posted on October 09, 2012 08:00
The wild-eyed southern boys of 38 Special have been providing a release for rock ‘n’ roll fans for more than 30 years and this Saturdaynight, the Jacksonville, Florida band returns to St. Louis with a completely revamped show.
Don Barnes and company — as grateful for their fans now as when they started out — will be rockin’ into the night at The Theater at Lumiere Place. Barnes talks to InsideSTL about creating a new live album, what songs the band still hasn’t played live and much more.
InsideSTL: What keeps the band motivated to tour as much as it does?
Don Barnes: We wanted to go for longevity in the first place when we were neighborhood guys... We wanted to establish a brotherhood... The funny thing about it is we still like each other [laughs]... [We wanted to] make a statement for ourselves and carry it into the future and take that music and make it timeless... and not just have disposable songs.
We wanted songs that lasted and we’re real proud that [they’ve lasted as long as they have] …. They’re still played across the country every day.... We were real happy. We weren’t anticipating that much of a length of them, but we’re happy about it.
InsideSTL: What makes the new live album, “Live From Texas,” stand out from previous live albums?
DB: Well, the previous one was “Live at Sturgis.” [It was recorded in] one day. There was bad weather, the recording truck had some problems. We tried to pull it off with one performance, and it came out OK. But since then, over a decade, [there’s been] a lot of advancement in audio technology. [We were able to] really glean some of the best performances from across several cities across the state of Texas... We got several performances. The initial idea was just to have it ready for merch tables... take ’em for a ride...
When we got back to the studio that was the initial idea... Then we started mixing... and found out we were a lot better band that we thought we were... We utilized all advancements [in technology]... [so that when you’re] listening you can put your earbuds in and feel like [you’re] right there.
InsideSTL: Of all the .38 Special songs, which one most truly represents the band and why?
DB: Well, the anthemic song “Hold on Loosely” has over 2 million plays... We’ve been fortunate to have about 16 top 20, [top] 40, [top] 10 [songs]. We just line ’em up like artillery and shoot ’em down... We see the reaction on people’s faces, high fives, yelling and singing along, clapping, sometimes they have tears in their eyes... Overall that’s the experience we’re trying to generate — that energy all together with the crowd. We all still get along. [The crowd can] see we still have good time. We’re out there for them and we realize it’s a big release for them... and so we make sure it’s a triumphant night for everybody.
InsideSTL: If you could change anything about your career, what would you change and why?
DB: I guess the traveling is what kills you. If everybody could come to us it’d be great [laughs]. I guess the change would be the fact that we did pay so many dues for 10 years... It was a lot of struggle. There was a lot of eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches... That’s a lot of paying the dues... You have to truly, truly stay together and believe in yourself... [You have to be your own] self-support system... That’s what builds character... and you become a better team overall.
InsideSTL: What’s one thing about the band that hasn’t changed since you guys first got together?
DB: The camaraderie. It’s a real celebration of that brotherhood... I think people see we really are cut from the same cloth. We came from Jacksonville, Fla.... all the groups, Skynyrd... everybody came from Jacksonville … You play the songs of the day, the hits, learn structure of it all... [get the] fundamentals and the ground work there, then you get cocky enough to say, ‘I can write my own song’ … It’s a highly competitive thing. People don’t really care if you live or die. You’re out there playing in dirt-floor clubs.
InsideSTL: Is there a song you’ve never played live that you would still like to at some point?
DB: ...You write a thousand songs and might publish a hundred of ’em... There’s some favorites that we haven’t been able to do [like] “Long Distance Affair” … There’s over the years so many albums, but we’ve kind of culled ’em and gleaned them up, [and play the] favorites of everybody, of the band. We even put a medley together of movie songs... We want to make sure everyone hears their favorite song... The set that we committed to CD last year... we’ve actually re-vamped the whole show … Now it’s a completely different show... It’s even better now. We didn’t think we could improve on that one...
InsideSTL: Last time you were in St. Louis, you played the Rib America festival. How does playing festivals compare to smaller settings like the upcoming show at Lumiere?
DB: We’ve done all different sizes, every city has [some kind of festival]... every [festival has] 20,000 people out there with kids, everyone’s yelling and hollering and [then there’s] smaller ones in a venue where [the people] kind of look up your nose almost. It keeps us on our toes and we do all kind of sizes. But it’s great to get up close and personal … We have a fun time. It’s a great job to bring joy to people every night. [Like I] tell Donny, it beats hangin’ sheet rock.
It’s our presentation to bring to the people. We appreciate them making us a part of their lives. That’s our gift back.