A simple plethora of songs is what led Spin Doctors’ frontman Chris Barron to go solo again with the upcoming Angels and One-Armed Jugglers, due out Oct. 20. Listen to the first rocking first single, “April and May,” premiering exclusively below.
“I’m a very prolific songwriter,” Barron, who’s released two previous solo albums, tells Billboard, “and I have this gigantic backlog of eclectic songs that would never necessarily work for the Spin Doctors. I wanted to make a solo record for a really long time, just as a creative outlet. So here it is.” The genuinely diverse project did, however, morph somewhat from what Barron and co-producer Roman Klun first envisioned.
“Initially I came into the studio thinking I wanted to do a really stripped-down, acoustic kind of presentation of these songs. When we started our motto was, ‘When in doubt, leave it out,'” says Barron, whose studio band included Spin Doctors drummer Aaron Comess and Saturday Night Live drummer Shawn Pelton, along with bassist Jesse Murphy.
“But Roman saw these bigger than I did. As we went on the productions kind of expanded, and rather than limiting myself to some kind of small acoustic thing we just started expanding these ideas and opening up the palette and just letting the sky be the limit. So as a result some of the songs have some really big, beautiful orchestral arrangements on them and layered guitar tracks and piano and accordion and tuba. I thought we were going to do a photoplay and it turned into a Panavision, Technicolor kind of production. So we wanted to take this really eclectic selection of songs and make ’em all hang together.”
Amidst all that, “April and May” is the album’s most rocking track, a full-throttle blast whose energy Barron is happy to have near the start of the album. “I feel a lot of solo artists put out a record and it’ll just be, ‘Oh, look how brooding and deep I am’ or whatever. It’s super-indulgent,” he explains. “We wanted to make a record that goes through different moods and something that was kind of beautiful and interesting but also entertaining. Always entertaining.”
“April and May” also got the thumbs-up at home. “That’s my daughter and wife’s favorite song,” Barron says. “When I was just playing it around the house they were like, ‘That’s a great song.’ My daughter was like, ‘I think that’s my favorite song you’ve ever written.’ So I love that song; It feels like one of my teenage tunes but grown up a little bit.”
Barron is planning solo acoustic concerts to promote Angels and One-Armed Jugglers — whose title was inspired by his one working vocal cord — starting mid-October on the East Coast. He’s looking forward to adding a new performing regimen to his repertoire in addition to his continuing tours with the Spin Doctors. “I look at my career sort of like drawers,” he explains. “I’ve got the rock band drawer full, and this is the acoustic song drawer, if you will. I’m basically just going to tour my ass off, and I’m looking forward to that, actually. I think people know me as the guy in the goofy hat from Spin Doctors; Only my old friends know me as a singer-songwriter with a guitar, just playing solo acoustic. I never really set out to just go and tour like that, so this should be a lot of fun.”
As for the Spin Doctors, the group continues to tour, while Barron is confident the quartet will follow-up its blues-flavored 2013 release If The River Was Whiskey at some point, though there are no concrete plans yet. “We’ve basically hit this nice stride where all summer long we’re playing gigs, mostly on the weekends, and rack up the miles,” Barron says. “We go out to a nice dinner, drink a nice bottle of wine, go rock our asses off and get great feedback on the show. It’s still energetic and entertaining and fun. We’re a band people think of as ‘Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong’ and ‘Two Princes,’ but then we come out and play some blues and have a pretty deep repertoire of really varied songs. We like to surprise people that way.”