
“A little bit I guess, but it’s nice that people see something in you and because of that people might give you chance to do other stuff, but for me I’m always just trying to think where I could be or what might be next. I’ve been fortunate at times that landing one thing has led to another.”
“Do you think luck plays a part?”
“I think it can at times, but graft has a lot to do with it. It’s not always easy or glamorous sticking it out. It’s one thing getting somewhere, another staying.”
“You recently played with Liam Gallagher standing in for their guitarist Bonehead, how do you go about preparing for a gig like that, how much notice do you get?”
“It can be really short notice. The first higher profile gig I did was with Morrissey in 2004 where I had three days to learn 22 songs. That was a massive learning curve, there were loads of songs that I didn’t know, it was quite terrifying. But you know, you get through it and then each time you do this stuff it puts you in better stead for the next time. With the Liam thing I had a decent amount of time, about three-and-a-bit weeks to learn a bunch of tunes for the first gig. Then we did two rehearsals before we played the gig in Blackburn, had a gap of about a month learning more songs and did a whole bunch of rehearsals before the first main show at Manchester City Stadium. After that was Knebworth for two shows. It was still intimidating, but I was made very welcome by the band and crew.”
“Let’s talk a little bit about Quatermass Seven, a recent album project you did with esteemed drummer Malcolm Catto (The Heliocentrics). It’s kind of an underwater psych fuzz project experiment, how did that come about?”
“We first met Malcolm over 20 years ago coz when we put out our first three records were on the same label Stark Reality. I saw Malcolm’s band at the time, The Soul Destroyers which completely blew me away, they were easily the best group doing the old heavy Funk sound. I sort of lost touch with Malcolm for a long time, then went down to his studio and we talked about doing a project one day. That’s how it started. We thought we might get two tracks, but we just carried on playing and used some ideas that I had that were kind of half formed and turned them into good things and we ended up with an album we were really pleased with. It felt exciting like new ground for us. We’ve got a new record in the bag as well.”
“Thank you very much for coming down to the Crown and for living a childhood dream of mine.”
“Thanks, I feel fortunate.”
Little Barrie and Malcom Catto Quatermass Seven is available on vinyl and CD at www.littlebarrie.com
Little Barrie’s latest collaboration project is Recovery Effects by Black Delta Movement featuring Little Barrie and produced by Malcom Catto.
Album Review – Quatermass Seven
One of Little Barrie’s latest project Quatermass Seven is a psych sci-fi fuzz collaboration with esteemed Drummer and analog producer Malcolm Catto. This album is notably darker than some of Little Barrie’s earlier RnB influenced work, with perfectly manipulated swirling feedback that casts wave after wave of pure emotion over the listener. With haunting guitar hooks, driving baselines and thunderous breaks Quatermass Seven is equally captivating played at high volume to get your moon grabbing Woodstockian freak on, or losing yourself in a chin stroking journey of possible influences.
Perhaps it’s the analogue recording methods, vintage guitars or maybe it’s that Barrie’s and Malcom’s impeccable music taste and vast pool of influences, which form such emotionally charged albums that stand the test of time. Or it could be all of these things, and the reality that like previous albums Barrie Cadogan absolutely shreds on guitar and is from Beeston?