“I’m going to do all Frank Sinatra style vocals!” – Metal As Fuck takes liberties with its headline writing but still gets chummy with Friend For A Foe’s Chris Barretto

After his time with Periphery hit the skids, vocalist Chris Barretto set his sights on tearing you a new one with his latest band, Friend For A Foe.

Chris Barretto has lent his considerable vocal talents to a variable host of U.S. metal bands. His new venture, Friend For A Foe is powering up ready to blow audiences away. With an EP release within reach they are itching to show what they can do.
I caught up with New Yorker Chris just after Hurricane Irene went on the rampage across the east of America and found him to be in good spirits.
Metal as Fuck: How are you holding up after the weather at the weekend?
Chris Baretto: It was actually quite fun I enjoyed it rather much! I wasn’t in the city, I was upstate New York. We just got a whole bunch of rain and was in the house for a couple of days without power so that was a little lame…thankfully nothing crazy happened. Still here. Winning! [laughs]
MaF: How did Friend For A Foe come about?
CB: Friend For A Foe came about some time last year around January or February. I had reached out to Chris (Purvis, guitarist) actually and I had heard his instrumentals through a mutual friend of ours named Angel and he was talking about him so I checked him out. I was very, very much intrigued by his overall concept. His sound and his production was also very awesome which was a plus. At that time I was doing Haunted Shores and so after that whole thing went down I had already spoken with Chris expressing interest in working on some stuff together and so he sent me some things. Initially (it) was just going to be a recording project type thing, just kind of see what happens, have fun. I ended up meeting them (the other band members) and hanging out and absolutely fucking loving them. Fucking awesome guys…and we made this EP and I can’t wait for everybody to hear it. Hopefully everybody will enjoy it as much as we did making it.
MaF: Cool. So you’re proud of the Source Of Isolation EP?
CB: Absolutely. I always like to stand behind my work. I don’t like to get too excited about it just because, you know, I’m a musician (and I’m) super critical about my stuff. But I definitely think it’s good. I think all the writing on it is solid, I think the guys played their asses off on it and I think Chris is doing a wonderful job mixing (it). I think from an objective stand point that if I could see myself as a fan checking it out I think I would enjoy it. So by that measure it’s ok in my book! [laughs]
MaF: And it comes out 1st of October?
CB: That’s what they tell me! [laughs] It’s supposed to come out October 1st God willing. Unless another hurricane comes and destroys Chris’s computer! [laughs] But if all goes according to plan and no more craziness then yeah, October 1st is the day! Finally!
MaF: Yeah, you’ve had some setbacks with the release date haven’t you? Didn’t you have to put the release date back because Chris was serving in the US Navy?
CB: Yeah Chris, Tony (Marshall, guitarist) and Wayne (Courtright, bass) are all military guys. I think Wayne is or he works for the (U.S.) Government somehow. They’re very much committed to those jobs because they have to be. Chris in particular always spends a lot of time overseas because of where the Navy takes him. As a bandmate I can only support him because (he is) a guy that you just want to have (in the band).
When bands or anybody you like sets a date for something that you anticipated its release you always get so stoked on it and then things (like) that happen (and) it’s always like, ‘what the fuck?’ And I so get that. So I am very thankful that everybody has been so patient. I would’ve thought everybody would’ve been like ‘fuck you guys right now!’ But we’re very lucky that we have good fans that really stick with us…you know there’s no way of getting around going to fucking Korea and shit like that; Chris has just got to do what he’s got to do…so we’ll continue to do what we have to do to make sure that it still works.
MaF: Cool. Do you have plans to record a full album?
CB: I would most certainly think so. I think the plan is we release the EP, see what happens with that and then we’ve already been talking about new music. We’ve already been talking about where we’re going to go direction-wise and what everybody would like to see happen the next time around…I expect it to happen some time very soon. Probably come winter time we’ll starting sitting down and really checking out what we’re going to do for the full length. I don’t know if we’re going to repeat any of the songs like take some songs from the EP put it on the full length...we might bring back a song or two, maybe update it, make it super-sexy or something like that! [laughs]
MaF: Like a jazz version?!
CB: We’ll have a double-sided album, the other side will be completely acoustic and I’m going to do all Frank Sinatra style vocals. It’s going to be awesome! [laughs]
MaF: [laughs] You have 2 vocalists in Friend For A Foe. How do you work out who does what?
CB: Well I actually kind of walked into that one…Ben (Guanrino, vocals) had told me about Friend For A Foe, that he was working with them, and I just didn’t make the connection. I had a serious brain fart so I was probably smoking a lot of weed that day I don’t know! [laughs] At first nobody was sure of how the whole two vocalists thing was going to work, it was an experiment. We’re like, ‘let’s just see what happens, fuck it.’ Writing together was actually great and our voices complimented each other quite well…it was a happy accident if you could say! [laughs] I’ve never done that before so it was fun to have a new kind of challenge.
MaF: And you’ve sung with quite a few other bands. I suppose the most famous one would be Periphery – what were the circumstances around you leaving?
CB: You know that is the one territory, Dan, that I won’t really go to. This might be the only public thing I say about the situation, at least for the time being…It was an experience, it happened, I grew as a result of it and I’m grateful for that experience. I’ve moved on. That was a particular place and time and even though a lot of people won’t let that go, I have. I think all that matters now is the music that is coming from me presently…I don’t know if you’re aware or not (but) there’s just  a lot of mess surrounding that situation but it’s just one of those things, you know? So with respect to that, it was what it was, and I’m here now. Maybe one day I’ll just tell my full side of the story and it will be my full side. But for now, it’s ok, I don’t need to. I’m happy with where I am and hopefully everybody else can recognise that and just kind of let that be and appreciate it for what it was and move on.
MaF: Ok cool, that’s fair enough. So talking of the future, how are the drummer auditions coming?
CB: We haven’t actually gotten anybody into the room yet but we have a couple of perspectives. I definitely know there’s like three people that we’re trying out…I think its probably going to happen more so when everything is done, recorded, mixed and mastered and we’re really ready to focus on that aspect of things.
MaF: In a dream scenario who would you most like?
CB: Hmmm. I don’t know, man. I want a black guy! [laughs] Honestly I would love some young black dude that grew up playing gospel and shit in church and just came from the most shredding fucking family and has groove out his ass and just happened to love metal! That would be my ideal drummer. Honestly I would love that.
There’s so many fucking people that nobody knows about just because they’re not exposed in this little subculture or world or whatever. It’s just so sad that the amount of talent that’s out there that’s really not known…hopefully we’ll find a guy that’s just beaming with life and energy and a passion for the drums and hopefully a passion for the music as well…that could be somebody that’s already out there. It could be the dude from the middle of nowhere so we’ll find out. I openly invite anyone who fills that description fucking apply immediately! [laughs] That is definitely the deal.
MaF: How are you coping live at the moment with no drummer? Or have you not been playing since?
CB: Nah we haven’t been playing…it’s just all about the record right now.
It’s been strange because I haven’t done a show in about a year, Dan. It’s a long fucking time for me, you know? I’ve always been in a band with the exception of this one year in my life which drove me nuts…I’m so used to playing live and I miss it so much and I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like. I just want to play so badly, I just want to be in front of people again and just play music for people.
With a release too it’ll be amazing…people can come and listen, hopefully hear the stuff ahead of time, and then people who don’t know us hopefully dig us and then they can buy something. They can take home a piece of music and, fuck yeah, that would be great.
MaF: Yeah! As well as singing you play a lot of other instruments including piano and saxophone. What made you concentrate on singing?
CB: Ok, so I’ll give you my brief overview. I have a musical family, sort of. My dad was a famous musician (Ray Barretto) so he naturally raised me in music. When I was a kid I was playing piano for the longest time and so that’s where my musical inception really began. I learned how to play certain stuff by Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, did a little bit of Bach (although I) never really got into Bach…I played piano from ages 5 or 6 to about like 10 or 11 and around that time my father had like this huge record collection and in this record collection was a particular saxophone player that just blew my mind…I hear so many people describe jazz like, ‘oh, jazz is just a bunch of random notes’ and that’s so not true. It’s just so many melodies that you’re not really processing it. And so the fact that I could hear this saxophone player, his name is Charlie Parker by the way, play the horn like that and almost understand it as if he was speaking to me in the English language like me and you having this conversation right now (was amazing). I listened to a lot of Charlie Parker and then I went to my dad, ‘I want to play saxophone! I want to play saxophone!’ When I got to middle school they let you choose an instrument so I chose the saxophone and sax kind of took over everything. I put the piano down, I couldn’t really do both so I just decided to stick with saxophone up until I got to high school.
My parents made the terrible mistake of sending me to band camp. I had a roommate, Brian. I think I was 11 and [laughs] I was a little sheltered growing up. My parents tried to keep me in this really awesome safety bubble and it just totally got fucking shattered by this dude! [laughs] I get there I’m like (puts on high-pitched pre-teen voice), ‘my dad plays me Tchaikovsky and Count Basie and Frank Sinatra!’ and all this stuff. I’m like, ‘hey, do you guys like this?’ And (Brian’s) got like Slayer fucking Cannibal Corpse, all this crazy shit on his wall, posters and everything. One day he comes into my room and he’s like, ‘mind if I play something?’ because I was the only one on my floor who had a boombox or something. ‘Yeah, sure, whatever.’ So he puts in a record and it’s Twist by Korn (on the album) Life Is Peachy. Those vocals come in and when Jonathan Davis does all that like grunting shit I literally turned around and my face was like, ‘whaaaaat?!’ [laughs] I shit you not I thought you couldn’t make that kind of music! My young brain just could not conceive this being on a record. I was just blown away. From that point forward I had really decided in my mind ‘I wanna try that!’ and it just took me off on a whole different tangent. My poor father [laughs] my poor dad. I came back from bandcamp (and) he was hoping I would be like this phenomenal jazz musician and I came back like ‘metal!’…and I stuck with it because it was fun, you know? It felt good to go to band practises and scream and kind of just pour my heart and soul out onto a mic. It’s a different place than having a saxophone, a much different sort of emotional expression.
I was so split duty for saxophone and my singing for a while…then my dad passed away. That just kind of made me take this plunge in terms of my path to go for singing. Because up until that point…I guess I had to question myself: ‘what am I doing music for?’ Because at one point I really felt like I was just doing music to make my dad happy, or make my parents happy, because that’s what they wanted me to do…I kind of had a reality check in terms of, ‘well what am I going to with myself?’ I just couldn’t pick up the horn full-steam for some reason. I had this calling to this rock thing and I said to myself, ‘fuck it, let’s see how far this rabbit hole goes.’ (Eventually) I landed with Periphery and then Periphery took me to the next level and then Periphery sent me on my way. I guess somewhere in there I just decided, ‘if I’m going to do this I should probably try and do this the best that I can’…and it just kind of took on a life of its own. I wouldn’t have expected to even be here, the fact that we’re doing this is pretty fucking cool for me, man. I’m just a fucking kid from New York that likes rock and roll.