First performing as an acoustic duo, Barefoot Truth was born on the summer beaches of Mystic, CT., and has grown over the years into a dynamic 5-man multi-instrumented line up led by co-founders Will Evans (Lead Vocals, Drums, Guitar, Didgeridoo) and Jay Driscoll (Weissenborn Lap Guitar, Acoustic & Electric Guitars), and joined by Andy Wrba (Electric & Upright Bass) Garrett Duffy (Harmonica,) and John “Wayno” Waynelovich (Pianos, Organs).
Together they’ve created a distinct sound that is a blend of root-rock, jazz, folk and reggae. Their shows are high energy and filled with fans singing and dancing to catchy songs filled with lyrics that are both meaningful and uplifting because as Evans puts it "People have enough to deal with in their lives. When they go out to a show, let them be happy."
Barefoot Truth remains an independent band that continues to take a grassroots approach to the music scene. Through hard work, planning and the strength of their music they’ve created an impressive resume: their latest album Carry Us On shot to #10 on the iTunes rock album chart, they recently hit over 8 million plays on Pandora Radio, and their song "Threads" was featured in the game ‘Rock Band’.
Recently these 5 guys, who refer to each other as "brothers" and are as close as family, took time out of their busy touring schedule to speak with WailingCity.com.
WC: Will, you grew up in the area, how did that influence you getting into music and what experiences did you have here?
Will: I grew up in Mystic but for a few years my family moved to Burlington, VT and I went to a very liberal school where music was very encouraged. We moved back to Mystic and I went to Cutler Middle School where I started playing trumpet in Jazz, which was actually my first instrument. I was also in choir, where I was the only boy.
WC: I bet you got all the girls...
Will: Far from it! (Laughing). But then I went to Fitch and I continued in Jazz, but to be in Jazz you also had to be in Marching Band and ultimately I didn’t like the structure of it all and it was stifling creatively, so I quit. But in the summers I would go to Esker Point Beach with my friends for the concerts and I remember watching all the great shows like The Sugar Daddy Band and I really liked watching the drummers and would think ‘I can do that.’ So, during my sophomore year I picked up my dad’s guitar and he and I kind of taught me how to play. That’s also when I started playing the drums. I played in a rock and roll cover band called Overdrive for a while but that got frustrating and I wanted the freedom to express myself musically. That’s kind of the time I met Jay and we started jammin’ together.
WC: Jay, you grew up in Massachusetts but met Will down in Connecticut, what brought you to the area?
Jay: I have cousins who live in Groton Long Point and I spent every summer there. I still have lots of family in the area and it’s basically a second home for me. Will and I were introduced through a mutual friend the summer between High School and College and I remember going out and watching him perform in Overdrive. During college we kept in touch and visited each other and kept making music.
Will: I remember going to UMASS, where Jay went to school, and we would jam in the stairwell of his dorm and it was about 26 floors and all cement. It had great acoustics. We then played casually in some bars along the Connecticut shoreline and in Rhode Island as a duo.
WC: So, then you went from 2 to 5. How did each of you guys (Andy, Garrett and Wayno) join Barefoot Truth?
Andy: Before I knew who they were, I was at a Jurassic 5 concert and a mutual friend told me they were looking for a bassist. I contacted them (Will and Jay) and we talked but we were all busy and things didn’t work out. A few months later I went to one of their shows and I liked their sound and introduced myself and shortly after I was part of Barefoot Truth.
Garrett: I met Will in college (St. Michael's) and wanted to jam with him and other friends so I started playing the Harmonica because no one else did and also, because my older brother used to play it. I remember my first official show was at the Coast Guard Academy in New London in 2006.
Wayno: Andy and I were in Jazz Studies together at Westfield State and I was incredibly intimidated because he was such a monster on the bass. At his final Jazz Studies recital he transformed the Barefoot Truth song "Reelin" into this huge 18-piece jazz composition and all the guys from the band were there and I was played piano for it. Later, I played on two songs for their Walk Softly CD. It was an interesting time because I would play some shows with them but I still had 2 years of college left and the guys were already out there doing their own thing. I grew up listening to and playing Dixie and Swing and I’m super proud of that but I’m most proud of what I’ve done with Barefoot Truth. These guys already had their own sound, their own product, and I had to figure out my place in all that.
WC: So you’re not only the newest but you’re also the youngest, how’s that?
Wayno: I do feel like the youngest but we’re all equal. I’m a little more different, from my hobbies to what I eat, but being with these guys has opened me to so many interesting things and ideas. It’s neat.
Jay: Wayno is an oddball.
Garrett: We lived in Mystic, as a band, for 3 years and we hung out when we could. There’s not a lot of our style, our sound, in the area but we’ve played locally at places like The Bean and Leaf and The Hygienic Art Park, which was a great show and we had a great response.
Andy: I remember the Hygienic. We were playing outdoors and it was just a beautiful night.
Wayno: I only lived in Mystic with the guys for a year but it was a great place to be a band and create music and provided a solid home base to come home to. I love that area. It’s where we met Raise the Rent and allowed us to play with them and other bands.
Garrett: We love Raise the Rent, they’re cool!
WC: Barefoot Truth is playing at The Garde Arts Center Thanksgiving weekend on November 26th. How does it feel to be playing such a large venue so close to home?
Andy: We love playing there. Will and Jay both have family in the area and it’s nice to catch up and when you can incorporate that love into a show, that’s always a good thing.
Jay: It’s really special to come back and play for friends and family. When we see how excited they are at our growth as a band, it keeps us excited.
Will: Yeah, there’s always a thrill when playing big venues like The Garde but there’s also something special about playing small venues or even in a barn like here (Holcomb Farms), it’s so vintage. But we’re definitely looking forward to the show because we appreciate local shows and it is a Homecoming for us.
Garrett: It’s more or less home for us because that’s where everything started.
WC: You guys have been called the ‘symbol of independent music success’, how do you feel about that label and why are you unsigned?
Jay: That really is a big title and it’s amazing, sometimes we’re blown away from it. As for why we’re not signed? It has never been a priority for us. If that’s why you’re in it, then you’re probably in it for the wrong reasons.
WC: What do you guys do outside of Barefoot Truth?
Will: I’ve been doing some solo shows on the Cape, where I live now, and it’s liberating because there’s no set list and I just play off of the vibe of the crowd. But playing with the guys, there is the warmth of a family behind you. It’s nice to have when you’re having a tough night. It’s nice to know you can rely on your brothers.
Andy: I do some funk/jazz jammin’ on Monday nights with a rotating group of musicians in Pittsfield, Ma. It’s a little more song base and loose and intimate. I’m also big on family and I spend time working on my family’s orchard (Riiska Brook Orchard) whenever I can.
Wayno: I’m currently training for a marathon and eating lots of candy. Yep! I’m also a musical theatre geek and occassionally do a production in my town with my family who owns a performing arts building. I also try to keep busy musically. (Check Wayno out on Raise the Rent’s album Dig & Be Dug)
Jay: Today I was actually helping Wayno’s family build a set for a performance. Other than that I keep busy with Barefoot Truth and friends and family.
Garrett: I’m an avid practitioner of Yoga and I do many other outdoor activities. I’ve also started to write and compose songs.
WC: What advice do you have for musicians/singers/bands trying to make it?
Will: We’re still trying to figure it out! We’re still very much grassroots but I would say it’s all about balance. You gotta find the happy medium of not driving yourself crazy on the road. Play less shows but make them better shows. It’s easy to burn yourself out trying to play everywhere. Picking when to play and where is important. Be cautious and smart with touring.
Andy: It’s hard work. I would say practice and persistence. And practice doesn’t necessarily mean shredding the bass, it could mean actively listening to music or studying music theory. It helps to set realistic goals and learn about yourself and what you want.
Jay: If you’re playing in a band it’s more important to base it on friendship and not to let music get in the way of that. Play with people you like.
Wayno: I have a lot of respect for these guys. It’s amazing. I’ve made four best friends.