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Singer BJ Barham of American Aquarium.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Texas was not always kind to the band American Aquarium.
Sure, the Raleigh, N.C., band plays an original brand of rocking Americana that would seem to jibe with the sensibilities out there. But that potentially big audience can be tough to reach.
Then last August, the band released its Jason Isbell-produced album, “Burn. Flicker. Die.” And a single from that disc, “Lonely Ain’t Easy,” wound up on mainstream radio in Texas.
“The past year, it’s been really nice to us,” the band’s frontman, singer and songwriter, BJ Barham, said. “Who would have thought, once they start playing you on the radio, people know who you are?”
And the band, which headlines at Kirk Avenue Music Hall on Wednesday, has done it with a record that’s not exactly an upper.
For American Aquarium, which for most of its recording career has celebrated the traveling life’s excesses, “Burn. Flicker. Die.” takes a harder look at its ramifications. Barham calls it “almost like a breakup record with the road.” Yet the relationship is too co-dependent to end entirely.
“We’ve all gotten better,” he said of the quintet and its habits. “I think everybody goes through your Keith Richards, rock-and-roll-fantasy kind of ‘the road never ends, and I’m going to ingest as much as I can in the short time that I’m here,’ ” he said as the band rolled out of Texas. “But I guess we’ve been doing it long enough to realize, like, you can’t do it every day, all day, without it taking a huge toll on your life — and your health.”
Then he let out a relieved chuckle.
Go to blogs.roanoke.com/cutnscratch to hear a podcast with Barham and hear “Lonely Ain’t Easy,” “St. Mary’s” and the title cut.
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