Barcelona band has MI roots

Brian Fennell first sang in public at his Mercer Island High School graduation ceremony in 2001. Now, he’s a recording artist with rock quartet Barcelona. The band’s debut CD, “Absolutes,” will release in stores on Sept. 25.

“We’re really proud of Brian,” said Cynthia Fennell, the musician’s mother. “He’s doing something that he loves, that he wanted to do. He’s taking a risk as a musician.”

Fennell completed a solo album, “Safety Songs,” two years ago, then teamed up with friends Brian Eichelberger (classical violin and bass), Chris Bristol (guitar) and Rhett Stonelake (drums) to form Barcelona in December 2005. Barcelona was the first name they agreed on. “It invokes a European coolness,” said Fennell. Eichelberger, the producer, is also from Mercer Island.

The band toured the West Coast and built up a fan base before starting the “Absolutes” project. As an independent band, Barcelona dealt with challenges involving funding and time. In the end, Warner Chappell provided funding; and as for time, “Everyone was so willing to sacrifice their time,” said Fennell.

The hard work paid off. When “Absolutes” became available digitally on iTunes and at shows in August, 950 copies sold.

Fennell hopes that “Absolutes” will inspire people and that listeners will be moved by the music and lyrics. The CD’s message is drawn from Fennell’s thoughts and life experience.

Fennell has been writing songs since his senior year of high school. He began taking songwriting seriously, however, during his freshman year at Whitworth College, when he was part of a pop-bluegrass trio. In 2005, he entered a songwriting competition on Seattle’s classic rock station 102.5, and Barcelona won the privilege of performing at Moore Theatre.

Along with writing talent, Fennell contributes musicianship to the band. He has played the piano since third grade, when he began taking lessons from long-time Island piano teacher Anne Luce. He also took guitar lessons and played drums in the MIHS band. At college, he majored in music and graduated with a K-12 music education degree from Seattle Pacific University.

“We’re surprised he’s so talented, and we’ve enjoyed watching him develop,” said Fennell’s mother.

Barcelona will tour the United States and will perform a concert on Sept. 28 at Neumos in Seattle.

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