THE JONES FACILITY The X-Press Interview

After 15 years of writing music as The Jones Facility, Bunbury songwriter Hayden Barker is retiring the name (for now) to reimagine his musical identity. Since emerging in the mid 2000s with debut album When the Town Turns Still and brilliant live shows, The Jones Facility have been one of the South West’s most prolific acts. In the years since the group has been wound back to a solo project for Barker, who with a whopping 13 albums to date, including three new LPs already this year and another three on the way, is showing no signs of slowing down. BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with Barker to get the story so far.

So after 15 years and 13 albums you’re retiring The Jones Facility name. What are your reasons for that?

Well it’s not completely gone. At the moment I’ve decided to do three folk albums under a new pseudonym. Once I’ve done those, I’ll be back doing an instrumental Jones Facility album. I’m just having a break from The Jones Facility. I write a song most days, and all these songs I’m writing now will be under a new title.

And is there some kind of process you have or any secrets to that level of output?

I actually get up at about 4am and write a song before I do anything else for the day. I usually have it finished by about 6am then go about working on recording for the rest of the day.

The Jones Facility were originally a live band but it has largely been a solo recording project for the last 10 or so years. What happened that made that change necessary?

Yes in the early years it was mainly a live band. But at that time I had a lot of mental health issues and spent months in the hospital. Halfway through 2008 we broke up. Or should I say, I had a mental breakdown. We were going to support Panic! At the Disco in what was a really big show for us. But I’d lost the plot. The band were really pissed off at me.

I remember laying in my hospital bed in the mental unit, thinking, “I should be on stage now.” It would have been a good opportunity, but destiny is unpredictable. I wasn’t the same for years after that, and basically, the band didn’t have time to wait for me to get it together. The Jones Facility became my solo project after that.

And how do you feel about that in retrospect, did you feel it was necessary for your own wellbeing for things to play out how they did?

I’m glad we stopped when we did. I’m thankful that my mind went ‘AWOL’. Reason being, I was not mature. I was cocky and it would have ended up worse in the long run if we did have that level of success.

And have you continued to face those challenges, or have you been able to be more relaxed about your music in the years since?

I’ve always been meticulous with every record. I obsess over it. However, this most recent album of new songs is a very laid back folk album. It took me a week to record it. Somehow I wasn’t meticulous or obsessive about that one at all for a change.

You have covered a lot of genres throughout your discography, from rock and pop to blues, jazz and even R&B. But are there any musicians in particular that have been an enduring influence on your songwriting?

Bob Dylan, Billie Joe Armstrong, The Beach Boys, Daniel Johns and The Beatles. Actually that really makes me appear to be a bit of a chauvinist (laughs). Ani Difranco has had a big influence on me too. Plus my favourite voice of all time is that of Lauryn Hill.

Your recent output has been impressive with three albums out already this year. Is there a song you are most proud of out of that batch and what was the story behind it?

Probably Just Breezin’ Through (from Buggy). I spent about a month getting that song right. I had an old friend Hugh Ryder play the piano part. He said “what should I play?” I said “anything.” So I just worked with what he put down. Although I showed my dad this song after it was complete and he said “anyone can do ooohs and ahhhs.”

And what was the story behind the album Brunswick? ​It’s quite conceptually different from what we’ve heard from you before…

Brunswick the album, was born in Brunswick – a small town south of Harvey. I was at rehab. In the library there was an old piano sitting there, missing one leg. It was on a tilt which actually made it easier playing the left hand, somehow. I was in Brunswick for four months, and in that time had written 15 songs on the piano. When I left there, I went back to my parents house and recorded them.

So it was also the first album I’d ever done without any drugs or alcohol in my system from its conception, to its release. In hindsight, it’s quite a sad album. Not too much joy in there at all really. What’s that say?

You have described the album Down by the Sea as a “combination omelette.” What do you mean by that?

Down By The Sea had been on the fry pan for a while. I say it was a combination omelette because the songs were all from different eras. The album is a collection of songs that span the whole The Jones Facility lifespan from right back to 2002 up until now. I just collected everything I had lying around and threw it together. That album was the dregs of The Jones Facility.

So if there’s no Jones Facility anymore, what name should we look out for for your more upcoming music?

The name I’ll be going under will not be revealed. Not in this article anyway. Nor any others.

And what can we expect from you next? Have you got more music on the way in 2020 and beyond?​

This year I’ve released three The Jones Facility albums. Before the year is out, there will be three albums under my new name, and one more The Jones Facility album. One of them I’m about to release, the other is half written, and the third, I have to wait to see what I’m given.

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