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September 19, 2007

ALL FOR ONE

Barcelona is a group effort

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Around the time he released his solo debut, 2005's Safety Songs, Brian Fennell noticed there was "an over-saturation of young, male, singer/songwriters."

That prompted the singer/guitarist/keyboardist to go for a band sound and identity, and so he formed the Seattle rock quartet Barcelona.

The seeds for Barcelona were planted when Fennell recruited childhood friend Brian Eichelberger (bass) and college pals Chris Bristol (guitar) and Rhett Stonelake (drums) for a tour to support Safety Songs.

"It was apparent that no one wanted to be a backup band," recalls Fennell. "From our first practice as Barcelona, the chemistry and sound began to grow rapidly. The combination of every musician changed how I was writing for Barcelona."

The band takes a unified, serve-the-song approach on the dynamic absolutes, Barcelona's first album, yet each instrument has a presence and personality. In mid-August, Barcelona was featured on the front page of MySpace.com, and absolutes was available for streaming on the networking site.

"The band was brought to MySpace Records' attention through a relatively new guy on their team," says Fennell. "He had been interested in Barcelona as an A&R [representative] at another label and thought of an amazing way to bring us in. We were all hesitant at the thought of doing anything with any labels that early on before the record was out, but he hooked us with a really innovative promotional deal with MySpace.com."

The piano plays a key role on absolutes, which is due in stores Sept. 25 via NBD Music (with U.S. distribution courtesy of Curb Appeal Records).

"Guitar has been at the head of pop rock bands for decades, and I have appreciated the recent attention piano has been getting," says Fennell. "I don't think it's a good idea to use the lead instrument as an overarching label, but from the start, we knew we would be compared to other piano-led bands [such as The Fray and Keane]. . . . We're all flattered when we're compared to successful bands --- no matter what the genre -- but mostly, we want to focus on developing our own sound."

-- By Chris M. Junior

Barcelona tour dates (schedule subject to change):

* Sept. 28: Neumos -- Seattle

* Oct. 17: Arlene's Grocery -- New York

September 15, 2007

UNION COUNTY MUSICFEST

Sept. 15, 2007

Nomahegan Park
Cranford, N.J.

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Chuck Berry

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Jim Babjak and Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens

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Apples in Stereo

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Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne

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Mike Peters of The Alarm

Photos by Chris M. Junior

September 04, 2007

FIRST THINGS FIRST: BRYCE AVARY/THE ROCKET SUMMER

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For his first major-label album, Do You Feel, Texas-bred Bryce Avary -- a.k.a. The Rocket Summer -- has hooked up with Island Records.

The 24-year-old pop-rock singer and multi-instrumentalist, who is on the road in September with The Academy Is …, recently reflected on some other musical firsts in his life.

FIRST ROCK STAR POSTER ON HIS BEDROOM WALL:
"It might have been Silverchair. I was 13, and they were 15 and [really popular], and that was every kid's dream. I definitely looked up to them."

HIS FIRST GUITAR:
"My Dad bought me a Hondo, a remake of a Fender Strat, when I was in sixth grade. It was red and white. I never got rid of it -- I still have it. My Dad always told me, 'You don't want to get rid of it -- trust me.' But every day I would say, 'I need $70 bucks; I need to sell this so I can get $40 for it.' But he would say, 'You don't need to do that.' So I didn’t do that, and I'm very grateful I didn't."

FIRST MUSIC HERO OR INFLUENCE HE MET:
"I've met a lot of my heroes. When I was in seventh grade, that was the first real rock concert I went to. I saw the Toadies in Dallas at this dirty club, and I got to meet them, and that was really cool. They weren't necessarily heroes of mine.

"But I did get to play Foosball with [Weezer's] Rivers Cuomo about five years ago, and he didn't say one word to me, and we played for, like, 30 minutes. . . . I would say stuff to him, but he wouldn't respond to me."

-- Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior

The Rocket Summer on tour with The Academy Is … (schedule subject to change):

* Sept. 5: Rave Eagles Club -- Milwaukee

* Sept. 6: Val Air Ballroom -- West Des Moines, Iowa

* Sept. 7: Myth -- Maplewood, Minn.

* Sept. 8: Sokol Auditorium -- Omaha, Neb.

* Sept. 11: Gothic Theatre -- Englewood, Colo.

* Sept. 12: In the Venue -- Salt Lake City

* Sept. 13: Big Easy Excursions -- Keystone, Colo.

* Sept. 15: Crystal Ballroom -- Portland, Ore.

* Sept. 16: Showbox at the Market -- Seattle

* Sept. 18: Empire Events Center -- Sacramento

* Sept. 19: Warfield Theatre -- San Francisco

* Sept. 20: Wiltern -- Los Angeles

* Sept. 21: House of Blues -- Anaheim, Calif.

* Sept. 23: Jillian’s Las Vegas -- Las Vegas

* Sept. 25: Marquee Theatre -- Tempe, Ariz.

* Sept. 26: Rialto Theatre -- Tucson, Ariz.