For every musician that gets into the “biz” with the hopes or intent of striking it big, there are many more others that are content to have any kind of audience for their music. The latter group of musicians are quite often a humble bunch, happy to be making music for their own enjoyment. Others enjoying the music is gravy.
Josiah Barnett, founder of Moncton indie-rock band Thee Requiems, falls nicely into the latter camp, which makes complete sense to both the casual and formal observer.
Inspired the likes of hometown indie heroes Eric’s Trip along with the lo-fi rumblings of like-minded American musician Lou Barlow, Barnett’s songs have been cleverly disguised guitar-driven pop melodies.
“I moved to Moncton in 1995. The next year, seeing Eric’s Trip play their farewell show was one of the first things I did with some friends I had met at school. Who knew how important that show would prove to be on me,” Barnett says.
Towards the end of his high school education, Barnett received his first guitar. A short time later, he paired the instrument with a four-track recorder, having learned from his musical influences that one didn’t need an expensive studio to churn out music.
“It was people like [Eric’s Trip member] Rick White and Lou Barlow that inspired me from both creative and recording standpoints. They each used these amazingly simple devices to bring listeners into their worlds.”
Around the turn of the century, Barnett formed his first band, Catboxer. The band would enjoy an approximate three-year run before splintering off into Thee Requiems.
“I had a couple of releases credited to Gil Spectrum and The Requiems, which was a play on Phil Spector and The Wrecking Crew. When [Requiems drummer] Cameron [Murphy] started playing with the band, we were playing songs off those first two releases.”
Following the discovery of a similarly named band from the U.K., The Requiems became Thee Requiems, simultaneously adding bassist Ryan White into the mix.
The trio of Barnett, Murphy and White have gone onto release three efforts, including their self-titled debut, the Steal Yr. Idols EP and their latest full-length, Awkward Gold, released earlier this year.
Despite the short nine-month gap between Awkward Gold and last year’s Steal Yr. Idols, Barnett says their newest effort was delayed following an aborted attempt to make the record themselves.
“We originally tried to record the album ourselves a year ago on an old 16-track digital recorder, but the end result didn’t really match up with what we thought we could turn out. We ended up trying to remix the songs a couple of different times in effort to make it work, but then ultimately decided to shelve that particular recording altogether.”
The group successfully enlisted Moncton recording engineer Kyle McDonald to help bring a fresh perspective to Awkward Gold.
But while the record has thus far failed to bring the band Top 40 glory, Barnett never anticipated anything more than what the group has been met with. He is comfortable and, arguably more importantly, confident with the role he and Thee Requiems inhabit within the fertile Moncton music scene.
“Music has always just been something I do more for myself. I want people to listen, I’m just not making a point of going out and finding them,” he says. “I have always been more into the songwriting and album making part of being involved with music. Awkward Gold is a record for the bedroom troubadours of the world.”
What: Thee Requiems
When: Wednesday Aug. 19, 9:00 p.m.
Where: Plan b Lounge, 212 St. George St., Moncton