Keith Barney clearly recalls the night of April 20, 2007. Eighteen Visions played their final show as a band at Anaheim's historic Chain Reaction, which the OC natives likened to their second home, even after they seemingly outgrew its small interior.
"It just felt right," guitarist Barney says. "It was intimate; all of our friends would be there. I remember it being an amazing show and getting off the stage, and then I just totally broke down. There's a photo I posted on Instagram of myself and Trevor [Friedrich, drummer] where we're just kind of hugging. . . . It was a big deal for all of us, as we hugged and thanked one another. It felt really special."
Exactly a decade later, Barney, lead singer James Hart and Friedrich announced not only the triumphant return of Eighteen Visions, but also a new album, XVIII, and a record-release show at the Observatory on Friday. Missing from the reunion will be bassist Mick Morris, who passed away unexpectedly in 2013, and rhythm guitarist Ken Floyd, whose career as a tour manager wouldn't allow him to rejoin the group.
"With 10 years in between, I can now look back with 20/20 vision and say, 'Okay, here's all of the records and things that we did. What are our strengths, and what doesn't hold up?'" Barney says. "I can pick and choose from a diverse catalogue that morphed over the years and use that as a bit of a guide on how to move forward on this record. I still love making heavy music—and we've done that in the past—but I think that anyone who listens to this record will recognize those bits and pieces from all of our albums."
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To announce their return to their loyal fans, the band members utilized the power of social media. An old photo of the band, setlists or sound clips would appear every few days—totaling 18 teasers in all. As suspicions grew, word spread, and music sites began paying closer attention to what was happening.
Although the reception has been nothing short of welcoming, the guys say their new lives take precedence. They've grown up and started families, work ordinary jobs, and embrace much calmer lifestyles away from the spotlight. "I'm a creative director at a company and have a career in design," Barney says. "James has a career as a hairstylist, and Trevor has his own company. Doing any long-term touring would be impossible, but what we might do is little stints of shows, and I think that'll accomplish a few things."
For now, Eighteen Visions plans on taking their revival one step at a time. "Less is more," Barney explains. "If we play here and there, it keeps it special since we aren't playing every weekend or anything like that. It also reduces a bit of the pressure of having to think that we have to be out there for months and months."
Eighteen Visions perform with Retox and the Seizures at the Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; www.observatoryoc.com. Fri., 6:30 p.m. $20. All ages.