ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: Barf Lord, Kat and the Hurricane

Barf Lord.

The Cooperage hosted their third edition of their Midwest Music Showcase series on Thursday night. We talked to indie pop acts Barf Lord and Kat and the Hurricane; also on the bill were experimental-noise rockers Spoy and Stephanie Glyzewski of alternative rock band LO/ST.

Barf Lord is the brainchild of Carter Voras. This was his first show with the full band of himself on lead guitar, Oli Smith on bass, Tommy Curtis on rhythm guitar, and Max Janairo on drums. Their set featured a few songs of Smith’s as well.

“Barf Lord is Carter’s project; he writes and records the songs and does all the art for it but he said we should play some of my songs,” Smith explained. “I didn’t know about it…Americana rock and roll with bedroom pop… at first I thought we should have separate bands and play a show together, but Max and Carter really liked this idea of having a set that’s kind of confusing in the sense that it doesn’t stick to one aesthetic.”

“It’s more accurate to the way that we actually play music,” Voras added. “Afterwards, I feel like it really played well to both sides’ strengths. The first half of the set was my shit, which is like doom-gloom sad, but then we got really amped up in the second half for Oli’s songs.”

Voras gives some backstory to the Barf Lord project.

“I’ve been writing songs since I was like thirteen and started playing under Barf Lord because it was just something I thought was funny (laughs). I played a couple talent shows and open mics, and then I had Dogbad, which felt like a main project for a while and that really took off but then we split our separate ways. I’m trying to pursue my own thing right now and approach it in a new lens that I think a lot of people off my first project from 2019 had this idea that I was just a Milwaukee indie guy, and I no longer like to think of it in that restrictive of a term, so now I’m trying to think of it as what makes me happy as opposed to what is more profitable. Even tonight – playing that show – is the kind of mentality I want to embrace over these next years, prioritizing fun and friends and being there to hang out.”

Bard Lord’s sophomore album “A Void” came out this past November. Voras shares where his mind was at.

“I realized that I had some serious shit to figure out and I needed to write about it. That was in a moment where Dogbad wasn’t playing and I wasn’t writing songs for it anymore; it was this surf pop sound that I wasn’t chasing, and the other members – whom I love dearly – just had different ideas for the music. There was a lot that I was working through internally and “A Void” just needed to be released. It was one of those projects where it wasn’t a question of what I wanted to do; it just came to be on its own, and I had so many ideas for albums at the time where I was recording maybe four or five albums at once (laughs). I realized that the songs that stuck were songs that are on the final work. I’m also a painter, and a lot of what I was seeing in the paintings that I was doing was literally the absence of things. That’s where “A Void” came from. The album was also driven by my grandma having breast cancer for a long time, and a lot of those songs are about “holy shit, what do I do now?” when there’s one last person to be proud of me when I release music. It was a lot of dealing with that, as well as dealing with my own mortality.”

Their latest single “Crush” was released last week.

Voras said, “It was another one of those things where I was like, “I need to make something right now.” I’ve been toying with the idea of taking a more stripped-back approach; I’ve been listening to a lot of slowcore so I’ve been wondering how simple it could be and still sound like a song. The chorus doesn’t even have lyrics, and that’s the beautiful thing about it, that it can just be this moment in time. Working on “A Void” where I was working up to something, “Crush” was a moment where I could feel a song is literally perfect and just birth it. I was in my bedroom and recorded my acoustic guitar with a mic, then recorded drums, and that was it. I’ve found in songwriting that the more I restrict myself, the more I allow myself breathing room for things to flourish.”

While Barf Lord does not have any more shows booked as of now, Smith shares some exciting news about the members’ other projects.

“I’m trying to set up a show in the next few months with Barf Lord, Crawlspace (Janairo and Curtis’ other band), and my own project Rainbow Cobra. I’m picturing it as not just a set thing but a fluid thing, like a revolving door of people that I could play with. I really want to make that happen.”

Kat and the Hurricane is fronted by vocalist/guitarist Kat Farnsworth while “the Hurricane” is Benjamin Coakley on synth and Alex Nelson on drums. Originally started as a solo project in 2015, they have primarily been based in Janesville and Madison. Farnsworth shares a bit about the band’s formation.

“In 2018 I discovered that Ben and I were both living in Janesville, and I approached them and asked them to be a part of this. Shortly thereafter, Ben moved to Madison and then I followed up and I started living with Alex. Our first ever gig was in a barn in East Troy.”

“This was my first time ever playing a drum kit in a band, and so playing a kit in a barn with no monitor situation where I couldn’t hear my bandmates to save my life…it was pretty good,” Nelson said.

In February 2020, the band released their “Libra” album.

Farnsworth explained, “The song “Libra” I brought to Ben right around when I was asking them to come into the band. I was living in Chicago at the time and I was living with one, so the whole album and single kind of encompasses that chapter in my life where things didn’t go as planned. As a result, “Libra” became a fully-thought out album that we’ve been playing for two years now but never got the chance to tour it because COVID cut our tour short. It’s about trusting a person and they end up not loving you like you thought they did.”

To follow, the band released “The Sorry EP” last June.

Coakley shared, “It was the record that we really put together during quarantine times; Kat had a lot of the songs pretty fleshed-out before but we hadn’t had a chance to sit down, so after the “Libra” tour got cut short we decided to go straight to work on the next one. I think it has the most diverse influences of what we’ve done so far, really bringing in a lot of synth stuff plus Alex was writing all their own drum parts from scratch. It was the first one that we really collaborated on and we’re very proud of it.”

“We recorded it at Madtown Mix Studio,” Farnsworth added. “That’s the studio of one Matthew LaPlant, who’s done a lot of really fantastic stuff in the music industry. He used to be based out of Florida and now lives in Madison, and he’s worked with everybody from Skindred to Snoop Dogg.”

Coakley shares what the band has been up to since “The Sorry EP.”

“We started playing last summer in Madison doing some outdoor stuff. It was weird because people started doing the festivals but they weren’t on their normal schedules so everything was very last-minute, and we ended up just doing things here and there. The thing I think that we’re most proud of during that time was starting our “Kat and the Hurricane Presents…” variety show, so we really spent this past fall through wintertime focusing on that. Now, we’re planning a big tour through the whole Midwest and heading down south.”

Speaking on their variety show, Farnsworth said, “It started because New Year’s Eve going into 2021, we hosted a live stream at home with twelve to fourteen different bands and artists and we raked in about 1400 views, and we made enough money to pay everybody. After lots of planning, last fall we went to one of our favorite venues in Madison called Bos Meadery, which is owned by Colleen Bos, who loves and adores live music and really believed in us. We brought her this entire idea and she gave us the green light, so we marked off the first Friday of every month for four months and with that time we built an audience that wanted to see live music, comedy, drag, burlesque…we even had a magician once…and we brought in local food and art vendors. The point of it was to center queer and BIPOC folk, because those are the majority that normally don’t get booked for things like this. We didn’t want to make it about us but we wanted to present everybody that we knew so we could have our friends come in and do what they do. We had to take a break because of Omicron but in the future we’re looking to start it back up in some capacity.”

Kat and the Hurricane have a lot to announce over the next months. As of now, they play Emmy’s in Janeville tonight and FIVE Nightclub in Madison on April 14th.

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