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So far, so good: the 31-year-old appears in ads for Jean Paul Gaultier’s men’s fragrance and skin care lines, among other campaigns. Now his honeyed vocals and moody lyrics are taking hip Parisian bars by storm.
“It’s all about persistence and perseverance,” said the Chicago native, who is currently preparing for a couple of gigs in Paris on Wednesday and Thursday. “It has been a slow transition from modeling, which started eight years ago, through a bunch of really cool people: Music and fashion go hand in hand.”
His four-piece band has been together for a year. Their sound, described by Barnhill as “alternative rock, but it has a lot of soul to it,” mixes a jaunty bass line and beats with his languid vocals. “You Take Everything” is their signature anthem.
Barnhill’s bandmates — bassist Alex Deschamp, guitarist Jaki Belgrite and drummer Nate Devries — cite The Pogues and Rage Against the Machine as musical influences, while their fashion taste is their own.
“Fashion and rock really influence society,” says Barnhill, who still models. “People are able to associate with bands through the styles they see, but the important thing is self-expression.”
Like many rockers, members of BlackBox Exposed favor hoodies and leather jackets (and sometimes a top hat for Barnhill), but they also don designer threads, including those lent to them by John Galliano for some recent photo shoots.
Though they are unsigned as of now, their music was included on Serve3, a charity compilation under the Hard Rock label, and the band is busy penning their debut album. Next up, they’re planning a June assault Stateside.
“We have been slated to play at the Plumm” in New York for starters, says Barnhill. His bandmates are pleased enough with that for now, but they are ambitious. “We want to go to the moon and play there,” jokes Devries. “It’s a journey,” admits Barnhill.