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Loosen up a bit first, get creative after midnight

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When it comes to writing, BJ Barham writes best with some liquid courage.

“Yes, the majority of the songs I write come after midnight and a couple drinks,” he explains while driving through Tulsa, Okla. “That’s the best way I know to get honesty out of me. If the songs I write were just me and a guitar, people would see them as sad folk songs. That’s why I’m thankful for the band. They make the music better.”

Barham is the vocalist and guitar player for the rock band American Aquarium.

Despite being together for only five years, the band has made a name for itself with its music and its hectic touring schedule – more than 700 dates in those five years.

Hailing from Raleigh, N.C., American Aquarium is also known for its southern musical perspective, honest songwriting and a genuine love of rock ‘n’ roll. The band’s music has been classified as alt-country, Americana or roots rock.

American Aquarium
WHEN: 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1
WHERE: Low Spirits Bar & Stage, 2823 Second NW
HOW MUCH: $7 at or 886-1251

The band – which includes Barham, Ryan Johnson, Whit Wright, Bill Corbin and Kevin McClain – also just released its fifth album, “Burn Flicker Die,” in August.

Barham says the record took about two and a half years to complete and became a labor of love.

“I felt like I have grown as a person so much in the past couple of years,” he says. “I’ve also grown as a songwriter and become more comfortable with having my feelings in songs. The tour and the songs have gotten better, which I guess is the goal. We want to get better with each album.”

Barham says he’s been writing songs since he was in high school, but didn’t think about it professionally until he was 22.

“I’ve always played music and would write stuff in school,” he says. “People would like it and tell me to do it for a living. It’s been a really cathartic process for me. Everything I write about is something that has happened to me or someone I know. That’s what also keeps it personal.”

While getting used to being introspective is something that Barham is still dealing with, he says it’s comes down to having no regrets.

“There are times that I write something that shouldn’t be out there,” he says. “But that would be a disservice to our music and my writing style. I don’t think I could censor myself and don’t plan to.”

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