Tuesday Bands: A Conversation with Barbariön
Wednesday, April 18 2012
Just before Barbariön started to play to a pretty full North Court, I wasn’t sure to expect at all from our interview afterwards. For those of you who don’t know who or what Barbariön are, and sadly missed their BBQ slot, imagine a time-transcending historical re-enactment in musical form in an outer suburban pub 15 minutes before closing time with three shredding guitars, beards everywhere and someone waving a smoking LED-eyed bearded skull on a pole at you while screaming noises and obscenities befitting a pirate. Got it?
Having seen them attempt to “scorch forever” the hills of the Supernatural Amphitheatre at Meredith Music Festival last year, successfully burning their uncouth fur and leather-covered image into my retinas, I couldn’t quite imagine talking to them in a normal setting.
As it turns out, I should have realised that nothing can possibly go wrong after seven blokes play an hour of heavy metal in kilts, rabbit fur, studded and ripped denim short shorts and an oversized bed sheet, among other things. Relaxed,and happy with the supply of Little Creatures being thrust at them, the band members came and went for about an hour as they slowly packed up and headed back to tickets from the Melbourne Uni grounds officers, and eventually to normal lives (barefoot, leopard-print covered, quasi Roman Legionnaire/guitarist Chris “Gus” Garcia was straight back into a suit and off to work at the close of the gig).
The band, formed in 2007, go back a long way: “we’ve known each other since we were five”, since primary school, since high school, three of the members were living together… Most had played in “shit bands” and wanted to make a good one, playing music instead of being sick of rehearsals that revolved around “what we’d eat, what we’d drink”. Now that they’re on the right track, they’re keeping the masses entertained no matter what, trying to put on the same show for every occasion—although stage sizes and venue restrictions do play a large role in deciding how intense a show can get. They can only afford to do full pyrotechnics a few times a year, and fitting giant skulls onto the stage can get tricky in a small pub. To make sure things run smoothly for the bigger shows, their “shifty” manager convinced the old Late Show pyrotechnician to “join the horde” a little while back.
I’m surprised to learn that they don’t catch on fire as often as you’d expect, despite the enormous potential for a loss of 10 years worth of hair growth. Bass player Yuri Pavlinov, also of Melbourne Funk/Soul outfit The Bamboos, shows me burnt knuckles, the spot where his hair was singed, and some marks on the costumes where things went awry. But the most dangerous objects on stage are vocalist Myles Tauchert’s codpiece, studded leather gauntlets and spiked shoulder attire—when thrown back for emphasis on the high notes, don’t be caught standing too close, guitarists Hugh Kendall and Chris Evans affirm.
The band’s impressive and hilariously historically inaccurate ‘get up’ was the product of several months of work, much of it by the members’ wives; one of their mothers even got in on the job. The costumes provide as many challenges as the fireworks—Hugh shows me the salt stains inside his enormous furs. But the story of Myles’ outfit birthing an ants’ nest after a week locked in a panel van trumps Hugh’s own sweat-induced efforts.
So where to from here? The ‘Warriors’ have a recording slot pencilled in for April, and a possible European tour in June, if some more venues reply to their emails. If anyone has contacts in the Swedish pub/metal industry, or in any nearby countries for that matter, I’m sure you could score yourself a free rabbit fur boot, or at least a hug from a sweaty guy with a beard. Towards the end we got talking about the band’s first film clip, for single “My Rock”—which very subtly portrays the heavy metal liberation of a school kid from the whiny hippy crap and teeny-bopper pop of his home town. “Too many people get mixed up in finding stupid meaning in music”, Myles says. Barbariön just want you to enjoy yourself again and rock the fuck out.