History of Code

 

VISUAL PARADOX – original release on REX Records, 1991 and re-released later that year on Forefront Records.

Barry’s Favorite Songs – Through Your Eyes, Hold Me, Greater Love and Taking you Down 

 

This was the start of what would become a great personal and musical journey for me.  I was living in Jacksonville, Florida, working a construction job by day and writing/recording at night.  I can remember coming home after work and trying to record guitar, only to find my hands painfully bleeding due to the chemicals in the cement I was working with.  The hard work would soon pay off.

God brought three great friends and talented co-writers into my life, right when I needed them the most:  Gerald Gardiner/Josef, James Booth and Dave Hamby.  We wrote many songs together over the course of six years and four Code albums.  They helped me define the “Code” sound and influenced me musically.  I will forever be grateful for the time and talent they poured into me.

Visual Paradox was actually the third full length demo I had made, and would go on to become the first Code record signed to a record company.  Unfortunately it made very little noise in the Christian market on REX until a year later when I received a call from Eddie DeGarmo, the owner, at that time, of Forefront Records.  We began working out a new deal and several months later I found myself on a wonderfully small, but mighty record label.

I arrived in Nashville, TN, pulled into the parking lot of Forefront Records, made a bed in the back seat of my dad’s gigantic Buick, and spent the next three nights there living in my car.  (I don’t think they ever knew about that.)  I was living the rock ‘n’ roll dream!

My friends and label mates were DC Talk, Audio Adrenaline, Rebecca St. James, Geoff Moore and the Distance, ETW and Iona.  It was a wonderful time to be in Christian music and on Forefront!  We all hung out whenever and wherever we could, not just artists, but everyone from the label at that time.  We had a real family atmosphere, an ‘all for one’ desire to make each artist, from the top down, succeed for the Kingdom.

Audio A had just come off a long tour opening for Geoff Moore and the Distance and Geoff needed a new opener.  Guess who got the opening slot?

Let me define “opening slot” to you.  Load truck full of sound, stage, lighting, backline, etc.  Drive bus all night long with little to no sleep.  Unload sound, stage, lighting, backline.  Set up for concert.  You also get to play for 20 minutes and sign autographs after the show. (That’s the rock star part.)  Tear down after concert.  Now repeat all steps again and again!  I think they call it “paying your dues” in the industry!  But like I said, I was living the dream.

 

 

 

CODE OF ETHICS (self titled) – released on Forefront Records, 1993.

Radio singles – #1 Something Real, #3 True Love, #13 Freedom, #15 Satellite Babies, #21 Follow On

Barry’s Favorite Songs – Something Real, True Love, Satellite Babies

 

I had started recording this CD before our tour with Geoff Moore started, and finished mixing it at the beginning of the tour.  So we had a lot of fire power ready to go right out of the gate.  Again I was writing with Gerald, James and Dave and added a great friend and touring keyboardist, Ian Eskelin. 

During that time, we worked with Mark Adkison from Forefront to push “Something Real” to #1.  It was our first #1 and it felt great!  Guys from Way FM, like Michael Wilson, Mark Rider, Jeffry Kaye and Mike Becht, had taken it on themselves to push Code as much as they could.  (To this day I still don’t know why, but I owe them much gratitude!)  Peter Furler once asked me how much I was paying them!  “I’m broke,” I said, “I’m just the opener.”

After the Geoff Moore tour ended, we had a meeting with the Newsboys who were looking for an opening band (ie. set up, play, tear down, drive all night.)  We auditioned for them one afternoon and that was it.  We got the gig!

What a blast that was!  They were on their “Not Ashamed” tour.  We watched as the crowds got bigger and bigger over the 10 month tour.  I got to know all the guys as friends (including Tony Vincent who was the first act and soon went on to Broadway.)  I still talk to them or go see them when I can.  I truly loved hanging with these guys on and off the road, and learned a ton from Pete.  I would stand side stage next to the monitor guy almost every night.  I was mesmerized by their performance even though I’d seen it a hundred times.  That tour still holds many fond memories that I will cherish for a lifetime!

 

 

 

ARMS AROUND THE WORLD – released on Forefront Records, 1995

Radio singles – #1 Voice of Reason, #1 Sticks and Stones, #2 Well Done, #11 Hurricane, #15 Take Control, #15 Pleasant Valley Sunday, #22 Just a Man

Barry’s Favorite Songs – Pleasant Valley Sunday, Hurricane, Garden for Two

1996- Dove Award Nomination for Special Event Album of the Year for Nothing Really Changes on the Album “One Way”

 

I met producer Tedd T one afternoon for coffee.  He had just moved to town and was looking to get into production full time.  I liked him right off the bat.  No fancy car, just an old Volkswagen, we sat and talked about all of our favorite bands and influences, most we had in common.  At the end of our meeting he said, “You’ve produced all your CD’s yourself, why do you need me?”  I said, “Because you’re going to bring something new to the sound that I’m missing.” And he did!

“Arms Around the World” was the biggest selling CD for Code ever! 

We were now on the launch pad and ready to fire all engines!  At this time, I believe we had the best stage performance in the lifecycle of Code.  The lineup was Jeff Anderson on bass and keys, Rick Brainer on drums and Skippy/Scott Chapman on keyboards.  I had purchased the lighting rig from the Newsboys as they stepped up to a giant rig.  I bought DeGarmo and Key’s metal staging and ramps (very, very heavy!) and the shows began!  We were high energy with every song and move mapped out for maximum effect.

We quickly found ourselves going from festival to festival as the record sales rose higher and higher.  Near our peak, we were asked to be the support band for Petra’s “No Doubt” tour.  What a great time that was!  We had our own bus (that we didn’t have to drive ourselves!)  We never ate better in our lives!  Filet minion, are you kidding me? Playing laser tag at 2:00 p.m., us against Petra!  OK, we really were living the rock ‘n’ roll dream now. I didn’t sleep in my car anymore!  I had met my soulmate, Cynthia (where the song “Garden for Two” was inspired) during the Newsboys tour and married her while on the Petra tour.  Life was awesome!

We felt like we were unstoppable and living on top of the world.  We were invited to go on a mission trip to El Salvador with Ron Luce and Teen Mania in the summer of 1995.  We were there for a week and did street witnessing and spoke at school assemblies.  It was an incredibly moving experience that I will never forget.   

 

The excitement of the trip was short-lived.  When we arrived home in Nashville we found our truck had been stolen with ALL of our equipment in it.  Also, we had let the insurance lapse, leaving an incredible debt that we could never recover from.  It was a very rough time for us, but we continued to hit the road, borrowed equipment, and rented sound and lighting.

 

 

 

SOULBAIT – released on Forefront Records, 1996

Singles – #3 Soulbait, #4 Shake Me, #21 Good Things

Barry’s Favorite Songs – Shake Me, Me Myself and I, Good Things

 

I’ll admit right up front that this record brings many mixed emotions for me.  I had been informed by my A&R guy that if the next CD didn’t sell even better than “Arms Around the World,” I’d be dropped from Forefront.  That’s never a fun conversation for any artist, and it threw me for a loop, considering we were doing better with each record. I was also informed that I should move away from an electronic keyboard driven sound and hire a whole new band to sound more “rock-like.” (Thanks, 90’s Seattle grunge.)

Instead of saying, “Hey, it’s not really who I am,” I just went along with the program.  Tedd T produced it again, and there were some wonderful moments and great songs were birthed.  But it wasn’t a Code sounding record and my heart wasn’t in it.  I had a new live band made up of Charles Garrett on guitar, Steve Dale on bass, Bryce Bell on keyboards and Jerry Mowery on drums.  They were incredible musicians and great friends that helped write and record the songs for this record.

We toured extremely hard that year playing all the festivals, opened some dates for the Newsboys again, and then set out on our own headlining tour with Bleach, Smalltown Poets, John Cox and Jesus Music. Sadly, in the end, Soulbait failed miserably in the retail market.  It ended up being the lowest selling Code record to date.  I’m sure fans were confused by the new sound and just didn’t buy into it.  Don’t get me wrong, I think this is still an excellent record, just not the “Code” sound.

Forefront called me in for a quick, “thanks for trying, please drop your key off at the desk” meeting.  Management called for the same meeting.  At least they gave me a glass of wine and a hug.  (Mike Keil & Associates management worked extremely hard to make a lot of great things happen for Code throughout the years.  I will always appreciate them.)  Last but not least, my booking agent took me to lunch.  Let’s just say it was over before I finished my taco!

Something I've learned, God promises never to leave or forsake us!  No matter what!

 

 

 

BLAZE – released on Word Records 1999 (just before the end of the world via computers)

Singles – #2 Hallelujah 2000

Barry’s Favorite Songs – Exalted, Move Me, I love You Lord/Here is my Heart

2000 – Dove Award Nomination for Hip Hop/Dance/Remix Recorded Song of the Year for Hallelujah 2000

 

BLAZE was a kind of comeback record for me and, in many ways, I was probably trying to prove a point by going extreme electronic.  My friend, Dave Lichens in Petra, marched me into their A&R guy’s office and said, “You need to sign this guy and do a record.”  I had already been working with a dear friend, Sal Salvador, who was co-writing and producing these new songs with me, so I told the guys from Word to come down to the studio and give it a listen.

We ended up making BLAZE together with Sal in the driver’s seat.  I truly came to love working with Sal, and his heart for God spilled out on everything he did. He’s one of the best programmers I know, and though we went through some difficult financial times making this project, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.  It was also the first time I had ever made a worship record.  I found out (many years later), that “Hallelujah 2000” was the theme song used at all the festivals in the UK that year.  It was also nominated for a Dove award for best dance song.  I also worked with my longtime friend again, producer Michael Linney on two of the songs – “Psalm 19” and “Pure & Holy.”

We slimmed down to a trio and hit the road for a year.  The first trio was Clayton Ferguson on guitar, Dan O’Neill on drums and me on guitar/vocals.  I loved touring with these guys.  Clayton is one of the best guitarists I know.  The next trio to pick up the last half of the tour was Rick Brianer on drums, Skippy/Scott Chapman on keyboards and me on guitar/vocals.  The record actually did fairly well in sales, but Code had peaked in the mid 90’s and I was very tired of many years of touring.  So in 2000, I stopped touring, closed shop, turned out the lights and moved home to the Florida beach.

 

 

 

LOST IN EGYPT – released on Razzbarry Records/GoGlobal, 2009

Radio Singles – Lost In Egypt

Barry’s Favorite Songs – Smile, Lost in Egypt, Somebody’s Waiting

 

I had been leading worship on staff at a large church for six years.  During that time I had a horrific motorcycle accident that had nearly claimed my life.  I was struggling with many emotions and decided I needed to leave my full time position and rest.  Rest turned into writing, and writing turned into recording.  It became very therapeutic for me and I soon found myself making a Code record again.

“Smile” is a simple song about the great pleasure of being happy in the moment. I had plenty to be worried about, even weighted down, but God says His yoke fits perfectly and His burden is light.  He loves it when we smile!

I decided to go out and play some concerts starting in Florida and running all the way into Canada (2009), again, just a trio.  We had several different drummers:  Dave Ott, Chris Willard and Ben Roth.  This time I made my wife, Cynthia play keys and DJ.  I just couldn’t go out without her!   We had a great time, did a few TV shows, talked about my accident and all the changes it’s brought into our lives since then.  We saw God’s power move through my testimony.

 

 

 

BEAUTIFUL THING – released on Razzbarry Records/GoGlobal, 2011

Barry’s Favorite Songs – My Girl, Beautiful Thing, Secret Playhouse, Hey Death

 

You know things in life might be a little dark when you write a song called “Hey Death.”  The truth is I was going through a lot.  I had just lost what little remaining hearing I had from the accident in my right ear.  Then, the very next day I learned that my father had incurable cancer and it would take him in less than a year.  A few months later, my sister Julie, who sang backing vocals on all the Code records, found out she also had cancer and would go through a long process of chemo and surgeries.

It seemed as though the darkest of evil was unleashed on my family for a long and dreadful season.  I went through a deep depression during this time and decided to write and record as a means of possible therapy.  I was lying next to my father as he breathed his last breath in this world.  I had many mixed emotions to sort through, and most of them turned into songs.

For instance, “Only the Beginning” is a tongue-in-cheek song about getting the news you’re going to die, and being happy about it.

“Hey Death” (a very dark, rockin’ song) is about the fact that death, through Christ, is over, beaten, done with!

“Fall Away” was a fun song to write.  The timing is different than anything I’ve ever done before.  I tried to keep the majority of songs really organic by playing bass guitar instead of all synth bass etc.  I had my good friends Mike VonBalson and Walt Hill cut the drums on the whole record as well, to give some of the tracks a “Nine Inch Nail” feel. 

 

 

 

LIQUID WORSHIP – released on Razzbarry Records, 2014  

Barry’s Favorite Songs – Always, Your Love Never Fails

 

I’ve always wanted to do a straight up, high energy dance record where all the songs flow into the next.  Liquid Worship is it.  It sounded easy in theory:  just pick some favorite worship songs that I do every Sunday and put a dance beat under it.  I think it took me just as long to do this record as if I had written them myself!  This is part one.  I hope to finish a “part two” sometime this next year and take it on the road!  I hope you like it.

 

                                                                                Blessings, Barry Blaze             

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