“It might be cool to get the whole family to sit down together... No, actually that would be disgusting,” Ethan Barnett laughs down the phone. Although most of us can relate to having the fear when it comes to sharing our work with relatives, for Ethan the stakes are a little higher.
Putting the finishing touches to his debut album, he can’t be having any familial interventions dis- tracting him. “I don’t even like being in the room when they are listening because I just want to stare at their faces and see what their expressions are,” he chuckles. “Most of the time that’s just quite awkward.”
Better known under the moniker Ten Tonnes, he needn’t worry about any negative reaction. With his delightful blend of 50s rock’n’roll inspired indie pop, the Hartford-born musician’s debut album is set to wow on May 3rd. “I keep listening back to it just to double check that it’s not shit,” he jokes. “But I’m pretty confident that it’s done, and I’m really happy with it.”
12 tracks of what Ethan describes as “absolute thumpers”, the record is full of the kind of indie bangers that he thinks his 16-year-old self would love. Inspired by late 70s sounds and 80s indie music, he cites the likes of Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Elvis Costello and Tom Petty as his main influences, and he’s strived to recreate the huge singalong styles of his heroes. “The songs are kind of written for me; they’re the songs that I want to hear,” the 22-year-old explains. “There’s a lot of big choruses and singalong tunes. That was kind of the aim for a lot of it − not to take myself too seriously and to just have fun with the record.”
A mix of his older material and newly penned songs, the record flows between Ethan’s poppier side to more guitar-fuelled numbers. Listening to the album, it’s clear to see how much he’s grown since his debut EP “Lucy” dropped in 2016. There’s snarling rock sounds in “Nights In, Nights Out”, delicate melodies in album closer “Missing You”, and his characteristically rousing sunshine-soaked style in fan favourites like “Cracks Between”.
Overall, his self-titled Ten Tonnes LP aims to create a sonic experience that makes people happy. “I just want people to love it!” Ethan asserts. “To me, it feels really fun to listen to. It’s cool to picture people listening to it in different scenarios. I’d like to let it become the soundtrack to people’s lives.”
Detailing stories of love − “Classic, innit?” − and new beginnings, Ethan started recording the album about two years ago, although it’s been the aim for a much longer time. “Not to sound too cringey, but I guess the idea started as soon as I picked up a guitar,” he tells me. “I don’t know, I’ve always wanted to have an album, so the first time I started making music I was like, ‘That’s what I have to do!’ It feels quite weird that it’s all actually happening now...”
Only mere months away from the release date now, I ask if he’s feeling any pressure to live up to the success of his previous material. “Not really actually,” he admits. “I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing? I always try and make songs that I like. I think that’s the best place to start. I trust my judgement and I’m pretty confident that I’ve done okay.”
“I think the best test is seeing what Mum and Dad think,” he continues. “And they’ve pre-ordered it already!” If that’s not a glowing review, I don’t know what is.
Photography - Finn Constantine
Fashion - Jessica Gardener
Grooming - Margo Holder
Rollacoaster Spring/Summer 2019 Issue