Q&A w/Stephen Barton of Close The Hatch


Onetime Sissonville resident (and friend/cohort of Aaron Fisher at 101 Productions) Stephen Barton returns to Charleston for shows with his new band, Close The Hatch, solo stuff (Oh Southern Stranger) and a new label, Red Moth Records.

We caught up with Barton to see what’s been up since we last chatted...

WVRockscene: What’s been up with you since we last caught up for Killing Chloe?

Stephen Barton: Killing Chloe went through a lot of lineup changes in the last two years, losing a few of its main and long standing members, leaving JP (John Paul Morris) and myself to fend for ourselves and keep it afloat. The two of us wrote and recorded another EP “Confront and Embrace,” which was a far cry from what Killing Chloe had been. Using electronics and less hook-driven writing styles, it became more of a darker, slower project. After playing a few shows and some more lineup shifts we made the choice to call it a night with Killing Chloe for awhile.

WVRockscene: How did Killing Chloe morph into Close The Hatch?

Barton: Basically we had become something else anyhow, so myself, JP, and Dan Malloy (the last bass player for Killing Chloe) decided to shift our attention to a new project and focus more on instrumental parts and more of a Neurosis vibe. We wanted to build something from scratch and create more soundscape-oriented material.

WVRockscene: Building on that, how is CTH different from KC?

Barton: It is heavier, slower and much more atmospheric than KC. Honestly they don’t seem relative to me listening to them. I think it’s just a natural growth in our musicianship. Killing Chloe had limitations, Close The Hatch does not we can do whatever we want -- basically it’s more artistic in my mind. Not to down play what was done in Killing Chloe, I’m really proud of that, but without the right parts it was never gonna work again. And you will not see our faces lol.

WVRockscene: You’ve started a label, Red Moth Records, what made you want to start that and what’s it been like?

Barton: The idea was to be the butcher in the market, and the cook, so to speak. We basically had already in the past, so I figured why not take it further? Myself and Brandon Ross (a close friend and fellow musician) had the idea to promote music we make and other bands we enjoy with vinyl and digital downloads and basically the idea grew from that. It’s been a slow process but we are finally releasing things and promoting some events like the ones at The Empty Glass on the 18th and 19th. It’s a lot more work then you would imagine lol.

WVRockscene: You collaborated with John Lancaster on a Close The Hatch song (“Manna Feeder”) -- what was that like and how did that come about?

Barton: That’s a weird story actually. Killing Chloe had played The Blue Parrot a few years back and OJ from Byzantine attended and told me about how we were kinda like Chum, whom I had only heard of from living in West Virginia for a short period, but until then not actually heard. I downloaded their record from iTunes on the trip home and not only dug it, I was really surprised at how close we were. They tuned the same basically and had a [similar] feel. It was scary.

I’ve become a fan since and I drove to Huntington from Ohio to see the Chum reunion show at V Club and was just floored by how massive they sounded. I added John on Facebook (that sounds really dumb) but it’s true and reached out. We chatted about some ways to work together, and I kinda last minute threw a bunch of tracks at him and that’s the one he picked, which was awesome since it was my favorite of the group anyhow.

He has been very kind and supportive, and what he did on the song is something I never would have thought of or heard in my head ever. I’m stoked he is on the EP! Plus we share an interest in music like Made Out Of Babies and King’s X. A lot more common ground than I’d have expected ever, it’s really cool.

WVRockscene: You released the Close The Hatch EP for free, right? What influenced that decision?

Barton: The EP release was something we decided to do last minute before we headed out of state for these shows, and our recent show opening for Mastodon and Dillinger Escape Plan in Wisconsin at The Rave. We figured why not make it free get it in peoples ears!

We actually have plans to release a handful of splits on the label with other artists and another EP in 2012.

WVRockscene: You’re coming back to WV for these Empty Glass shows with different bands, how cool is that?

Barton: Well we are heading back for two nights, the first night will be with our friends in Ghost Fleet and our fellow Dayton crew Life After Liftoff and myself (Oh Southern Stranger) playing original acoustic/alt-country material of mine which is nothing like Killing Chloe or Close The Hatch, haha. The second night is Close The Hatch and Let the Guilty Hang, with The Number Six and AK 40 Sexuals. Each night will be a totally different vibe and style of music.

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