After the retirement of his former band, Young Buffalo, Jim Barrett returns to the music scene with his debut solo career, Swear Tapes.
Barrett had his first taste for music at an early age with the help of his toy drum set.
“I would play on that [drums] when I was a little kid,” Barrett said. “I would come up with makeup band names, but I didn’t know how to play any instruments.”
Wanting to pursue his interest in music, Barrett began learning how to play guitar at summer camp. Knowing how to play the drums, the guitar did not come quite as easily for Barrett. Once learning the ins and outs of the guitar, he began to put his pen to paper and write songs.
“I don’t have one singular process; it depends on the song,” Barrett said. “A lot of the times, I will have something in my head, and then I will figure out how to put guitar or piano to it.”
The process also works in reverse where Barrett will set a tune to the guitar or piano and build a song from one of the two instruments.
“Sometimes it will take a day or a couple of hours,” Barrett said. “And then sometimes I have worked on songs for years.”
Even though it can be frustrating writing songs, Barrett said he always tries to have fun with it.
After learning the essence of songwriting and the strings of a guitar, Barrett didn’t have to create faux band names anymore with the birth of his band, Young Buffalo.
Young Buffalo officially came together in 2009 with five band members. The band had great success with different record labels and tours. However, Young Buffalo had its last show in April 2016.
“To boil it down, we had a record that we worked really hard on, and we toured pretty constantly, but the record just never took,” Barrett said. “It’s just hard to sell music these days.”
According to Barrett, the members were burned out from Young Buffalo. However, it doesn’t mean the members won’t ever reunite later down the road.
“We all kind of felt the need to do different things. I don’t think any of us were at a very great place, creatively,” Barrett said. “We got exhausted and tired, and I am sure that shows when you’re playing to people. I think it was time we called it.”
Fortunately, Barrett had been pursuing a new music venture while Young Buffalo was still together. Barrett had been working on his solo music venture called Swear Tapes right before Young Buffalo decided to dismember.
The summer of 2016, Barrett set out on his own path.
“I started to have the idea that I didn’t want to do that [Young Buffalo] anymore and I kind of wanted to do a solo thing,” Barrett said.
Although it is essentially a solo performance, Barrett requires assistance for the production of the music.
“My buddy Will Eubanks helped me record my whole record,” Barrett said. “I have guys that help me play shows, but when it comes to the music part, that’s the solo thing.”
Barrett has already begun playing shows as Swear Tapes, which he described as an alter ego or alias.
“I’ve played some shows out of town, like around the Southeast, but nothing that extensive,” Barrett said.
Barrett hopes to evolve his performances into a tour within six months to a year. “I’m hoping to do a tour up to New York and maybe out to L.A., too … if all goes to plan,” Barrett said.
It has been almost two years since Barrett has been on the road and working on his music, continuously. Now, he is preparing to face the stage and the music scene once again.
“The stage part is the easiest,” Barrett said. “If I’m playing on stage it is like riding a bike, but everything else is the difficult part.”
This music venture is different from his previous experiences in the industry. He is working with different managers, labels and booking agents.
“I’m working with Muscle Beach Records here in Oxford,” Barrett said. “But it is kind of all on me. If I don’t have the time to do it, things just don’t get done.”
Working with different teams and handling the process solo has been a learning process, Barrett said.
“I’m excited with what I’m making,” Barrett said. “I’m just excited to still be in music, even though it might not be my day job.”
Swear Tapes differs from his previous music. His new music has the essence of “garage” and “psyche” vibes rather than a pop twist.
Fans can expect Barrett’s first full record as Swear Tapes to hit the scene April 20.
By Talbert Toole, associate editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.