Lieber im Van schlafen als auf der Couch verfetten: Ex-Dropkick Murphys Gitarrist Rick Barton im Interview

Er hat die Dropkick Murphys mit begründet, heute schläft er im Van: Rick Barton hat Pech gehabt. Aber der 52-Jährige scheint seinen Frieden gemacht zu haben. Bei seinem neuen Projekt Continental steht er mit seinem Sohn Stephen auf der Bühne. An Halloween war Barton im kleinen oberschwäbischen Städtchen Aulendorf zu Gast. Vor dem Auftritt im "Irreal" hatte Daniel Drescher von Tinnitus Attacks die Gelegenheit für ein Interview mit Rick Barton. Ein Gespräch über seine Musik, seine Fehltritte - und wie man sich nachts im Auto warmhält. Damit es nicht nur die Fans hierzulande verstehen, im Englischen Original abgetippt. 

Rick, you've recently published your album „All A Man Can Do“ with your new band Continental in Europe. Now you're on tour with your son. How's it going? 

We've been touring together for over three years now. We've gone all the way from hating each other to accepting each other. We didn't know what it would be all about. I don't recommend it, parents and children living together when they're older. He's 23 now. What I've done is I eliminated the whole father-son-relationship and basically treat him like another band member. That's the only way it works.

It's not very common, a father and his son playing together in a band. Most parents would try to stop their children from becoming musicians, „Go and do something solid“, that kind of story. 

I told my son to quit college to come on the road...

Just the other way round...

Yeah, but look, now he's in Europe, he's meeting new people. It's an's free.

Your son encouraged you to record an album when he heard a new song from you. Can you tell us about how it started with Continental? 

Rick Barton bei seinem Auftritt mit Continental
in Aulendorf.                      Foto: Daniel Drescher
Basically, I had a batch of songs. I had never heard Stephen playing the bass, so I didn't know if he was any good. But he was pretty smooth and I was like: Wow, he can really play. And the drummer and the guitar player were really good. They were kids, friends of Stephen. They didn't want to go on tour so we had to find new musicians for the tour. But back then it was kind of fun, almost like taking them on a camping trip or playing baseball.

Where's your homebase in the US? 

I don't live anywhere. I live in my van. I've been four years homeless.

So you just travel around? 

That's it, I travel around. I play music. And I paint houses. That's my job, that's how I make a living. I decided that I can't have a homebase. A lot of people take me in. I do painting jobs, they let me live there. But I mostly sleep in the van, at night it's fresh air, but I have a little dog named Brutus. He keeps me warm.

Most people would find that rather unsettling. 

A lot of people do find it unsettling. You know what my mother says? „You don't even have a goddamm closet.“

But it's okay for you? 

Oh, it's ok for me. I love it. It keeps me moving. I'm not sitting down with a remote control getting fat and watching TV. I'm not wasting my life on a couch. I'm 52 years old and this is the life I've chosen. Right, Stephen? (yelling towards his son, who's on stage and soundchecking). He loves it and want's to move to Europe.

Stephen comes over from the Soundcheck and asks what his father is talking about. 

You want to move somewhere Special? 

Stephen: Somewhere weird. In the east. Romania, Slovakia, Serbia...(and he's off again).

Rick: It's very cheap there.

Have you been there on tour? 

Rick: That's where we started our tour. We were in Austria and then headed for the eastern part of Europe. It was good. People were coming out to the shows.

You were a founding member of the Dropkick Murphys...

Yeah, I started that band.

...and I heard you had some problems with the copyrights for the songs. 

Well, I just sold everything. But I didn't get as much money as I should have. I didn't have enough representation. I was really dumb. But that's the way it goes in life. You make bad choices. I'm not really a money man. I do so much better when I just have enough to get by. Just make sure I get my coffee in the morning, feed myself, feed my dog...that motivates me to keep going. If I had lots of money, I might sit on that couch and get fat.

But if you look at them now, they are rockstars...

They're huge! They just were a part of the the world series. Did you see it? Ken Casey sang the national anthem at the Red Sox Game.

Are there moments when you think: Could be me up there on the stage? 

No, because it couldn't have been me. I was like a wild card. It wouldn't have worked. Kenny and I...I don't know if we were too similar or to clashing, but we always fought. We were friends, but we battled all the time. So it couldn't have been. No, I don't have regrets. I like being here. Kenny jets around the world like a rockstar. I might look like a rockstar but that's just not my style. I'm way nore simple than that. I'm don't do the whole rockstar thing very well.

The band „Everybody Out“ is also your creation. 

Oh yeah! I didn't know anyone knew that. Did you ever listen to it?

Yeah, I stumbled upon the song „All I Got“ and was searching all over the place for the record...after a few months, I finally found it. It's a fantastic record. 

You think so? Wow! What are songs you like? „Billy Cole“?

Yeah, but first and foremost „All I Got“. 

How does it go? I don't even remember.

Dadadada-da-dadadada.... (Tinnitus Attacks singing the song „All I Got“). 

That was me and a singer from england, Sweeney. Once again, we ended up battling and hating each other. But pretty much it was my songs. I have to listen to it again. Haven't done that since I made it. Wow.

Can you tell me something about the musical styles that we can listen to on your new album? I had to think of Bob Dylan. 

Really? That's great. We were described by a soundman on the US tour: If Paul Westerberg from the Replacements joined the Rolling Stones, that's what it would sound like. But Bob Dylan – I love that. We're like an old school rock'n'roll band. The kids, they like that kind of music. Things are different now. When I was a kid, you liked the things that were current. You didn't listen to older music. Nowdays kids listen to everything. Thanks to the Internet. The Stones are still popular -  50 years later. Bob Dylan is still popular – 50 years later.

Do you think current music will be popular in 50 years? Lady Gaga and stuff? 

I don't know. Maybe not. But Against Me! will be, if they keep progressing. But I don't know what's happening with that band.

They will put out their new album in January 2014. 

Oh really? I can't wait to hear it. I talked to the guys in the band and they said it was unbelievable. I love that band. I see them whenever I get a chance. They have been a band for 20 years. But I still think of them them as a modern band. They are timeless. When Laura – formerly Tom – sings, it sounds incredible.

Is that the music you listen to in private, also lots of punkrock? 

I don't listen to a lot of punkrock. The last or years, I've been driving around in my van and I listen mostly to the things they are playing. I'm not really a music fan that much anymore. I mean, I used to buy the CDs and the albums. I have them in my practice space. When I went on the road, I saved CDs and books. That was it. I have a bunch of cases filled in my practice room, that's where I keep my stuff. But I don't bother, CDs are not even practital anymore. Someday, when I'm older and have a little house somewhere, I'm gotta get a turntable and a stereo and I'm gonna buy records again. Gonna take me back to when I was a kid. Vinyl.

Do you have one ore a few books that are essential to you? 

A spiritual book: The Wise Heart by Jack Cornfield. I keep that one all the time. And my favorite book of all time could be Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. It's incredible.

John Irving's the best. That book was so heartbreaking. 

I know. But beautiful at the same moment. That's what life is all about.

The only book that has gotten to me so much as Owen Meany was „Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close“ by Jonathan Safran Foer. It's about a boy who lost his father in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Then he find's a key in the things his father left. And he wants to find the lock to that key. 

I've heard about that. Didn't they make a movie out of it? I should read the book.

Später nach dem Interview entern Rick Barton und sein Sohn plus Sidekicks die Bühne. Leider scheint der 31. Oktober nicht der optimale Konzerttermin zu sein. Rund 20 Menschen sind da, im Nebenraum leert die Dorfjugend Bierstiefel. Zupackende Rock'n'Roll-Songs wie "Wrecking Ball" hätten ruhig auf ein bisschen mehr Euphorie stoßen dürfen. 

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