Feels Like Centuries
(Fire Sign Records)


Centered around the songs of up and coming NYC based singer songwriter / guitarist Lou Barlow, the 2009 CD release of Feels Like Centuries introduces the sound and vision of Barlow’s debut recording as True Nature. Produced and recorded up in Woodstock, N.Y. by drummer / percussionist (and founding member of The Spin Doctors) Aaron Comess, this debut True Nature set may only contain five tracks yet they are well worth hitting the replay button and reloading. Comess has done some great production work in the past and he works up his studio magic for Barlow’s first CD with True Nature. Backing up Barlow’s modern rock compositions are first rate musicians including David Bowie’s guitar ace Gerry Leonard, whose sonic guitar sound drives Barlow’s songs and vocals into the stratosphere with some otherworldly extrapolations. On bass here is the legendary prog-rock bass icon Tony Levin, who adds in his patented thundering backbone of sound. There’s also a trio of backing vocalists—including Chris Barron, James Maddock and Brandon Wildewho add further coloration in places. Regarding the CD sound, Barlow’s muse sounds greatly influenced by King Crimson circa 2000 and Bowie, while at other times while drawing on a very hip, guitar-centric, downtown NYC rock sound pioneered by Lou Reed, John Cale and more. Fans of Bowie’s early 2000 work with guitarist Gerry Leonard will get a buzz from Barlow’s atmospheric, edgy rock vocal sound. Barlow’s web site is very interesting and, echoing the site’s very unusual photography and artwork featuring model Tonya Kaye, the CD cover artwork of Feels Like Centuries creates some very intriguing imagery all it’s own.

MUSIC WEB EXPRESS 3000 presents
True Nature - Center Stage
a conversation with Lou Barlow
and Gerry Leonard

New CD

True Nature is an ever evolving project or 'Moniker' for me as a solo artist. It's very exciting for me to tell you about who is on the new EP but I want to be clear that this is not a band. Oh, and while I'm at it, I'm not the Lou Barlow from Dinosaur Jr. etc., it's all our mamas' fault!

This has been an amazing run of studio dates to create Feels Like Centuries, and I'm moved to share that it's been so well received that myself, Aaron Comess, Tony Levin, Gerry Leonard and our loyal engineer Roman Klun (just nominated for an Engineering Grammy in 2010) have just recorded more songs this past summer to be released in early 2010.

So, Feels Like Centuries was recorded at the recently deceased Flymax Studios in Woodstock NY, a great homelike environment studio that I lived and slept in the same room where I tracked my vocals in for days! It gave us a fairly big sound as you can hear, and it was the perfect environment to first bring us all together.

Working with Aaron Comess as producer and drummer has been the best musical experience of my life to date. In his words, 'it's about the end result,' and I couldn't agree more. Feels Like Centuries started with just me and Aaron and I think that Aaron, having been on the road or in the studio with various great talent consistently over the past 20+ years, has made his gut reactions to my song-writing extremely useful as my producer. He is not a co-writer or a band member or anything like that but what Aaron has recommended, especially on the arrangement front, has not only been monumental in my book but has inspired me to write, on the spot, these little extra mini sections that make these songs really move and shine in a balanced way.

I once heard Sting say something to the effect that he likes to be the 'worst' member of his bands, obviously a post Police statement! (laughter) Anyway, so I understood and appreciated his statement especially as a singer-songwriter, and having surrounded myself with world class musicians, I'm adopting that attitude. I mean, you ask about my musicianship and I'm thinking that it's more about getting the right musicians together! I used to get into sessions for my songs and people would naturally say, 'You have to tell us exactly what you want Lou.' And I used to get so frustrated because I’m an articulate dude and after a while no words can explain it. So preproduction with Aaron has become my new refuge. I can work out everything I need to there. Then, once we get into the studio with Tony and Gerry it's all automatic from there. A psychic kind of, 'Wow how did you know what I was feeling,' kind of experience happens and a part of me feels, I've been looking for this for a very long time ....

My stylistic, guitar parts play an essential role to my songs and we've consistently built around them where they occur in the writing. Basically, in certain sections I'm playing rhythm parts that have a lead like quality to them yet work under my vocals. You'll hear it especially on “My Freedom Lies Behind The Sun,” there's this massive power rock guitar hook at the top of the verses. In “Too Close To See Who We Are,” you'll hear this reoccurring instrumental section that I eventually break into a Bono-esque falsetto over but which has this Lou-esque guitar part underlying it...that's a little more ummm Irish sounding actually.

Stay tuned on that front because the yet unreleased CD in many ways is even more guitar heavy all round !

Musical Background

Since I was like 3 or 4, listening to this one Sonny Rollins jazz record over and over, I wanted to play the drums and my dad always took me seriously from a very young age. Somehow upon proving my interest at the age of about 6 there was a cool Ludwig 4 piece set that I still have 3 out of 4 pieces from and you'll all be happy to know that I am in recent Facebook contact with the last holder of that missing floor Tom !

Anyway, it was the ‘70s and the drums I was pounding on were interrupting my Mom's meditations so she suggested that I try the guitar. I was 8 years old. At present I'm known for my singing more than anything, so I think I was led in a more 'melodic' direction... I got myself into college playing classical guitar inspired by Segovia. I nailed 'Layenda,' but just after freshmen year I gave up the classical guitar. I went on in theory and composition to receive the NYU composer of the year award for a solo piano piece in the avant guard genre. I've played in bands my whole life starting in 7th grade and a few years ago song writing with my Strat in hand was all I focused on.

Favorite Guitars & Gear

LOU BARLOW: Ohhhh, this is definitely where it gets fun having Gerry Leonard around... You really want to ask him this question, there is absolutely no one on this planet like Gerry Leonard and... Wow his set up is really elaborate. I'm just a Strat and a Vox, Bagels and Lox kind of guy...

My main Guitars are Gibsons mostly old ones. I have a 69 Gibson Sg Custom that I have had since I was 16 and its a favourite still. I like the darker sound. It's more moody. Although we used a Les Paul (custom Shop) and a Teisco (great Lo Fi Gtr) for slide. I have been using Mesa Boogie amps for a long time, They sound great and are bullet proof on the road. Another favourite is a Soma Tone roaring 40. Its a new amp from a small maker in NJ. Sounds killer. Plug in and kill your neighbors cat amp. I use a combination of analog pedals for Distortion and Delay and a TC G force for more exotic things. I use a switching system from Ground Control to control everything. 

Musical Influences

Well what's so amazing is Peter Gabriel was hands down the first really powerful influence where I felt an immediate sense of connection to the human experience that Peter was coming from and successfully galvanizing and touching in people's hearts around the world. I was also just absolutely amazed by the sound of the So album. At the time nothing like that was ever heard. I believe generationally there are waves or moments in time where the hip amongst us is feeling or longing in a similar direction for various things, love, justice, connection, true understanding, evil overcome, spiritual recognition and on and on. And a great artist like Gabriel not only hits the bulls-eye of that collective emotion but also creates unusual, striking songs that are just so totally fresh to everyone at that time; It forever moves a generation. So, obviously having Tony Levin manifest for our recordings is really quite something to me, more than I can simply state. Upon hearing for example how Tony performed on especially the long Intro of, "My Freedom Lies Behind The Sun," I suddenly realized how unmistakable and characteristic Tony's sound plays an essential role in Gabriel's' music and I was very taken back by the power of that.

The artists I feel influence from most seemed to pick up from whatever Peter Gabriel was tapping into: U2 & The Police are still my all time favorites and these days onto Cold Play, Snow Patrol, both of which I love. But the 'thread' I'm sensing is not a sonic or necessarily stylistic similarity. I mean U2 and Gabriel musically share almost nothing (except a few producers!) but the emphasis on what the human heart goes through with a wishful global perspective in mind, is what I feel these artists strongly have in common. I see a tipping balance scale in my mind and Gabriel is that central balancing point for me. There are ton's of musicians before and after Gabriel that have inspired me greatly, if you want to talk about all that, but I think it's just so important to realize when and where that inner shift happened where I thought, 'This is what I want to do with my life.' And that was Peter Gabriel for me.

GERRY LEONARD: I grew up in Dublin Ireland in bands. We used to sit on our AC 30 to keep warm when we practiced in the singers garage. I studied classical guitar for 5 years and learned electric through friends and watching people. I learned piano first so still see harmony this way. But a guitar is easier to get in the overhead on the airplane.

Upcoming Plans

Well this was quite a year for me because as an independent artist I had to make a lot of decisions without referring to anyone. I'm an independent artist but I'd really love to find that business soul mate big time.

I decided to finish the album instead of touring because there was so much buzz from this EP.

I'm running Fire Sign records to release my music but I am looking for major label backing, as well as management and good film placement for my songs.

A lot of aspects have to be in place for a release to be successful. I had to find and oversee the right PR, a few radio reps, various web designers as well as web and blog promoters. In addition to all that it was an honor that Glen Wexler accepted my offer to do the album art for the, Feels Like Centuries EP. Glen has created some famous album covers over the past 20 years and it's really amazing to be a part of that too.

I can't wait to debut the yet unreleased songs. The new songs of course were written after the Feels Like Centuries buzz started. So the upcoming material was written from a place I'd never been in before. I knew right where I could turn to for everything I would need once my writing was done and that's a truly amazing feeling. I could finally just go for it.

I'd like to open Fire Sign records to other artists but my plate is overflowing right now as you can see.

"I'm trying to crawl to a future not so small," is a line from the upcoming material that I hope leaves you with a good sense of TRUE NATURE and where I'm trying to get to!

Web Site



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