Most No Echo readers will be familiar with Duncan Barlow's work in Endpoint, Guilt, By the Grace of God, and other punk/indie international touring bands. His volume of work as a songwriter, novelist, and poet is amazing over the years.
I have kept in touch and loved hearing about his new projects. His latest solo record, Colony Collapse, has been some of my favorite music as of late.
One of the album's highlights is "Love Me the Way You Do," and for its music video, Duncan collaborated with animator/director Anna FitzSimons, who was part of the Academy Awards-nominated production team behind the 2021 animated feature, Wolfwalkers.
It was a pleasure catching up with Duncan, and getting the story behind his gorgeous new music video.
First of all the song is beautiful. The guitars and vocals continue on with the inspired music you've been writing for years. You've always had a talent for writing emotional, powerful, and catchy songs. Who else played on the song with you?
Thank you for that. I was fortunate to have a couple of friends chip in on parts here and there. On that track, I’m doing everything save for the bass which Jason Lowenstein (Sebadoh) did in New York, and the drums which Joseph Plummer (Black Heart Procession, Modest Mouse, Cold War Kids) did in Seattle.
Though I miss standing in a room with people, it’s certainly a luxury to send files back and forth remotely.
The video is genius. Anna FitzSimmons is probably one of the most creative animator/directors I have seen. How did you guys collaborate on such a stunning video for the song?
Isn’t it? When I first saw it, I said, “well that’s much better than the song!” I first met Anna in Seattle when Guilt was on tour with Earth Crisis. She was hitchhiking down the coast and came to the show and ended up riding along with us for a few days. We’ve been friends ever since and we’ve done a couple of collaborations since.
She works for Cartoon Saloon right now, even did some work on Wolfwalkers, which is a beautiful movie. When she heard the song, she asked to do a video of it on her own time. Naturally, I was flattered, and wow, she delivered this and I just about wept from joy at how it turned out.
Did Anna take inspiration from the lyrics or did she feel free to create whatever she wanted? Did she mention her idea beforehand?
She was kind of thinking about language and space present in the narrative, but you’d want to ask her for the specifics…which you probably should because she’s brilliant. I didn’t see anything before it arrived completed. I was even over there in the Austrian mountains visiting when Anna was working on it and I asked to see something and she wouldn’t let me see it until it was finished.
So, the video takes you on a journey starting in, what I believe is the desert, through space, and the journey ends up in the ocean. My favorite part of the video and song starts at 1:40. Your soaring guitar playing with the birds flying out of the trees is mesmerizing. What are your favorite parts?
Do you and any have any plans to work together again?
I can’t say which is my favorite part, but I can say the octopus at the end was perfect. I’m obsessed with octopuses. I know that Anna was thinking about murmurations and language and space. She did a remarkable job of capturing the emotion of the song.
I don’t know if we will work together again. I’d like to think that we will. She knows I’m always at the ready to write music for her independent films. We tend to communicate well even when we disagree with one another, so maybe more collaborations will happen.
You have worn many hats in your life and a novelist is one of them. I love the lyrics for the song. The line about the puppies "So, If I leave, please feed them like I do" really choked me up. You've always had a fantastic way with words.
Do you have any favorite lyrics in the song?
Thank you. You know, I don’t think I have any favorite lyrics. I remember growing up and seeing bands where the singers would quote their own lyrics between songs and I never quite got that. In some ways, I think my relationship with music is paradoxical—I write the lyrics based on sound, so the sounds come first and then I begin finding words that have similar sonic characteristics. Sometimes it requires deviations from grammar and style.
So, in this way, it’s very different from my fiction, which I labor over, editing and revising, sometimes for years. This isn’t to say my lyrics are strange language poems or anything like that, I do craft a narrative and they do pair with the emotion of the song. The lyric you pointed out, is (if I had a favorite) one of them in the song.
When I moved to Florida for a while for a tenure track position, I was struck by the number of stray animals roaming the streets. I fed some of them from my apartment and got to know them and was sad to leave when I moved away. I actually spoke with the new tenant when they signed a lease and asked if they’d feed them. I like to think they did. When I was crafting this song, something about the strays worked its way into my mind and it felt very relevant.
Is there anything new in your life that's coming up that you would like to tell us about?
I get what you’re angling at here…it’s been a busy few years actually.
I worked with a lawyer to get the rights back to a lot of music, so By the Grace of God did two reissues with Equal Vision, who have been very good to us so far. Guilt asked the incomparable Steve Evetts to remix Bardstown Ugly Box, which is really exciting because we always felt like the mix lacked the heaviness of the band.
We are really happy with how the record turned out. Mind Over Matter Records, who did this first solo record of mine, will handle the vinyl. They’ve also worked with Damien Moyal, aka Damien Done. I feel very fortunate to work with them again on the Guilt record, Austin and Juan are music lovers and care about the quality of the product.
If you haven’t checked out Mind Over Matters Records, they’re worth your time. They're a vinyl collectors’ dream. Expect some limited variations of the Guilt record and some limited hand screened editions. We had planned a show, but with the pandemic, we’ve had to bump it twice. Eventually, we’ll do it.
Outside of that, I have some novels in the works and spend much of my free time working on those. I sadly haven’t found people to play with regularly in Sioux Falls, but would love to get a band together.
Colony Collapse is available now via Mind Over Matter Records.
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