It’s been a little while since Nick Barker has felt at home with his music, but he’s found it in his new band, The Heartache State. Made up of Nick Barker, Justin Garner, Steve ‘Venom’ Brown and Michael Hubbard the band are now well underway with their second album.
“Before I started this band I’d just lost my way a bit. I was playing a lot of solo shows and playing the same songs and I just really wasn’t satisfied,” Nick says. “Justin’s writing and we’re writing together and I really trust those guys – we’ve been playing for a really long time. We all know our places really well and I wish I’d done it a long time ago.”
First meeting Justin around a decade ago when he helped produce his Southpaw album, Nick knew pretty much instantly that the two had a musical connection. But it wasn’t until a few years ago when the duo joined forces on a combined musical project. “I’d always loved his song writing and guitar playing so when he moved to Melbourne it was only a matter of time,” Nick says.
On speaking with Nick, the band are passed the halfway mark in recording a new album, which they’ve approached quite differently to how recording currently operates in the industry. “Traditionally you’d always go into a studio and spend two weeks or 10 days doing it and I just really hate studios so I just space it out,” Nick laughs with the confession. “I reckon it’s a really great way to work because you can record a few songs and listen to it. It’s not supposed to be something that stresses you out. I get really overwhelmed or something, there are too many possibilities. And doing this band is really nice because there are only four of us in the band.”
Aside from spacing the recording process out, the four members have also bypassed the practising process and are recording raw – creating music that comes straight from the heart.
“With this album we didn’t even rehearse, Justin and I may have picked up a few acoustic guitars and said ‘What about this’, but the date kind of snuck up on us and we said, ‘You know what, why don’t we do what we’ve always wanted to do, and pick up the drums and the guitar and just see what comes out?” he says. “There’s a real freedom in it and I’m really fortunate that I’ve gotten to do this. I’ve always wanted to do it.”
What Nick remarks a decision that could have been a disaster, the process has so far paid off and has been aided significantly to his friend and producer, Shane O’Mara. Shane has worked alongside many of Nick’s projects, and it’s even more convenient his studio is around the corner from Nick’s house.
“I just trust him, you know?” Nick states of working with Shane. “He has a really great intuition with music and a keep it simple approach.”
Overall Nick likens the process to those of the early days of the Rolling Stones – a band Nick loves and respects. If there’s something that can be said of The Heartache State, it’s that this is a band of music lovers who have found their musical soulmates (so to speak). Decisions are made not for personal gain, but purely for the experience of creating great “raggedy ass rock ‘n’ roll”.
“I have no illusions of taking over the world or selling millions of records, but as an artist, you’re dedicated to your craft and you wouldn’t want to leave and think, ‘I wish I’d pushed a bit further’,” Nick says.
Further proof of the love for their craft is with Nick’s recent charitable appearances at the Mane Event in Geelong and One for the Otways. The latter of which raising funds for the bushfire striken parts of Victoria Nick has a deep love for.
At another fundraising event, this time for Karingal, The Heartache state will perform at 13th Beach alongside Hey Mammoth and the Carers Choir as part of the Music to a Tee event at the 100 Hole Hike. “If you do it right they can be great these benefits,” Nick says. And with past events bringing along the likes of Deborah Conway and Archie Roach, you can expect this instalment of Music to a Tee to be a great one.
The Heartache State are set to perform at Music to a Tee at 13th Beach during the 100 Hole Hike on January 20 alongside Hey Mammoth and the Carers Choir.
Written by Amanda Sherring