By Gabriela Kerson
A few weeks ago I stumbled onto Chris Barron (singer/songwriter for the Spin Doctors) doing an acoustic show at the Sidewalk Cafe in the East Village. His solo stylings were amazing as was his end-of-show song, "Can't Kick the Habit" off the Spin Doctors new 'secret' CD (have you heard about it?) Nice Talking to Me on RuffNation Records. Barron and I met up for coffee to talk about the past, the present, and the future.
GK: So you all (Spin Doctors) met at The New School?
Spin Doctors :: 1994 by Paul La Raia
CB: We were all there to be in a rock band. I told my dad I had no intention of graduating. Hook me up with a semester or two. I'll find some guys, start a band, learn what I can while I'm there. Don't worry, you won't have to pay for a whole college education, 'cause nobody's going to ask me for a music degree when I walk into a club to play rock and roll.
We were more interested in working than in getting signed. We were like, "What do we want? We want to be musicians." I wanted to make a living playing music. I watched my dad, who was an executive at Avon my whole life. He was an unhappy dude. I watched this man get up in the morning, go to the train, and come home. It was like a slow death for him. In his mid-forties, he quit Avon and started writing about cars full-time. Now, he's a prominent automotive journalist, very highly respected and a lot happier.
Chris Barron :: 1994 by Paul La Raia
I wanted to skip the first career and go straight to what I really wanted to do in life. I was very clear that this was a window of opportunity. I was young, I had no responsibilities, and I could go after a vocation rather then a career. We (the band) looked around at the NYC music scene, and there was a very viable market. There were people who wanted to go see music who were willing to pay five bucks to go into a place. You do the math, five bucks a head, one, two hundred people coming through and you were walking out of there with close to a thousand dollars a night for the band.
At first, there were like three people and we kind of sucked. We had flashes of brilliance because everyone in the band's a great musician, but we had flashes of sucking too. We had a lot of tunes. By the time Mark White (bass) joined the band, we had a repertoire of forty songs rotated every night. We'd been together a couple of months. There's an amazing musical chemistry that was really strong from the get go. We're musical soul mates. It's tough being in a band. There are a lot of compromises. About a quarter of the time you're getting what you want, and even then I wanted to go North but we're going to go North by Northwest.
We broke up because we were devoid of communication skills. Essentially, we were four guys who all fundamentally cared about each other but were unable to resolve simple conflicts. So a long extended period of slight annoyances turns into a snowball, an avalanche of mutiny, it turned into like a seething cauldron of hatred.