INTRODUCING THE BARKER WOOF BAND….
After being around the music business all my life and hearing and seeing nearly every possible combination out there I ran upon a band that breaks the mold in several different ways. The Barker Woof Band is a hard rock band with a Steampunk theme that plays concerts to raise money for animal shelters, designs and manufactures all the sound equipment used on the tour and gives all their music away for free on their website. Now how’s that for different? We sat down for an interview with Jeffrey A. Forsburg the writer of the music and the creator of this unique project called the Barker Woof Band.
PAMM: Why did you choose the name Barker Woof band?
Jeff: Coming up with a band name now days is not an easy task but for this project I wanted a name that reflected the purpose of the band. The name was originally just “Barker Woof” but by adding “Band” the logo became an anagram BWB and just worked, plus considering what the band does, it just made sense to have it relate in some fashion and the name is different enough that it’s easy to remember.
PAMM Tell us about your journey in music?
Jeff: Now that I can blame on the Beatles, which to me is the greatest band of all times. I originally wanted to be a drummer but at the time there were too many of those and not enough guitarists so I went that direction and it just stuck. I did what most musician do and learned all the licks from a few of my favorite players and played in cover bands which was the typical way of getting your feet wet and catching the fever. When I first started playing, blues dominated my world and a local bass player and also a great guitar player Shane Kelly turned me on to Johnny Winter and that was the direction I stayed with for years by trying to master the pentatonic scale. Eventually I started looking for something completely different and along came KISS. I wasn’t taken by the musicianship but I liked the simplicity of the music but the theatrical component is what I liked the most about it. No jeans and T-shirts like in the Blues world more like Broadway with a Kabuki rock twist. Not surprisingly my first real band was a KISS tribute called Harpoon with John Foote, George Warner and Gregg Fino. We did that for years and as a normal transition of most musicians we moved on to doing originals. I needed a change so I moved to California for a while but that wasn’t my kind of environment so I came back and toured with Free Fare a Christian music origination based in Fort Lauderdale, FL that toured the United States. It was a great experience but too much of a controlling environment for me. When I was done with that I created a new band called Jeffrey Alan and Friends with Doug Lehman, Randy Bower, Tim Woods, and Jimmy Kunes. That eventually burned out and I opened a music store called concept music in Williamsport and played in a few more bands on the side like Stangerz with Jimmy Finn and Chris Myers, Chris Lanley. China with Mark Bastian, Mike Plevyak and Gary Speicher. Smyth with Shane Kelly and Mark Bastian and some studio work with Kirk Blakenship and Tim Breon. All great experiences and players but the music business was getting out of control along with the attitudes and I became really disillusioned with it altogether so I closed the store, sold every piece of music gear I owned even every one of my guitar and moved to North Carolina for 24-years before moving back to Pennsylvania. While down there I started a pro Audio Loudspeaker Company called Forsburg Industries, Inc. with G-Audio which is still going today but I didn’t own or touch a guitar for over 10-years. One day I walked into a music store, played a guitar for a few minutes, bought it and have been playing and writing ever since. Since I’ve moved back I played in a few projects, Jonah Whale with Mike Plevyak, Bill and Sally Davenport and Mike Wojciehowsky but my real desire was to create a band like this and do my own music to raise money for the animal shelters at the same time and that how the Barker Woof Band came about. All roads lead to BWB. There were more bands and people in my history but I just can’t remember them all names right now.
PAMM: Tell us about the music?
Jeff: With all the genres out there and the lines getting blurred between the styles I would say Barker Woof Band is straight forward hard to progressive rock with a little bit of strings and a ballad thrown in to round it out. I write in every genre but the Barker Woof Band project leans in one direction for these shows. At one time I managed the Williamsport Area Symphony Orchestra, that’s what it was originally called when I was there and I’ve always enjoyed the power of the strings in rock music. The band Kansas was the real pioneers in that area which gave me inspiration to do my own thing with strings. The one thing that is different about my music is I allow free downloads on barkerwoofband.com. I decided that with the music distribution changing and more and more people downloading tunes or finding ways around paying for an artist creative works I figured I needed to adapt to the changing environment. Barker Woof Band was created as a live show in the first place to help raise money for animal shelters so I figured if I give my music away and I gain a fan than they will come to the live shows and get the Steampunk experience than I didn’t loose anything because I gained a music and or animal lover. All the music is written and copyrighted by me so it can’t be used for commercial uses without permission or compensation, but it’s out there to freely listen to and share with friends.
PAMM: What’s the current lineup for the Barker Woof Band?
Jeff: Finding local talented musicians with the same, mindset, availability and professionalism is near impossible but that’s nothing new. After limited success I came up with looking outside the area and in other bands. Some of the most talented people are already in other projects and I decided to hire them for the BWB shows rather than taking them from their current project. Most musicians now days are in multiple bands at the same time which give them more options since the average band have a short life span. The guys I have in this lineup are simply amazing musicians and I’m blessed to have found them, especially since they are all in other projects and very busy already. Obviously I’m on guitar, Anthony Cross on vocals with powerful pipes. He’s currently with Seven Witches, an original metal band with two CD’s and they kick butt. You should really check them out. Brett Rome is on bass and I found him pursuing on Bandmix.com and he sent me a video of his playing and my jaw hit the floor. He’s old school finger play which I love and he taps like no other and he will blow you away. Jimmy Peruta is a fantastic drummer currently with Sanctuary, an Iron Maiden tribute band. You’ve got to that see that show, Jimmy is absolutely amazing. Jeff Clair was the original drummer for BWB but scheduling conflict temporarily put him on the sidelines. He’s an amazing drummer and a dear friend. The last person we added to the lineup is Dan Lieske a very talented keyboardist. Dan helps bring all the piano and strings to life that in my music. The boy has flying fingers. One thing I will say about this lineup is not only are they great musicians but a real nice group of people which is a great combination to work with.
PAMM: Barker Woof doesn’t look like other bands?
Jeff: LOL, no we do not. I grew up watching the “Wild, Wild West”, the original one, not the remake and I loved the look of the costumes, the ornate fixtures and all the amazing mechanical gadgets. Now days they call that look Steampunk but back then it was the start of the invention revolution so it was just current. Not wanting BWB to look like the average band today I used the Steampunk persona in the show to create a visual effect. If you look at the way most people in the audience dress today, they look more rocked out than the band. Back in the day the band had everything custom made or design but now everything is available on line so the band compete with the audience now. When I go to a show I want to see something different and be entertained visually so that’s why the Steampunk theme came about. Leather has been so overdone and way too hot under all those lights and its more associates with metal anyways. I’m hoping that after a while the audience will start showing up in Steampunk as well. Now that would be a great concert and than I wouldn’t the fans looking like the band.
PAMM: How do the shows work and where do you play?
Jeff: We first look for an animal shelter to work with and then a location for the concert nearby. We use an opening act and in between switching bands the shelter representative will speak to the audience and talk about their needs and who is currently up for adoption. We have raffles that help raise more money for the shelter and if you bring a can or bag of animal food to the show we will swap it for a BWB tour sticker and donate that food to the participating shelter. The opening act for some of our shows is American Evil, and they will blow your hair back. High energy, great tune and they can rock an audience. After seeing them live we asked if they would come on board for the shows and being animal lovers themselves they graciously agreed. They will be there for our first show. The members are Russell Zellers, Tony Reed, Robert Kauffman, Adam Reitenbach and Jordan Rhoads. Check them out on facebook.com/americanevil570.
Our first show of the tour is June 4th in Williamsport, PA at the Genetti Hotel Grand Ballroom representing the Lycoming County SPCA. The next is also at the Genetti in Wilkes-Barre and we’re currently locking down dates for York, Philly, Pittsburgh, Allentown, and Altoona. Next year we plan on a full east coast tour but helping the Pennsylvania shelters is our first priority since this is where BWB is based.
PAMM: What equipment are you using for this tour?
Jeff: Well, I have a unique situation with that. The sound system, guitar cabinets and monitors are all manufactured by my company Forsburg Industries, Inc. I’ve been designing and manufacturing loudspeakers and enclosures for nearly 32 years. We had a booth at the 2015 NAMM show with our new guitar cabinet the Cannon48 and the LEA Series compact Line array and were visited by a lot of A-list players that loved the products. We use these cabinets at the BWB shows so you’ll get to see and hear them in action. My personal choice for guitars is only the John Suhr custom tele shape with scalloped fingerboards. Fractal, Mesa and CAE 3+ SE preamp, VHT Power are in the amp section. I’ve used or owned nearly everything made and this has been my go to gear for the past 16-years now.
PAMM: Where can people learn more about the Barker Woof Band?
Jeff: BarkerWoofBand.com is our home page where you can find show dates and download our music for free, contact animal shelter in the links page and even contact us to book the band for an event. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org. BWBanimalRock is our Facebook page where we post concert picture and have updated on the fund raising and we are starting to feature different shelters on long the tour. Forsburg.com is our Manufacturing and Sound Production services. Email email@example.com or call (919) 606-3443. Thank you for listening and hope to see you at a Barker Woof Band show to help raise money for animal shelters. Jeffrey A. Forsburg is the CEO of Forsburg Industries, Inc. and creator of the Barker Woof Band.