This is an exciting time for Charlie Barnes. The singer-songwriter (and wearer of snazzy suits) released his second solo album, Oceanography, last Friday.

His debut album, More Stately Mansions, received critical acclaim and he has spent the last few years playing some of the biggest venues in the world as Bastille’s touring member. Now he’s coming to Leicester and playing a show at The Cookie, on Wednesday 14th March.

My question about playing The Cookie was met with excitement and Charlie recalled the last time he was here. “I’ve had the good fortune to swing by The Cookie twice before and always had a wonderful time.” Fortune Cookie pun intended.

The album, Oceanography, was named in reference to Charlie’s love for the band Oceansize (“my favourite band since my teens”). Oceansize’s Steve Durose has actually worked with Charlie to produce this album. Charlie also talked about how he was “feeling like a drop in an ocean” at the time of recording, because he was in the process of making important decisions about his career and his aspirations as a musician.

One might assume it would be difficult to find the time to write and record whilst touring with Bastille, but Charlie says that “the bulk of the writing for this album was done before [he] started the job with Bastille.” He also said that being on tour meant he had lots of great resources at his disposal and “hours and hours” between sound checks and actually going onto stage to perform. These spare moments were used to work on arrangements, for example.

Bastille’s Dan Smith provides backing vocals on one of the tracks from the album, Will and Testament. Having finished the track himself, Charlie Barnes felt that his falsetto sounded a bit like those “scary old ladies from horror movies,” so he decided to enlist the help of Dan Smith, Bastille’s “ludicrously talented” frontman.

Charlie is doing a “double shift” by supporting and touring with Bastille on their upcoming ReOrchestrated tour, which sees them performing stripped back, acoustic songs. He is both “extremely excited” and “terrified”, especially at the prospect of opening the show at the Royal Albert Hall alone. The words “freaking out” may have been used but “anybody who managed to get tickets for the tour in April are in for a real treat.” (Personally, I have tickets to the Manchester and London shows and cannot wait!)

The music video accompanying the song All I Have is an interesting one. Charlie Barnes seems to have an aggreviance with a variety of brick walls and I wondered if they had done anything to deserve the verbal abuse. He promised me he hadn’t actually been yelling much and there was an element of acting involved. Apparently the idea for the video transpired when he was talking to a friend and “joked that releasing music feels, for the most part, like screaming at a brick wall.”

In Charlie’s own words, Oceanography is a bit “woe is me” with “fist pumping defiance.” There is one particular song which definitely stands out for the artist as his favourite and that is Ruins (“by far my favourite thing I have ever done”).

Charlie Barnes plays The Cookie on Wednesday 14th March with support from The Society Pages.


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