Introducing The Barking Spiders, a dynamic progressive pop-rock and power pop ensemble hailing from Bordeaux, France. Since their inception in 2020, the band has been an inseparable union of five lifelong friends, each contributing their unique talents to craft a distinctive musical identity. The lineup comprises Julien, a skillful guitarist and lead vocalist, Nils on guitar and lead vocals, Rodolphe handling bass and backing vocals, Quentin adding depth with keys and backing vocals, and Elliott providing the rhythmic backbone on drums while also taking on lead vocal duties.
In their formative years, The Barking Spiders immersed themselves in the rich tapestry of musical history, starting with covers that spanned across eras from the 60s/70s classics such as Velvet Underground and Talking Heads to contemporary gems like Foxygen and Twin Peaks. This eclectic exploration served as a foundation for honing their sound, allowing them to crystallize their musical vision. While not exactly fitting into the mold of progressive rock, the band draws inspiration from a collective passion for a group known as The Lemon Twigs. Covering four of their tracks early on, The Barking Spiders found themselves captivated by the intricate nature of their compositions, which in turn ignited their own creative process. The desire to create music that feels both familiar and surprising guides their artistic direction, a sentiment they believe resonates with the innovative spirit of The Lemon Twigs and defines their evolving progressive style.
Let’s dive into the featured track on the compilation. Can you share the inspiration or story behind “Songs (You Give on a Whim)”?
“Songs (You Give On a Whim)” is meant as a sort of swan song, written from the perspective of someone who has lost hope in themselves and in the world. It describes a kind of wakeup call to the futile nature of living in an overcrowded society, and how lost in the grind one can get when contemplating everything moving all around them. Though the subtext of the song is pretty nihilistic, the music in itself remains joyful and bouncy, which is an element of our style that is near to our heart for a lot of reasons. It’s a fun track to play and the chorus gets stuck in your head quite a bit.
We really ironed out the structure of the song for a long time before getting it right, it’s probably the song that we have put in the most work on still to this day, and we’re very proud and happy to share it with people.
Walk us through your creative process. How do you typically approach writing and composing music? What was your creative process like for your recent EP “Songs (You Give on a Whim)” in comparison to your 2021’s debut EP “¿Ike!”?
It really depends. Most of the time, it’ll be someone who brings in a song and we usually work it out all together or in smaller groups, finding different parts and changing around the structure to see what fits the best. A lot of times we’ll have multiple parts of songs from different people and, like a patchwork of sorts, we stick bits and pieces together and try to link them with other bits and pieces. It’s really a “Frankenstein” sort of thing, and we really love this sort of process. I think we see it as a challenge of some kind.
That being said, our creative process is changing all the time, and it will continue to do so for sure. Our first EP was imagined as a concept album, so it was interesting to link the lyrics and themes of the songs together and to write in that mindset, but when writing for “Songs (You Give on a Whim)“, lyrically at least, the process was very different. This new EP is much more about disconnected events while having similar themes. We wanted to stay vague in the meaning of the songs, and not be too explicit so the listener can interpret it as they see fit. The studio experience was also very different from our homebrew/DIY experience with Ike. Being in a studio was a totally different experience and a new one for us at that.
Who or what are your major influences in progressive rock? How do they impact your own musical style?
Our biggest influence, by far, would be The Lemon Twigs, even though they can’t really be qualified as progressive. Other bands that influence us with a more progressive approach would definitely be Pink Floyd, for the many trippy moments in our music, you could say Frank Zappa as well, for the complex structures, fast breaks, and unexpected changes in meter and tempo. Another one would be bands like Yes or Queen, for their creativity in voicework and melodic approach to some parts of their songs. A very important band for us today would obviously be King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, just for their sheer volume of work and the countless styles that they can emulate and make their own. We wouldn’t say that our music specifically is influenced by them but we find their work very inspiring.
What challenges have you faced as an artist in the scene, and how have you overcome them?
As a band there are a lot of challenges you can face. Since COVID 19, a lot of new ones have sprung up as well. I would say that the biggest challenge for us is to properly engage the audience and keep them interested, especially given our style of progressive rock. We have found that a lot of the time people can get a little lost listening to us, and have a hard time understanding what we want to get across to them. When we started out, we didn’t know how to balance out our sound and make it easier for the audience to assimilate the structure of the song and the overall sound of the band. We’ve found that simplifying our sound, along with scenic play really help what we mean in our music to be understood. You really have to accompany the audience and be very clear with them when playing more intricate songs like “Songs (You Give on a Whim)” for example (although, granted, there are tons of music that are so much more intricate than ours out there).
I would say that another challenge would be self managing a band when starting out, and finding people who are willing to follow the project and accompany it until it becomes self-sustainable enough to be able to employ them and pay them a fair salary for what they bring to the project, be it a press agent or a manager, a photographer or a booking agent, etc.
How do you see the scene evolving, and what role do you believe your music plays in that evolution?
To me, making and releasing music has become a multidisciplinary art form, as well as a business as a whole, with financial stakes, marketing strategies, and where social skills as well as media skills are primordial in the success of a group. TikTok (and the short-length video format as a whole) has obviously changed everything, as the sheer quantity of stimulating visual content an artist has to produce takes the work hours of a full-time job. I think that bands nowadays have to really work hard in a visual way to make their project “sellable” and instantly stimulating when exposed to the audience.
A lot of the success of a band today is conveyed by social media, but I also think that live shows are still the easiest way you can connect with your audience. We have a really fun time seeing people react to our songs and experience them, and I think that our audience is kind of drawn in by the curious nature of our style of music. There’s a kind of hyperactive/ADHD vibe in our shows, which keeps listeners on their toes. There’s always something they won’t expect! Our music is a little strange but we have a lot of fun playing it, and it really shows, which is what people like the most about us. I believe that’s what they take away with them home after seeing us live.
Share with us some of the most memorable moments in your musical journey so far.
It’s been just 3 years since we started this band seriously, but there have already been so many wild stories to tell.
The recording session of our first EP was a very memorable and bonding experience for us. We recorded with friends of ours from a band called Tastycool in their home in Auvergne, and it was 5 days of intense work, doing countless takes and overdubs over a semi-live take from 9 AM to 5AM every day. It was particularly intense for Tom from Tastycool, as he engineered the whole session barely taking any breaks all week. The mixing process was a long and arduous task, taking about 6 months with more overdubs and mixing sessions. It took a lot of work and we are all very proud to this day of what we accomplished with Ike.
Another great moment was our trip and concert to Burgos, in Spain, which was made possible by the cities of Burgos and Pessac, France, as well as the “Pratiques Artistiques Musicales Accompagnées” (PAMA) organism. We were invited to do a show at a festival in Burgos (Fiestas de San Pedro) and got to visit the city. It was the first that we had ever played a show outside of France, and it was also the first time we ever went abroad as friends so it was a great experience for us.
Our most recent and collectively favorite moment was for sure our release party in november. We really loved the show, the audience was on fire and we are so happy to have released our new EP with that concert. We also had a lot of fun arranging our set for the occasion. Meeting the band Gondhawa, who were supporting us was also a major highlight of the show.
Do you have a personal favorite among your own compositions? If so, which one and why?
It’s definitely biased but I think that the general consensus falls on “(Songs You Give on a Whim)”. It’s a spicy meatball to play for sure but we like it a lot and it kind of kickstarted the idea of the EP, in terms of lyrics at least. But ultimately I would say our favorite songs are always the ones that haven’t come out yet, as it’s refreshing to play stuff that hasn’t been released for us as well as the audience. We’re very proud of one song in particular that we have been playing live but hasn’t been released yet, called “King Of Everything” – also a spicy meatball.
Can you give us a sneak peek into any upcoming projects or collaborations you’re working on?
We’re currently working on a live session recorded in an amazing studio known as Berduquet for two tracks from our latest EP, as well as a music video for one of the songs. Concerning studio releases, we can only say that we’re working on new material 😉
What does it mean to you to be a part of our compilation? How has the experience been for you?
First and foremost, it’s a great pleasure and also very awe-inducing to have been selected for the compilation, so we’d like to thank everyone involved in making Prog Sphere happen, and creating opportunities for newer bands in a more “niche” genre of rock and metal that is the progressive style. All we really want to do is share our music to people all across the globe and make them feel something, so to be able to do so with the Progstravaganza compilation as well as express ourselves by answering these questions is a great help to us and a massive blast.
Is there a message you’d like to convey to your fans who will be discovering your music through this compilation?
Well, if you already know us, or have seen us live before, we’d like to thank you for reading this interview, for listening to our music and for supporting us in any way you do. We hope to see you at a show soon, and stay tuned for more!
And if you’re discovering us through this interview, thanks a lot, we’d like to invite you to listen to our latest EP, “Songs (You Give on a Whim)” and jump into our world of Progressive Pop-Rock, full of surprising riffs and wacky transitions all bathed in a major, nostalgic feel.
If you could collaborate with any artist, living or not, who would it be?
Of any artist living or dead, by far and by a very long shot, we would want to work with the Lemon Twigs. They have influenced so much of what we do and represent everything we love about music. Every project they work on is gold to us, and it is and always has been our biggest dream to meet them and produce music with them.
If you had to pick one instrument (besides your primary one) to master, what would it be?
Church Organ (Elliott)
Transverse Flute (Rodolphe)
What’s your all-time favorite progressive rock album, and why? One album that you always return to.
Atom Heart Mother – Pink Floyd (Julien)
Fragile – Yes (Quentin)
A Token of His Extreme – Frank Zappa (Elliott)
Animals – Pink Floyd (Rodolphe)
Aqualung – Jethro Tull (Nils)
Are there non-musical influences that find their way into your music? (e.g., literature, art, science)
We’re influenced by various movies like “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas”, “Back to The Future”, “The Holy Mountain” and “Under the Silver Lake”, as well as many video games and psychedelic visual art from the 60s and 70s and such.
However, the biggest non-musical influence on us is probably our photographer/collaborator Jordan Parr. He has helped us in so many ways, from group management to directing and screenwriting most of our visuals, and we feel very thankful for his support. We love him and his presence has helped us transcribe our music into visual concepts thanks to his mind’s eye.
Any final thoughts or reflections you’d like to share with our audience?
All in all, we are very happy and humbled to be a part of Progstravaganza: Harmony in Complexity. Shouldering all the great artists present on the compilation as well as answering to these questions was a thrill for us and we hope people will like our music when they discover it thanks to Prog Sphere.
So many thanks from the Barking Spiders if you are reading this or have ever come to our shows or listened to our music, as it means the world to us and it helps us fulfill our collective dream.
Where can our audience find more about you and your music?
Check out our brand new website (https://beacons.ai/thebarkingspidersband) where you can find all concert dates, release dates and press links! If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll get to know us more through photoshoots and various antics. We are also on Facebook, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp, where soon we will be able to sell merch online.