"People take me and my little dog, Brutus, in -- or we sleep in the van. Right now, we're off the road for seven or eight days and, strangely enough, I'm staying with my first wife and her husband. They took me in," Barton said, laughing at the seeming insanity of such a situation.
Continental is closer to the working-class roots rock of The Boss than any Irish influences of something like the Dropkick Murphys. In it, Barton gets to share band life with his son -- and out on the road, things get real, real fast, he said.
"It's hell," Barton deadpanned. "We love each other, but what I realize has happened is, he's seen the real me, and he challenges me and contests me on everything from my decision making to my lifestyle.
"It's brutal," he said with another chuckle.
"He's put me up on a pedestal, and I've fallen from that pedestal. Right now, everything is business. I have to take time every week or so, and I say 'Stephen, come over here,' and I give him a hug and tell him I love him. We almost don't look at each other as father and son anymore, because we're two working bandmates now.
"But now he sees my mission and how steadfast and determined I am, and I think it's an asset. He's recognizing that and accepting me as the person he didn't really know. I think it was hard for him at first. At first, we used to fight a lot but, this last tour, we fought very little. Out on the road, anything goes. I speak my mind, we argue about politics. It's kind of cool. At first, I didn't think it was going to work out, but we're starting to get along a lot more.
"It's been a trying process, having your son in the band. I'm not going to lie and say, 'Oh it's great.' It's not. It's hard. It's a relationship, and relationships are hard. People who say they're not, I think they're lying."
Barton said he and the Continental members as a whole are excited to get their full-length debut out in a few months and then will tour Europe.
Now that he's living the life of a traveling band and is excited about his music all over again, life is good -- despite the struggles.
"Presently, I'm in a band with my son and these younger guys, and we're all on the same page, and none of them whines or expects any money. They understand that we sleep on people's floors, and we're very happy to go play our music. And that's success in itself. It's not monetary; it's just phenomenal.
"It's a miracle. It's a gift," Barton continued, describing this almost improbable coming-out-of-retirement project. "Most of my peers' guitars are collecting dust in the closet. This is unbelievable, to be 51 years old and still making music. I can't believe this is happening for me. I'm lucky, very lucky."
Contact Nick Harrah at wvrocksc...@gmail.com.