How Barringtone's Barry Dobbin Embraced his Experimental Side on 'Bonanza Plan'

Barry Dobbin, once the frontman of the underrated and short-lived '00s band Clor, is still making music in the angular strain of post-punk with his new band Barringtone, if very slowly. Last year, he released his first full-length album since Clor's self-titled debut 16 years ago.

Photo by Ashley Jones

After Clor called it quits after their debut album in 2005, Dobbin quickly formed a new frenetic and complex project called Barringtone, along with bassist Connan Coolidge and drummer Boomer Opperman. After releasing their first single in 2008, there was a long hiatus. We wouldn't hear from them again until the mid-2010s when they released a pair of singles that would appear on their debut album, which was finally released this past year. Their debut album, the manic and mathy Bonanza Plan, is as fiery and remarkably complex as Clor's only album and serves as the closest thing we'll get to another Clor album, which was worth the wait. From the infectious and dashing charm on "Feverhead" to the dizzying and proggy "Technollipop," Barringtone's idiosyncratic songcraft and hook-laden soundscapes are filled with a dark sense of humor about illusions promoted by modern consumerism. Barringtone's debut expands on the nervy arrangements from Clor's debut with song structures that sound bolder, looser and frankly, more adventurous.

We caught up with Dobbin who tells us about Barringtone's experimentally-minded music and the long-delay to release its debut album.

How did Barringtone form?

Barry Dobbin: My old band Clor were playing in London and Boomer was playing drums in a band called Plugs I was struck by Boomer’s brilliant drumming and as soon as I had time, I contacted him and asked if he would like to try some new material with me and it just clicked immediately. Connan was on bass at the start after being recommended by a friend and later Aaron joined having also been a drummer in another band, but to play keyboard bass for us.

Barringtone playing at the Bricklayers Arms in 2008.
Barringtone playing at the Bricklayers Arms in 2008. Photo Credit: Dazed

What was your vision when forming the group?

Dobbin: I was disappointed in the restrictions put upon my previous band because we had signed to a big label — too many conversations with record company peeps about writing songs that would get on radio playlists, etc. I just wanted to indulge in the wilder side of Clor’s output really.

Since forming in 2007, how have you guys developed musically from the earlier singles?

We became more self-indulgent some would say! In truth, we write more collaboratively now, which is probably the main development.

Why was there an intermission in releasing a full-length album?

Broken fingers, children, broken jaw, perfectionism gone mad, lack of schedule, management issues, taking it easy, procrastination, the list is endless.

What was the recording process like? Did you run into any challenges?

I love recording and the two producers we worked with were both superb collaborators. One of the main problems, impediments to progress, was that they were so very talented and the demand for their services became high, so we had to slot in around their schedules as budget was non-existent — Oli Bayston and Nick Howiantz are both supremely talented.

Considering you’ve been together since the disbandment of Clor in 2006, did you guys have a large collection of songs to pull from?

Had a lot of demos which we worked up into various live sets, most of it was discarded long before the album — I prefer the songs we write together in the rehearsal room. Some of them still contain elements of those early demos, but transformed beyond all recognition now — mutations and variants abound!

Bonanza Plan certainly embraces many genres, from dizzying math rock to nervy art punk blended with thrilling guitars, charging electronics and propulsive hooks. What’s the process like in finding your sound?

It is genuinely all down to finding a particular aesthetic that we like and that endures in its appeal to us. There is no overarching method or plan. In fact, not having a plan is probably the only plan we have ever had.

What song (s) stood out the most during the recording? A couple of them sound like they could’ve been part of a second Clor album, specifically "Feverhead."

I think "Foxes and Brimstone" went through the most interesting transformation when we approached recording it and the sessions were hilariously joyous. Also, "Emily Smallhands" was interesting as all kinds of things changed and then we started to play it differently live and it made more sense having recorded it. Recording is like a great rationalizing process. All the dead wood gets chopped out, but the key elements remain and it gets leaner and meaner — if such a phrase could ever be applied to a Barringtone song.

What’s next for Barringtone? With the pause on live music, have you been recording any new music for future projects?

Dobbin: Yeah we have some new tracks in the pipeline. Obviously methodology has changed and we send ideas to each other and then work on things that way....Some little things we hope are treats cooking away.

If you had to collaborate with one of your influences, who would it be?

Dobbin: I am a mega Deerhoof fan, so any member of Deerhoof!

I must ask, is there a possibility Clor will ever reunite or do you prefer the band to maintain its cult identity?

Dobbin: I don’t think that will ever happen to be honest. Those were some gloriously heady years, but I prefer to leave it as a fond memory.

Bonanza Plan is available now via Onomatopoeia Records. Stream the new album below.