Young Southpaw talks to American ‘English eccentric’ Anton Barbeau about ABBA, memories of lost songs, the bird lifestyle, meeting Graham Chapman, and so much more.
Listen to new record ‘Manbird’ at https://antonbarbeau.bandcamp.com/album/manbird
Young Southpaw: What made you fall in love with music as a kid, do you remember?
Anton Barbeau: Well, yeah, back to The Beatles. My parents had five or six Beatles records, plus John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ when I was growing up. I was born in ’67, about a month before ‘Sgt. Pepper’ came out, so I’m sure I was hearing Beatles before I was even born, and I’m sure I heard ‘Sgt. Pepper’ when it was first out, even though I was only a wee baby. But yeah, The Beatles. My earliest memory is crawling around through my parents collection, trying to find the one that had ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’. That was my favourite song, from age zero.
YS: You get compared to Robyn Hitchcock, Julian Cope, and XTC a lot. Are you fans of those guys?
AB: Oh, I am, very much so. Huge influences. It’s funny cause I’ve sort of found ways of connecting, if not directly to the artists, to those who have worked with them. So that’s been a funny little part of my career story in the past few years. I had a band in England called Three Minute Tease, which included Andy Metcalfe and Morris Windsor who were in The Egyptians and in Soft Boys. And I’ve also worked with Kimberley Rew. We did a gig once, Three Minute Tease, Andy, Morris, and myself, with Matthew Seligman, who we lost earlier this year to COVID. He sat in with us as well. So that world, the Robyn Hitchcock world, is definitely something I’ve dipped more than a few toes into. Robyn’s a huge influence as a songwriter. Maybe not so much anymore, because I went through the period of, when upon discovering his music it made perfect sense to me. It was sort of the idealized version of what I wish, of what I was trying to do, or something like that. So I aspired to that. These days, like I said, it’s ABBA and Fleetwood Mac. But Robyn Hitchcock’s a big influence. And XTC of course. I did end up working with Colin Moulding, on a couple things. That was wonderful. I supported Julian Cope on dates on his 2011 and 2012 tours and that was amazing! That’s a dream come true.