Playing country covers for weddings and farmer’s markets across San Antonio, vocalist Jordan Gibbons and guitarist Dana Smith decided it was time to showcase their songwriting and create original music. So in 2018, the duo took a leap of faith and headed to Austin.
The two spent more than a year searching for the best fit, ultimately forming The Barrens, an alt-country quintuplet. Musically, the group aligned effortlessly, bringing an edge to their traditional country roots. Gibbons and Smith had found their tune. With guitarist and back up vocalist Trey Connor, drummer Nick Chambers, and bassist Cory Chenoweth, the fivesome is seeing growing success, including winning Austin’s 2020 Jack Daniels x I Heart Radio Battle of the Bar Bands competition.
With the recent release of a new music video for “Young,” directed by Austin filmmaker Jacob Phillips and shot at the Austin Roller Rink, plus the October 16 release of their full EP, we had to learn more about this up-and-coming Austin sensation.
What’s the backstory on the band?
Like many millennial match ups, we found each other on a Facebook musicians forum for the Austin area. It was a long process and took a lot of patience to find our guys, but once the five of us were in the room together, there was no denying that there was something special there. Not only did we click musically, but our personalities really gelled and we all shared a common vision for where we wanted to take the band.
Who inspires you the most? Do you have any musical influences?
We’re kind of all over the place and geek out on a bunch of different types of music. Collectively, we’re all fans of early 2000s alt rock—Matchbox 20, Goo Goo Dolls, Alanis Morissette and Sheryl Crow. We also love what Maren Morris and Kacey Musgraves are doing in the country music world. Their songwriting is second to none and they’re not afraid to push the boundaries by bending and blending genres.
Pre COVID, what were some of your favorite spots in Austin?
That’s a tough one – there’s so many fun spots here in Austin. We love a good dive bar. Deep Eddy Cabaret and Donn’s Depot were usually our go-tos for drinks, and Radio for coffee. When it comes to live music, we liked to hit up Saxon Pub or The White Horse. One of the [many] things we love about this city is that there was always a new local place to try out.
What are some of your favorite places you’ve traveled to?
We’ve got some Toronto ties, and had the opportunity to record our first two singles at Metalworks Studios up there in Mississauga, right outside of the city. It’s a beautiful area and we had a blast exploring downtown. Canada is definitely up there on the list of places we’ve been. However, the real band bonding happens when we’re road tripping together through tiny Texas towns—all five of us crammed into the truck together and eating gas station food.
Can you tell us a bit about your new releases?
The “Young” video shoot was a blast. Rob and Earlita Helms are the owners over at Austin Roller Rink, and they generously let us use the rink for the day, along with some of their old vintage cars—totally free of charge. The stars just kind of aligned on that one. It’s a blessing when things work out like that. We’re super grateful for the Helms family and all of their support.
Anything else you want our readers to know?
At the end of the day, we’re just five great friends making music together and doing what we love. We hope to see you all at a show sometime. Connecting with people and making new friends is what it’s all about, so come say hey!
Cover photo courtesy Hailey Merlo Photography
Gracie Watt is an Editorial Intern at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and a junior at St. Edward’s University in Austin, studying Journalism. When she’s not writing, Watt enjoys singing, playing the guitar and doing volunteer work. @gracie.whatt