Barn Burner’s Kevin Keegan Never Planned to Be Frontman
When Kevin Keegan moved from Vancouver to Montreal to begin his new musical vision, he had no intention of being a frontman. His plan was to write the riffs and melodies — and leave all the lyric stuff to the guy with the voice. But one day, Barn Burner had to make a decision and Keegan stepped up for the role he had never done.
Their first singer just didn’t work out. “It wasn’t meant to be,” Keegan told Noisecreep, recalling the infant stages before the band became the newest shining metallic star for Metal Blade. “I was always writing the music, and he would come in with some lyrics and force them into the song. He wouldn’t even listen to the song. ‘Oh I have these lyrics for this song,’ he’d say without even hearing it.”
First relieved about his friend stepping down as the vocalist, Keegan and the rest of the band soon began to stress about finding a new voice for the band. “I don’t want to half ass anything,” says Keegan while still affirming of the fear he felt on beginning to sing and play guitar at the same time — something he had never done before. Sure he’d done backing vocals in previous bands, but being the sole voice is something altogether different. “I still consider myself figuring out the whole multitasking of playing guitar and singing.”
If you take a listen to Barn Burner’s debut, ‘Bangers,’ having never seen the band in their furious but fun live form, you’d picture some kind of singer lurching over a microphone as he readies an entire crowd to clap along — because Barn Burner’s songs just don’t sound like typical guitarist/vocalist structured material. Keegan credits his influences for not falling back on the crutches most strumming vocalists do. “The stuff I listen to is not singer/guitar player stuff. I love Danzig and Ozzy, all that kind of s—, and Dio.”
The first couple of shows that Keegan did with his new role in the band were described as “nerve racking” because of the time it took to get a handle on coordination. “I was still in that stage when I totally couldn’t relax. It’s like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. I could pull it off, but I was in super-focused mode.”
The normal ready-to-party vibe Barn Burner display was not at his control during these shows, as he played more stoic and lacking the force he now commands in his voice. But it was at these shows the band realized they were onto something by the compliments received from early fans and friends. The band was a different beast than it was before. “We weren’t blowing anybody’s f— mind that’s for sure,” Keegan laughed. “But people said, ‘I think you’re in the right direction now.’”