Britt Barker ’19

Catch the Rise

By Sara Ann Hutto ’17

Through music and education, Barker is coming into his own

One of Britt Barker’s lowest moments was when he pawned off his last guitar for drugs — something he swore to himself he would never do.

After dropping out of Clemson as a young student to play bass guitar with his band, The Executives, Barker was plagued by years of substance abuse, which eventually caught up to him through legal troubles and when he failed out of the music and recording program at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida.

“That was really devastating because I actually wanted to be there, as opposed to when I was at Clemson the first time,” he says. “You can’t party your way into good music despite what I thought back then. You have to work really, really hard.”

In 2015, Barker decided to make some changes, including getting sober, reconnecting with his music and going back to school — back to Clemson.

“I really wanted to finish what I’d started at a place that was so special to me and my family,” Barker says. “I had stressed my parents out so much, so to be able to give them some peace of mind was definitely a motivating factor.”

Barker grew up in Clemson; his father, James Barker, was president of the University from 1999 to 2014. Clemson was where Barker formed his first band with his two best friends in fifth grade after being influenced by the sounds of Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Smashing Pumpkins. “That band was called Asphalt Garden. My dad came up with that one,” Barker says, a smile in his voice.

After graduating from Clemson in 2019 with a degree in philosophy, Barker turned his focus to electronic-based music. Inspired by hip-hop beats and bands like Pretty Lights and Nine Inch Nails, he threw himself into creating his new EP, titled “Trust,” which he performs under the name Catch the Rise.

“With just an acoustic and a bass and an electric guitar, you’re limited,” he says. “In the sphere of electronic music, you have a whole dreamscape at your fingertips.”

Barker says Catch the Rise is all about seizing inspiration and creativity when they come, riding their momentum to fresh ideas, new projects. He just finished up a four-song deal with High Vibe Records out of California and a remix collaboration of the song “Money Trees” by Australian band Les Krills. Moving forward, Barker is excited to expand his music into more collaborations, projects — and live performances.

Apart from music, Barker recently moved on from a position with FAVOR Greenville, a nonprofit committed to facilitating recovery for individuals with substance use disorders. He made trips to Prisma Health Greenville Memorial Hospital every other week to work in the emergency room and offer resources to and support for patients in need.

“To have been that little bit of support for somebody who may not have much of it elsewhere is the thing that brought it all together for me,” Barker says. “I didn’t want to just take. I took and took for so long, and this opportunity to give back a little bit was such a blessing.”

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