Prognosis Interview Barbarian Hermit
Manchester stoner/doom quintet Barbarian Hermit have already interviewed fellow Mancunians Prognosis ahead of the MMC Weekender. Now it's time for their guitarist Adam Robertshaw to get a grilling, from the hands of Prognosis' Phil Weller.
How are things in the Hermit camp, you've been busy burning CDs and printing shirts by the looks of it?
Yep. It’s our first run of shirts and CDs so we’re pretty excited about that. The CD is just a DIY six track demo but people have been asking for CDs at every show we've played for the last 2 years so we thought it was best to pull our fingers out and give them something rather than nothing. Chris our bass player has done a great job of burning them all. He’s been stressed and grumpy all week but it’s worth it.
I love the logo on the shirt, who came up with that?
The logo was done by a guy called Chris Catterall from the grindcore band Narcosis. He’s nailed our vibe – we all think it’s got a Master of Reality kind of feel, which is right up our street.
And I believe there are some new/unheard songs on the CDs you'll be selling at the MMC, tell us about those?
There are three previously unreleased tracks – Mermaid, Tiger Horse and BEA (Barbarian Enforcement Agency). They’re not unheard though. Anyone who’s seen us live a few times will have heard them. The rest of the tracks on the CD are Alma, Burn The Fire and Widowmaker, which are all available on Youtube and our Soundcloud.
One thing that defines your band's sound, to me at least, is your fuzz tones. I know you have a few fuzz pedals, so what do you look for in a pedal to craft all these different tones and in what ways do you utilise the different pedals?
Our guitar sound comes from a mix of my Nine of Swords Tyrant, (made by a company called The Fuzz Shack – they make some brutal effects pedals) and Mike’s Peavy Valve King amp tone. That mix of fuzz and gnarly, scooped distortion works well for us. Add on top of that Chris’s immense bass rig, which is geared to a huge low end tone and you’ve got the Barbarian Hermit sound.
The other thing that defines you gives I feel is your frontman, Si. Not only is he a great singer but he's also very charismatic on stage. At what point did Si join the band and did you ever have a particular vocal style in mind? I know for us finding a singer was a real struggle, so we put a lot of thought into what kind of vocalist we wanted and why.
Si was the last person to join the band. Mike and Loz (drums) knew him from back in the day, when he was in other bands like Akoga and Sirkus Saigon (not sure if I’ve spelled that right). He’d never done anything as heavy as Barbarian Hermit before he joined so I think he was a bit apprehensive at first, but coming from more of an art-rock background, he added something very unique to our sound and of course he kills it live as a frontman. He’s a keeper.
Everyone is understandably really exciting to be playing/attending the MMC Weekender, but what is it about the event that makes it so exciting for you?
For me it’s the fact that every fucker who plays heavy music in Manchester is playing. It shows how thriving our underground scene and how much talent we have. Plus it’s gonna be an awesome two day piss up for the everyone involved. Plus, I used to go to the MMC all dayers back in the day as a fan, so to be playing it is an absolute honour.
Who are five bands you think people need to check out at the MMC and why?
Bisonhammer – They were one of the best bands in Manchester back in the day and an incredible live act. Plus Mike from Barbarian Hermit is in them! He’s not used to playing two sets in a night so he’s got a fool proof game plan of going for a Reds BBQ and drinking a bottle of Buckfast between sets. What could go wrong?
Mower – Good bunch of lads, incredibly heavy and groovy music plus Jay usually gets his sexy bod out during their sets.
Ten Foot Wizard – One of the most fun acts playing at the weekender. Their good-time boogie will be a nice bit of respite to the brutality on offer across the rest of the weekend.
Under – These guys practice in the same building as us and are an amazing live band. They’re like mad scientists of the riff. If you like your music a little bit weird you’ll love these guys.
"I used to go to the MMC all dayers back in the day as a fan, so to be playing it is an absolute honour." - Adam Robertshaw
You played a Manchester Rocks Presents... in October last year, what are your memories of that show?
Hazy to say the least. We were added to the bill at the last minute and if I remember correctly it was originally billed as a prog line-up. We’ve got some harmonies and a couple of time signature shifts but I think we stuck out on the bill like a sore thumb. What we lacked in the number of notes we play we made up for in volume though. The other bands were great too, especially Fantasist. Chris was not happy with the Phil Collins and Michael Jackson covers but he can be very opinionated about such things. The rest of us love it though!
What's next for t'Hermit after the MMC, how does the rest of the year look for you guys?
Other than the MMC, we’ve got one more gig booked so far. It’s in April and it’s going to be huge but we’ve not been officially announced yet so I’m not going to say who it’s with. You’ll find out soon enough though.
Other than that we’re going to be writing some more songs, which we’ll eventually take into the studio to record. We’re hoping Skyhammer will have us. There has also been drunken talk of a tour with one of the bands I mentioned in my top 5 MMC bands, but as nothing has been confirmed yet I don’t want to jinx it by saying who. If it happens it’ll be sexy though.
Interview: Phil Weller