"It's such a limiting genre": After three albums of blues-rock, the Kris Barras Band have ramped up the heaviness

Kris Barras looking angry
(Image credit: Earache Records)

If he wasn’t a musician, Kris Barras could work for the Torquay tourist board. 

“It’s a beautiful place to live, especially when the sun is shining,” the former MMA champion-turned-singer and guitarist says of his West Country home town. “I’ve never moved to London, though I’m not sure how much of a choice that is; I’ve got a house here, my wife’s job is here.” 

He may not have gone far geographically, but musically it’s a different matter. Halo Effect, the Kris Barras Band’s fifth album, is the heaviest thing they’ve recorded to date, bringing even more metal muscle to their music and moving further away from their original blues-rock sound.


You wrote a lot of The Halo Effect on the tour bus while you were out supporting your 2022 album Death Valley Paradise. Shouldn’t you be partying when you’re on the road? 

Yeah. But the problem is that when you’re doing twenty-eight dates in thirty-two days or whatever, there’s only so much partying you can do. We set up the studio in the top lounge of the bus, which I’d never done before – when you’re in a van it’s not a great writing environment. But on that tour we put together the heaviest set we’ve ever done, and people were really vibing off it. That kick-started the new album. We wanted to go even heavier with it. 

What does ‘The Halo Effect’ mean? 

It’s a psychological thing, a cognitive bias where you take a view of someone because they’ve done something in a favourable light and you use that to form an opinion on other stuff they do. It’s a nod to some of the people in power: ‘They’re millionaires, they must be good at making money, they’ll make us millionaires too.’ Yeah, well… 

There’s a song on the new album titled Unbreakable. What’s that about? 

Everybody gets knocked back in life, it’s how you come back from it. Like most people, I’ve had setbacks, moments where you think: “Fuck, this is it.” Covid was one time when I was very close to packing it all in and going to do something else with my life. But then you find the strength to carry on. 

Who is the song Savage aimed at? 

It’s about how people in power, the elite, view the everyday person as savages: ‘Okay, you think we’re savages, we know you think we’re scum, we’re going to own it.’ I’m not some activist guy, I don’t have any affiliation with any political party, but it’s clear to see when there’s injustices and disservices in the world.

Your journey to this point has taken you a long way from your blues-rock roots. Was that a conscious decision? 

It wasn’t anything as conscious as “I need to get away from blues rock.” I was never true blues. I grew up in the nu-metal era, when bands like Slipknot were on Top Of The Pops and Limp Bizkit were in the charts. In my teens I was playing in metal bands, all my training playlists are Avenged Sevenfold, Parkway Drive, stuff like that. It’s always been fighting to come out. 

Was it a commercial decision? Did you think: “We can sell more records if we do this”? 

Not at all, but that ended up happening. The albums gradually got a little bit more rocky as they went along. I was trying to write some blues stuff, but it’s such a limiting genre. I’d done three albums of blues-rock, and I thought: “I’m writing the same stuff.” This is still my voice and guitar playing, I’ve just widened the boundaries of what I do. 

Have you had any complaints from long-time fans? 

Yeah, we get a lot of it. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions, but I wasn’t going to do another album like that. I wasn’t writing blues-rock music. You’re not missing out, because it just wasn’t going to exist. 

Did you ever think about changing the band’s name? 

It’s tricky. There was a point where I would have liked to. But I’ve heavily invested in this financially over the years, and if you change your name, what happens then? I look at someone like Richie Kotzen, who is one of my heroes and has actually become a friend of mine. He’s got blues albums, he’s got jazz albums, metal albums, the Winery Dogs, all of this stuff. He’s able to do all of these different things. I like to think I’m a Poundshop version of that [laughs].

You’re still keeping your hand in with Supersonic Blues Machine alongside Billy Gibbons. What’s the best bit of advice he’s ever given you? 

He’s such a road dog. He’s built for touring. On our first tour, we’d done some mad journey all over Europe with connecting flights, and we hadn’t had any sleep because we were travelling overnight. I was moaning backstage: “Fuck, I’m really tired, I don’t know how I’m gonna do this.” And Billy goes: “Kris, remember: we don’t have to do this, we get to do this.” He was saying there are people out there with much shitter jobs that this one, stop fucking whingeing and get out there. And I was like, that’s fucking true. It’s stuck with me. 

According to Wikipedia, the most famous people from Torquay are Agatha Christie, the late comedian Peter Cook and the explorer Percy Fawcett. Does that make you the fourth-most-famous person from Torquay? 

Ha! I’m not sure that’s true. Muse are from a ten-minute drive down the road. I’m sure they count. 

Have you been given the keys to the town? Or had a park bench named after you? 

Not yet. There’s still time, though. 

Do you think you’ll ever go back and make a blues-rock record with the Kris Barras Band? 

I’d never say never. Maybe a throwback tour one day, maybe go out and do something raw and bluesy. But at the moment I’m on this path and enjoying it. It’s a different vibe. It feels right.

Halo Effect is out on April 12 via Earache

Dave Everley

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.