Rich Nobody is a new project from a music veteran. After spending time in Claire Danes, the Velvet Swells, Commander Cool!, Hypnosquad, and the Farm Upstate, songwriter Eric Barfield knew it was time to step out on his own. "With my other bands, it was tough to get anything going," Barfield says.
The beginning of Barfield's new music project is the EP ...in a haunted forest, a collection of four songs that hint at each sound Rich Nobody is capable of.
"It's kind of cohesive because all the songs are in the key of E, I think," he laughs. "But, that was accidental."
"There's Nobody Here," the opening track on ...in a haunted forest, is the audible embodiment of the EP's foreboding cover. There's a lost-in-thought aura in the early college rock vibe the song projects. "There's Nobody Here" is a track for the tuned in and zoned out, thanks to the interplay between the bass, guitar, and keyboards. Each instrument plays a similar riff, with variations that complement each other. Barfield's breathy and entrancing vocals are subtle and buried, turning them into a tool for texture.
"Pounders" foments Rich Nobody's heavier side in an unfiltered 80-second burst of drums and grit. The chorus-free explosion stutters and pummels its way through two distorted guitar riffs, keeping things straightforward. "Pounders" is blunt, brutal, and, well, pounding.
Switching up and giving listeners a little taste of everything is par for the course on ...in a haunted forest.
"I'd say it's a little psychedelic indie-rock. Rock, pretty much," says Barfield about the EP's genre. "I'm trying to get more into — I don't want to say techno or dance — but, like electronic. I'm a big fan of Arab Strap and Depeche Mode and that kind of stuff."
"Privilege Blues" lets Barfield's sarcastic sense of humor take center stage.
"You don't have to stick your hand into the puppet/ Just because the puppet told you to/ The antiseptic, narcoleptic kid is fucking the dog again/ Well, hey buddy, cut that out," he sings in the verse.
The songwriter ups the ante every verse and brings it back to a humorous and thoughtful refrain.
"And it's so hard on a white boy/ When you got a big old target on your back/ And they'll try to tell you/ You got it made in spite of everything you lack," Barfield chants during the chorus.
Barfield cites artists like Pavement, Brian Jonestown Massacre, the Dandy Warhols, and the Fall as some of the influences on ...in a haunted forest. The EP shows off the coy aggression that Barfield learned from those underground rock heroes.
On "Aloha Snack Bar," the EP's final track and Barfield's favorite, a neo-'80s underground anthem is born.
"I want to live in a haunted forest/ and build a treehouse made for two/ Just me and you," he sings sentimentally. The quiet-loud dynamic that turned so many artists bombastic is in full effect, as the track starts with a peaceful bassline and devolves into a noisey instrumental.
"But all and all, it's all my fault/ I'll assault my sense 'til there's none at all/ We'll have a seance for the neighbors/ Communication is what good neighbors do," Barfield sings before the big finale.
The brief stroll through ...in a haunted forest is more pleasant than the name lets on, and it builds intrigue for the future of this band.
Rich Nobody's first performance will be at the Tin Roof, where Barfield will play a solo set of the debut project with a guitar and backtracks on a laptop. Barfield mentions that he aspires to grow the band for future live shows. He says that he will start building the group "when it's doing well enough where I can afford to pay people to play the songs how I want them to be played."
Despite the effort to put more people on stage, Barfield is enjoying the solitary songwriter life. "I figured I'll put out this EP and another EP," he says about the near-future of the band. "I've got some songs that were from a bunch of different bands I'd been in that I may or may not have recorded, but I didn't like how they were recorded, so I'm doing them all by myself now."