Exclusive Interview: Dave Barnes

The name Dave Barnes is synonymous with awesome. By day, he’s an independent musician who just recently released his eighth studio album, Golden Days. By night, he’s a bit of a Nashville superhero, moonlighting as a mentor, award-winning songwriter, standup comedian, husband and new father.

We recently had the chance to chat with Dave about his new album, writing country hits, his incredible 12 year journey in the music industry and his big plans for 2014.

KIC: This is your 8th studio album – what can fans expect from Golden Days?

DB: Hopefully a subtle combination of more of what they hopefully like about what I do, while pushing the boundaries a bit musically and lyrically from what I’ve talked about and how I’ve done that before.

KIC: I read that first single “Good” is your favorite track on the album – can you talk about it a bit?

DB: Every now and then, and I wish it happened more – I really nail the way I feel about something on the head – and this song is one of those rare times that I was able to capture exactly how I was feeling about something musically and lyrically.

KIC: You’ve been in the industry for 12 years and this album is a bit of a journey through that – can you point out a high and low point of your career?

DB: So many highs! Hard to nail down! The Grammy nomination/CMA song of the year (for “God Gave Me You”) were definite highs. Playing downtown outside here in Nashville for Live on the Green a few years ago was amazing – so many people on such a beautiful night in my hometown. Most of the lows came from being gone a lot. (The song) “Hotel Keys” is about that.

KIC: If you could go back in time to when you started, what would you tell 23-year-old old Dave?

DB: I don’t know that I would say anything, honestly! I don’t have any regrets – and no mistakes that were so detrimental that they would require a warning – I would say to really take it all in. I can’t hear that enough in my life! Enjoy the moments.

KIC: Country acts like Tim McGraw (“Mary & Joseph”), Blake Shelton (“God Gave Me You”) & Billy Currington (“Until You”) have a habit of covering your songs – what is that like and what song is dying to be covered and by who?

DB: I love it. They are each highlights of my career. I started writing songs, before I was an artist, with the hopes that people would record my songs, so it’s a huge full circle!

I have so many I’m dying to hear people cover. “Good” would be fun to hear someone in country do. I think “Little Civil War” would be fun to be done by a couple.

KIC: Some of the songs on Golden Days definitely have a bit of a country vibe to them. Was that intentional or just a result of years in Nashville?

DB: It’s somewhat osmotic! Hard not to have that happen in this town. I really like it too. I like that I’ve slowly started to take on characteristics of Nashville. I should.

KIC: I love “Little Civil War” and it definitely has country influences. What made you pick Lucie Silvas to duet with?

DB: She is one of my dearest friends in the writing/artist community here. We were working on that song with Jeremy Spillman – and it was going a different direction – for someone else to record.  I realized it could be a really fun duet, and then I told them we should write it for me as a duet, and with Lucie sitting there writing it also, it was all right there. It was meant to be!

KIC: The song “hotel keys” was written with, and originally for, David Nail – What’s it like working with him and why did you keep the track?

DB: David is insanely and intimidatingly talented. Listening to him sing as we worked on that blew my mind. And it was his idea. He’s so good.

David did a killer demo of it that my wife and I listen to all the time, and as we were finalizing the songs I was going to record for the album, Annie reminded me of that song, and listening to it again, with me in mind, I teared up, because a song written for someone else suddenly meant so much to me and resonated with where my life is now. Crazy. One of the things I love so much about songs. That something I wrote with someone else for them, that I could not relate to at the time, perfectly resonates with me a few years later. So cool.

KIC: You co-wrote “Daughter of a Workin’ Man” on Danielle Bradbery‘s debut album – How did that come about?

DB: Clint Lagerberg , Nicolle Galyon and I had a co-written a few years ago, and that was the song that came from it. We all loved it the minute we sang it down the first time. We all knew it was special, and Allison Jones over at Big Machine has loved that song since we wrote it and has consistently tried to get it placed. Danielle was the perfect person for it, thankfully!

KIC: You’re well-known in Nashville and have written with a ton of the biggest songwriters and artists – Who do you need to write with to complete your bucket list?

DB: Man – there are so many, honestly! That whole list of 70s singer/songwriters – Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor – so many to mention!

KIC: You also dabble in standup comedy & making hilarious videos. Do you have any plans to pursue that outside of a few Nashville show?

DB: I think so! Not really sure yet, honestly. I’m still trying to figure that out – what my real interest is in it – if it’s fun and hobby, or something that I could really sink my teeth into!

KIC: What’s on the agenda for 2014?

DB: I’m going to be doing a bunch of writing with and for other people this year, doing some touring, writing for myself, possibly some more stand up – who knows! Excited about all the possibilities!!

We’d like to thank Dave for taking the time out to chat with us! For more information, make sure to follow him on Twitter and visit his official website for more info and tour dates. Download his new album, Golden Days, now on iTunes.