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A brief recounting of the not-so-brief history of "Son of Barbarella"...
I conceived "Son of Barbarella" over a decade ago as a means of coaxing the 5 original members of Duran Duran into reuniting and making more music. My plan was to write & record an album of songs in the style of some of my favorite Fab Five songs as a way of reminding them of their former glory. Never mind the fact that I had no idea exactly HOW I was going to use the record to accomplish such a feat. As luck would have it, I never had to formulate THAT part of the plan anyway. That's because the band actually did reunite before I even had a chance to complete the album. Once I heard the announcement, I abandoned the project and, soon after, formed The Toluenes.
Over the years, I would occasionally run across the demos while browsing my hard drive. Each time, I would listen to the six unfinished works and think to myself, "Someday I'm going to finish these songs." I never actually did anything with them, though...until a couple of years ago, that is. Brian (Blush) and I had taken a 3-month hiatus from performing and recording "Try Nitro". He was on the West Coast and I was...well, not really doing anything. I ran across the SOB demos one night and I decided, out of boredom as much as anything, that the time had finally come.
Needless to say, Dave (Flint) was a little surprised when he heard the tracks. Though I had played a lot of guitar on the songs, they were clearly more synth-oriented than anything he and I had worked on together before. Of course, he re-did most of my guitar tracks and then some. I planned on re-recording the vocals, as well, but ultimately decided that I liked the youthful exuberance of the vocals I had sung in 2001. We did some rough mixes to listen to and planned to go back into the studio for one more series of overdubs. The record was finally in the home stretch...or so I thought.
Unfortunately, fate would again intervene and "Son of Barbarella" would be shelved a second time in favor of the "Crow" E.P. That record was recorded in a single day as a response to some personal turmoil in my life and was released in the summer of 2012. Just as it dropped, Brian got back to town and we went back to work as The Toluenes. We spent the next two years touring and recording until "Try Nitro", which took almost 3 years to finish, was "in the can". As it went to mastering, though, I realized that there was still one thing left on my to-do list. This past week, I put a big check mark beside that one, too.
So, fourteen years (and 3 Duran Duran albums) after I programmed the drum track for "Cayman", "Son of Barbarella" will finally see the light of day, taking roughly as long as G 'n' R's "Chinese Democracy" to complete. Considering that that album contained 14 songs and mine has only six, I think that means I set the record, right?
The six songs on "Son of Barbarella" were directly inspired by the music of "my Beatles". The aforementioned "Cayman" is an obvious descendant of "Rio" right down to the tropical imagery and 16th hi-hat notes. "Take My Picture" was written about a family friend who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Musically, it was influenced by two of my favorites, "Ordinary World" and "Out of My Mind". The unifying track on the album is "New Romantics", which is a call to arms for all the Duranies of the world. It has an amazing guitar line by Dave which is, intentionally, reminiscent of "Planet Earth". The title track is a synth-driven song that resides somewhere between "Electric Barbarella" and "Meet El Presidente". "Mercy" was written about a supposed real-life vampire named Mercy Brown. The piano part was inspired by "Too Late Marlene". Finally, "Arabia" is this album's "The Chauffeur", although it probably sounds a little more like "The Edge of America".
Regardless of how "Son of Barbarella" is received or PERceived, I'm very proud of the record. It was a labor of love that allowed me to play pretend for a while and envision myself traipsing all over the jungles of Sri Lanka and the like. I had a lot of big, dumb fun while making it and I hope you'll find it big and dumb and fun to listen to.