Latest release: The Light of Which I Dream (Metal Evilution)
Since forming in 2004, Tasmanian heavy metallers Taberah have been slowly building a following both in their home state and on the mainland of Australia. With the band about to release their debut full-length The Light Of Which I Dream, as well as embark on an extensive national tour that includes an appearance on the Hobart leg of the Loud-sponsored Bastardfest tour, vocalist/guitarist Jonathon Barwick chatted with us about their new material, Queen, hanging out with Lemmy, not being afraid of having fun while playing metal and more.
Q: After much hard work the band’s debut album will be released this month. How are you feeling about it now – relieved? Excited? Nervous about the response from metal fans?
A: Excited doesn’t cut it! We’re unbelievably pumped to release this record as it’s the only thing we’ve done to date that we’re 100 per cent happy with. Over the past five years or so we’ve done an EP and a couple of demos, but we were just kids rushing through the process to make a record. As for the response from metal fans, we’ve done what we wanted with these songs and we’re bloody proud of it; what they think is what they will think (laughs)
Q: Psycroptic’s Joe Haley produced the album – how was that experience and what did he bring to the table to make it a better record?
A: Well the first thing we noticed was he actually knew how to use a studio (laughs). We’ve attempted to make records with friends who have a bit of studio gear but it never really went anywhere because they were kind of learning how to use it as they recorded us, which was very frustrating. But Joe has it down and knows his shit. He was very patient with us and quickly realised we like to go over-the-top. We are HUGE Queen fans so our studio sound is very decadent with copious amounts of guitar and vocal layers. When we first started the thing he’d say, “Are you sure you need that many layers of that harmony?” Then by the end of it he was getting us to do more and more (laughs)
Q: (Laughs) You’re renowned for anthemic choruses – is there one of those on the record that you’re particularly fond of?
A: What’s a song without a great hook? (laughs) We’re actually stoked with all the choruses due to the fact we’ve never heard them like they are on the record. Live we only have four voices but on this record there are sections that have ten-plus parts and they are doubled and sometimes tripled (laughs). But I guess the standout ones would be ‘Stormchild’, ‘The Call of Evil’ and of course the title track.
Q: Nice one. The band’s press release says that while you aren’t a joke band by any means, Taberah aren’t afraid to inject some fun into the mix. I’m not saying you have to go as far as Dethklok, but do you think many metal bands are too po-faced and “doom and gloom” about it all?
A: Being in a rock ‘n’ roll band is meant to be fun. End of story. Some of the bands you see really need to be shouted a big jug of cheer the fuck up (laughs). There’s nothing wrong with having emotion in your songs but now it seems the trend is to be miserable all the time (laughs). We’d sit in the studio and just have funny ideas like instead of a whammy dive, let’s put a lolly whistle there or let’s record a ‘mouth pop’ instead of having a snare hit in that fill. We’ve been told we should not do things like that because we won’t be taken seriously. But the way we see it is, a good laugh is a good laugh and we don’t feel our work is compromised because of it.
Q Indeed. Taberah opened for Motorhead during the Sydney leg of their tour earlier this year. How was that experience and did Lemmy offer you any words of wisdom?
A: Still can’t believe it happened (laughs). What we took from that experience is that we can make the jump from pub stages to the grand arena. It was exciting to play a big event and hold our own as if we were at our local in front of 50 people; if anything it felt more natural to play the big stage. No real words of wisdom, we just got ridiculously drunk with Mikkey (Dee, drums).
Q: The band’s upcoming touring schedule includes a performance on the Tasmanian leg of Bastardfest. What are your expectations for this festival?
A: It’s shaping up to be a big one; hopefully the numbers match the hype. It’s always exciting to share a bill with Psycroptic, they put on a solid show and pull a great crowd.
Q: What do you think Taberah can bring to Bastardfest that the other bands can’t?
A: Stones ginger wine (laughs), I think we’ll be the only ones indulging in a guitar solo or five too. All the bands are great in their own way and it’s a great mash up of genres too, so we’ll walk up there and do what we were put on the bill to do – be Taberah (laughs). We’re certainly the best at being Taberah.
Q: (Laughs) You also have an extensive list of shows lined up throughout the country for the remainder of the year.
A: Playing in new places is what we live for. Taking your show on the road is the biggest thrill you can get. We hope to reach a lot of new ears by the year’s end and build on our reputation as a band that thrive on playing live and hopefully people have half as much fun as we do.
Q: Good to hear. Is the Tasmanian metal scene as isolated as it once appeared and do you think bands from that part of Australia are beginning to receive more recognition?
A: Yes and no. Psycroptic have really paved the way for Tassie bands that want to travel and work hard to get noticed. We aren’t sitting around waiting for things to happen for us. It’s the bands that are doing fuck all that will tell you Tassie is too isolated and it’s impossible to get a break down here. The only real inconvenience is the money to travel, but smart money management will help that.
Q: What are some great up-and-coming bands from Tasmania that our readers may not have heard of, but should check out?
A: I doubt many readers will have heard of us, so go check us out (laughs). Yeah there’s a few great bands down here that could do quite well if they stick with it. Some that come to mind are Incarcerate, Backlash, All Those In Favour, Unleashed, Lady Crimson, Crusador and I’m sorry if I’ve forgotten anyone (laughs).
Q: What new releases have you been enjoying lately?
A: We’ve been loving blasting Elm Street’s Barbed Wire Metal when we’re cruising to gigs. We’re all really looking forward to getting our hands on Electrik Dynamite’s record in a few days too.
Q: Any famous last words?
A: What could possibly go wrong? (laughs)