“I’m a high school drop out and a two-time art school drop out," says Aaron Barker, the former guitarist for the Street Arabs. "I think that qualifies me to be in a punk band.”
The Street Arabs disbanded this summer after five years together. Barker has now embarked on a new endeavor, the Eggshells, with drummer Nick Dagovitz.
“I've wanted to do something a little different than what I did with the Street Arabs, but I didn't know what," he says. "It's a really loud punk, garage-y project.”
Barker owns what would usually be a very un-punk business — an ice cream shop in Oak Cliff called Carnival Barkers, yet it hosts punk bands for live performances. But even with a day job, it was hard for Barker to walk away from the Street Arabs, a band with such a successful run in Dallas.
“We put out a few records, had a lot of fun, did some good shows — got to open up for Death and Thelma and the Sleaze — and played every shitty dive bar that you can imagine from here to Chicago and back,” says Barker. “We rehearsed every Wednesday for five years; they're some of my best friends. It lasted longer than any of my relationships, by a long time.”
But the band lost its drummer for the second time last year. The most recent drummer, Chris Mancini, moved to Denver for a job. “When you lose a drummer it changes the band. You don't quite sound the same; not every drummer can do what the other drummer did before. It was going to be basically like starting the Street Arabs again,” says Barker. “I think we ran out of steam. If I had my say, we'd still be a band, but all five of us together just kind of came to an agreement.”
The downside of the camaraderie the Street Arabs provided was that there was less creative control, and Barker is glad to have a more hands-on approach with the Eggshells. He’s going to be writing all of the songs and choosing all of the art for album covers.
“[Street Arabs] was very democratic. If I brought a song in and they didn't like it, well, the song was out. It was a very diplomatic thing. This is more of a dictatorship. I have a lot more control, I'm more hands-on,” says Barker.
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Barker says that he and Dagovitz are inspired by bands like the Marked Men and Radioactivity, and they’re also Billy Childish fans. Given their predilections, the concept behind the Eggshells is based, very appropriately, on weirdness. Barker named the band after the movie Eggshells by Tobe Hoopers who also did The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. “It's this weird hippy movie made in the '60s in this big mansion in Austin. I thought the Eggshells would make a great band name.
“I'm all into weirdos and weirdo shit and weirdo movies," adds Barker. "Like Billy Childish, he's a super weirdo artist person. A lot of my songs with the Street Arabs were about movies or girls, so I'm continuing that tradition — it's weirdo garage rock basically. We're going to try to have fun and kick every other band's ass in Dallas.”
The Eggshells played their first show at Aqua Lab Sound Recordings last month and are looking to book more shows before this month is over. Barker says they’ll eventually also do a run to Chicago like he did with Street Arabs, since his guitarist is from there. And they’ll start recording in the first of the year.
“We played our first show with Creepeth, Abacaba and the Aquaholics. It was a big Aqua Lab recording studio’s party. I actually made money, it was pretty cool,” says Barker. “The stuff we're doing, I'm really proud of. I'm happy to start … showing people what we're doing.”