Rocks ‘N’ Rolls


By Ron Donoho / Photos by Kristina Yamamoto

When the five band members of Barbarian left town for their first touring gig in late August, all had jobs in San Diego as bartenders or other hospitality-industry workers. When the seven-show, 10-day gig was over, only three were still employed.

“Me and Dan (Nichols) lost our jobs after the tour,” says the band’s founder and lead vocalist/guitarist, Andrew Mills. “So, if you know anybody that’s looking...”

Barbarian was formed in late 2011 by San Diego State alums Mills and Seton Edgerton (lead guitar). They live in Ocean Beach, as does Nichols (keyboards). Bassist Phil Dupasquier and new drummer Darrin Lee live in North Park.

Collectively, the five band members have slung drinks at Analog in the Gaslamp, Seven Grand Whiskey Bar and URBN in North Park, Wonderland Ocean Pub in O.B., Firehouse in Pacific Beach and Station Tavern in South Park.

For Mills, who relishes the music business, going on tour (and sharing a bill with British singer songwriter Bat for Lashes) was worth losing his job.

“We rented a van - there’s never enough room, but you make due - and you bust your ass and you go out on the road and you know you’re going to see some cool sh!t,” he says.

The group of bartenders drove to the Midwest to play gigs in Columbus, Ohio; Madison, Wisconsin; and Chicago. Wherever they performed, they were Barbarian, but the moniker has nothing to with their professions.

“It’s hard to come up with a band name,” says Mills, who admits not liking the name as much as he used to. “I liked it, because the word is visceral and raw. But it sounds kinda metal, and we’re not metal.”

Their sound is more on the psychedelic side, which, as it’s described on their Bandcamp page, “lurks in a dimension of futured nostalgia via proto and postpunk and modern reverb-drenched melancholic pop.”

Mills says he likes the “big wall” effect, with a lot of reverb and tons of nuance. And there’s a dark, emotional side to his lyrics.

Drink in the Barbarian sound at The Casbah (October 2) and Oktoberfest in North Park (October 19).

>>Barbarian has received San Diego Music Awards nominations for Artist of the Year, Best Music Video, Best Live Band, Song of the Year and Best Pop.