From owning and operating Chase Park Transduction Studios to being the director of The University of Georgia’s Music Business program, David Barbe is a legend of sorts in the classic city.
After releasing his first album when he was 12 years old, Barbe has been in countless bands, touring the globe as well as playing in venues around Athens. This August, he will add another album to his repertoire when he releases his first new album in seven years: “10th of Seas.”
Barbe considers the record to be a solo project, as he recorded every part of the album himself. On stage, however, he has asked Athens’ own New Madrid to be his backup band.
“I just had the inspiration to do it this last winter, and I went on this crazy songwriting drag,” Barbe said. “When I hit New Madrid with the idea to be my backing band, they were super into it, and I got motivated.”
Most songwriters have inspirations for their music, but Barbe said he wanted this project to be something completely his own. He was careful to listen to no other tracks but those he wrote himself when he was creating the album.
Though he included others in the making of his past records, their presence in his solo project made Barbe feel as if the work had lost authenticity. In fact, he got no other outside opinions of “10th of Seas” until it was already finished.
“My inspiration for it was my own thoughts and experiences,” Barbe said. “I wanted to emotionally connect with the music and not try to make it anything other than what it was.”
Barbe has been in the Athens music scene for so long that his name is instantly recognizable. In order to begin with a blank slate, he almost came up with a new name for his solo project. Before he did, he received a piece of advice from an old friend.
“One of the absolute best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten is, ‘Don’t hide behind something unless you need something to hide behind,’” Barbe said. “So I didn’t, and that’s why this album is all me.”
Though he said the album had no outside influences, he has musical inspirations of his own. When students walk into his office, the largest decoration they see is a huge poster that reads, “What would Neil Young do?”
As Barbe has already dedicated his life to making music and touring around the globe, it seems he has taken that motto to heart. However, though he is influenced by legends who began before him, Barbe lives by the philosophy that life is about looking to the future.
“My goal is to keep moving forward creatively, forever,” Barbe said. “Once you stop, you’re stuck. I find forward to be the most interesting direction, and that’s my philosophy—to keep on moving.”
This philosophy shows in his music. The first single he ever released was clearly defined as punk rock, but now that he’s older, Barbe shies away from labels. Instead, he wants to be known as someone who can do it all. The only label Barbe could give the “10th of Seas” is psychedelic.
“Being genre-specific is something I’ve always wanted to avoid,” Barbe said. “I don’t want to be the rap guy or the metal guy. I want people to know me for more than that.”
Barbe has been touring off of the album for the past two weeks, and Athens natives have been waiting patiently for their turn to hear it for themselves. Though “10th of Seas" will not be released until August, fans can hear the new tracks when Barbe plays at The 40 Watt Club tonight at 9 p.m.