ABOUT JON BARNETT
My earliest memory is of my Mum and I watching my Dad conducting the Orchestra on the telly – Mum would use her magazine as a music score, turning the page every time Dad did, whilst I’d be transfixed on the drummer, mimicking their every move using pots and pans as my drums. I was 2 years old.
I’ve always loved music and it was inevitable that I would end up playing the Drums.
At 13 years of age, I started playing my first gigs in pubs with cover bands, which then developed into being involved with original bands and a Jazz trio playing in legendary Brighton venues – The Freebutt and The Prince Albert. I was in the school orchestra and I played for many school productions of classic Musicals, as well as being a member of a well-known band from Brighton called The Millstones.
In 2003 (at the age of 23), I was signed to Sony in a band called The Upper Room. We toured extensively around the UK and Ireland and we reached success with a top 20 single – ‘Black and white’, and a top 40 single – ‘All Over this town’. We released our album ‘Other people’s problems’ in the UK and in Japan.
At the end of 2006 we got dropped and I honestly thought: “Would I ever end up doing this again?”
In 2008 I met my musical hero, Paul Draper (ex Mansun frontman), and it was through him that I got back into the music game again. We started to record with Catherine Anne Davies and the Anchoress was born. The album ‘Confessions of a romance novelist’ was released in January 2016 to wide spread critical acclaim, and this mushroomed into us recording Paul Draper’s first solo album ‘Spooky Action’ (since the demise of Mansun after a fan petition was put together by fans urging him to do so). The album got released in August 2017 and went top 20 in the UK album charts.
The Anchoress had a run of festival shows in 2016 which led to us being asked to support The Manic Street Preachers at The Eden Project and at Bristol Sounds. In 2017, we did a ‘sold-out’ UK tour with them in September 2017 playing songs from Paul Draper’s solo album ‘Spooky Action’.
Throughout my career being a top 20 recording artist, I have learnt so much.
Being patient is key – Success doesn’t happen overnight, although true to the music industry being conflicting at times, sometimes it does. I play every gig or session like it’s my last. Be humble.
To have respect for the other musicians that you’re playing with, and this naturally applies to live work too. It is so important to gel with the musicians that you are working with. We are all one team trying to achieve an end goal.
I once played a gig with The Upper Room and the backing track dropped from my ears. I had to keep time with the mixing desk lights next to me to keep the band together. Pretty challenging but we got through it.
There was another incident whereby my snare drum skin split during a performance and so I had to play the song from a different perspective. Dropping sticks, enduring blistering fingers, cymbals flying off from the stands (just to name a few), are things that can happen to any drummer, and you learn how to get through it from experiencing these situations and by playing live for many years.
Keeping close eye contact and feeling the groove will help keep you all together – It is important to me that I put everything into each and every performance that I do.
Watching people enjoy what you do and equally giving them a good time is something special, and that’s why I love being on stage and performing live – It is my escapism and where I feel most at home.
Drumming is my life.