Born into a highly eccentric and artistic family, Seattle-born Barbara Ireland’s childhood was offbeat and never dull. One of the quirks (and perks) was that every night for years she and her drummer brother were given unofficial ‘instruction’ by their George Carlin-esque father on how to listen to the deeper nuances in music, and how to appreciate a huge variety of genres from R&B, to bebop jazz, blues, and all the rock greats from Hendrix to the Beatles.
Taking all of those influences with her, Barbara began her musical career at age 16 singing and playing a multitude of synths in Gordon Raphael’s early brain-child, Mental Mannequin. As punk rock hit Seattle, she was invited to join Upchuck Gerra’s seminal glam-punk band, The Fags, first as keyboardist, and later as bassist and vocalist. (“This band had it all… shows of such beautiful chaos and bacchanalia that the audience became part of this orgy of musical and sexual exploration.” -Stone Gossard). Barbara continued to develop her talents by composing soundtracks, singing and performing jazz standards, as well as playing classical harp.
Over the past two years, Barbara has had the immense joy of recording and performing as singing-partner with Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard in his solo band, the Hank Khoir. The music has metamorphosized from haunting Hank Williams covers, to unusual genre-mixing versions of the Rolling Stones, Grace Jones, and T.Rex tunes, along with Gossard’s originals.
This past year, several core members of The Fags also reformed to create a revised version of the band, now called The Fags Rock n’ Roll Variety Show, of which Barbara is bassist and one of several vocalists. At once raucous and full of catchy upbeat tunes, their shows are always a spectacle of crazy glitter rock and secret guest stars.
Most recently, Barbara has been very busy writing new compositions that combine ’slinky rock’ with the early 1960’s girl groups sound. An incredibly talented group of musicians, under the name Sonic Section, are being brought together to record and perform these new tunes in early 2010. Downloads will be available soon. Stay tuned for more info!