site logo

Barcelona Biography

Last updated: 01/25/2013 07:35:01 AM

Brian Fennell: (vocals, piano)
Branden Cate: (guitar, vocals)
Rhett Stonelake: (drums)

Barcelona is a band from Seattle, Washington. The band's sound is harmonious and piano-based with elements of rock. Formed in 2005, the band cites U2, Coldplay, Copeland, Death Cab for Cutie and Lovedrug as its influences. Barcelona independently released their debut album, Absolutes, in September 2007. Barcelona created their own label, NBD Music, in order to be able to focus on songwriting. On December 18, 2008, the band announced that they had been signed to the major record label Universal Records. Universal Records re-mixed "Absolutes" and Barcelona added 4 new songs. The new version was released on April 28, 2009. They parted ways with the label in early 2010.

Source http: //

By Steve Wildsmith
of The Daily Times Staff

Sure, there's something familiar about the music made by Barcelona.

Intricate piano flourishes, chiming guitars and other shiny instrumentation wrapped about melancholy images and bittersweet lyrics -- by definition, it's the standard recipe for indie-pop handed down since it was first labelled college rock in the early 1980s.

But hold up -- just because Barcelona might sound similar doesn't mean the band is the same as others who make a living performing the same style of music. Stereophonics, The Fray, Coldplay -- all are bands that rely on a common recipe, but just as every dish will taste different when prepared by a different chef, so does the music made by these bands, Barcelona founder Brian Fennell believes.
"It's true I'm just another of many songwriters who write about relationships, but what makes it unique is that no one has been in my shoes except for me," Fennell told The Daily Times this week. "I have to look at how I can say something in as few clichés as possible. I have to look at how I relate to it and make it attainable for the listener. It's always a sort of dance on how to make it specific and personal but leave room for interpretation, and that's what makes us unique -- it's about experiences I've had or my friends have had."

Barcelona began in Seattle as a solo project for Fennell, who originally aimed for more of a singer-songwriter type of vibe. He's been playing piano since he was a kid, but translating that experience into a pop-rock setting and shedding the confines of his classical training was no easy feat, he said.

"I'm not the kind of piano player who hears something I really, really like and tries to emulate it," he said. "(A friend) had to sit down and show me how to play poppy notes, because it was so hard for me to step outside of the really linear, theoretical way of playing piano. I mean, when I started writing songs, I would write them on a guitar."

In the studio, "Safety Songs" -- his 2005 album -- was a lush arrangement of instruments and intricate melodies. Live, it was almost impossible to duplicate in a solo setting, he said. Although it was satisfying performing in coffee shops, fans responded to the full band sound on the CD.

"I had met Rhett (Stonelake) and Chris (Bristol) in school, and we had played music together so I knew they were good," Fennell said. "I just asked them if they wanted to do this with me. It was an organic feeling; there was never a feeling of, 'Man, I just want to make it big and be in a band.' It was a really natural process."

In 2007, Barcelona released "Absolutes," an album of shimmering, ethereal pop that layers plaintive vocals over beautiful melodies. It's a simple formula often duplicated by like-minded bands, but as Fennell pointed out, he approached it from his own perspective, and he feels Barcelona has found its own unique voice.

"We use a Rhodes organ, so there's more of subtle, harmonic quality that other bands don't have," he said. "I believe there's a little more of an edge there. Lyrically and melodically, it's different; we take a different approach to making people believe that what our souls and our minds are saying is really believable."

The Coldplay comparisons are inevitable; shortly after Stonelake and Bristol threw their lot in with Fennell, the band's indie label that first released "Absolutes" urged him to get out from behind the piano, for fear of the band being branded as a knock-off. Fennell resisted, however, and last December, the band was picked up by Universal/Motown, which re-released "Absolutes."

"As a band, we appreciate good music -- I'm a big singer-songwriter fan, and someone like Jeff Buckley is a huge influence on me," he said. "The band Keane is a big influence; growing up, I listened to Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden and Tom Petty. I took influence from my parents, because they loved oldies. And in college, I got swept up in the indie-rock thing.

"What we do pulls from a lot of different places. But we feel really good about where it comes from, and that people can identify and appreciate it."

Read more at ONTD: http: //