Rick Barton was the original guitarist for the legendary DROPKICK MUPRHYS and I like to think that this has become his curse. Now everyone asks the poor guy about his past instead of focus on his new amazing endeavors! Wake up everyone and meet CONTINENTAL, his relatively new project started a few years ago. Rick is readying a massive tour this year, so there will be a lot of chances to check this guy out live on stage.
Hey, man! I’m so glad you managed to find some time with us. How are you? Very busy? [smiles]
Great as always!! [laughs] Thank you for taking the time to interview me.
Cool, let’s start off with the thing that I love the most. Live shows! [smiles]
You have a direct support slot on THE TOSSERS 20th anniversary tour in March. Are you excited to hit the road with these guys?
It’s an honor and privilege any time your asked to do a tour! I think THE TOSSERS are a great band and we should work very well together. I heard the other day THE PIETASTERS will be on some of the dates as well. So that should get more people out to the shows.
Nice. You’ll be supporting THE REVEREND HORTON HEAT, too. This will come in April, right? Will you be visiting different locations?
We love THE REVEREND!!! Did some dates with them back in December and they’re an amazing band and their whole crew was very supportive & complimentary towards my band CONTINENTAL!
There’s another trek you mentioned – the September run with THE MAHONES. Do you have any details on that?
I don’t have the details yet on THE MAHONES tour. But I will say this much, I love Finny and he is one of the most dedicated and hard-working musicians I know!
You’ll be closing this year with a special trek in December. Can you reveal some details about this adventure?
[laughs] !! That is in the very formative stages but will def be involving some legendary underground bands! Sorry no deets at this time.
Can’t wait, Rick. Please let me know as soon as it surfaces [smiles].
Ok, it sounds like it was impossible, but you’ve just announced that you’ we’ve just started getting confirmed dates on your 60 dates / 25 countries European Tour for October! Shoot me some details [smiles].
Well we’ve signed a deal with Felix and Flix records for the release of All a Man Can Do. So the best way I know to celebrate that union would be to come over and play our asses off!! The European release will feature several additional unreleased tracks.
By the way, what do you love and hate about Europe? What’s your first association with Europe? [smiles]
My first association with Europe was as a young elementary school kid reading about the World Wars and thinking it had to be the most dreadful and dreary place on the planet! However, when I finally made it over back in ’97 on a tour with THE BOSSTONES I fell in love with all the beautiful landscapes and different cultures! I even ended up marrying a girl from Sweden! [laughs]
[laughs] I love Scandinavia. Swedish girls are amazing, so props for you, Rick! I got married last year and my beautiful wife is Polish, so no surprises here [laughs]. Did you abduct her to the States? Or do you live separate, because of her eternal love to Sweden? [laughs]
My wife and I split over 3 yrs. ago and I’d rather not talk about her specifically. Don’t worry I’m not offended by your question and her and I are on very friendly terms.
Oops. We shall change the subject, then [smiles].
You’ll be touring the whole bloody year. Do you have some time left for your private life? [smiles]
I don’t actually have a private life. I’ve been living out of my van for over 3 years now traveling around with my little Boston Terrier Brutus! Since the aforementioned beautiful wife gave me my walking papers I have devoted myself 100% to my songs and my craft!
Was it because of the music?
I live out of my van because I can’t afford to live in a house. Everything must go into the band and my music! Time, energy & money. I sold all of my royalties & publishing 13 yrs. ago for a mere pittance of what they were actually worth! So I’m not some rich dude doing this as a hobby! This is life or death for me!
What are your thoughts on “All a Man Can Do” after around 8 months since its premiere?
I think we made an incredible album and I believe my vocals and state of being at the time were captured perfectly!
Do you still get a lot of positive feedback on the record?
Oh yeah. The record has been gaining a slow but steady following. We’ve even been getting commercial radio play in Japan. Yesterday we were played right after The Who/ My Generation and we actually opened the show on Valentine’s Day.
Are you already working on new tunes? [smiles]
Fortunately I don’t have to work on tunes. They flow out of me every time I pick up the guitar. I’d say I’ve written well over 1,000 songs in the last 15 yrs. But yes I already have a new album written if that’s the question! [smiles]
Wow, I didn’t expect that! That’s why I was asking the other way around. [laughs] Is there a timetable for the new outing?
We’ll definitely release a new album by next spring.
As a producer, what releases of yours are you really stoked lately?
I love the new STREET DOGS singles that we worked on and we just finished an amazing collection of songs with a new band called FM359.
How are the new STREET DOGS songs doing? [smiles]
We’ll have to let the fans judge that. It’s really hard to listen to stuff that you’ve worked on bc you literally listen to the songs well over a hundred times each while in the recording process. Don’t ever be fooled by that “we recorded it in one take” crap! [smiles]
[laughs] Ok, so tell me… how does it feel to be a producer and let another guys with the same profession take care of your new album?
I’m really more of a song guy than a technical producer so I actually enjoy having someone else’s perspective on my songs.
Coo. Let’s touch the fragile subject [smiles]. How do you remember your time spent in DROPKICK MURPHYS in the late 90s?
Wow!!! 15 questions to get to DOPKICK MURPHYS. Well done! My time with The DROPKICK MURPHYS was amazing and something that very few people playing original music ever get to experience. To show up in some town in the middle of America and see a line of 500 to 1,000 people coming to see you play your music is rather mind blowing! Unfortunately I was ill prepared for success and struggled mightily with it. I ended up taking my fear of success out on my own band rather than try to form an alliance with Ken. So the end result became quite tarnished. But we still had some fun times and overall it was a positive experience!
[smiles] Are you still close with Ken, Matt and Al? Do you follow news and stories about DROPKCIK MURPHYS A.D. 2012/2013?
I stay in pretty regular contact with Al. DKM took one of my other bands out on tour 3 times and I go to see them play whenever I can. Kenny and I have made amends with one another so they always give me passes to the shows! [laughs]
Are you fed up with being labeled as a former member of the MURPHYS? Sometimes the press even forgets about “the founding member” part. Does it bother you at all?
I embrace my resume! I could have been the former member of a really bad band! [smiles]
How would you feel if you were forbidden to play acoustic guitar? [laughs] Seriously, what kind of an instrument would you prefer to give up when forced and which one do you consider essential in your life?
Well I write all my songs on acoustic guitar so that would be rather devastating! This may sound strange but I’m totally not into the guitar anymore and I can’t even play another instrument. My whole musical existence is about writing songs. I have a young killer guitarist in my band now and what I do live is play the roll of entertainer. I do play really solid though, it’s just that I don’t get off on fancy guitar crap! I just like to hit the right chord at the right time! [smiles]
What are your best and worst professional traits?
My best professional trait is that I know how to get the job done and I come prepared! Plus I love meeting as many people as I can over the course of a night. I still find it a privilege to be able to do what I do! My worst trait I suppose would be that I’m a bit of a taskmaster & I need to keep moving forward, sometimes missing out on the moment!
After all these years, what does punk rock mean to you?
Punk Rock means amazing people that made the right choice when it came to listening to THE BUZZCOCKS or Journey!
[smiles] What would you advise young punk bands to take a similar course you did? To stay away from big record companies and feel good about things you do?
The only advice I have is put your best foot forward, write your songs from the heart and not to keep up with the latest trend. Try to be a nice person with everyone you meet from the janitor to the owner of the venue. And lastly realize that you are never going to “make it”. So try to enjoy as much of your experience as possible!
Ok, Rick. Would you like to add anything about CONTINENTAL or yourself? Be my guest…
Let’s see? I’m very proud of my band! My youngest son Stephen on bass, Dave Deprest on Guitar and “the kid” 18 yr old Derek Louis on drums. I’m twice their age but they’re all 10x better musicians than I am. They totally keep up and never complain about not making money. They fully understand we’re on a journey and that journey actually costs me money to go on! Yes I still have to paint houses to keep the band alive! Just this past summer I was scaling up and down 40′ ladders and kicking ass at none other than Frank Blacks house in Northampton MA. So there you have it!
Oh, yeah, I’ve heard you’re the real specialist on painting. Have you ever thought about switching the priorities and go even more pro with the brush business?
I only paint to support my music! It’s always been that way and it will always be that way.
Once again, thanks a lot for your time! Take care, man!