Chris Barron On His New ‘Angels & One-Armed Jugglers’ Album, Playing Rockwood Music Hall, And The Spin Doctors

Chris Barron first made music fans take notice in the early 1990s as the lead singer of the Spin Doctors. Pocket Full of Kryptonite, as released by Epic Records, made The Spin Doctors internationally-known as it sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Follow-up album Turn It Upside Down also went platinum in the United States, yielding the band another three radio singles. Ultimately, Barron and the Spin Doctors were on the cover of Rolling Stone, earned a Grammy nomination, played at Woodstock ’94, and had the theme song to Spin City.

While the original lineup of the Spin Doctors is still together — a new studio collection, If the River was Whiskey, was put out in 2013 — frontman Chris Barron has also remained active with a solo career. Angels & One-Armed Jugglers is Barron’s first full-length release since 2009’s Pancho and the Kid. Angels was engineered and co-produced by Roman Klun, whose credits include Norah Jones, Ornette Coleman, and Pete Seeger, and includes Saturday Night Live house drummer Shawn Pelton; Billboard Magazine debuted opening track “April And May” in late August.

October 20, 2017, is not only when Angels & One-Armed Jugglers is released to the public, but that exact date is also when Barron plays an album release show Stage 3 at New York’s Rockwood Music Hall.

To learn more about Angels & One-Armed Jugglers and what else Chris Barron is working on, This writer had the pleasure of speaking with Barron himself. More on the Manhattan-based artist can be found at

Around how many songs did you write for Angels & One-Armed Jugglers?

Chris Barron: I don’t really write for a specific album. I’m always writing, and as a result, I have tons of tunes laying around. When I make a record, I pick the tunes I really want to cut, and as a theme emerges, I fill the record in with tunes that fit with the theme.

Do you have a favorite song on Angels & One-Armed Jugglers?

Chris Barron: I have to say I like the title track. That being said, I think “Till The Cows Come Home” is one of the best songs I’ve ever written. My wife and daughter love “April and May,” so I have a soft spot for that song as well. So no, I don’t really have a favorite tune on the record. Songs are like your kids. You can’t really choose among them.

When someone comes to see you live at Rockwood or another gig in support of Angels & One-Armed Jugglers, what does your setlist look like? Do you only play solo material? Is the focus mostly on your new music?

Chris Barron: I always play the Spin Doctors favorites. You never know when someone is going to drive 10 hours or something to hear “Two Princes” because it’s the song they met the night they met their spouse and stuff like that… Of course, I play my solo stuff. I’ll be doing stuff from the new record, but I also have kind of a cult following for my solo tunes, so I’ll play a few deep cuts from that material and then a few Spin Doctors deep cuts.

I used to see the band the Madison Square Gardeners play live a lot, and I remember hearing that you shared a rehearsal space with them. Most of the Gardeners seem to be doing well as sidemen, while Aaron Lee Tasjan is now succeeding as a singer/songwriter. How did you first meet those guys?

Chris Barron: Great band. Aaron is one of my favorite guitar players around. I met those guys hanging around Joey DeGraw’s bar at the National Underground.

When I was in Denmark a few years back, your name came up when I talked to Tim Christensen of the band Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, who the Spin Doctors toured Europe alongside in the 1990s. Is that period of yours which you look back on fondly?

Chris Barron: That was a fun time, all right. We were taking off in the United States and playing pretty big places. We went to Europe and started all over again. That was great because we were playing these little, teeny tiny places and we love playing little clubs. I’d been to Europe as a kid and I toured there with my high school choir, so going back as a rock musician was incredibly fun.

As someone who’s been to the top of the mountain in a major rock band, what motivates you to keep making new music on an indie level? I ask because a lot of your contemporaries seem to be content playing 1990s-themed package tours.

Chris Barron: I just love music. I like to come at it from a lot of different standpoints and I love to play all different size rooms. The 90s festivals are fun because I know a lot of those guys and we get to hang out and the crowds are great. I also love to play just me and a guitar. That’s how I started out when I was a kid writing goofy tunes back in Princeton. When I could be doing other things a lot of the time, I just sit around and play guitar and write tunes. It’s just what I like to do. The further along I get, the more I appreciate music as a profession. Working with other musicians, technicians, promoters, meeting the people who enjoy the music, traveling the world. I’m lucky. It’s a good life.

Sorry, but I need to ask this: When’s the last time that someone asked you what time it is? And is the 4:30 you’re talking about in the a.m. or p.m.?

Chris Barron: (laughs) I get that all the time. From my wife, believe it or not. That was her best friend’s favorite song growing up. AM!

Is there a career goal or accomplishment you are still working toward?

Chris Barron: I hope this record shows people beside of me that they might not know about from the Spin Doctors, particularly the hits. It would mean a lot to me to be known as an accomplished songwriter and guitarist. Oh, and a Grammy and an Oscar and a Tony would be nice.

When not busy with music, how do you like to spend your free time?

Chris Barron: I’m actually an avid golfer. I also like cats.

Your wife Lindsay is a very accomplished Broadway actress. Do you and her ever sing together? Or do you consciously keep your careers separate?

Chris Barron: We like singing together. We have a few goofy ideas about cabaret acts and stuff. She is singing on my new record, so there’s no effort to keep our careers separate. It’s one of the really nice things about our relationship. We can talk shop, singer to singer.

What was the last concert you attended for fun?

Chris Barron: I went and saw Aaron Comess, the drummer of the Spin Doctors, play at the Rockwood Music Hall. He’s awesome. Maybe I had a few beers and heckled…

Finally, Chris, any last words for the kids?

Chris Barron: Practice hard! Get lessons if you need them. Be a real musician. I’m a big believer in perspiration over inspiration.

[Featured Image by Jesse Ditmars]

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