Nicholas "Nick" Paul Barker is an Australian singer-songwriter and guitarist who formed a Melbourne-based rock, power pop band Nick Barker & the Reptiles in March 1988. Their cover version of Cockney Rebel's "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" reached the top 30 on the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Singles Chart in November 1989. They provided two top 40 albums on the related ARIA Albums Chart, Goin' to Pieces (1989) and After the Show (1991). He formed Barker in 1993, their single, "Time Bomb" was voted No. 20 on Triple J Hottest 100 list for 1994. He then went solo from 1995.
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Nicholas Paul Barker was the bass guitarist for a succession of Melbourne-based bands starting with The Curse during 1980-1981 and 1982-1983, during the summer of 1982-1983 he played and recorded with Beachouse. Also in The Curse's line-up were Adrian Chynoweth on guitar, Nique Needles, John Rowell and Graeme Scott. He moved to Reptile Smile with Chynoweth and Nick Cross, Rick Hawkins and Tony Hawkins during 1983-1984. Then Freak Power with Chynoweth, Needles and Scott before joining rock, blues group, The Wreckery in December 1985. The Wreckery had formed earlier in the year with Robin Casinader on drums, piano, Hammond organ, guitar and violin (ex-Plays with Marionettes, Horla), Edward Clayton-Jones on guitar, organ and vocals (ex-Fabulous Marquises, Plays with Marionettes, Horla, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), Tadeusz O'Biegly on bass guitar, Hugo Race on vocals and guitar (ex-Plays with Marionettes, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) and Charles Todd on saxophone, organ (ex-Wild Dog Rodeo, Cattletruck). Barker performed on their releases Yeh My People (mini-album, 1986), Here at Pain's Insistence (1987), The Collection (compilation, 1988), and Laying Down Law (1988) but had left before the latter was released.
Barker moved to lead guitar and formed a rock, blues, power pop band, Nick Barker & the Reptiles in March 1988 with former band mate Chynoweth on guitar; and Drew Basford on bass guitar and David Pinder on drums. The group signed to Mushroom Records' White Label imprint--created by Michael Gudinski upon signing Hunters & Collectors to his Mushroom stable. The Reptiles debut single, "Another Me" appeared in December. Chris Harris joined the group on harmonica and they released their debut album, Goin' to Pieces in August 1989, which peaked into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Albums Chart top 40. The album was produced by Jim Faraci (Femme Fatale), Mark Moffatt (Mental As Anything, Midnight Oil) and Chris Bailey (ex-The Saints). The band's cover version of Cockney Rebel's "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" reached the top 30 on the ARIA Singles Chart in November. They undertook a touring schedule with 200 performances a year on the national pub rock circuit.
In 1990, Matthew Heydon joined on keyboards and Marc Scully (ex-Love Rodeo, Deadly Hume) replaced Basford on bass guitar. Their second album, After the Show (1991) was produced by Joe Hardy (Tom Cochrane) which also peaked into the top 40, however none of its three singles charted into the top 50. "Out in the Open" appeared in February 1992 and was followed by an Extended Play (EP), Loose in April. Its tracks were used as fill music on the TV program, Nine's Wide World of Sports.
After a period of hiatus and overseas travel, Barker returned to Melbourne and disbanded the Reptiles in 1993. He formed Barker with ex-Reptile Heydon, and Venom Brown on drums (ex-Massive Appendage), Tim Henwood on guitar and Anthony Ragg on bass guitar (ex-Kings of the Sun). They released three singles and the album, Happy Man in 1994 and followed with Son of Happy Man (EP) in 1995. Of their singles, "Time Bomb", was voted No. 20 on Triple J Hottest 100 list for 1994.
His solo career started with the album Damn Mermaids (1996) and two singles, his backing band were Lincoln Jones on bass guitar and Craig Whitelock on drums. His second solo album was Annie Get Your Guru (1999). Barker continued to perform solo and acoustic--or accompanied by a keyboardist or harmonica player--into the 2000s. His 2001 release, Returned Service, had acoustic tracks culled from a number of live performances in different Australian cities. Barker signed to Croxton Records, an imprint co-founded by former Weddings Parties Anything frontman Mick Thomas. Barker became popular in Brazil and released Sanctuary - Best of there in 2002. In 2003, he released Backyard Six which featured a musical response to the Bali bombings, "Plait Your Hair". In 2005, Barker re-did his earlier songs as part of the Liberation Blue Acoustic Series on C-sides.
Since 1997, Barker branched into acting roles including minor appearances in TV series Blue Heelers and Pizza, and appearing in a role with Rachel Griffiths in the Australian film Amy, produced by David Parker and Nadia Tass. He also penned and performed songs for the soundtrack, which included work by Ed Kuepper, Lamb and Philip Judd, (ex-Split Enz).
In addition to his own recording and touring commitments, Barker has produced young Adelaide rock act Southpaw. Barker has written tracks, recorded and performed with Mark Seymour (Hunters & Collectors), Paul Kelly, and You Am I frontman Tim Rogers. Matt Heydon of the Reptiles went on to Jimmy Barnes' band, Marc Scully later joined Ratcat, and Tim Henwood of Barker later joined the Superjesus and the Androids. Barker toured with Tim Rogers, including to United Kingdom & Europe; he toured in Jimmy Barnes' band for the New Zealand leg of the In the Heat of Night tour during 2006-2007.
In March 2011, Barker played a much vaunted gig in the Whorouly Hotel Beer Garden to mark the first event of its type in the revitalised North East Victorian Pub. Barker's band on this day comprised Michael Barclay on drums, Alan Brooker (ex-Paul Kelly and the Dots) on bass guitar and Justin Garner on lead guitar. The gig was attended by a mix of longtime supporters and the local community. A torrential downpour during the first set threatened the event, but the band braved the weather and punters were rewarded with a classic Barker performance. The gig, organised by Troy Wood and publican's Graham Wood and Jennifer Garrett, was rated an early contender for 2011 gig of the year by Geelong music critic, Rokdog (Chris Nicholls).