It's kind of like this: Beyond Reinforced Jewel Case was once a zygote Brendan Fowler's brain. Brendan Fowler, we should get it out of the way now, is BARR. A really important thing for you to know is that Barr's brain looks good in many hats, literally and figuratively. Beyond Reinforced Jewel Case grew into music, in the formal sense, and it grew into time-based art, in concept and performance.
This album could be a manic audio book with wild free jazz and safe rhythm drum tracks (why aren't there more drum tracks on audio books?). OR it could be your cool older brother telling you kooky bedtime stories because he loves you and wants you to grow up and be an artist; he wants you in the world by his side as a perennial optimist dropping ideas like, "What?"
Beyond Reinforced Jewel Case is not only genre-transgressive – at its basest level it's just the sound of drums and voice – but it transgresses mediums, too. It's Brendan combining his skills as storyteller, his love for free jazz percussion, his experiences in the art world, his experiences in the non-art world, his willingness to go out on a limb and be personal, his appreciation for concepts (hi- and lo-), and most importantly his desire to produce something that will inspire other folks to make art, to feel encouraged to be real and raw and brave idealists. IT'S TOTALLY THE SELF-ACTUALIZATION ALBUM OF THE YEAR. It's Houses of the Holy for kids with skateboards, and blogs they only write on when they are drunk or angry, and a million hot ideas in 2006. And it's a good time to say the least.
He says: "I want to inspire people to make their own art." This is how we get lyrics like, "How do you start something? You start it." And "These punk kids are doing something right. They have video, and they don't have genders." If you're into the concept behind Miranda July's Kill Rock Stars back catalogue or her film Me and You and Everyone We Know, the wry scatting of diarist Craig Finn (hold steady), the artistic videoflint of Tracy & the Plastics, then Barr is totally your people. He is constantly sipping from the fountain of ideation, and the coolest thing is that he wants to share.
Here is how this happened. After growing up in Reagan-era Berkeley, Brendan's parents moved him to the country outside Baltimore when he was nine. It left him with some nasty culture shock and he started scouring for memos from the outside world; he found inspiration in skateboarding, fanzines, and his cool older goth friends who were into The Cure. In high school, he was in this band with the dudes who would eventually become Animal Collective; then he went to college in New York and studied free jazz percussion. After college, he DJ'ed in the performative duo Dogg and Pony, which eventually became the record label he runs (called DoggPony – dnp006.com)
. All the while, he was armpits-deep in the art world: working at New York's infamous Alleged Gallery, a place that fostered important contemporary street artists. He was doing a million things. At once. Building up to BARR.
Currently, Brendan edits and writes a skate and surf art magazine with famous skateboarder Ed Templeton and Alleged Gallery proprietor Aaron Rose. He is playing in another band called New England Roses with Sarah Shapiro and JD Samson (of Le Tigre). He is designing inexpensive vegan hardcore punk shoes for DC Skate Co and generally ruling whilst dipping his toes in like, 45 different mediums. He is a well-rounded man, but he is extremely focused. His manners and his positivity are legendary.