Interview: Ain’t it Great? BJ Barham on Recovery, Fans, and the Muse

Interviews

I had the pleasure of sitting down with songwriter BJ Barham to pick his brain on a variety of subjects prior to American Aquarium’s August 16th show at the Tower Theatre in Oklahoma City. I’d been trying to chase down this interview without success for about a year due to scheduling conflicts, so I was extremely grateful when BJ messaged me to join him on American Aquarium’s brand new tour bus for this interview.

American Aquarium was my first assignment for Americana Highways back in August of 2018, and at the time I knew absolutely nothing about them. I felt an instant connection to Barham’s songs and stage presence, and just got the feeling that I was witnessing something pretty darn special. I had also just recently hit a year and a half sober myself, and I knew the opportunity to write about and photograph music was something that would have never happened had I not stopped drinking. The fact that Barham was himself in recovery and extremely open about it endeared him to me even more. Like many that night, I stayed around after the show to meet him, shake his hand a get a photograph with him. I told him I was sober too. After all, that’s what we sober people do. That evening, and the three words he said to me left a lasting impression.

I’ve seen American Aquarium several times since that first night, a couple of Barham’s solo shows, and I’ve been able to spend a little time with him casually. The bulk of what I wanted to talk to him about in an interview setting centered around recovery, both in general and as a touring musician. I also wanted to gain a bit of insight into his interaction with his fans. Despite being short on time, having just performed a private show, and a full show to do in less than an hour, BJ invited me into his home on the road and gave me his undivided attention. He was forthright, honest and direct with his answers. Barham doesn’t pull any punches and tells you exactly what he thinks. He’s a really good guy to talk with, and I’m honored to have had the opportunity. I really hope you enjoy our conversation too.

AH: Thank you for taking some time to chat with me today, I know you’re an incredibly busy guy, with a show to do in just a bit.

BJB: You’re good. No problem.

AH: Can you tell me a little bit of your history around addiction and recovery? What’s gotten you to where you are now?

BJB: Just admitting I had a problem. That was the hardest part. I was raised like every other kid you know? Rock ‘n’ roll. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Drinking and drug use are a part of what we do. It’s built into the foundation of rock ‘n’ roll. You watch any documentary on the Rolling Stones, and it’s just excess. That’s what makes you good. Excess is what makes you creative. Excess is what makes you stand out. If you can handle it, you’re rock ‘n’ roll, you know? Admitting I had a problem was the hard part. I admitted I had a problem the summer of 2014, but it took me months before I pulled the trigger and said, I’m going to attempt it (sobriety), I’m going to try. August 31st of 2014, I was at Magnolia Motor Lounge, Ft. Worth, TX and we played a show, a drunken show, and I walked to the bar, took a triple shot of Jameson, stood up on a bar stool and told everybody I was never drinking again. That was the last day I drank. A lot of people thought it was just bullshit, a lot of people thought it was just the words of a drunken maniac, but here we are almost five years later, and it’s been fun to just stick to it. Especially the way my career has changed since I’ve been sober. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my career started taking off the minute I stopped drinking. The minute. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. For a long time, I was just halfway in charge of the live show, now, our live show is really good and it’s because I’m in control of it. It’s pinpoint accuracy. Instead of just hitting someone in a general area, it’s pinpoint accuracy. I’m going to make you feel feelings, and I know exactly how I’m going to do it. It’s fun…….

AH: It’s calculated….

BJB: It’s very calculated, and it’s…..nice (laughs). You wouldn’t let a doctor work on you drunk. You take any other thing out there, something where you’re trusting your well being to someone else, you know? People are trusting me with their emotions. To hand that responsibility to a drunken person ?There were plenty of people that told me, “yeah, I loved your songs until I saw you live and you were a drunk mess.”. Now, I don’t hear that anymore. Now I hear, “holy shit, your live show!. I like the records, but seeing it live is a different monster!” I take pride in that. That’s something I hold my head pretty high about. Our live show is… good., and I don’t need anyone to tell me that. For a while you’re trying to find your voice, trying to find out what you’re good at, and what you’re not good at, but at this age, thirty-five and fifteen years in, I know that my strong suit is standing up in front of people and telling stories. It’s really neat to be able to do that, and especially sober you know?

AH: The songs on “Burn. Flicker. Die.” seem like a man beginning to come to terms with the fact that he has some issues.

BJB: Oh yeah.

AH: Was that what was really going on then?

BJB: Those were the moments of, maybe my friends are right. Maybe I should slow down. Maybe I’m not going to make it to thirty, that kind of stuff. But, I didn’t give any serious thought to sobriety.

AH: Not yet…

BJB: Not yet. There were inklings of maybe I have a problem, but fuck it. Suck it up buttercup, you’re in rock ‘n’ roll, stop bitching. You didn’t get into this to drink water at shows, you got in this to do what rock ‘n’ rollers do. It (sobriety) wasn’t until the actual making of “Wolves”, and you could hear that in “Wolves”, the song. “Wolves” is about a guy who is talking about his addictions. I equate it to a pack of fucking vicious animals ripping me apart every single night, and just hoping that one day I don’t have to feel that. It’s pretty clear on “Wolves” that this is a man wanting to change.

AH: Did being around Jason Isbell (who produced BFD) at the time of “Burn. Flicker. Die.” have any influence?

BJB: Not really, he was still drinking during Burn. Flicker. Die, we were both drinking a lot during Burn. Flicker. Die. I’m not going to lie, it helped watching one of your friends get sober, and then find his true potential, and you know….tap into that. Jason has always been an incredible American treasure of a songwriter. But when he got sober, it changed the game. Again, if you want to talk about somebody finding pinpoint accuracy with their words, when he got sober, he cut all the fat off of his songs. A bunch of us in a small circle knew he was the great songwriter he was, but now the world knows. It’s not a secret anymore.. It’s not, “let me tell you about my friend Jason who writes great songs,” it’s, yeah…he’s won four Grammys. So I’m not going to lie, he and I never had too many personal talks about it, but I can’t lie and say I didn’t watch his rise to success, and watch him countless times thank sobriety for doing that, and not be curious and wonder, “wow, I wonder if that would help me out, I wonder if I could do it.” I think the biggest question any artist has when they’re creating is can I create sober? I did all this stuff drinking, can I do it sober? For me, five years in, I’ve written….I guess with the new record, it’s three records sober, and it’s the best work I’ve done. I think Rockingham, Things Change, and this new record I have coming out in April, Lamentations, I think that’s me hitting my stride as a songwriter. A lot of songwriter peak on their first or second record. I always joke with people, you want to tell me how good a kid is at writing songs? Play me their fifth record (laughs). Let me see if they can keep writing good songs, or get better. For me it’s a craft. Writing songs is a craft, and I started off like……see, the shitty thing is you can see my earliest work. I didn’t come out of the gate writing good songs. I didn’t wait ten years to put out my first record and stack it with just the good songs. I always talk about the craftsmanship and compare it to cabinetmakers. No cabinetmaker worth his weight in salt will ever show you his first set of cabinets. (laughs). They probably don’t even resemble cabinets (laughs). It’s just wood and glue and kind of put together. But you can go on iTunes right now and buy my first set of cabinets for .99 cents (laughs). You can go look at them in all their horrific glory and be like, “Wow. That’s what he wrote, that’s the songwriter?” You can watch my evolution and it’s fun to be thirty-five and too have already fell into almost every pitfall you can fall into in the music business, and then hit your stride. I didn’t hit my stride and then fall into the pitfalls, I went though the pitfalls first, and now it’s pretty smooth sailing. I have a pretty clear vision of what I want out of this business and a very clear vision of what I want to write about, and what I can write about. My fans have been so great about letting me write about whatever I want to write about, and still supporting it. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve lost a couple people along the way who are like, “Man, I wish you’d just shut up and sing.” To each their own. Every artist can’t just write about drinking and love songs. Eventually, especially in 2019, you have to….. you can’t ignore the elephant in the room. You have to talk about how fucked up the world is sometimes. You have to address it head on, look it in the face, and give it a name. Sometimes that makes people uncomfortable because they’re part of the problem and they don’t want to be told they’re part of a problem. They don’t want to be told they’re on the wrong side of fucking history. Nobody wants to hear that. Nobody wants their favorite songwriter looking at them saying, you are wrong and the history books will tell that you are wrong, and you’ll have to explain to your kids you were wrong. Nobody’s going out on a Friday night, dropping $25 bucks to feel that way. So we lost a couple of people along the way, but for the most part our fans, whether left or right, whether they agree with me or not, they at least respect my right to say what I think, to observe and write. That’s what my job is, to observe what’s going on in the world, translate it into a simple enough form where a large group of people can take the same message away from one simple 2 ½ minute, three verse one chorus song. I’m finally getting pretty good at it. I can admit that. A lot of time I critique it and find a lot of flaws in my work. I’ve learned to appreciate it, and focus on the positive. Focus on my strengths, and I feel like I’m getting to the point where I’m able to cut to the quick pretty easily. I’ve learned what works, what doesn’t work, and again, I’m happy to be thirty-five and doing it, instead of peaking at twenty-five and then putting out mediocre stuff for the rest of my life. It very fun to watch the trajectory of our band and watch us push ourselves, get better, work at a craft, and watch the benefits of working on a craft for fifteen years and unfold, literally before your eyes. It’s pretty neat.

AH: Getting sober, did you find that you struggled with the creative process at all?

BJB: I thought I was (laughs). But I really didn’t struggle with it at all. It was a couple months…(pauses) Writing songs for me drunk was a conditioned response. I thought the only way I could do it was when I was drunk. I thought the only way I could play was if I was drunk. I had to relearn how to be a performer. I had to drop the crutch and learn how to do it without the booze. Booze makes it easy to get in front of a lot of people and act like an idiot (laughs). Or tell a story that is….. vulnerable. To show that much of your humanity to people takes…..for a lot of people it takes booze, it takes the liquid courage as they call it. I had to relearn how to open up a wound in front of people and show it to them and not be drunk. To own it, and embrace it. This is what I’ve been, this is my story, here’s the fucked up person that I was, and here’s the story behind it, and not be drunk to tell it. Yeah, it took some time. But as far as creating goes, I wrote “Rockingham” four months after Wolves came out. I was sober for just a couple months.

AH: It just all started coming out?

BJB: Yeah, it just started, and once it started coming I learned it was a lot easier to catch what the muse was throwing me if I could see it with both eyes instead of seeing double. It didn’t affect me creatively. I think it was the fear that affected me more. I told myself, “you’re not going to be able to do this sober, you tapped into something when you were drinking, you tapped into the creativity, you tapped into the muse, and now that’s going to be gone”. I learned the muse presents itself everyday. You’ve just got to be there willing to catch what she throws you. Sometimes she throws you a couple of small fish, and sometimes she throws you something you get to put up on your wall (laughs). The older you get, you’re better able to see which ones are worth reeling in, and which ones are worth just cutting the line on. It’s a blessing, being sober and writing. I try to tell folks, there’s nothing like it when you write something all by yourself. Nobody else can get….(pauses) You can’t give Jameson the assist. You pulled it out of thin air. Don’t get me wrong, I can get super heady and super spiritual and talk about the muse and what I think the muse is. That I think nobody really writes songs. That I think they’re all gifts, and that all the really great songwriters know how to open up and catch those gifts that we’re all given. We’re all given inspiration on a daily basis. I can’t tell you how many people, whether it’s inventions or songs, or just lyrics say, “man, I had this really great thing going in the car, and then I forgot it.” That was the muse giving you something and you’re not taking advantage of it! There’s a reason I travel with a notebook and a voice recorder. It’s learning to catch what the muse throws you. As I get older I’ve learned to have multiple apparatuses for catching ideas and scribbling down lines. Even if you think it’s the most meaningless line, if you write it down, a week later you might look at it and go, “holy shit, that’s the title of a song!”. I can write a whole song around those words, and thank God I wrote that down. Learning how to do that, that’s the biggest part of sobriety.

AH: Have you found it hard being in recovery on the road?

BJB: (Pauses) No, not anymore. Not anymore. For a while it was constantly being surrounded by people that were drinking. Now, the only time I want a beer is when I mow the grass. That’s when I miss a cold beer. But, Topo Chico is cold, and it’s in glass bottles, and carbonated and bubbly (laughs). It gives me that same kind of….burn. The carbonated burn that a cold beer would. I don’t miss it. You can look around…..there’s bottles of liquor all over this bus, there’s beer in the fridge, I just keep my sparkling water to the side and go about my day (laughs). I’m not really tempted anymore, and a lot of people would say, “well, you never really had a problem in the first place!” I know it’s a risk, but I also know the person that I was before. There’s no question, there’s no variable. I know exactly what that dude is, I know what he’s about…(pauses) I know what makes him tick. I’m not going to let him back in. It’s just that simple. I understand some people don’t have that willpower and they have to remove themselves from the situation completely or else they’ll give in. That’s not weak, that’s just human nature, it’s being a human being. I’ve learned what my triggers are, I’ve learned how to avoid my triggers. My triggers aren’t just being around alcohol. So, to answer the question, no. Being on the road is what I’m supposed to do, it’s what I was put on this fucking world to do and I’m not going to give a bottle of liquid the power to control me. It’s not going to dictate me doing something I love to do or not. I have to be on the road, I have to play shows, but I don’t have to drink.

AH: Is it tough when you see the same behaviors you went through happening to your friends and contemporaries?

BJB: Oh of course! (laughs) Literally and figuratively, I’m such a fucking dad now (laughs). I’m the guy who says,”well, if you ever want to talk about sobriety….”, and they’re saying,“Dude, shut up! I’m just having fun, I don’t have a problem.” I just say, “Cool.” I know what it looks like (laughs). I know what the symptoms are. I’ve had so many people send me messages on Instagram or Twitter telling me they’ve got two months or four months or a year, and telling me, “it’s because of you, or your songs.” or “you proved to me that there’s no excuses.”. Or, “if you can be in your line of work and be in bars every night and still be sober, so can I. “ That’s a heavy fucking feeling. To have someone put their faith and trust in you saying, “If BJ found a way, so can I.” I’m like, FUCK!!! (laughs). It’s a really great feeling. My wife asks, “do you really respond to all those messages?”. Of course I do. You never know, I might be the last person that guy tries reaching out to. I try my best to respond and tell them good luck, or post a fist bump, or if they make a post about being two months sober, I may say, “hey, I’m here, I’m seeing this and congratulations”. That’s all some people need to keep going. Something as little as a pat on the back, or as little as, “hey man, I’m proud of you.”.

AH: You do have a somewhat unique relationship with your fans and obviously that’s very important to you.

BJB: Oh, of course.

AH: When fans order merchandise from you, you often include a handwritten note. You make it a personal connection.

BJB: Yeah, I write notes to everybody.

AH: Has that always been the case?

BJB: Yeah, I’ve always done it, and it used to be easy ’cause I’d only get one order a week (laughs). So it was real easy to write a note to that one guy that bought a shirt, “Fuck man, thanks for buying me lunch today, I appreciate you” (laughs). But now, we get between 50 and 100 orders a day. So, every morning I go through them. My wife knows I take about and hour and ½ and go through the orders, write the notes, and pack them up. When I’m not there, she packs them up and she writes the letters. The BJ Barham letter, it’s like everybody has one if you order something. But the Mrs. Barham letter, that’s the real collectors item (laughs). That’s the rarity. Occasionally she’ll do them, and she’s say, “Hey, BJ isn’t here to write a letter, but I just want to say thanks for supporting his music.” Those are the good ones. When people post pictures of those….see, those are the rare Pokemon that people get to collect (laughs). I’m just whatever the fuck. I’m the first one you get, the welcome to the party (laughs). But yeah, I think it’s important. Every day I think, what would I want my favorite artist to do that I’m not doing? I would love for my favorite artists, the people that inspired me, the people that made me want to be a better person, or maybe write better songs….(pauses) I would love to be able to walk up to them after a show and say, “I appreciate what you do.” and walk away. Not a fan girl, I don’t want to talk to them for 30 minutes about how this one song changed my fucking life. But just to be able to walk up to somebody that inspires you, shake their hand, take a picture with them, and tell them what they mean to you. That’s the coolest fucking thing. All of us songwriters are egotistical fucking creatures, so it blows my mind that more of them don’t want to do it; just stand out there a be told how great they are (laughs). I don’t do it for that, I do it because it really does make me happy to know that my songs mean something to people. Because there was a really long point of my career where they didn’t mean anything to anybody. I don’t want to go back there. I don’t want to go back to playing in front of just five people, begging them to listen to my music. I understand that I am in an extremely fortunate situation. I realize that there are 99% of musicians out there that will never get to the even the level that I’ve gotten too. I don’t take that for granted for one day that goes by. There’s not one day that goes by that I take this (gestures at the interior of the bus) for granted. I know how dark it is at the very, very bottom, and I refuse to go back. So, if it means I’ve got to stay out there two hours after every show, shaking every person’s hand, and talk to every drunk guy who want to tell me about how “I Hope He Breaks Your Heart” changed his life (laughs), I will give that kid a hug and tell him thank you for listening and send him on his way. I know that if I treat him like a human being and show him the same amount of respect he’s wanting to show me, he’ll be there every single time I come through. He’ll pay the $25 to see me every time I play his town, he’ll buy a shirt, and he’ll be a fan. I think so many people look at fans as kind of disposable things. Like, “oh if I lose a couple, cool. I’ll get a couple back.” I look at every one of them as a valuable commodity. I know what it was like to not have any. I know what it was like to go into a town and be happy that there was ten people there, five of which were listening, and five of which were just there to drink cold beer and trying to pick up girls (laughs). It’s a neat feeling.

AH: Almost every night during your set you’ll talk about your recovery….

BJB: Of course.

AH: In a room full of people drinking, partying and having a good time.

BJB: Yeah…(laughs)

AH: I don’t know if you’re part of a twelve step program….

BJB: I’m not. That right there is my meeting. No pun intended. All a meeting is is holding yourself accountable in front of people. That’s all a meeting is. All a meeting is is standing up and saying I have a problem, I want you all to know I have a problem. It’s so I feel like, if I give into my problem, I’m letting people down. That is all I’m doing. Standing in front of a much larger group. I don’t think many AA meetings are a thousand people. But getting up there in front of that many people every night and saying, I had a problem, I still have a problem, I face it every day, and I want you to know this helps. I want you to know there is a chance. That there is a light at the end of whatever fucking dark tunnel you’re in right now. I think that’s important. To hold yourself accountable. There’s too much God in meetings for me, and I try to replace God with love in all the steps. It just wasn’t for me. Just wasn’t for me. I’ve had some people argue with me saying that I’m not really sober or I’m not really doing the steps. Those people can go fuck themselves. Every night that I lay my head on my pillow and I haven’t had a drink, I’ve won. I’m sober. Every morning I wake up and tell myself I’m not going to have a drink, I won. I’m sober. I don’t care if I go to your club meeting and get a coin or anything like that. I know every day I can look myself in the mirror and know, “you won today BJ”. You didn’t do anything stupid. That’s sobriety. Recovery is not letting yourself down, and also for me it’s talking about it in front of people in every town and city I go to. It’s just another group of people I’d let down if I slipped.

AH: I think it was your last full band show here in OKC, you kind of got a little testy, maybe irritated that people wouldn’t quiet down when you did “One Day At A Time.”

BJB: Yeah. That happens.

AH: You pretty much stated that night, “I don’t care.” “I have something to say , and I’m not going to play until everyone quiets down.” It’s obvious that its important to you.

BJB: Yeah….I do it every night for the encore, and at that point, just so everyone knows, I don’t have to play anymore songs for you. If you want to talk, be loud and be disrespectful over something that I’m telling you, up front, is very important to me…(pauses) I don’t have to do this. I’ve already given you what you payed for. This is an encore, this is extra, a bonus. I don’t have to do this, I don’t really like encores anyway (laughs). But I do think it’s important to play that song. It’s important because every night there’s at least a of couple people that come up to me after a show and say, “Hey, I’m in recovery”, or “It’s nice to see somebody in recovery doing this.”.

AH: As someone in recovery myself, the first time I met you was here just before “Things Change” came out. It was my first show covering live music, and would have never happened if I hadn’t gotten sober.

BJB: Really? Heck yeah man.

AH: I met you after that show, and as one of those people you connected with, I felt compelled to tell you I was sober too, and you gave that big BJ grin and said, “Ain’t it great?” For some reason, that really stuck with me, The sincerity behind those three words.

BJB: That’s really awesome. I always tell people, you’ll never hear anyone utter the phrase, “Man, I got sober, and everything went to shit; everything fell apart.” (laughs). “Everything fell apart the day I got sober”. (laughs). It’s always an uptick. It’s always…..(pauses) It might not always be as epic as my recovery, how my career immediately…..became a career. Small things that make your day better. That’s what sobriety is. Little tiny things, and being able to find happiness and joy out of little shit that you used to be so numb too, or avoided, or was too minuscule. That’s what makes me happy. Those little things are what makes me happy. So yeah, that’s awesome that that resonated.

AH: I know you’ve got a show to finish getting ready for, so last couple of things. I bet you’re a reader; so what are your reading these days, or what would you recommend?

BJB: I do. Right now I’m reading John Hodgman. He’s got a book called “Vacationland”. He was on the Daily Show, and he’s a comedian. It’s a collection of short stories. Willy Vlautin, I’m reading him. He’s got a band called Richmond Fontaine that’s fantastic. He writes this really dark southern gothic type of stuff that I really respond too (laughs). Who would have thought? (laughs). I’ve been going back and reading a lot of McCarthy. Cormac’s one of my favorites. Murakami. I got stuck on him when I was reading “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”, because I’m a runner. Which is another fucking product of sobriety. This new found energy, and actually exercising. Which is weird, because I never did it until I got sober. Murakami wrote this really, really great book about running and how artists that run are more creative. That you’re opening up more, and being able to talk to the muse, by taking your brain off the everyday world. What better way than to put your body through this stressful situation, to where the only thing your brain wants to do is focus away from it and in doing so, gets clear. Once it’s clear, that’s when the shit starts dropping in. I’ve found that like 90% of the songs I’ve written over the last three years, the ideas, came to me when I was running. Like lines. One liners come to you. Shit you might have heard two weeks ago, when you’re trying to focus on the burn in your legs, the knee cramp or your foot hurting. Your mind is trying to block all that out, and once it blocks all that out, it’s open space for creative stuff to come through. So, I’ve been reading that.

AH: How about listening too? What music are you listening to these days?

BJB: Man….let’s see, (checking his phone) I know I’ve been listening to a lot of Tom Petty. The boys turned me onto some podcast with Rick Rubin. With Petty, “Wildflowers” is one of my favorite records. I’ve been listening to that a lot. He put out a soundtrack to a movie…..

AH: She’s The One?

BJB: Yeah! It’s unreal!

AH: It was a record that really got no press….

BJB: I know! No press! I told the boys I want to start covering “Walls”. That’s such a great song! Yeah, a lot of Tom Petty. The new Highwomen stuff they’ve been releasing is just fantastic. I listened to some old Willie Nelson yesterday. I went back and listened to some old Silver Jews after he (founder David Berman) died last week. You want to talk about a bummer. That was the soundtrack to me getting into indie rock and stuff. Early 2000’s had some pretty rad stuff. I listened to that new Drew Holcomb (“Dragons”) today and it’s fantastic. My buddy, Hiss The Golden Messenger, Mike Taylor, he’s got a new record coming out next month, and it’s really wonderful, the stuff I’ve heard. Lori McKenna. Hands down, shes writing circles around every single human being right now. I find myself going back to her last couple of records a lot. Joe Pug, a good friend of mine, put out a new record two weeks ago and it’s brilliant; absolutely brilliant. That’s the only way I can describe it. So yeah, that’s kind of what I’m listening too.

AH: When can we expect a new American Aquarium record?

BJB: Next April. April 2020. It’s called Lamentations.

AH: Are you going to play some new songs tonight?

BJB: Depends. If the crowd is quiet enough (laughs). If they show me a little bit of respect I might throw one their way (laughs).

AH: I might have to yell at some people!

BJB: I know, right? (laughs) I’ll probably yell at them . It’s one of those things that these songs are still in their infancy. They’re still just these three chord folk songs. The boys haven’t put the meat on them yet. So many of my songs change once the boys get a hold of them. They turn these folk songs into ROCK songs, loud bombastic things (laughs), and I know they had such humble beginnings, those three chord folk songs (laughs).

AH: Is that pretty typical how most of your songs start off?

BJB: Very rarely do I come with one like, “this is gonna be our huge rock song!” (laughs). It’s always, “here’s another finger picked diddy”, and the boys are like, how about we speed it up, or how about we try this, or add this big guitar part. I love the collaborative effort of taking something extremely fetal and skeletal and then having other people take something very, very dear to me, something that means more to me than say, 90% of things in this world; my songs, and having someone come in and help develop them. Come in and say, this would sound better. That’s a fun thing to do. It’s frustrating sometimes, but for the most part it’s extremely rewarding watching someone come in and take your precious idea and make it better. That’s a cool feeling.

AH: Thank you so much for the hospitality and opportunity to spend some time with you. I really appreciate it BJ.

BJB: Thank you Dave. It was some really good conversation and I’m glad we could finally get it done. http://www.americanaquarium.com

5 thoughts on “Interview: Ain’t it Great? BJ Barham on Recovery, Fans, and the Muse

  1. Great stuff! I enjoyed this interview, good work. I too am in recovery and I only recently started to appreciate the greatness of American Aquarium.

    Thanks –

    Tommy Morrison

  2. Thanks for asking about what he’s reading! I love learning about what books are entertaining my favorite songwriters, and he’s one who often posts snapshots of books on his social media. If the career of “Band Librarian” ever takes off, I’m golden.

  3. Wow. Reading this in Russia. This friend’s work ethic is remarkable. Could you imagine if everybody worked as hard as this guy? I mean, a lot of people do, but anyway it’s pretty inspirational. Here I am, sober, on the road….in Russia! Peace to you all- TE

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