Photo credit: Terrance Atchison
Barnwell is a band of consummate pop-smiths who melt strong hooks with deep philosophical treatises about faith and love. “Talk Me Down,”—off their debut album Motel Art--is a frantic pop song where lead singer Tyler Gordon croons “call my name, / oh won’t you talk me down?” between Ross Swinson’s snaggletooth Telecaster lines. Tyler joined me for a brief chat about writing, inspiration, and the Columbia, SC music scene.
Pick up a copy of Motel Art here and do yourself the good favor of seeing them at New Brookland Tavern on April 26th.
SC: The character in this song is engaging because the chorus is a strong plea towards a lover “Stop—I swear I want to be around / call my name won’t you talk me down?”—whereas the verses present a much more ambivalent character sketch. The speaker describes the other character in the song “aren’t you just so bright / and are you just like fire”? And earlier “You were a quiet son / and I see right through you”. How do you see these two tensions working in “Talk Me Down”? Are they from the perspective of one character? Or do they change between verse and chorus?
TG: The song switches perspectives from section to section. It's definitely between two people who have a strained situation; but not necessarily a lover, or romantic situation. Although, it absolutely could be, if that's what anyone wants to read into it.
SC: What was your writing process like for "Talk Me Down"?
TG: The chorus of Talk Me Down came first, specifically the "Stop," part, and the rest of the song built around that. Our guitar player Ross wrote all the lead guitar lines. It was a few months actually, before every part of the song was done.
SC: How often do you write? Do you keep a songwriting schedule or do you wait to be inspired?
I don't keep a super strict writing schedule, but I sit down to intentionally try and write a few times a week. The rest of the time is filling my phone with notes and voice memos of lyrics or vocal melodies as they come to mind- usually at the least convenient time to try and write something.
SC: How does your community of songwriters influence your writing?
TG: Within the band I generally write out the basic structure of the song and then we all work it out together. It changes a lot once everyone brings what they do best to the table. As far as the local community: We're in South Carolina (Columbia specifically) which has always had a whole lot of incredible bands and songwriters. Right now especially, it feels like there's so much incredible music being made here that you have to keep writing stronger songs to be noticed. I guess it's more that we just all encourage each other to keep growing as artists, more so than musical styles rubbing off on each other or anything.
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