Kris Barras is one of the breakout stars of the Ramblin’ Man Fair. The Devon-based Mixed Martial Arts fighter-turned-bluesman made his explosive Ramblin’ Man debut on last year’s Rising Stage. Since then, he’s signed to powerhouse rock/blues label Mascot, released his acclaimed new album, The Divine And Dirty and supported Beth Hart on her UK tour.
This year he’s going one better, with the Kris Barras Band rocking up twice across the weekend – first as part of the Friday Night Live! line-up at the Maidstone Leisure Centre on Friday June 29 and then again on the Blues Stage on Sunday July 1. We caught up with the man himself to find out just what’s happened in his world since we last saw him at Mote Park…
You’re making your return to Ramblin’ Man this year. Looking forward to it?
It’s great. Last year was one of the highlights for us – it was a catalyst for a lot of the good things that started to happen. To be asked back on one of the main stages is great.
What are your memories of last year’s show?
It was really cool. We were lucky with our set that it was nice and sunny, and it was just a great weekend. I enjoyed being at the festival just at much as I enjoyed playing.
Was it a pivotal show for you, in terms of taking things to the next level?
Yeah, definitely. I got to meet some good people. It was the first time I got to meet up with the guys from Mascot Records and chat with those them. This was before I’d signed – that wasn’t even part of the conversation. We were just chatting, nothing about me signing to Mascot or anything like that. It was later on in the year. But I’m sure it’s played a part.
So how has the time since your first Ramblin’ Man appearance been for you?
It’s been amazing. Obviously, I signed to Mascot and my album, The Divine And Dirty came out, we’ve done some successful tours… it’s been a bit of a whirlwind really.
Were you pleased with how the album went down?
Yeah, it was received really well. Planet Rock have got behind a couple of the tracks and it’s all gone down really great.
You’ve just finished touring with Beth Hart. What was that experience like?
It was great. Obviously, it was quite different for us because we were doing an acoustic support set for that, there were just three of us doing that. But Beth and her team were the nicest people you could ever meet, so welcoming. Beth is the most passionate performer I’ve ever seen. Every night she pours her heart and soul into every song. Just getting to witness that was inspiring.
You’re out there on the frontline of music. Is the rock scene healthy these days?
Yeah, it seems to be. Sometimes you’ll see someone’s massive social media presence, then you’ll go see one of their shows and there’ll be 20 people there. But then you’ll go and see someone else and it’ll be packed. But there’s loads of good bands coming through, and with festivals like Ramblin’ Man and radio stations like Planet Rock getting behind up and coming bands, it’s in a good place.
What’s the secret to building success when you’re in the position you’re in? Is it just putting in the road work?
I don’t think I know the answer, to be honest. I learn something new about the music industry every day. There’s a lot of bands who work hard and put the miles in but don’t ever get anywhere, but it definitely didn’t do me any harm. I’ve traipsed around the country, around Europe – I’ve put the miles in., and it helped. But I don’t know – I’m still learning myself.
Apart from your own music, what have you been listening to this year?
The new Blackberry Smoke album has got a lot of heavy play on the tour bus this year. They’re playing at Ramblin’ Man as well. I haven’t seen them yet – it’s one of the bands I’m looking forward to seeing, for sure. They’re one of my favourite bands at the moment. I love what they do, they always look like they’re having great fun.
Summer will be in full swing by the time of Ramblin’ Man. What’s your favourite summer festival food?
I’m not fussy – I eat everything. I love stuff with barbecue sauce on it – ribs, chicken. But I’m also partial to a bit of Mexican. If I ever see any nachos or burritos or anything like that, I’ll go for it.
Do you cook that stuff yourself?
And what’s the perfect summer tipple?
I’m not much of a drinker, to be honest. I drink lager shandy. [Laughing] That’s ten years of not drinking when I was fighting.
What’s next for the Kris Barras Band after Ramblin’ Man?
Something new pops up every day, a new tour offer, a new festival. We’ve been putting some plans in place for the next album, writing some tunes. The plan is more touring and album towards the end of summer next year. It’ll keep us busy.
Kris Barras plays Friday Night Live! at the Maidstone Leisure Centre on June 29 and the Blues Stage on Sunday July 1. Buy your tickets here.