Looking back on H.O.R.D.E. Festival, Chris Barron, lead singer of Spin Doctors, remembers a wonderful feeling of intense collaboration. “Horizons of Rock Developing Everywhere” was a touring festival featuring some the most promising improvisational bands of the early 1990s such as Phish, Widespread Panic, Aquarium Rescue Unit and Blues Travelers.
“Part of me that likes the role of the larger-than-life frontman jumping all over the stage and singing over a loud band. Then there’s another part of me that is poetic and introspective.”
– Chris Barron
“It was still relatively early in most of our careers,” he says. “It was certainly the beginning of whatever success we had. It was really very exciting and also very inspiring to be commiserating and comparing notes with the other up-and-coming bands at the time.”
Barron still feels happy every time he happens to hear “Two Princes” or “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” on the radio. These breakout singles from the Spin Doctors’ debut album. “Pocket Full of Kryptonite” peaked at No. 7 and No. 17, respectively, on the U.S. Billboard Chart during 1992-93.
June 16 | 6:30 p.m. | Eldorado Resort Casino | Reno, Nev.
“I’m like cha-ching!” he says. “Of course, it’s lucrative for me, but most of all I’m just proud. I like those songs. I think they’ve really held up well over time.”
When the band went on hiatus in 1999, Barron dove headfirst into his original calling of singer/songwriter troubadour. Alone on the road, he plays a bluesy, rootsy style of guitar influenced by the likes of John Lee Hooker, Reverend Gary Davis and young Bob Dylan.
“Being in a band, for better or worse, is like being with siblings,” says Barron. “We definitely drive each other a little bit apeshit, but you get used working with the same people day in and out. You put up with each other’s bullshit. When you get out on your own, you have to meet a public standard of professionalism and be a normal human instead of just a guy in a band. It was little bit of a wake-up call. I had to grow up.”
Barron continues to tour solo throughout the fall and winter while hitting the boutique festival circuit with The Spin Doctors original lineup in the summer.
“I’m really enjoying this phase of my career,” he says. “Part of me that likes the role of the larger-than-life frontman jumping all over the stage and singing over a loud band. Then there’s another part of me that is poetic and introspective.
“I like playing guitar a lot, too,” he adds, “and the Spin Doctors were never a two-guitar band. Our model was always styled after Led Zeppelin or The Who. We are a power trio with a lead singer.”
Little known fact: “Two Princes” hit No. 1 in Sweden. No wonder the third aspect of Barron’s current career path comes as a member of super-group The Canoes with three Norwegian rock stars from the 1990s.
“That’s my buddy band,” says Barron. “The Spin Doctors are friends because we’ve been in a band together for many, many years. [The Canoes] are in a band because we are friends. Everyone in that band is the principal singer/songwriter in his own band. We do really strong, beautiful four-part harmonies and everybody takes a role in composing.”
When he’s not in Stavanger, Norway, with three Norwegian jam buddies he met on a canoeing trip, Barron is most likely busy working on his next big idea.
“I do a lot of freewriting,” he says. “I wake up and write three pages. I give myself permission to write the worst crap. I just get the pen moving and write what I need to get out. A lot of times, after a page or two, I get an idea. There has always been a conveyor belt of ideas going through my brain for as long as I can remember. I’m a creative manic.”
The Spin Doctors will perform June 16 at The Great Eldorado BBQ, Blues, & Brews Festival. The festival runs from June 15 to 16; other performers include Vanilla Ice, Tommy Castro and the Painkillers, Shane Dwight, Jason King Band, Maxx Cabello Jr., Buddy Emmer, AC Miles and the U.S. Air Force Mobility Band. | eldoradoreno.com