Barghest Interview

Baton Rouge’s Barghest recently released their self-titled debut full length on cassette via Big Mountain Tapes. Within a short time, the tape was sold out, and has drawn positive reviews almost unanimously. I was lucky enough to be able to ask Dallas, the vokillist, some questions about the band. Enjoy.

First, let me thank you for taking some time to do this. HSS and its readers are very appreciative. For the uninitiated, can you take a second to introduce yourself and the band?

Not a problem… My name is Dallas, vocalist of Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s Barghest. We were formed in 2006 and play a twisted, raging style of USBM.

Where does the band name originate? 

In English Folklore, a Barghest is a large spectral hound that when seen is a sign of imminent death.

Matthew also plays in Thou, as did Terry once upon a time. Thou is seemingly one of the hardest working DIY bands in existence. While I can’t really ask you to speak for him, I wonder how Matt finds time to play in Barghest and Thou and still manage to find time to eat and sleep, especially considering Thou recently released an album and toured, and now Barghest has done the same. Dude must be tired…!

Matthew is indeed a hard working individual. As you said, Thou are incredibly hard working collectively.  Although he is obviously a huge force in Barghest, he doesn’t quite do the amount of writing for this band that he does in Thou. Most of the songs are written by Jason with input from Matthew and myself.  I’m also a guitarist and help the process along but the vast majority of song writing is done by Jason. Regardless, I think he is a machine. The amount of endless touring and recording he does is just unbelievable. No one can possibly doubt his passion and dedication for this music.

I try to shy away from using the word “scene” an awful lot, but can you talk a little bit about the DIY music community in Baton Rouge, and Barghest’s place in that community. Are there a lot of black metal bands playing in that area?

Let me start off by saying that there are no extreme metal bands in Baton Rouge... There is a small DIY scene that mostly revolves around the punk side of things. You’d have to look to New Orleans to find any real metal bands and there’s a serious shortage of Black Metal bands out there as well. The only exceptions would be Goatwhore and very few others. It tends to be the more obvious “Nola” sound that bands out here go for. This is unfortunate because it has become so incredibly unoriginal to be from New Orleans and play that style. It would be great to see bands branch out and try something new. With that said, Barghest does not fit well within the Baton Rouge scene and we really wouldn’t have it any other way. No one does anything remotely close to what we do here.

Black metal is the driving force behind the music, but there are other influences at work as well, such as sludge and hardcore, at least subtly. Has the Baton Rouge “scene” played a big part in shaping Barghest’s music?

At the risk of sounding arrogant, no it has not.  It’s not so much that we distance ourselves from the other bands here; it’s that we don’t feel like we have much in common with them, musically or ideologically.

Are there any particular artists outside of Louisiana, musical or otherwise, that inspire you to create the music that you do? Are their events or ideas that you find particularly inspiring and that influence your music?

Absolutely…  Even though we always dug the Norwegian scene and early stuff like Hellhammer, the most influential bands have been things like Demoncy, Grand Belial’s Key, Sargeist, Behexen and Craft. There’s also no denying that we have a big Death Metal influence from bands like Morbid Angel, Death and Incantation. Obviously musical inspiration is only one dimension of what drives us to make this music. Among other things, the seemingly instinctual urge for man to destroy itself is a huge factor we all feel. There is no occultism or nature worship going on here. There is only absolute hatred.

Misanthropy is a prominent lyrical theme in Barghest’s songs, as it is for many black metal bands. But Barghest takes it to extreme levels, as the patch that came with the tape reads “Anti-Human, Anti-Life.”  A friend of mine recently described misanthropy as a “shallow ideology.” I vehemently disagreed. Can you talk about what misanthropy means to you, and whether or not you’d consider it a shallow ideology?

Simply put, there are those of us who feel like we can never truly be close to or understood by the vast majority of others, nor do we have the desire to be. There is an underlying distrust and lack of desire to get to know others on a personal level. Our refuge from a world of shit is our own self-imposed isolation. The human race is an abomination that needs to be put out of its misery. This doesn’t mean were a bunch of assholes who are hard to get along with... It just means we keep to ourselves and think that 99% of the population should be disposed of.

Barghest’s first release came on the now-defunct Woodsmoke label in 2008, in the form of a split with Mania and River. How do you feel the band’s sound has progressed since then, and where do you see it going in the future?

Well, the band formed in 2006 with Jason doing vocals and the songs on "The Practice" bootleg and on that split were very early recordings. Shortly after, Jason and the band felt that his vocal style wasn't really what they wanted. He was doing a sort of very shrill Weakling/Silencer type thing. I had been in other bands with both Jason and Terry and we were pretty close friends, so I was asked to join.  Even before I joined, I was always showing them different obscure bands and basically introducing them to the influences that would shape Barghest.  At the time, I had my own thing and they had Barghest, but it felt very natural when I joined... The music has grown a lot more aggressive since then and will only continue to do so.  We are very proud of the debut, but we obviously feel like there is a ridiculous amount of untapped creativity and look forward to releasing it.

Word has it that the songs on the tape will soon be pressed on vinyl by Bryan Funck’s Howling Mine label. Do you intend for vinyl to be a big part of Barghest’s future releases? Do you find analog recordings to have certain advantages over digital ones?

The LP is a joint effort by Howling Mine and Gilead Media. It is currently at the plant now... Vinyl is without a doubt the ultimate medium and always the preferred choice. It is the ultimate package for art and sound quality. There is a warmth that digital recordings cant possibly touch.

MP3’s can be convenient and all, but to me at least, there’s still nothing like sitting down to listen to an album for the first time with the physical release, be it vinyl, tape or CD, in hands, to look at the artwork and such while listening. Do you have plans to make Barghest’s music available for free download, or do you want to encourage people to buy the physical releases? Perhaps both?

I think its pointless to try and fight digital downloads. It blew my mind when our tape came out and within days there was a full mp3 rip available on several sites. This is a cassette that was limited to 100 copies and it happened that fast... Listeners will without a doubt, download music. We can only hope that they buy the physical copy if they like what they hear. As you said, nothing beats having a copy of the actual release.

What is a Barghest show like? How do you guys enjoy playing live?

We do enjoy playing live, we just avoid playing any random show. The show has to make sense.

What’s on the agenda for Barghest for the rest of 2011? Playing more shows? Releasing more music?

Short term, we have the debut coming on out vinyl, a very special split that will be announced shortly and a new EP. A small tour is being talked about to coincide with the vinyl's release and of course we will be playing locally when the time is right. 

Let me thank you again for taking the time to do this, it is greatly appreciated.  I’ll let you conclude the interview however you see fit, if you don’t mind…

My pleasure... Thank you for helping spread the word of Barghest. For anyone tired of the bullshit within newer USBM, you should give us a listen.  There is nothing "post" or "folk" about what we do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good read. Cool band