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From the land down under comes 4-man band Longreef

By JACK W. HILL SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

This article was published November 8, 2012 at 2:29 a.m.

longreef-is-from-left-nick-miller-josh-barker-aaron-carruthers-and-jim-wark

Longreef is (from left) Nick Miller, Josh Barker, Aaron Carruthers and Jim Wark.

— Longreef didn’t catch a wave to make their way from Australia to North America, but the band does have a fondness for surfing. At least three out of four do.

“Our bass player, Jim Wark, doesn’t surf,” reports lead singer/guitarist Josh Barker, as the band continues its quest to conquer (at least musically) the land “up over,” which must be the opposite of the land “down under.”

“The rest of us are from Sydney, and we all love to surf, thus our name, which we gave to our favorite surfing spot back home. But Jim, he’s a country boy from a town of 800.”

In addition to Barker and Wark, the band includes lead guitarist Nick Miller and drummer Aaron Carruthers. All three provide backing vocals to Barker.

Longreef has been busy taking its Aussie message to the United States for the past two years, but Barker has been here an additional two years, having arrived first in Los Angeles, where he did some songwriting with Chris Henderson of 3 Doors Down. He then played around the Gulf Coast before sending for his old band mates and then putting down roots in Nashville, Tenn.

“It’s a fantastic place to be, thanks to the aspect of writing and co-writing,” Barker says. “The beauty of it is you always learn about the craft of songwriting, no matter who you work with. And there’s been no pressure to change over to country or anything. We are the sort of band whose influences include AC/DC and INXS from home, plus The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones from England and Bon Jovi from the States.

“We’ve never really played the country stuff.”

Since the band got going in 2010, there have been shows opening for Seether, 20 Seconds to Mars, Stone Temple Pilots, Five Finger Death Punch and Puddle of Mudd.

The group has made a couple of recordings, the latest of which is an EP that features the songs “She Likes the Ladies” and “Dirty Motel,” songs that may have been inspired by the band’s adventures on the road, Barker admits.

“We were lucky to have not seen that many dirty motels, maybe a couple, but now we have our own bus,” he says, “and when we wrote ‘She Likes the Ladies,’ it’s sort of a tongue-in-cheek, very suggestive commentary on just what it says. It’s been one of the favorites of our fans, it turns out.”

Longreef has gradually been expanding its fan outreach. A year ago, the band went from concentrating on the Gulf Coast to the Midwest, and this year, the group has added another 16 or 17 states to its list of American outposts.

“We’re just getting out and working, meeting people and making friends along the way,” Barker says.

Longreef

10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, West End Smokehouse and Tavern, 215 N. Shackleford Road, Little Rock

Admission: $5

(501) 224-7665

Weekend, Pages 42 on 11/08/2012

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